All 5 Lord Inglewood contributions to the Trade Bill 2019-21

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Tue 8th Sep 2020
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2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Tue 29th Sep 2020
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Grand Committee

Committee stage & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 6th Oct 2020
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Thu 8th Oct 2020
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Committee stage:Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 13th Oct 2020
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Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard)

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Lord Inglewood Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 8th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I must begin like other Members of your Lordships’ House by congratulating the Minister and my southern neighbour, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn, on their maiden speeches. My short remarks will be focused on my roles, first, as chair of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and, secondly, as a UK parliamentarian.

Cumbria has been identified as one of the most seriously affected parts of England in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Livelihoods, jobs and standards of living depend on trade; its curtailment would be self-indulgent and gratuitous, and the consequences of that would be very damaging and hurtful to a lot of people who are least able to deal with it.

As a UK parliamentarian who was once a Member of the European Parliament, it seems to me that the role played by this Parliament in the matters under discussion is shabby and—as I intimated in Grand Committee yesterday—quite inadequate. In an era when so much domestic policy, and hence legislation, is forged not in Westminster but elsewhere around the globe, Parliament must press this, not least to honour its historic responsibilities to this jurisdiction.

Setting aside the question of whether it is appropriate for trade negotiations to be conducted under the royal prerogative—this can of course be changed by legislation—the Government are fully accountable to Parliament for their action both within and without their own jurisdiction. For hundreds of years, Parliament has had a responsibility for how government policies are implemented and put into legislation within this jurisdiction, regardless of where they were conceived. This makes the Hobson’s choice approach to treaty ratification and putting statutory instruments on the statute book an entirely unacceptable form of parliamentary procedure.

A number of speakers have argued for a range of matters to be put into the Bill—an approach widely supported in the country. As we have heard, the Government’s response is that they are already the law of the land, so it is unnecessary. However, this ignores the widespread suspicion that the Government may, at a stroke, rewrite the rules, possibly using the short- hand form of legislation that I have just described. Parliamentarians and politicians are not trusted, and Governments are trusted least of all. The sad truth is that the more the Government reiterate their mantra, the more distrusted they become. It is a matter of credibility, which is slow in coming at this point.

For me, two priorities have emerged from this debate: first, the wheels of commerce must be kept turning, and, secondly, the way in which Parliament handles these matters must be reformed.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Grand Committee
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This amendment raises some extremely important issues. We will find it challenging, going forward as a country alone, ensuring that any trade agreements we sign meet high standards in human rights, but that is what the Government have promised. It should therefore be straightforward to get that commitment into the Bill and to make sure that Parliament can scrutinise any proposed future trade deals to ensure that this is delivered.
Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 11, a wide-ranging amendment, and make some general comments arising from it. I am particularly concerned about the relationship between leaving the single market—going it alone—and international law, because in various permutations there are a number of aspects that impact on a whole range of things here in this country and more widely, as quite a number of speakers have already pointed out this afternoon.

In particular, I would like to know how the Government would react to an international commitment, hitherto embedded in EU law but also part of international law, which they disliked. As we know from wider political debate over recent weeks, adherence to the rule of law is important—to Parliament, to the public and to the Government. On the other hand, one of the curious consequences of exercising sovereignty in its rawest form is that you are able to overrule the rule of law, whatever you might have signed up to previously.

Clearly, international law has a different impact at home and abroad, but the old, clear line of demarcation between home and abroad, and the relationship between the role of Parliament and the exercise of the prerogative is, I believe, mere fancy, as has been mentioned by a number of speakers. Decisions taken abroad, outside the jurisdiction, may not be directly enforceable in the courts at home, but they define a Government’s standing and credibility and, if implemented, can have a far greater impact on the UK than much domestic legislation.

For all this, I believe that the Committee is fully entitled to a cogent, understandable and comprehensive description of the Government’s approach to these matters, and that it should be given from the Dispatch Box to ensure the whole story—a kind of Pepper v Hart process. How this question is answered may very well determine how my votes are cast if and when amendments to the Bill are pressed: and I dare say that the same may be true for others.

Lord Rooker Portrait Lord Rooker (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I will say at the outset that I was astonished by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine. I shall not comment on it, but I thought it was astonishing—astonishingly negative, I might add. The noble Lord, Lord Lansley, was helpful in the sense that he correctly pointed out the obvious: namely, that the defects of Amendment 33, as he sees them, can be knocked into shape for Report. But that is the purpose of Committee, so I do not see it as a problem.

