All 1 Lord Moylan contributions to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL] 2021-22

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Fri 25th Jun 2021

Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL]

Lord Moylan Excerpts
Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, another day, another independent commission roaming around telling us what to do. I am sorry to sound a dissentient note, and it is painful that I find myself in opposition to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for whom I have much admiration, but this is a bad Bill and I think somebody should say so.

Of course we should think about the future; that is axiomatic. We do think about it: we think about the future socially and as families. That is not the problem with this Bill. The first problem is that the Bill is avowedly anti-democratic. There is a very helpful essay in the Explanatory Notes explaining why democracy cannot be trusted—an essay that will, I imagine, be read with wry amusement in Peking and various other places. The whole Bill is based on the notion that, in a country that voted to take back control, we should be setting up more and more mechanisms to ensure that people cannot effectively vote for what they want because they cannot be trusted. We have to learn to trust and encourage democracy in this country, not walk away from it.

The second problem with the Bill is that it is, frankly, contrary to the evidence. I do not know where this gloom has come from. The noble Lord, Lord Bird, is not inherently a gloomy figure, but why is it that he thinks we live in a world of utter misery? We do not. What were the generations of the past doing when they built our sewers, roads and bridges if they were not thinking of future generations? What were we doing in the 20th century when we improved air and water quality and started putting in place protections for the countryside if we were not thinking of future generations? Even now, as several noble Lords have said, most of the business of this House appears to be taken up at the moment with putting in place measures that are there to think about future generations. We do not need a Bill with this large apparatus to do that.

There is a third problem, and here I want to say something capitalism and free markets. Capitalism works by thinking about future generations. This might come as a shock to some Benches, but it does. When private entrepreneurs invested in building our railways in the 19th century, of course they were thinking about future generations, because they would never have made their money back—that was their hope—if those railways were not going to run for another 100 years or more. We have the benefits of those railways today. When Sir Jack Cohen started Tesco, he was doing exactly that: setting up something that was going to last a very long time, and could last a long time only if it was predicated on meeting the needs of future generations.

For shortage of time, I take just a couple of examples. What we actually need is more capitalism to make progress. I have so much admiration for the noble Lord, Lord Bird, who has done so much for the current generation, but I deeply hope that he abandons this Bill because it does nothing for future generations while hobbling the democracy of the present one.