Edward Miliband debates with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There have been 4 exchanges between Edward Miliband and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Mon 10th February 2020 Flood Response 3 interactions (159 words)
Thu 30th January 2020 Flooding: South Yorkshire (Westminster Hall) 12 interactions (2,041 words)
Wed 1st May 2019 Environment and Climate Change 7 interactions (1,600 words)
Wed 13th March 2019 UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union 3 interactions (103 words)

Flood Response

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Monday 10th February 2020

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers - Hansard

I certainly join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the hard-working staff of the EA and all those involved in the response to this emergency. They do a tremendous job, and they need our support in very difficult circumstances.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Hansard
10 Feb 2020, 4:30 p.m.

May I say to the Secretary of State that three months on from the floods that hit my constituency in November, many people are still suffering and are still out of their homes, and I am afraid Government help for those particularly without insurance, despite promises made, is inadequate? May I direct her to the issue of matched funds, raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) on the Front Bench, because what this means in South Yorkshire is that, although the Government have said they are making up to £1 million available—itself a measly sum compared to the need—that money is not being released because £600,000 has been raised from local businesses and people, but it does not reach the £1 million? This is penny-pinching, narrow-minded and wrong, so may I ask the Secretary of State to look at this again because it is just wrong for the people in my constituency?

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers - Hansard
10 Feb 2020, 4:31 p.m.

I am more than happy to look at this, but I would emphasise that there are many successful examples of where funding has been sought from a range of sources, including businesses, which has led to very successful results, including in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

Flooding: South Yorkshire

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Thursday 30th January 2020

(8 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:09 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point—one that I referred to earlier in my speech.

On the Government’s response to the crisis, the Prime Minister might have visited during the election, but he is yet to hold the flood summit that he committed to, so I ask that he make good on his promise.

I have numerous questions for the Government on helping flood victims in Barnsley and across South Yorkshire. First, will the Government commit to additional funding to support flood-damaged communities? Hundreds of households and businesses are struggling to make ends meet, and local roads and infrastructure need immediate attention. In the short term, capital funding is urgently required, from the £3 million requested by the Doncaster and Sheffield City Region Mayors to the potential resources from the EU solidarity fund or alternative Government funds, so that the ongoing effects of the floods can be dealt with. Will the Government reconsider the match funding of the South Yorkshire community fund?

Secondly, will the Government invest significantly in the coming months and years to prevent flood events such as November’s, which caused such great devastation? It means acting now to mitigate flood risk, rather than employing a sticking-plaster approach that barely deals with the damage that floods cause. Sustained investment in flood protection over the long term should be made available so that councils have the resources they need to undertake flood prevention works. It will require serious investment.

Thirdly and finally, will the Prime Minister honour his commitment to hold a flood summit that brings together regional partners and stakeholders, as well as the relevant Secretary of State, mayors and local MPs? We need to reflect on the lessons learned from the past few months and come up with a multi-agency strategy with aligned investment to plan for the future. The cameras might have stopped rolling, but to the people of Barnsley and South Yorkshire, the effects of the floods continue to be a daily reality.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:11 p.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies, particularly as your mother resides in my constituency, so this debate has particular relevance to your family. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock) on securing this important debate, and it is good to see the Minister in her place. I know she takes the issues around climate change and the climate emergency very seriously and is a sympathetic listener, as I hope she will be today.

My constituents will scrutinise the debate today very closely, because the lives of so many of them have been turned upside down as a result of the flooding that occurred in November last year. As my hon. Friend said, the whole village of Fishlake was underwater, with hundreds of families affected. A sizeable part of the village of Bentley was flooded, with people driven from their homes. Homes in Scawthorpe were similarly affected, and other parts of Doncaster, too. Nobody can really understand the effects of flooding—the fear, disruption, misery, pain—until it actually happens to them or they see it with their own eyes. Doncaster Council estimates that 1,500 people have been affected, either driven from their homes or flooded. That is 1,500 stories of pain and loss. Then there are the businesses whose livelihoods have been damaged: 141 in Doncaster alone. As my hon. Friend said, what makes it even worse for some in my constituency, in Bentley and in Scawthorpe, is that this is the second time it has happened to them. It happened in 2007 as well. They thought, and they believed they had been told, that it would never happen again.

