1 Lord Callanan debates involving the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Natural Environment

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Thursday 15th January 2015

(9 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con) (Maiden Speech)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I join in the congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, on securing this debate today on such an important subject, giving me the opportunity to make my maiden contribution to the debates in this House. I begin by thanking noble Lords on all sides for being so helpful and welcoming, and for so politely pointing out my many mistakes so far, the most serious of which was rising to leave the Chamber when the Lord Speaker was on her feet. I shall not be doing that again.

Let me particularly thank my two sponsors, my noble friends Lord Bates and Lord Inglewood. I first met my noble friend Lord Bates 30 years ago; we both attended the same Gateshead comprehensive school and joined Gateshead Young Conservatives at about the same time. I do not know what prompted him to do so: Gateshead was hardly then, or even now, a hotbed of Conservatism; but in my case, the late Lady Thatcher was entirely responsible for my decision to join the party. I am profoundly sorry that I never had the privilege of serving in this House alongside her. After that, the political careers of my noble friend Lord Bates and I went in different directions. I served on Tyne and Wear County Council, Gateshead Council and then in the European Parliament; he, of course, served in the other place. I am also grateful to him for one other thing—for leaving the title of our home ward, Low Fell, for me to take.

I was proud to represent the north-east of England in the European Parliament for 15 years, where for part of that time I also served alongside my noble friend Lord Inglewood, who represented the north-west. We often travelled to Brussels and Strasbourg together and spent many a happy hour debating the latest political scandals in the departure lounge of Newcastle Airport.

In the European Parliament our speeches are often time-limited to two minutes, or sometimes even one, so I am delighted to be in a Parliament where one sometimes gets the opportunity to speak for what seems like an eternity of eight minutes. I sincerely hope that noble Lords will not wish, at the end of my contribution, that I had spoken for only one minute. Another great advantage of this House is that all the debates are—ostensibly, at least—in the same language.

Turning to the subject of today’s debate, for most of my time in the European Parliament I served as Conservative environment spokesman and worked on many of the emissions and climate change directives, including the Euro 5 and Euro 6 engine standards and the emissions trading system in all its many complicated incarnations. I know that a maiden speech is not the time to burden your Lordships with some of the complicated detail of such directives, so I will merely say that I always took the view that our environmental ambition should not be achieved at the expense of damaging the competitiveness of some of our excellent British and European manufacturing industries.

I am fortunate to come from the north-east, a part of England with many economic difficulties, but also blessed with some of the most beautiful countryside and magnificent natural environments in our nation. I sincerely hope to use my time in this House to contribute in some small way to help to resolve the former and to sustain the latter.