I was very proud to add my name to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and I agree with everything he said. We have some serious issues regarding China. In the normal meaning of the word, it is clearly using slave labour, and has been for many years. The issue of predatory purchasing of products around the world is really serious.

I hope that the Minister will have picked up by now that there is a general lack of trust in the Government. This has been brought about, I have to say, by speeches from the Prime Minister and other senior Cabinet Ministers. There is a feeling that we want to cut corners and buccaneer our way round the world, as we used to do. All that means is dropping standards and, as I said at Second Reading, less transparency.

I will not go over the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. He will not remember this, but the last time I followed him was in 1978, just after his maiden speech. I said a few complimentary things about it and the late Eric Heffer went absolutely berserk. A review of dependency on China is long overdue. If we are subject to 229 categories of dependency, of which 57 are critical, that is a strategic issue for the Government to look at with our partners and friends, whether inside or outside the EU.

I understand what infrastructure means. I do not have a problem with trade in infrastructure, which is different to the trade in goods. The water for the cup of tea I have just had was boiled in a kettle made in China. The shop where I purchased it had 16 models of electric kettle; every single one was made in China. I am sad to say that the trousers I am wearing—which I would not be standing up in the House of Lords in—were made in China. That is not infrastructure, but I understand what that is; it is listed in the amendment.

It is time for a disengagement. Only one country in the world is named after a family; China is actually owned by a political party. We have to take cognisance of that. It is not the Chinese people, or even the infrastructure of China. It is the co-ordinated effects of the Chinese Communist Party and we ought to be aware of that. So I wholly agree with the sentiments of and the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Alton.

My message to the Minister is: there is a bit of a lack of trust in general, and the Government have to address that in this and other Bills. I too have been waiting for the telecoms Bill. Because of illness, I only got sworn in to the House in late June, so I could not participate in the debates on it, but there are some serious issues. I agree with the Government on telecoms; they are absolutely right. I agreed with Theresa May looking at Hinkley Point and I disagreed with the decision that was arrived at. These issues have to be looked at and addressed. The Minister has to take back to his colleagues that there is a general lack of trust in what the Government are saying and what they might do—hence these amendments.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 6th October 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Bishop of St Albans Portrait The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]
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My Lords, I plan to say a few words on Amendment 20, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. I am also sympathetic to Amendments 23, 25 and 26.

Food production and environmental standards, as well as the safety that they enshrine, are crucial to a healthy agricultural sector that seeks to mitigate the dangers arising from poor practices and the low-quality products they produce. Ensuring continuity has been a big priority for a number of Members. Issues surrounding the responsible administration of antibiotics to livestock, for example, are not national issues but global public health ones. Despite the Bill covering existing trading arrangements, we should not forget that the raison d’être for leaving the European Union was the assertion of our sovereignty. It is therefore right that the existing arrangements, conducted while we were in the EU, ought to be scrutinised by the relevant departments to ensure that the UK does not inadvertently undermine measures to achieve reductions in the risk of disease or contamination—or, indeed, targets for antibiotic reduction.

This by no means seeks to discredit trading arrangements made while we were in the EU, which I am confident already abide by the regulations set forth in Amendment 20. However, the scrutiny put forward in this amendment will guarantee this and ensure that the UK reinstates its commitments to the environment, food standards and a safe and healthy agriculture sector globally through its existing trading partners. I look forward to hearing what reassurances the Minister can give us on this group of amendments, particularly on whether there is some way in which the broad drift of what many of them try to get at can be brought back in the hope that we do not have to table specific amendments on Report.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I am pleased to speak to these amendments because I believe that each and every one of them is important—not least because of their implications as much as their substance, which matters a lot. After all, the legislation around which they are drafted was made entirely properly via the so-called community method, endorsed by Parliament during our membership of the European Union. As a result, they are as legitimate a piece of law as any domestic statute.

When we left the European Union, it was entirely sensible to slide the then acquis directly on to the domestic statute book and to add a provision enabling amendment by statutory instrument. After all, there is a need for all kinds of consequential adjustment. But it does not follow from this that they have to be amended by statutory instrument, merely that they can be. Equally, perhaps, they can as effectively be amended by Act of Parliament.

Clearly, too, when we left the European Union, the power that Parliament bestowed on the Union in respect of international agreements fell away. This means that such international agreements now again revolve around the use of the royal prerogative. However, as has been pointed out on many occasions, the character of the interdependent world in which we now live means that binding international commitments have a much bigger impact on this country than much domestic legislation, which of course is why the CRaG Act was put on the statute book. The reality is, as many people have pointed out, that the procedures under the CRaG Act are a shadow of substantive full parliamentary procedures in terms of scrutiny, checks and balances, transparency and so on, not least because the crucial international decisions are essentially completed before and not after UK parliamentary deliberation, and by then it is a bit late.

