There have been 10 exchanges between David Rutley and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
|Thu 25th July 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||27 interactions (662 words)|
|Thu 20th June 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||29 interactions (701 words)|
|Thu 9th May 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||7 interactions (190 words)|
|Thu 28th March 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||11 interactions (189 words)|
|Thu 21st February 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||29 interactions (746 words)|
|Thu 17th January 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||45 interactions (1,234 words)|
|Thu 29th November 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||17 interactions (238 words)|
|Thu 18th October 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||33 interactions (853 words)|
|Thu 7th June 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||23 interactions (563 words)|
|Mon 4th June 2018||Ivory Bill||8 interactions (2,323 words)|
(1 year ago)Commons Chamber
2. What steps she is taking to designate forestry investment zones in England. 
I welcome the Minister’s visit to Northumberland last week and thank him for his kind words. Does he agree that what we need is a whole of Northumberland FIZ, which will be structured to allow long-term private investment to support local landowners to plant and, importantly, maintain extensive commercial and amenity planting projects, so that our 11 million new carbon sinks—our trees—will be a reality, not just a plan?
The Minister knows that the Tory Administration in the 18th and 19th centuries stole the public land from the people. That is the truth of the matter. The enclosure Acts were a stain on the history of this country. Is it not about time that we gave that land back and grew trees on it—and that we did so seriously, not through playing around with words?
3. What steps she is taking to tackle plastic pollution. 
Break in Debate
11. What plans she has to increase tree planting rates. 
I congratulate the Secretary of State on her welcome return to the top table. Earlier this year, her predecessor visited the wonderful Thames Chase community forest in my constituency and planted a tree to contribute to this growing woodland. With the forest likely to be impacted by the lower Thames crossing, will the Minister provide an update on the Department’s biodiversity net gain plans to ensure that major infrastructure projects have the potential to enhance, not detract from, precious green spaces?
Trees are a vital tool in combating carbon emissions, but in Seaford and Alfriston in my constituency, trees are having to be cut down because of elm disease. What support can the Minister give my local council to ensure not just that those trees are replaced but that even more are planted?
Hyndburn Borough Council has planted an awful lot of trees. In fact, I believe that it has planted more trees than any other borough in Lancashire. When will the Government reward Labour councils such as Hyndburn Borough Council for the work they have done to meet the Government’s targets?
I thank the Minister for his response. Tree cover across the UK mainland is approximately 12%, and in Northern Ireland it is only 8%. What is the Minister doing collectively with the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to improve the lungs of the world by planting more trees?
6. What her timescale is for bringing forward legislative proposals to implement the single use plastics directive 2019/904. 
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T6. Yesterday, I was planning to record a video with then Secretary of State to commend the campaign I have run with the World Dog Alliance to outlaw the consumption of dogmeat in the UK. Sadly, events got in the way. I congratulate the new Secretary of State on her appointment. Will she join me and many colleagues in this place in supporting the campaign? Will she meet me and discuss it further? 
Does the Minister share my concern that the Environment Agency states that Yorkshire Water has unacceptable environmental pollution performance, and that Yorkshire Water discharged sewage into the River Wharfe on no fewer than 123 days last year?
Break in Debate
In private, the Government are apparently briefing local resilience forums about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food supply and food prices, and are predicting mass disruption. Will the Secretary of State confirm whether that is true, and will she stop keeping people in the dark? Will she publish this information, so all of us can see whether there are adequate contingencies in place?
On Saturday, I met impassioned climate change activists Cliff Kendall and Donna Tyrelli. Cliff Kendall is on hunger strike to protect the environment. They suggest that the average household can reduce its energy bills by more than £250 a year by switching to renewable energy suppliers. What steps is the Department taking to educate households about such green initiatives that help to cut the cost of living?
(1 year, 1 month ago)Commons Chamber
3. What steps he is taking to increase the rate of tree planting. 
I thank my hon. Friend for his response. However, his passion for planting trees seems to be in conflict with the practice of both Network Rail and Highways England, which have decimated thousands of mature trees that lined the railway and motorway embankments through Long Eaton, Sawley and Breaston in my constituency and that acted as a vital natural sound and visual barrier. May I urge him and his counterparts in the Department for Transport to intervene to ensure that mature trees are reinstated on those embankments as soon as possible?