I want to put on the record my thanks to the emergency services and all public sector workers for the extraordinary job that they did: the firefighters from all parts of the country, the police, ambulance staff, the Environment Agency, local councillors and council staff who worked all day and all night; the Salvation Army, who offered temporary accommodation; railway workers who cleared lines; the Army and the RAF, who were eventually called in to help with the crisis. The private sector also stepped up with food, clothing and cleaning supplies. Indeed, people across the country provided donations.

Above all, it is right on this occasion to single out the heroism of the communities in Doncaster for the solidarity that they showed. The people of Fishlake kept the place going, even while it was underwater, including the local pub, the Hare and Hounds. The people of Bentley Town End rallied round each other with a makeshift hub of a local business, Custom Windows and Doors. The people of Stainforth and Moorends in my constituency—villages largely unaffected by the floods—worked day and night to get supplies into nearby Fishlake when it was cut off. Indeed, people across Doncaster helped. The people of Doncaster have set the benchmark for what solidarity looks like. The task now is for us in the House, the Government, insurers and others to do the same.

I want to raise questions similar to my hon. Friend’s. I have five sets of issues that I want to put to the Minister. First, I want to ask about Government help for people who were flooded, including for the uninsured and those with insurance excesses, which can be as high as £7,500 in one case that I know about; and for people who find that they have small print in their insurance policy, which means they have not been covered. The Prime Minister rang me on 12 November, a few days after the flooding began, to ask what were the big issues, and I emphasised insurance in my response. I said that although some people would say it is a moral hazard to help out people who did not have insurance, that ignored the fact that many people could not even get affordable insurance because they had been flooded before. They were offered exorbitant premiums to get themselves insured after the flooding of 2007. He assured me that he would override any objections and would make sure people were properly helped.

Dame Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:16 p.m.

On the Flood Re scheme that was introduced to try to deal with the problem of people who could not access insurance because they had previously been flooded, is it not time now to have a proper review of how the scheme is working, because several groups are not covered by it? It has not helped some of my hon. Friend’s constituents at all.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:16 p.m.

My hon. Friend is entirely right. I was going to mention the Flood Re scheme, of which awareness is very low. I think I am right in saying it does not cover businesses; it covers residential properties. There is a real problem. People find they cannot get insurance with a private company, but they do not even get told about Flood Re and are not aware of it.

The Prime Minister went on to say publicly:

“I know there will be people who are worrying about the damage to their homes, who will be worried about the insurance situation, worried about the losses they face. All I want to say to those people is that there are schemes to cover those losses.”

That is the context in which we should see the up to £1 million that the Government are offering the South Yorkshire community foundation. Any money is of course welcome, but all the evidence is that that money is not enough. According to Doncaster Council, the cost of helping the 188 uninsured or underinsured properties is estimated at an average of £31,000 per property, or nearly £6 million. That is the figure for Doncaster alone. Will the Minister explain how the Government intend to keep to the Prime Minister’s promise and his public statement that there are schemes to cover the losses? If she cannot explain, can she signal today that she is willing to look again at the amount required with the relevant local authorities?

Even worse than the amount of money being given is that the Government have said that they will pay out the £1 million only if match funds are found. I do not believe it was the Minister’s decision, but that really is an insult. More than £500,000 has been raised from local businesses and people. Are the Government really saying that unless the amount raised gets to £1 million, they will not pay out the promised money? In other words, the less money is raised from other sources, the less money the Government will provide to help the victims. It makes no sense. Let us imagine a disaster happening overseas in a developing country. If the Government said they would contribute only if the host country found matching funds, there would rightly be outrage. We are not talking about large sums here. I simply ask the Minister to make sure that the Prime Minister’s promises are kept, and that more money is provided.

Secondly, I want to raise some specific questions about the targeted payments for families, where the Government again need to look at what they are doing. There are council tax rebates for people who have lost half their home and are living upstairs, and that is welcome, but there is a limit on those payments of three months. The council tax rebate scheme ends on 7 February—a wholly arbitrary cut-off date, because there are still people living upstairs because the work has not been done, through no fault of their own.

There is also the issue of the flood resilience grant of £5,000 to prevent future flooding. I have constituents who live in areas that were flooded and who may have narrowly avoided being flooded themselves, and they are being told they are not eligible for the grant, but the measure is preventive and they are clearly in areas of risk, because the areas were not just flooded in 2019, but in 2007 as well. I ask the Minister to consider taking a common-sense approach, so that those in flood-hit areas are eligible.

