All 1 Debates between Lord Krebs and Earl of Caithness

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Earl of Caithness
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.