I planted some 3,500 trees on my land 10 years ago, so I see the benefits. Will the Minister further outline what help, advice and practical and financial support is available for landowners to prepare land for trees to be planted?
Will the Minister join me in celebrating the 9 million trees planted over the past 30 years to create the new national forest? My constituency, at the centre of it, has seen a massive improvement in not only the environment but the quality of life, for visitors and residents alike.
The role of tree planting in tackling climate change is well documented. The right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) promised during his leadership bid to plant 100 million trees. The Minister has been mentioning targets, so it is disappointing to read this week that the Government are falling woefully short—by 71%—of their targets. Can the Minister explain why that is? What is he doing about it? How long will it be before we see the Secretary of State’s targets actually met?
4. What steps he has taken to help prevent food shortages in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. 
In reality, only just over half of the food we eat is made in Britain, with more than a third coming from the EU. Given that the Food and Drink Federation is predicting that after a no-deal Brexit fresh fruit and veg would run out after two weeks, why are the remaining contenders in the Tory leadership battle continuing to entertain this damaging prospect? Does he not agree that scurvy back on our streets is more important than the whims of fundamentalist party members’ wishes?
So will my hon. Friend confirm that my constituents do not need to stock up with tins of Spam or apricots in syrup?
Can the Secretary of State reassure my local businesses, which supply millions of people across the UK with high-quality food products, that enough refrigeration units will be in place to cope with the predicted delays at UK ports after our exit from the EU?
5. What steps he is taking to tackle late agri-environment payments. 
Break in Debate
8. What progress he has made on implementing the tree planting strategy. 
But clearly the strategy is not working when councils such as City of York Council fail to sign up to the White Rose Forest project. As we have heard, the Government have failed to reach their target by 71%, so there is no chance that we will see a growth in the number of trees across our country. Will the Minister look at mandating local authorities to sign up to the Government’s initiative?
9. What plans his Department has to support (a) rare and (b) native breeds in future agriculture policy. 
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T4. Reforesting is an important part of the Conservative agenda on the environment. Does the Minister agree that the Woodland Trust’s Smithills estate is a key part of that strategy? 
T5. An investigation published last week by The Guardian, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and “Channel 4 News” suggested that at least 3,000 deaths each year could be avoided if agricultural ammonia emissions were halved. The Secretary of State said that he wanted to close the current loopholes by 2025. May I suggest that it would be a marvellous legacy for him as he leaves the Department —which he presumably will, whatever happens today—to introduce a comprehensive ammonia reduction strategy? 
(1 year, 2 months ago)Commons Chamber
9. What steps the Government is taking to reduce the risk of wildfire destroying moorland. 
I am grateful to the Minister for that response and for his kind words.
In West Yorkshire alone, there have been three significant wildfires in the past 18 months. The Minister will be aware that, if we manage our moorland and peat bogs responsibly, they will lock in water, which protects us from flooding; they will lock in carbon; and, kept wet, they will also protect us from wildfires. What more can we do to manage those moorlands and peat bogs responsibly?
Staffordshire moorlands has some magnificent heathland, but it has been affected by severe fires in the last year. Those are sometimes caused by disposable barbecues. Has the Minister looked at ways of ensuring the more responsible purchase and use of such barbecues?
(1 year, 4 months ago)Commons Chamber
6. What steps he is taking to help improve welfare standards for puppies. 
As puppy smuggling is punishable as an animal cruelty offence, will the Minister confirm that legislation to introduce five-year sentences for animal cruelty remains a priority for this Government and will be introduced as soon as possible?
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I was inspired suddenly, Mr Speaker.
I asked the Minister about this when he appeared before the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs yesterday: he says that he will bring back the sentencing Bill and the animal sentience Bill when we have parliamentary time, but we have spent an awful lot of parliamentary time sitting around, twiddling our thumbs and waiting for Brexit votes. He could bring forward that legislation very soon, could he not?
Yes, five-year sentencing for animal cruelty must be brought in as soon as possible, but my question is about puppies being smuggled in from abroad. Under EU legislation, five puppies can be brought in legally. Very often, fraudulent veterinary certificates are issued, puppies come in very young and with no socialisation, and it is criminal gangs that profit. When we leave the European Union, can we cut the number of puppies that can come in legally from five to two?