Thirdly, I want to raise significant issues about the performance of insurance companies. I acknowledge that some insurers have acted speedily, including drying out homes and rehousing residents, but there have been many other bad experiences, which the Minister should be aware of—slow pace of response, drying out of properties not being properly carried out, and attempts to claim that people are underinsured so they are entitled not to the full amount, but only a large fraction of it. I want also to draw attention to particular problems that have been reported to me, about RSA Insurance aggressively driving down people’s claims—something about which I have written to the company. I want the Minister’s assurance that she stands ready to engage on those questions with insurers that are failing in their duties and with the Association of British Insurers. I also want her to engage with the issues that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson) raised about Flood Re, of which there is very low awareness.

Fourthly, I echo the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East made about the large costs over and above the Bellwin scheme that councils face. Doncaster Council estimates those costs to be in the region of £4.5 million to £5 million: £4 million relates to damage to paths and highways. In that context I should like the Minister to explain—this is perhaps the week to do it—the position on the EU solidarity fund. When the 2007 floods happened, the Labour Government applied successfully and received funds to the net benefit of £31 million. When flooding hit in 2015, the Conservative Government successfully applied for £15 million-worth of funding. The recent flooding, for the avoidance of doubt, happened while we were in the European Union, and the Government have 12 weeks to apply for the funding. The deadline appears to be this Friday, coincidentally. My understanding is that all that the Government need to do is to signal an intent to apply by this Friday. I urge the Minister in the strongest terms to do that—or at least to explain why the Government will not do it, and how the money will be made up.

Fifthly and finally, I want to raise the issue of future flood defences, which my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East rightly raised. My constituents want answers. Why did what happened in 2007 happen again? How can we minimise the chances of its happening again? Will the Government put their money where their mouth is and fund what is necessary? The Environment Agency has estimated that we should be spending an average of at least £1 billion a year on flooding and coastal change infrastructure. I believe that in the last financial year £815 million was spent. My constituents deserve to be better protected, and they deserve to know that the Government will deliver. The South Yorkshire Mayor has estimated that a programme in excess of £200 million will be necessary. What does the Minister have to say about that?

Nothing can make up for the trauma that my constituents have gone through, but the Government can show that they have learned from what was, frankly, too slow a response and an inadequate response by properly resourcing the needs of our constituents at the moment, and by fulfilling the promises that have been made. I hope very much that the Minister will take heed of this debate and come back with answers for my constituents.

Ruth Jones Portrait Ruth Jones (Newport West) (Lab) - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:24 p.m.

There is a double pleasure for me in being here this afternoon, Mr Davies—first in serving under your chairmanship and secondly in speaking for the first time from the Front Bench as the new shadow Minister for fisheries, water, coastal communities and flooding.

There may not have been many speakers in this debate, but I am sure you will agree, Mr Davies, that the calibre of the debate has been extremely high. We heard clearly and eloquently from my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock) about the impact in her constituency and across South Yorkshire of the floods that took place three months ago. Most of us in this place spent November 2019 knocking on doors in the coldest, most miserable general election in recent memory. However, my hon. Friend and her constituency neighbours knew it as a time of heartache, pain and loss for many in that part of the world. My right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), whose knowledge and expertise in the area of environment and climate change is unparalleled, made a wide-ranging and comprehensive contribution to today’s debate. I trust that the Minister will take on board his points of concern.

We heard today about the more than 1,000 homes and 565 businesses affected by the floods, and the fact that many roads, bridges, train lines and stations were closed. Like my colleagues, I want to take the opportunity to extend my best wishes to all those who have been affected, and my warmest thanks to the emergency services and all the local authority staff across South Yorkshire who stepped up and provided much-needed support and assistance to those in need. They saved lives, property and communities, and they deserve the appreciation and thanks of Members from across the House.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), who is no longer in her place, for the important point she made about the emotional and mental stress that affects victims following flooding incidents. I agree wholeheartedly with the point that she made. There is an emotional impact to flooding, and the NHS must have the resources to provide the support that people may need.

The biggest obstacle to providing a proper flood strategy for South Yorkshire and the UK more generally is the fact that the Government just do not seem to take flooding and its consequences seriously. To restore trust for the people of South Yorkshire a joined-up approach is required, across regional water authorities, local government and regulators, to provide a single flood plan for an area to manage flood risk and better co-ordinate the response to flooding. There is a climate emergency in this country and across our planet. We see it every day and we hear from our constituents about it every day. Our planet is getting warmer and the chance and frequency of extreme and deadly weather events and patterns increases day by day. Her Majesty’s Opposition will continue to make the case for Britain to be more prepared, as we can be through habitat restoration and by returning floodplain to a more natural state. That would help to prevent the risk of flooding and allow floodplain to absorb more water. That point was made by the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford) earlier in the debate.

