I am aware that it has been a long debate, but I have a final, concluding thought. We are talking about a sunset clause. If the Bill goes through, we will be allowing the sun to set on a healthy environment, or the prospects of making a healthy environment; the sun to set on the prospects of improving the parlous state of physical and mental health for this nation; and the sun to set on the opportunity of many businesses, particularly farming and food businesses, to sell their premium products to the world. If we allow this Bill through, the next day the sun will rise on a much darker country.
Earl of Caithness Portrait The Earl of Caithness (Con)
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My Lords, I will speak very briefly. This has been an interesting hour and a half, but the Government have brought it on themselves by not telling us what regulations will be in what bucket. Can my noble friend tell me what Defra regulations are going to be kept, what are going to be amended and what are going to be disposed of? If we had known that, we would have saved an hour and a half.

I want to pick up on something that relates to Amendment 10 on the habitats directive. The noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, said that it was one of the fundamental building blocks and that we would not meet environmental targets without it. But we will not meet environmental targets with the habitats directive. We have had it for 30-odd years and it has been a disaster. Biodiversity and habitats have gone down continually in this country.

That takes me to the point made by my noble friend Lord Inglewood, who is absolutely right. It is not rocket science—it is land management. To get high-quality food to feed an ever-growing population and increase biodiversity, you need habitat and food for the species at the right time, particularly now in these lean winter months.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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Because this has cropped up a couple of times, I think it is important that we distinguish between a regulation or a rule and its implementation or enforcement. So, we might say, when housebreaking levels go up, that the laws against housebreaking are completely ineffective. That is not the case: it is the implementation or enforcement of those laws that is ineffective. It is not a critique of the habitats directive; it is a critique of the way we in this country have enforced it, or failed to enforce it.

Earl of Caithness Portrait The Earl of Caithness (Con)
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My Lords, that is exactly the point I have been trying to make: it is how we manage the land that is important. We can improve biodiversity in this country and we can produce the food on the same land, working together, because that will give us the right answer—but it is not relying on directives. Where I probably disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, is that the result of the various directives has been that we have pockets of land that have special protection and we do not join up those pockets: we have barren deserts in between. That is something that I know my noble friend Lord Benyon is working on with the ELM scheme, but that has to complement the directives and we have to get back to a whole-land approach, rather than just a spot approach.

Will my noble friend confirm that future amendments and changes to directives will be done with best science and not emotion? Defra made too many decisions on emotion and not enough on science in the past. Will he confirm, on a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord, Kerr of Kinlochard, on the last group, whether Parliament will have any say on which regulations Defra is going to drop? If Defra mistakenly decides to drop something and we have not had a chance to look at it, we cannot be culpable, but Defra will be, and it is much better that we all look at it.

Lord Jackson of Peterborough Portrait Lord Jackson of Peterborough (Con)
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My Lords, I was not intending to speak, but I was prompted by the challenge from the noble Baroness who represents the Greens, who spoke with great erudition, expertise and passion and is a credit to the House for that. It is important that we look at the general principles. Of course, we are talking about environmental regulations amendments, but I sometimes feel that I am the only sane person in the asylum, frankly. We are a sovereign Parliament, yet we are pushing back on the idea of governing and holding the Executive to account, as if we are not able to do that.

If noble Lords look at the preamble to the Bill, it is not about casting aside these regulations; it is not about traducing those regulations and the Great British tradition of environmental protection and health and safety; it is about modifying, restating, replacing and updating. The fact is that even the EU, when developing regulations, was always developing them on an iterative basis; it did not have the regulations ossified 30 or 40 years ago; it was always developing them—even the REACH regulations that the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, mentioned earlier. Therefore, it is exactly the same process that this Government are going to pursue.

The idea that Ministers are not accountable at the Dispatch Box for bringing forward or updating regulations is clearly nonsense: they will always be. I have to disabuse the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, of the idea that this has not been properly debated in the other place. First, it passed Third Reading by 53 votes, and he may not know that there was an enormous campaign from NGOs and charities aimed at wavering Members of Parliament. So the idea that it was sneaked through and disregarded by the greater electorate is absolutely not the case.

There is an idea, too, that we are writing a blank cheque. Having considered the Bill in the other place and here, and having considered other committee reports, including from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Select Committee on the Constitution, there have been hours and hours of debate. To then, when it gets to this House, say “We don’t like the Bill, so let’s just ignore it”, would plunge this House into a very bad place in terms of democratic accountability.

The criticism from the people in this country is that our politicians are not up to the job of governing, and, at the end of the day, that is what we have to do. We have to govern. We have to make a decision. The challenge, as was shown only yesterday in what the Prime Minister brought back in the Windsor agreement, is that we can make Brexit work. It is not ignoble for many Members to take a view that Brexit was a mistake—many Members in this Committee take that view—but, nevertheless, this is a Bill about accountability and keeping that bond of democratic accountability and trust with the electorate. I think some Members of your Lordships’ House need to understand and concede my final point, which is that this Government would be crazy to go into a process of reducing—