(1 year, 5 months ago)Commons Chamber
2. What steps he is taking to improve welfare standards for puppies. 
Will the Minister join me in thanking the Dogs Trust for all the work it is doing on the issue of puppy smuggling, and will the Government do all they can to stamp out this despicable trade, including reviewing border enforcement and the pet travel scheme?
We all know the welfare of puppies is vital, but will the Minister enlighten us on what his Department is planning to do when it comes to stricter penalties for those who abuse puppies?
3. What steps he is taking to tackle serious and organised waste crime. 
Break in Debate
4. What steps he is taking to improve welfare standards for cats. 
In the interests of equality between cats and dogs, will the Minister look at introducing mandatory microchipping for cats, as is currently the case for dogs? Cats Protection says that 62% of cats in shelters are not microchipped, and it would make returning wandering cats to their owners much easier.
5. What plans he has for fisheries policy after the UK leaves the EU. 
Break in Debate
11. If he will bring forward legislative proposals to ban the human consumption of dog and cat meat. 
There are extensive restrictions in place on the commercial sale of dog meat for human consumption, and I understand that there are similar restrictions on cat meat. Despite those advances, amazingly, the private slaughtering of dogs and cats for private consumption is still legal in this country, and I want that to change. Does my hon. Friend agree that we need to extend the current restrictions to cover the private consumption of dog and cat meat, as my amendment to the Agriculture Bill sets out?
13. What plans he has to introduce more stringent food labelling laws. 
My 15-year-old constituent Ethan McColgan has a severe nut allergy. He is one of 2 million people in the UK who have food allergies. Can the Minister reassure Ethan that this matter is an absolute priority for the Government, enabling him to identify and avoid foods that include nuts, and that manufacturers will be forced to comply?
T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities. 
Break in Debate
T2. Leaving the EU gives us the opportunity to enhance animal welfare standards, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has consistently said that, once we have left, we will control the export of live animals. Will the Minister confirm that all options are still on the table and that a ban remains a possibility? 
T5. What steps have the Government taken to ensure that once we leave the EU pet travel scheme, the UK becomes a listed country so that people such as guide dog owners are not disadvantaged? 
(1 year, 6 months ago)Commons Chamber
1. How much his Department has spent on preparations for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. 
Further to what the Minister has just said, I advise the House that the Secretary of State, in keeping with his usual courtesy, informed me last night of his intended absence. I shall greatly miss him, but we look forward to seeing the fellow again before too long.
Well, I am not sure that the House does understand the Secretary of State’s absence, Mr Speaker. DEFRA questions are only half an hour long; surely those meetings could have been delayed for 30 minutes. My question to the Minister is: will DEFRA be 100% ready in the event of us having to leave with no deal?
We know that householders are stockpiling food and that businesses are spending money that they can ill afford, as is the Minister’s Department, on a no-deal Brexit that would harm the food industry, the farming industry and of course the chemicals industry, which his Department regulates. In a phone call on Tuesday night, the Chancellor said that a no-deal Brexit would be ruled out and off the table by the end of next week. Does the Minister agree?
The Secretary of State is sorely missed this morning. I wanted to commend him for his barnstorming speech last night. Hon. Members and others like myself who represent farming constituencies all received letters before Tuesday’s vote from the farming organisations—the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and Business Association and the Tenant Farmers Association—saying that “above all” they wanted to see a no-deal Brexit ruled out. Given the overwhelming majority in Parliament for that, will the Minister give us some reassurance that the Government will support the view of the majority?
15. Of the six parties in the House, the Prime Minister met three of them last night. Labour Front Benchers are not meeting her, so I suppose we can work out who the Secretary of State must be meeting today. He told me last week that he thinks the other European countries will be looking enviously at the Prime Minister’s deal. Is that still the Government’s position, and if so, are they not concerned that that would threaten the entire European project, because everyone would want the glorious new future that Britain is going to have? 
Last Saturday I had the honour of attending the plough service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Staffordshire NFU, an extremely good organisation representing farmers throughout my constituency. At that service, a number of members came up to me and expressed how concerned they are about any prospect of no deal. Will my hon. Friend set out what the consequences would be for my farmers if there were, indeed, no deal?