Break in Debate

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:38 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. I have listed a very large range of packages that were swung into action. Perhaps her councils are still discussing and talking to our officials about those, and I recommend that they continue to do so. I commend her local people for raising the money, and she can write to me about that afterwards, but I think that at the moment that matched funding stands, as it says, up to the value of £1 million.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:39 p.m.


Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock - Hansard


Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:38 p.m.

I will carry on, because I want to talk about Flood Re, which was raised earlier and is an important issue. Flood Re was launched in 2016 to improve the availability and affordability of household insurance for people who live in high flood risk areas, and it has made an enormous difference. Flood Re was set up as a result of learning from what had happened in previous flooding situations, when people reported that they could not get the right insurance. Indeed, many people from my own area of Somerset fed into the setting up and the working of Flood Re.

In the 2018-19 financial year, Flood Re reinsured more than 164,000 household policies, and 250,000 properties have benefited since its launch. Before its introduction, only 9% of householders who had made prior flood claims could get quotes from two or more insurers, as was commonly highlighted, and none were able to get quotes from five or more. However, since October 2017, after the setting up of Flood Re, the availability has improved so that 100% of households could get quotes from two or more insurers, while 93% could get quotes from five or more. By May 2019, 95% of those with flood claims could choose from at least 10 insurers, with 99% receiving quotes from five or more, which shows that the system is working.

The right hon. Member for Doncaster North mentioned some people reporting that they are unable to get insurance, and there are anecdotal reports that there was no flood insurance in Fishlake, Bentley and Doncaster. The Secretary of State announced a review into what happened there, why it was not available and all those things, and I look forward to its findings. We want Flood Re to function effectively, so I am happy to meet colleagues to go over issues about how it is working and how to make it work better.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:41 p.m.

I welcome what the Minister says about Flood Re, but I return to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East. I know that the Minister cannot commit to making this money available today, but I ask her to go with us a little bit on the logic of this. If only half a million pounds is raised from local people and businesses, less money will be available for flood victims. It makes no sense, when up to £1 million has been allocated, for the Government to then say that they are only going to give half a million pounds. As I said earlier, that would not be acceptable if we were helping a developing country, and it should not be acceptable here at home. I know the money was originally from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government resources, so will she go and talk to her MHCLG colleagues about this and about actually getting the money out of the door? South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation has not yet received even the half a million pounds to get the scheme going.

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow - Hansard
30 Jan 2020, 3:43 p.m.

I recommend that hon. Members go to MHCLG themselves to raise this issue. I have put my case for the amount of finance coming through in the flood recovery package. I will leave that there, but I am listening to what hon. Members say, and I commend the people raising the money.

The Government have absolutely committed to investing in flood risk, to the tune of £2.6 billion, and continue to play a key role in protecting the people affected. Talking about MHCLG, the right hon. Gentleman raised new houses on flood plains and the increase in flooding risk, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford). Planning authorities are responsible for giving the go-ahead for new housing, and they always seek Environment Agency advice on all these things, but planning also comes under MHCLG.

Environment and Climate Change

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Wednesday 1st May 2019

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) (Con) Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:49 p.m.

This debate really matters. It matters to the hundreds of thousands of people across our great nation and the world. This is the mother of all Parliaments. This is the country that had the first industrial revolution. It is our moral responsibility to come together as a Parliament and show the leadership that people across the world rightly expect of us. We today should be building on the radical political consensus that was achieved back in 2008, which brought all parties in the House together and gave any Minister standing at the Dispatch Box legally binding targets on reducing emissions.

I am confident, given the actions taken, that this Secretary of State and this Government will respond positively, enthusiastically and responsibly to the guidance they will receive tomorrow, which will set out why we need to move to net zero carbon by 2050 or sooner. We need today to put petty political point scoring to one side, recognise what this country has achieved and share that ambition to do more and faster.

Like every other Member, I know from going around my constituency that all parts of society we represent—whether schoolchildren, members of the women’s institute or the business community—are asking us to do more. They are also asking us what more they can do. This is about what not only we in this place do, but what our whole country will do—what businesses, public services and people will do. I know that people want to do the right thing, but sometimes they do not know what to do.

