Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank everyone who contributed to today’s debate. I will respond to some of the points that have been made. First, we take Dispatch Box commitments extremely seriously. I reiterate that this Government will not row back on our world-leading environmental protections, as I mentioned in my opening remarks.

To respond directly to the point made by the noble Lords, Lord Krebs and Lord Fox, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, on this issue of non-regression, the fundamental problem is that nobody know what non-regression actually means. We all think we do, but putting it in primary legislation invites every change to environmental regulations to be challenged, as they inevitably would be, in the courts. The courts would then be asked to take a view on whether a particular change was regression or not. In effect, we would be transferring the legislative process from Parliament to the courts, on every individual regulation. Although we are content to say that we will not row back on environmental protections, that is the reason we are unwilling to see such a phrase placed in primary legislation. I am sure some of the environmental lobbyists and their lawyers would be very happy about all the work it would generate for them if we were to do so, but this is not the way to make legislation. We have to be clear about what we mean in Parliament. As I have said before, any regulation would have to be approved by this House and the other place, which is the appropriate place for these things to be decided. Great though the courts in this country are, it is not their job to legislate.

On the question raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, paragraph (6)(12) of Schedule 5 to the Bill clarifies that the provisions of paragraph (6), which sets out processes relating to an instrument proposed as a negative instrument and subject to sifting, would not prevent a Minister deciding that another scrutiny procedure should apply to a particular instrument any time before that instrument is made. In deciding which other procedure should apply, the provisions of the Bill give a Minister a choice between the negative and the draft affirmative procedure, and in practice would give a Minister the ability to upgrade the scrutiny procedure from the negative to the draft affirmative procedure. The sifting committees already have the ability to recommend that regulations which the Government are proposing to make via the negative procedure are of such importance in their content that they should be upgraded to the affirmative procedure, which would then allow them to be debated as normal in both Houses. As I have set out today, and I am happy to repeat it again, on each and every occasion to date we have followed the sifting committee’s recommendations, and we will continue to do so if utilising the powers under this Bill.

We have debated these matters long and hard on many different occasions, as the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman, acknowledged. We have listened to the House; we have amended the Bill quite considerably in response to some of the concerns raised by noble Lords. This House has done its job in scrutinising the Bill. This House has asked the House of Commons to think again on a number of different occasions. It has thought again and it has responded. It is now time to let this Bill pass to Royal Assent.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this short debate today, and also on the previous occasions when we have debated these two amendments. I do not want to highlight any particular contribution, although I thank the noble Lord, Lord Fox, for introducing cricket last week and canaries this week; sport and birds are two of my favourite occupations, so I thank him very much for that. I thank the Minister for his patience throughout the many hours of debate, with its recursive nature that meant we kept coming back to the same arguments.

I do not totally buy what the Minister has just said about non-regression handing this over to the courts, and that the environmental groups would have a field day. Such groups could equally have a field day over the words that the Minister himself used about maintaining our high environmental standards. Surely the Bill could have defined what non-regression means in this context.

I do not buy the argument and I remain disappointed. Luckily for me, when I became head of an Oxford college 15 or so years ago, somebody bought me a book on how to deal with disappointment; that has come in very handy this afternoon so I am not going to throw a wobbly. In accepting the Government’s response, I think they will be aware, of course, that it is not just Members of your Lordships’ House who will be watching carefully to ensure that environmental standards are upheld; it is the wider public. We have only to look at the number of people who belong to organisations with an environmental interest, such as the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, to realise that a very powerful force is out there.

There will be scrutiny of what the Government do. They will be held to account on “non-regression” or “maintaining high environmental standards”. I am sure that Ministers in this Administration and any future Administration will be fully aware of the public concern about the state of our environment, which was so eloquently illustrated by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, a few minutes ago. Nevertheless, at this point, I beg leave to withdraw Motion A1.

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I can keep my response brief. I have lost track of the number of times during the passage of the Bill that we have had this debate. We had it in Committee, on Report and we are having it now—and of course it was repeated in the House of Commons. The House of Commons has heard the assurances of the Government. I suspect that nothing else I can say will change most Members’ minds but, for the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, I will repeat the arguments again.

The noble Lord’s Motion proposes to insert additional measures into the Bill on environmental protections. I appreciate the sentiment, and we recognise the importance of maintaining our environmental standards, but the Government do not believe this amendment to be necessary. The UK is a world leader in environmental protection, despite what the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, wants to tell us, and we will continue to uphold our environmental protections. Furthermore, in a debate in the other place, the House of Commons rejected essentially a similar amendment by a majority of 77.