14. Without a deal, Scottish farmers could soon face tariffs of 30% on dairy products and 46% on lamb, which would make them uncompetitive and would damage Scotland’s food and drink industry. I would have liked to ask the perhaps future Prime Minister to rule out a no deal, but will the Minister do so? 
It is absolutely right that the Government prepare for all eventualities, including no deal, but does my hon. Friend share my sense of incredulity at hearing those who spent most of this week attacking the deal on the table, and attacking every other deal the EU has ever done, now complaining about the prospect of there not being one?
The Minister is a well-intentioned fella. Will he take a strong message from those of us who care about DEFRA, the environment and our farming sector that we do care, that we are willing to help get this right and that we are willing to do so on an all-party basis, as long as we can bury this nonsense of a no-deal Brexit?
I, too, am sorry not to see the Secretary of State in his place at the Dispatch Box after what was quite the bravura audition yesterday. Someone once said:
“The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want.”
It seems that those cards and paths have been pretty expensive so far. Can the Minister tell us whether his Department’s largesse has sorted out the export health certificate system, which of course relies on a single spreadsheet? Has he made export agreements with 154 countries to replace the EU agreements? Lastly, has this been the worst poker hand ever played?
2. When he plans to bring forward legislative proposals for maximum five-year sentences for the most serious crimes of animal cruelty. 
11. When he plans to bring forward legislative proposals for maximum five-year sentences for the most serious crimes of animal cruelty. 
I am grateful for that answer, but the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs called for five-year maximum sentences in 2016, Ministers promised it in 2017 and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said last June that it would be in place by the end of March this year, but there is still no sign of it happening. Why has there been such a long delay? Can the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs give us a firm, reliable timeframe for when this much-needed change will actually take place?
Can the Minister confirm whether any DEFRA Minister, including the Secretary of State, has had any discussions on five-year sentencing with either the Leader of the House or the Chief Whip in order to secure parliamentary time for this measure?
Can the Government get out of crawler gear and get into first or second, because we have to bring about this five-year sentencing? At the moment, someone who pleads guilty to a horrendous crime of animal cruelty gets a maximum of four months, because they get an automatic 30% reduction. It is crazy that huge amounts of animal welfare abuse happens and we have such short sentences. So please get on with it.
3. What steps his Department plans to take to maintain standards on the care and protection of animals after the UK leaves the EU. 
How will the Minister crack down on puppy farming?
The International Trade Secretary has been touring the world negotiating trade deals in the past few months. Will the Minister say precisely what involvement DEFRA Ministers have in ensuring that animal welfare issues are contained in any agreement that that Secretary of State is concluding?
Can the Minister lay to rest some of the vile scare stories that have been emanating in the past few months about how, in certain circumstances in which we may leave the EU, there will be a diminution in animal care standards? Can he confirm that whatever the circumstances after 29 March we will retain the highest possible standards?
Inside or outside the EU, Boohoo, the online retailer, has been found to be advertising clothing as “faux fur” when in fact it has contained animal fur, including rabbit. So may I ask what checks are in place and what action the Government are prepared to take to ensure that there is no animal cruelty in the clothing industry?
4. What steps he is taking to tackle serious and organised waste crime. 
Break in Debate
T3. Paterson Arran Ltd is a major, important employer in my constituency, and arguably produces the best shortbread in the world. It has written to me raising serious concerns about the impact of a no-deal Brexit. It imports a significant number of commodities, and its business would be seriously damaged by a no-deal Brexit. Will the Minister and the Cabinet now take a no-deal Brexit off the table, extend article 50, and take the vote to the people? 
T6. May I thank the Minister for meeting me and a delegation of farmers from North Devon before Christmas? I am meeting those farmers again tomorrow evening. Can the Minister confirm that the Government are considering their concerns—indeed, our concerns—about the Rural Payments Agency and the Agriculture Bill in particular? 
(1 year, 8 months ago)Commons Chamber
2. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on maintaining environmental and animal welfare standards in future trade agreements. 
I begin by congratulating DEFRA on the contribution that it has no doubt made to the excellent Government document on the implications of Brexit. In the section on agri-food we see that a no deal could produce a 35% reduction in competitiveness, and even the Prime Minister’s estimates predict a reduction of 7%. So will the Minister confirm today that we will not allow unfair competition from imports from countries that produce to lower standards?