I want to make one simple point today, by sharing the great work of Luci Isaacson and Climate Vision in my constituency. Back in 2009, she set up a simple 10-pledge challenge. She got 10 local ambassadors in Truro to recruit a whole team of us to make simple changes in our lives over four months, and between us, we saved more than 3,000 tonnes of CO2. It was not virtue signalling or running out and buying the most expensive new electric vehicle. It was simple things that we can all do, like switching energy provider, which saves money as well as CO2, or eating local, in-season produce and walking more often—all sorts of practical things that save us money, make us feel better and contribute to our local economy.

I set a challenge to every Member of the House today. I know they care very much about this issue and that many of them are riding bicycles and taking all sorts of action in their communities. I ask them to go to my website, look up the work of Climate Vision and make one of those pledges or all 10 of them, so that today we can all commit to reducing our own emissions. We are all leaders in our communities, and we can support and encourage everyone who wants to play their part and make a difference. They can use #10PledgeChallenge, so that together we can send out a strong message that as individual leaders, policy makers and Members of this mother of all Parliaments, we get it, and we are stepping up to the greatest challenge that we will face in our lifetimes.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 3:26 p.m.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton). Her eloquent words on climate change show that the Front Bench’s loss is the Back Benches’ gain and this House’s gain.

The tone of this debate has been largely good-natured and about shared objectives, and that is important. This debate matters, and the emergency matters, because, contrary to what the Secretary of State implied, we are not doing nearly enough as a country. It is true that we have made a lot of progress in relation to the power sector, but 75% of the gains we have made overall since 2012 have been in that sector alone. The latest report of the Committee on Climate Change in 2018 says that emissions in the building sector, the agriculture sector, the waste sector and the fluorinated gases sector have been flat for a decade.

The emergency matters because it says to not only the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or other Departments—the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is also on the Front Bench—but the whole Government that this matters to everyone and that this is not just another issue we have to deal with, alongside all the other issues we face. Every issue has to go through climate change and what we do about it. It is the whole basis of our politics for generations to come. I hope that the Secretary of State will support the emergency, because it will focus minds in the Government.

I do not want to speak for long, but I do want to talk about political persuasion and in particular about how we carry the public with us on this journey. Nice words were said about me, and I am grateful to both Front Benchers for that, but the truth is that I feel a sense of guilt. I feel a sense of guilt that I have not done more on this issue and that I did not do more when I was leader of my party. I talked about the issue, but I did not do more.

It is bad thing that in the 2015 TV debate, which I do not like to recall too much, not one question was asked about climate change, and that tells us something about the fact that Brexit—it is bad enough, given how it sucks the political oxygen out of all the other issues—is not the only reason why this issue has not been more salient, or rather that it goes through peaks and troughs. I think that the reason is that this is the ultimate challenge for politics, because the decisions we make now will have impacts in generations’ time, but less so today. The electoral cycle, if we are honest about it—and we respond to our voters—is five years, or perhaps less, not 20, 30 or 40 years.

Catherine West Portrait Catherine West - Hansard
1 May 2019, 3:29 p.m.

I make a very quick intervention just to say that my right hon. Friend does not need to apologise, because he did write the emissions trading scheme when he was very much part of a Labour Government beforehand.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
1 May 2019, 3:29 p.m.

It is nice of my hon. Friend to say so.

I want to talk about how we persuade people, and I think there are four things we need to do. First, I enjoyed the speech by the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock), who speaks from the Front Bench for the SNP, but I slightly disagreed with one thing. She said a couple of times that we need to tell people their lives are going to be less comfortable. I slightly feel that that is saying, “I’m here from Planet Politics to say you’re going to have a less comfortable life.” I do not mean this in a trite way—I think it true that sacrifices must be made—but we should promise people something else, which is that they will have better lives if we act on climate change. I do not think that is a false promise; I think that is a genuine promise.

If we think about this idea of the green new deal, what is that about? It is about retrofitting every building in this country—house by house, street by street—in the way we did in the 1960s and 1970s when we moved from town gas to natural gas. That is tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of jobs, including for my constituents and the constituents of every Member, and it is about lower bills for people. If we think about our towns and cities, we see that it is about making them much better for walking and cycling—and, indeed, electric vehicles—cutting thousands of deaths from air pollution. My first and in a way most important point is: let us tell people not just the gloomy part of this—it is important to talk about the gloomy part—but that they can have better lives as a result. That is what we are in politics to do.

Secondly, I want to say something about the role of individuals, because I have come to believe that there is something slightly dangerous in this. Every individual has to do their bit, including we politicians, but I think there is something that makes people feel incredibly powerless if we put all the weight of responsibility on them. We are saying to people, “We’ve got this massive problem; your kids are never going to forgive you; and you’ve got to act.”