The reality of the world that we live in is that Parliament is given Hobson’s choice. In my mind, for serious, wide-ranging legislative change, that is very undesirable and comes about because of a congruence of our leaving the EU and the role of the royal prerogative. Its effect on legislators and the public is substantial in terms of diminution of their involvement, and scrutiny of what is going on. That is one thing for minor technicalities, but not for major policy changes.

The Government have argued this afternoon that they have made promises in respect of a whole range of these things. Of course they have, but, equally, it was interesting that the Chancellor said earlier today that he would try—I repeat, “try”—to deliver as many manifesto promises as he could. Already there is a bit of a let-out there. And let us be clear: it is not unheard of for Governments to change. After all, I think we have had four in the last five years and, dare I say it, sometimes promises are broken. While it is convenient for Ministers to have Parliament rubber-stamp their wishes, it is not Parliament’s role to do so. Rather, we should deliberate on and then accept, refuse or amend the Government’s proposals—and that is slightly different.

The bulk of the amendments in this group reinforce Parliament’s role in developing agricultural and/or food law. It is difficult to think of anything more important domestically than the quality, wholesomeness and origins of the food that we eat here, be it from the perspective of human physical and mental health, its impact on the NHS and public expenditure or its impact on land management and the environment across the country. In a properly organised world, I suggest that significant changes in respect of these matters merit full parliamentary scrutiny, and at least the amendment is a move in the right direction.

The environment and climate change are in the same category. After all, all carbon emissions, wherever they may originate, do not respect national boundaries, and the effect of excessive emissions, regardless of where they originate, is in general terms a bit like putting the whole globe into a microwave.

On top of all this, where proposed domestic change to ex-EU legislation involves breaches of international legislation—something which it is clear from the events of the last few weeks that the country does not like—I do not believe that the Government should be able to proceed towards that unless either the proper international withdrawal legal procedures have been followed or they have first had express parliamentary authority to proceed.

These amendments do not go as far as I would like, but they are a real step in the right direction.

Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley (PC) [V]
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My Lords, I am glad of the opportunity to speak very briefly in support of the amendments that address issues of food safety and the importing of agricultural goods. I had intended to add my name to the lead amendment, Amendment 20, and I concur very much with the points made very effectively by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester.

As was mentioned in the first bank of amendments that we debated last week, dealing with environmental issues, in this Bill we are overlapping significantly with the debates that we had on the Agriculture Bill. That is again the position as we address the safeguards needed against importing food of inferior quality to that produced in the UK or the European Union.

I am not going to repeat the arguments that I put forward on Report of the Agriculture Bill, but it might be as well to remind the Committee that amendments on those issues were carried in the context of that Bill and they are equally relevant in the context of this one. I hope that the Government will bear that in mind as they seek to pass a Trade Bill—namely, to make it acceptable to all parts of this House. I commend Amendment 20.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Thursday 8th October 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Bishop of Blackburn Portrait The Lord Bishop of Blackburn
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My Lords, having made my maiden speech a week or so ago at Second Reading of the Bill, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, for proposing Amendment 35, to which I wish to speak, without, I have to say, the expertise of other contributors, but I shall speak in favour of the amendment on two counts, only simply, as I do not wish to repeat what has already has been said.

First, the need for parliamentary support in both Houses at a preparatory stage of reaching a trade agreement by setting objectives is wise and prudent. If parliamentary support in agreeing those objectives is required only once work on an agreement has begun and is in its later stages, it will prove nearly impossible for Parliament to wind the clock back, debate the objectives and revise a carefully crafted piece of work that has already begun. Undoing what has been worked on over a period with the other party in that agreement could also do serious damage to relationships and could threaten the finalising and reaching of an agreement, so early scrutiny by both Houses on objectives is essential. I know the argument against that position is that it might delay the process with lengthy debates and endless amendments on all kinds of detail, but surely a mechanism could be found to speed up the process even, say, in this House, and enable a fair wind to be given to agreeing the necessary objectives. Once such objectives have been agreed in one instance surely those that follow will not prove to be very different and could proceed more speedily. Agreements will vary hugely, but objectives will remain much the same.

The second reason for my support for Amendment 35 is that paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of the proposed new clause calls for a sustainability impact assessment on

“food safety, health, the environment and animal welfare.”