My hon. Friend will be aware of the overwhelming support for a ban on the export of live animals after we leave the European Union, and I know he has great sympathy with that position. Can he confirm that under the terms of the withdrawal agreement that would still be possible?
I recently met the lovely children in the reception classes of St John’s infant school in Dewsbury. They have written to the Secretary of State because they have been learning about the poaching of elephants and rhinos and they are really concerned about it. Can the Minister say something today to reassure them so they know we are taking action on this?
Will the Minister ensure that under any future trade agreements it is a requirement that food imported into the UK be produced to at least equivalent standards to those required of our domestic producers?
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said in its report on the Agriculture Bill that the Government should put their money where their mouth is and accept an amendment stipulating that food products imported as part of any future trade deal should meet or exceed British standards relating to production, animal welfare and the environment. I have tabled such an amendment; will the Minister undertake to accept it in order to keep Frankenstein foods off the tables of families the length and breadth of these isles?
3. What steps he is taking to reduce levels of air pollution to legal limits. 
Break in Debate
T4. Guide dog owners rely on their dogs to get around safely. They are rightly worried about what will happen with EU travel after any transition period or, worse still, in the event of no deal, which would require four months of advance planning. What contingencies have the UK Government put in place to minimise delays to guide dog travel? What post-Brexit arrangements will there be for pet travel? 
T2. Rural roaming can bring huge benefits to farmers, businesses and our rural communities. We are at a key point in trying to deliver it, so will my right hon. Friend commit to use all his considerable energy to convince the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that it is the right thing to do, is affordable and can be done quickly? 
(1 year, 9 months ago)Commons Chamber
1. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on maintaining food and drink standards after the UK has left the EU. 
The National Audit Office’s report on DEFRA’s readiness for Brexit says that the Department
“will be unable to process the increased volume of export health certificates”
on current capacity and that
“consignments of food could be delayed at the border or prevented from leaving the UK.”
Ports will be gridlocked and the quality produce of Scottish farmers will not reach its foreign markets. There is a spreadsheet to take the place of the EU’s TRACES system—how does the Minister intend to fix this by March?
At the Public Accounts Committee on Monday, we heard from DEFRA officials about preparedness for Brexit, and we are very concerned. One of the biggest concerns is that many businesses do not know what they will have to do to comply with the rules around Brexit. What is the Minister doing to make sure that real effort is going into telling those companies and businesses how they should be preparing?
This year we saw the highest-quality fruit and veg grown on these islands rotting in the fields because there were not enough workers to pick them. Yesterday the chair of the Migration Advisory Committee said that the fruit and veg sector would shrink if its policies were followed—that would mean farmers going out of business. Does the Minister agree with him that that is a price worth paying, or does he agree with me that ending freedom of movement is a huge mistake?
2. What steps he is taking to increase tree planting. 
5. What steps he is taking to increase tree planting. 
Does the Minister welcome the work of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy programme, which is providing saplings to MPs across the country to plant in their constituencies?
Trees are carbon sinks that lock in greenhouse gases while promoting biodiversity, so what steps is my hon. Friend taking to press forward with forestry investment zones for large-scale woodland creation?
I call Tom Tugendhat, who has Question 6. Where is the fella? He is not here. I hope he is not indisposed. I think it is more likely that the hon. Gentleman is planting a tree.
Trees play a vital role in upper catchment management, by preventing flooding. Environment Agency representatives said in a meeting last week that upper catchment management needs prioritisation. How is the Minister planning for that, and will he ensure that there is provision for it in the Budget?
I welcome the Minister’s response. On my land back home, we have planted some 3,500 trees over time, but the important thing is to have trees planted by young people. The Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland, led by Patrick Cregg, is running a scheme whereby every school will plant a tree. Has the Department had an opportunity to engage with the Woodland Trust and education providers to make that happen?
Given the huge importance of trees to our environment and our quality of life, does the Minister agree that we must ensure that the planning system protects protected trees and woodland wherever it can when new development is being considered?
Tree planting is important for ecological diversity and protecting vital habitats. Sites of special scientific interest protect the UK’s most important places for trees and wildlife, but a Greenpeace investigation has found that almost half of SSSIs have not been examined in the last six years, as required by national guidelines. Now that the Prime Minister has announced an end to austerity, what new resources will the Minister commit to, to reverse the alarming neglect and decline of habitats and species across the UK?
