Debates between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Wolfson of Tredegar during the 2019 Parliament

Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Wednesday 17th April 2024

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Lab)
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My Lords, can I ask the Minister whether it is the intention of this Bill to stop disinvestment in oil and gas companies associated with a particular country or territory?

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, I will do something very controversial and invite the Committee to look at the terms of the amendment, coupled with the terms of the Bill. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hain, in introducing the amendment, rather oddly for an environmental-based amendment, seemed not to see the wood for the trees, but it paid very little attention to the actual terms of the Bill, so perhaps we could do that; I know this is controversial.

Let us start with the amendment, which seeks to prevent a future Secretary of State amending the Schedule, by way of regulations, to remove environmental misconduct. The predicate for that amendment must be that, as drafted, the Secretary of State does have the power, by way of regulation, to remove environmental misconduct from the Schedule, so let us look at Clause 3(2) to see what this Secretary of State can actually do. By way of regulation, under Clause 3(2)(a), he or she can

“add a description of decision to Part 1”.

That is not relevant because we are not dealing with Part 1 and we are not dealing with decisions. He or she can

“add a description of consideration to Part 2”.

That is also irrelevant because we are not dealing with adding anything; we are dealing with taking away, are we not? So let us look at Clause 3(2)(c): he or she could add

“or remove a description of decision or consideration”,

but only

“added under previous regulations under this subsection”.

What that means is that if Secretary of State A adds a new consideration—let us call it the Wolfson consideration —Secretary of State B can later remove the Wolfson consideration, but the Secretary of State cannot remove what is already there because that has not been added by way of a previous regulation.

Therefore, this amendment is wholly unnecessary, as was the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hain. I do not know whether the noble Lord knows the point I have made but it is correct. I hope he will now withdraw the amendment and not bring it back, and certainly, if I may say with respect, not use a very technical amendment to this Bill to make points that are both factually and materially erroneous.

For present purposes, I stand by the legal point I have made as to the construction of the Bill. This amendment is wholly unnecessary because the predicate to it—that the Secretary of State could remove environmental regulation—is entirely misplaced.