We are committed to our environmental protections. Nothing in this Bill changes that commitment. As I referenced in my opening speech, we have substantive concerns that this amendment, in the way that it is worded, would actually make it more difficult to uphold those environmental commitments. I hope that, if the Motion is moved to a vote, the House will reject it.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this short debate, and I thank the Minister for his response. I will not speak for very long but I want to make three specific comments in response to particular points that have been made.

The noble Lord, Lord Hamilton, referred to food standards. I remind noble Lords that this version of the amendment does not include food, so the noble Lord can relax in his seat and not worry about food.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lawlor, seemed to imply that the amendment would somehow fossilise existing regulations in relation to the environment. It is not about fossilising existing regulations; it is about allowing change and improvement as long as they do not dilute environmental protection and as long as they are made in consultation with, and on the advice of, experts, and that that advice is published. This is not trying to freeze things in 2023 at all. I hope that provides reassurance.

As a final point, in response to the Minister, who repeated the oft-quoted mantra that the UK is “world-leading” in environmental protection, I remind him of what I read out less than half an hour ago from the Government’s own watchdog. It makes grim reading. We are failing on all the targets that the OEP looked at. We are not world-leading; we are struggling. This simple and modest amendment aims to put further legal protections around what the Government claim they are doing anyway; it is simple, modest and straight- forward.

I would not like to be the one going home to explain to my children and grandchildren that I stood up and voted against protecting our environment. I hope that other noble Lords feel the same—that those who have children or grandchildren and are thinking of the future would want to protect the environment on their behalf. Therefore, I wish to ask the House to agree to Motion C1.

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- Hansard - -

Can the Minister provide us with the documentary evidence that this Bill will support growth?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a long-established principle that removing and reforming unnecessary and outdated regulation will help the economy to grow. I certainly believe that; the noble Lord might disagree with me but that is my position.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- Hansard - -

My question was whether he could bring evidence before the House—not an assertion but evidence.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Ultimately, this is a political point. The most successful economies in the world are those which have relatively low levels of regulation. The noble Lord and I may have a political difference, but I am sure that we can all propose lots of different examples from think tanks and studies for our different political positions.

Horizon Europe: UK Participation

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

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

The noble Viscount needs to take that message to the EU. The Government stand ready to implement the agreement that we freely entered into; it is the EU that is refusing to do so. I agree with the noble Viscount that Horizon Europe has been very valuable. That is why we entered into an agreement—the TCA—to continue our association, but the EU refuses to progress it.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, first, does the Minister recognise that, when we were members of Horizon, we took out more money than we put in because of the excellence of our proposals? Does the Government’s plan B—if we do not associate with Horizon—include the extra money that we got from the European Union from other EU countries? Secondly, does the Minister agree that, when we were members of Horizon, we gained membership from our leadership role in designing research programmes and shaping the future of Horizon? What is the Government’s estimate of the loss to UK science of the lack of that leadership role?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government need no convincing about the benefits of association with Horizon Europe. We benefited from it. The UK has eight universities in the top 50 globally; the EU has only six. It is a multifaceted programme; exchanges benefit both sides. We were of the view that association would be a good idea; that is why we entered into the agreement. We still hope that the EU will have second thoughts.

Climate Change

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 29th June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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

The noble Baroness should read the Climate Change Committee report, which itself recognises the ongoing demand for oil and natural gas, including in all scenarios for how the UK will meet its target for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

I declare my interests as recorded in the register. The Climate Change Committee has been saying for the past decade that there is a gap between the Government’s rhetoric and the reality in actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This year the chief executive, Chris Stark, said that

“progress is illusory. Government strategy has been late and what has come has almost all been too little.”

In this context, what action will the Government take, and when, on aviation and dietary change, as recommended by the Climate Change Committee?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said in my earlier answer, the noble Lord will have to be a little bit patient and wait for the sector strategies that are coming out, which will help to address his point—but I do not accept that we have not done anything. We have taken action on transport with a £5 billion package and we have spent £3 billion on buildings and £1 billion on carbon capture, et cetera, et cetera. So we have done a lot, but I totally accept that we have much to do.