Let me give the House one statistic. In Norway last month, 60% of sales of new vehicles were electric; in Britain, it is something like 1.8%. I am sure we in this House all love the Norwegians. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] Indeed. But that is not because the Norwegians are intrinsically more green than we are, but because there is a shedload of incentives to go green and buy an electric vehicle in Norway. The point is that this is about system change, not just individual change. Some of this is about decisions not necessarily that individuals are making, but what airports we commission, how we produce our power and all that. Individuals must make their contribution, but incentives matter, and we cannot place all the burden on individuals.

Thirdly, there is sacrifice—the point made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith. We cannot deny that there will be sacrifice, and there will be things we cannot necessarily do that we do at the moment but have to do less. Why have we failed to make some progress on this, and I am thinking back to my time as leader as well? Because I do not think that we or the green movement as a whole have thought enough about how we distribute the costs among those who bear the burden.

The reality about energy bills is that the poor pay a significantly higher proportion of their income on energy bills than the rich. As we think about the £10 billion that goes to support energy companies, which the Secretary of State talked about, we have to think about how those costs are borne through taxation as opposed to energy bills. Unless we do that, people will say, “Well, hang on. The costs are all falling on me, and I can least afford it.” We only need to look at what has happened to President Macron and the protests he has faced to realise that we cannot just say, “It’s green and therefore it’s fair.” We have to make sure that the costs are fairly distributed.

My fourth and final point is about the international angle. The right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), who is not in his place, wrote recently that Extinction Rebellion should go and protest in China, while he seemed modestly to approve of some of its aims. That misses the point: as Secretaries of State and the House know, the reality is that our moral authority comes from our being able to act. There is no way we could persuade China and India to act themselves if we were not leaders on this issue.

My experience at the not-very-successful Copenhagen summit was that China and India would listen to us because, unlike the US, we were actually acting. I cannot emphasise enough to the House the authority that our ability to act gives us. By the way, the Chinese recognise the opportunity. They are installing so much solar and wind power because they know that there is an economic advantage. The issue is particularly crucial in the next 15 to 18 months because of our hope to host COP—the conference of the parties—in 2020. That is the moment when we have to update the Paris targets. We are overshooting, even on the basis of the Paris targets. Unless that conference of the parties takes decisive action, it may well be too late.

Ed Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right on China; it is vital that people understand this. The Chinese are moving ahead very fast. He and his colleagues, and the former Foreign Secretary Lord Hague, were crucial in making sure that the Foreign Office was engaged in climate change diplomacy, persuading the Chinese that the fall in the cost of renewables, particularly solar, made them affordable and that the health benefits of reducing air pollution made them really attractive to their population. The change in the mood in China could be the change in the mood across the world. We need to learn from China, support it and make those points.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard

I agree absolutely with the former Secretary of State.

I want to finish by saying this. I reflect on our cross- party consensus in this country, which is incredibly important. It was created in part thanks to David Cameron’s advocacy of the issue in the 2000s, and it is important that we maintain it. However, we should allow this: there will be different visions of how we get to the same goal. There will be a more socialist vision and a more Conservative one. Part of the grammar of politics that we have to learn is to argue while sharing the same objectives—maintain the cross-party consensus, but have discussions and arguments about how we can meet our goals.

Finally, I should say that there is a downside scenario, which is that future generations will say that we were the last generation who did not get it and we failed to act. But there is an upside, too: if we act, we can create better lives for those future generations.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing) - Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. There is now a formal time limit of five minutes.

UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Wednesday 13th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 8:16 p.m.

I understand what the right hon. Gentleman is saying, but the Government’s position is not a matter for me. I say as a matter of pride that I have never been a member of a Government; that has never been part of my ambition. I must say that it is a lot easier to be Speaker than to be a Minister. My responsibility is to consider amendments if they are tabled. If Members want to table amendments to the Government’s motion, they may do so. I rather imagine, from what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that he will want to do so.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 8:16 p.m.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to echo what my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) has just said. Members across the House heard the Prime Minister say unconditionally that these days would be about a vote on whether we would accept no deal and then a vote on an extension, not a conditional vote. She is sitting on the Front Bench shaking her head. Perhaps she could now, through you, Mr Speaker, explain why what you have just read out is not a conditional vote, because it sure sounds like one to us.

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 8:17 p.m.

Okay. No, the Prime Minister is not seeking to raise a point of order at this stage.