If the Minister cannot commit to new resources for our habitats, what commitments can we expect in the Budget to restore our beloved local parks, which are so important to the environment, health and local communities? Will the Minister confirm how much funding the Government’s parks action group has been allocated and how many of the group’s recommendations he has delivered?
3. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of the water companies on their performance. 
Break in Debate
8. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on UK participation in the European Food Safety Authority after the UK leaves the EU. 
I appreciate that the Minister has already addressed a similar question from the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden), but this contribution should not be seen in any way as evidence of collusion between me and the Scottish National party. As we move from—to use Fintan O’Toole’s phrase—the “epic dream” of Brexit to the nightmare reality, we find ourselves having to deal with more and more aspects of minutiae. I implore the Minister not to forget the dairy farmers of Northern Ireland and, particularly in this area, to concentrate on discussions with Cabinet colleagues so that we do not let down those dairy farmers, who face a terrible future as a result of that disastrous decision of June 2016.
(2 years, 2 months ago)Commons Chamber
3. What assessment he has made of the effect of changes in the level of funding for flood defences on the effectiveness of those defences. 
The 2015 Boxing day floods devastated the Redvales and Radcliffe areas of Bury. The Environment Agency has drawn up a £37 million flood defence scheme for the area but, after raising £30 million between the EA, Greater Manchester and Bury Council, there is a £7 million shortfall. That shortfall would be covered if the bid with the Minister were successful. After being unsuccessful in the first round, we are to be considered again for funding from the £40 million pot for deprived areas. Can he update me on the progress of the bid? Successful bids to date have protected fewer than 100 homes, but ours would protect 1,200.
Mr Speaker, I am sure that you have seen the devastating pictures of flooding in Birmingham, the wider west midlands and other parts of the country, including 30 to 40 homes in my constituency. Is it not the case that it was the Conservatives who secured universal affordable flood insurance for the victims after inheriting a situation in which the Association of British Insurers had given notice to end the so-called statement of principles in 2008?
I join the Minister in sending our sincere condolences to the family of the gentleman who sadly died in Walsall following the extreme flash flooding earlier this month. I also pay tribute to the emergency services and others who worked so hard to protect our communities during that period of extreme weather.
Further to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (James Frith), in the 2017 autumn Budget, the Government allocated £40 million to boost regeneration in communities at high risk of flooding but, six months on, not a penny has been allocated. Will the Minister tell the House what is causing that delay?
Will the Minister confirm that the creation of 15 hectares of new habitat remains a funded part of the Oxford flood alleviation scheme, which may affect my constituents?
The best form of flood defence is upper catchment management, yet the £45 million provided in York is going towards downstream emergency measures. It was not incorporated in the national strategic review, so what are the Minister’s plans to start investing in upland management?
The Minister will recall that the entire Humber estuary, particularly my constituency, was badly affected by a tidal surge in December 2013. There is still concern among residents that insufficient work has been done. Will the Minister meet me and neighbouring MPs to provide an update?
4. What steps he is taking to reform producer responsibility systems to incentivise producers to take more responsibility for the environmental effects of their products. 
Break in Debate
7. What plans his Department has to limit the environmental effect of fracking. 
Given that lots of people are concerned in certain areas where fracking can happen, what is the Minister doing to hold meaningful discussions and involve them in the decision making, so that they feel that their voice has been heard?
Why does the Minister not make a statement on behalf of the Government to stop fracking altogether?
(2 years, 2 months ago)Commons Chamber
We have had an excellent debate this evening, and I thank Members from across the House for their contributions. To reiterate what my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State said in her opening speech, the Labour party welcomes this Bill and we will be supporting it this evening. Of course we will, however, be seeking to play a role in testing and tightening it in Committee, particularly on its exemptions.
We have heard some well researched and articulated speeches and interventions, and I shall mention just a few. My hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Liz Twist) and the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), among others, made an important point about online sales. There must not be an online market for such items, and I would be keen to explore every opportunity to close loopholes for the sale and trade of ivory as this Bill progresses. My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh), the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, and others made an important point about the funding of the National Wildlife Crime Unit. It is an important part of resourcing the enforcement efforts required to really enact this legislation in the way that we envisage, and I look to the Government to reassure us further on that point and commit to funding the unit beyond 2020.