Biomass Electricity Subsidies: Deforestation

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Thursday 20th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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

The sustainability criteria are policed by Ofgem and, if firms do not meet them, the subsidies are withdrawn.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I declare my interests as recorded in the register. This is a contested topic with opposing views. The devil is in the detail, and rigorous scientific analysis is crucial. In this context, is the Minister aware of the independent analysis published in March 2021 by Resources for the Future showing that, in the south-eastern United States, demand for forest products such as biomass is associated with an increase in the area of forest in the region, as well as with a 30% increase in carbon storage in those forests over the past few decades?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Indeed. The noble Lord is an expert on this topic and is of course correct. He is also correct to say that this is an area of ongoing debate among the scientific community, and it is one that my department is following very closely by gathering the evidence. The latest scientific data will form part of our forthcoming biomass strategy.

Climate Change Committee: Carbon Budget Report

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 16th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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

It is important that we get cross-departmental working going correctly. Obviously, the pandemic has resulted in some challenges in this area, but we are devoting considerable attention across government committees, and different departments are engaging with each other to try to get that message across. I agree with the noble Lord that there needs to be consistent messaging, and we need to get all of government focused on this effort.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, to get to net zero we need to encourage people to switch from cars to walking and cycling for local journeys. In this context, how does the average investment in local infrastructure in the UK to support this transition compare with places such as Copenhagen, where this has been done successfully, with about 50% of journeys on foot or bike? Secondly, my local authority, Oxfordshire County Council, is proposing changes that will increase car traffic in residential urban side streets and therefore discourage walking and cycling. How will the Government respond to this?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not aware of the specific changes proposed in Oxfordshire—I will certainly have a look at that—but there is a walking and cycling strategy. The Government have devoted considerable resources through the Department for Transport to encouraging both those modes of transport.

Green Homes Grant Scheme

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 6th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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

I cannot give the noble Lords a specific assurance on that. We keep all these matters under review.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank the Minister and his officials for a very helpful meeting in the autumn on this topic. Can he confirm that the original requirement for applicants to use vouchers for at least one primary measure, before becoming eligible for a secondary measure, has now been removed?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No. At present, we keep the primary and secondary elements of the scheme, because we think that is the best way of delivering the maximum carbon savings that I know the noble Lord is also keen on. We keep the scheme under constant review and listen to suggestions for improvements from him and others on how we can make it more effective. The noble Lord’s feedback is valuable, and I will bear it in mind.

Carbon-neutral Homes

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Thursday 10th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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

We are consulting on these matters at the moment. The noble Baroness makes a very good point and I happily pay tribute to the work that National Energy Action does.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

[Inaudible]—climate change risk assessment concludes that the risks from overheating in residential and public buildings as a result of climate change are a top priority for urgent action. Can the Minister update us on progress in reducing this risk, and explain what the Government meant when the noble Baroness said on Tuesday that the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations for the most cost-effective path for getting to net zero by 2050 are

“often a bit more ambitious than our plans”?—[Official Report, 8/12/20; col. 1109.]

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I did not hear the first part of the noble Lord’s question as he was cut off. On the second part, I have not seen the remarks that he refers to, so I shall write to him on that.

Committee on Climate Change: Progress Report

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 1st July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As we recover from Covid-19, we certainly want to deliver a UK economy which is cleaner, stronger, more sustainable and more resilient. Covid-19 has been a powerful reminder of the UK’s vulnerability to systemic risks. Fortunately, job creation and a clean, resilient recovery can be mutually reinforcing, and meeting net zero and our other environmental goals can create employment and economic opportunities.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I refer to my interests in the register. Yesterday, the Met Office published a new study that concludes that, under some scenarios, temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius could occur regularly by the end of the century. Can the Minister tell us, now or in writing, what proportion of buildings in the UK are designed to cope with those temperatures and whether all new buildings, including homes, schools and hospitals, will be built to cope with extreme heat?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said in an earlier answer, we will set out our plans for a heat and building strategy in due course, but I would be happy to respond in writing to the noble Lord’s detailed question about the proportion required.

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 28th April 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said earlier, SAGE does not have a specific membership. The people attending SAGE vary depending on the subjects under discussion; something like 100 participants in total can be called on. BEIS holds a central list of appropriate experts in the different sciences, academia and industry. They are brought into particular meetings when their expertise is required, and that is the call of the Chief Medical Officer and the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, as the Minister will be aware, the process of providing scientific advice is set out in the Government’s chief scientist guidelines. Three key principles of these guidelines are: an open and transparent approach; a full acknowledgement of uncertainty; and to draw on a wide range of expert advice. What is the Minister’s assessment of how well these guidelines are being applied during the Covid-19 epidemic?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser is confident that the role of SAGE is clear, that the business is conducted in an appropriately transparent and open manner, that the group is scientifically rigorous —having, as I said, more than 100 scientists ultimately feeding into it—and that it is totally independent of political interference.