The right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) made a passionate speech based on his experience in this policy area and rightly paid tribute to the bold action taken by the Chinese Government. He also reflected on the difficult and insatiable relationship between supply and demand that will persist unless we step in and sever it.
The hon. Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) made a characteristically interesting speech that I thoroughly enjoyed. He made a serious point about the economic impact on certain countries of banning the ivory trade and what we might need to consider by way of support as we move through the transition.
It is worth reflecting on the public’s role in the progress that has led to the Bill before us and thanking them for their contributions. I am mindful that the last time the House debated this issue was in a Westminster Hall debate on an e-petition calling on the Government to shut down the domestic ivory trade, which secured more than 100,000 signatures. Further to that, as the Secretary of State mentioned, after the Government opened their consultation on the proposals at the end of last year, a staggering 70,000 people and organisations responded. More than 80% of responses were in favour of measures to ban ivory sales in the UK; that has no doubt assisted in the shaping of the Bill.
I think, based on the contributions we have heard, that we all share a great sadness that the illegal wildlife trade has grown rapidly in recent years. It is absolutely right that we take robust domestic action to tackle it head on, while demonstrating leadership on this issue to the rest of the world. Despite the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, to which 183 states are party, and the introduction of an international ivory ban in 1989, we have still witnessed a worrying upward trend in illegal killings since the mid-2000s. As we have heard, recent estimates of African savanna elephant populations indicated a 30% decline in numbers between 2007 and 2014. That is 144,000 fewer elephants.
The examples of decisive action taken by the US and China have already had a positive impact, so we welcome this domestic action, which we hope will help to turn around the situation. One issue that we wish to explore further in Committee is the possibility of displacement and unintended consequences, for which we will have to be ready. There have been suggestions that the Chinese Government’s interventions on ivory may have brought about an increase in trade in neighbouring states in which controls are more relaxed. I was interested to hear the point made by the hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham) about mammoth tusks, which proves that workarounds will be found by unscrupulous poachers if there is scope for them to find them.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), the hon. Members for North Dorset (Simon Hoare), for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) and for Mid Derbyshire, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire and several others made the point that clause 35 sets out the meaning of ivory as being
“ivory from the tusk or tooth of an elephant.”
Both the Bill and the explanatory notes reflect on the possibility of a clampdown on elephant ivory resulting in an increased threat to other animals—such as hippopotamuses or a variety of marine animals—but neither offers a comprehensive framework for responding to that threat. Sadly, we can envisage that unintended consequence becoming a reality if we are not prepared for it.
Labour has long been the party of animal welfare, from banning foxhunting and fur farms in the UK to the introduction of the landmark Animal Welfare Act 2006, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess) for acknowledging that. In an insightful speech, the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish), said that nobody could get legislation through quickly like the Secretary of State. That having been said, we welcome the opportunity to congratulate the Secretary of State and his team on finally bringing some legislation to the Chamber. For all his bold announcements, we are reassured that he is finally translating the words and consultations into action and law change, as this is the first piece of primary legislation that we have seen from him since his appointment to the role.
Earlier, the hon. Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) made the point that if the Government can implement a comprehensive ban on ivory, they could also look into a comprehensive ban on fur, as debated in Westminster Hall today. Further to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East, they could also look into banning the use of animals in circuses. We look forward to seeing legislation on both those issues in the not-too-distant future. Again, we welcome the legislation before us and look forward to revisiting the detail in Committee.
I have been listening very carefully to what my hon. Friend is saying. When it comes to the Committee stage of the Bill, will he look very carefully at what colleagues on both sides of the House have said and extend the ban to include, for instance, rhino horns?
I should declare an interest in relation to a visit I made to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, much conservation work is done with Asian elephants. Currently, however, Sri Lanka is not eligible for aid funding. In line with what my hon. Friends the Members for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) and for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), among others, have said, will the Minister agree to look at how more aid funding could be allocated to supporting conservation efforts?
The Minister touched on the conference in October. As there is tremendous, overwhelming and, I think, unanimous support for the Bill, how quickly does he think he and his colleagues can get it through the Commons, through the other place, and on to the statute book?