Selecting just two of that list, the NHS and agriculture, both need to be protected from agreements driven solely by lucrative financial gains. No one can argue against shrewd business arrangements, but finance is not the only factor to be considered. The duty to ensure the future of our fragile farming industry is crucial. Any trade deal that strengthens the decline of that sector is unwelcome. Any trade deal that advocates or allows the further dismantling or privatisation of the NHS must be resisted, and this amendment gives a strong assurance that those protections are guaranteed and are in place for years to come. We have to keep in mind more than just the present. Those who follow after us will pick up the consequences of our decisions and it is because of the seriousness of these concerns that the Bill without Amendment 35 is lacking. I give my wholehearted support to the noble Lord’s amendment.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I speak in support of all the amendments in this group. This is perhaps a paradox, as they may—to some extent—be mutually exclusive. They also touch on a number of other amendments on the agenda of today’s proceedings.

As I said in Committee on Tuesday, the congruence of leaving the European Union and the royal prerogative in a world which is very different from the 1960s and 1970s, leaves much domestic policy, in practice if not in theory, beyond Parliament’s reach. Since the United Kingdom Government are accountable to the United Kingdom Parliament for all their activities, both inside and outside the jurisdiction, Parliament has a genuine locus to impose—or at least place—a framework around government activities abroad. These activities directly determine what happens in this country.

Now that we have left the European Union, we are in reality—to put it in crude terms—tarting our way around the foreign and trade ministries of the world in search of improved and new agreements. This is an inherent consequence of Brexit. In the circumstances, it is the only sensible response to where we find ourselves. I have no complaints about this, though being a suppliant does not necessarily enhance one’s negotiating strength.

My complaint is about the goods we have for sale. Everything is more or less on the table, as is generally the case in the grubby world of politics and, for that matter, in the marketplace. Almost everything is for sale unless it is expressly stated that it is not. There are some things which should be stated as non-negotiable from the outset. I disagree with my noble friend Lord Lansley and agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Smith. In a negotiation, there is a difference between boundaries and aspirations. This is illustrated by the slightly surprising combination of the noble Lords, Lord Alton, Lord Forsyth and Lord Adonis, and the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine, signing the same amendment which we shall discuss later in the passage of this Committee.

Sometimes it is appropriate to simply say “no” as, for example, in the case of the topical, but historic—and not completely analogous—piece of legislation which ended slavery in the British Empire. There was no more argument after that. In the real world, a policy statement leaves the matter in question on the table and hence in play. As a number of noble Lords have said, the CRaG Act is weak and reactive, not proactive. I believe a strong framework is needed around all the Government’s activities in this area, as these amendments propose. At this stage, I am not concerned by the minutiae. Others in this debate know much more about this than I do.

No doubt, the Government will say that they need flexibility to negotiate. They do. All Governments do, wherever they are and however they operate. They should not cross our domestically generated red lines. This was what taking back control was all about. It is the logical corollary of Brexit.

Earl of Sandwich Portrait The Earl of Sandwich (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I support Amendment 35 on parliamentary scrutiny. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, for tabling it. Listening to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, I felt she was a little bit nostalgic for the European Parliament. That was not surprising. I have felt it too. It is not nostalgia we need but the procedure and ideas that came from the European Parliament when we are discussing CRaG. I will leave it at that.

However, I was encouraged by the Minister’s reply to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, earlier on the enhanced scrutiny process, and of course this is only the preamble for Report, which will be very important. I hope and expect that the Minister will be sympathetic to this amendment. He should be, because I believe the Government have been working hard to stretch the CRaG framework above the baseline so that they can then cover a range of issues. For example, the new FCDO is looking at improving the EMs on human rights, and in Committee we have already covered matters such as food safety, health and the environment, which are all to be covered by a sustainability EM, as mentioned by the right reverend Prelate. All these issues, as the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, so sensitively mentioned, and as the Minister knows, are of huge importance and concern to the public, and they will loom large in the US deal. I know we are dealing with Parliament now, but we are also aware of the public.

Amendments 36 to 38 are also needed because they set out the terms of the reporting arrangements required by Parliament for every relevant free trade agreement so that it can be examined and debated properly within the narrow timeframe of 21 days. I was fascinated by the conversation of the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, about Amendment 63, which we will come back to.

NGO and trade union interest in trade deals and fair trade these days is at a much higher technical level and, although stakeholders and civil society are consulted in advance, they also need to be properly informed after negotiations are over and as every deal passes through Parliament. That is part of the process described in these amendments. We owe a lot to Jonathan Djanogly, as has been mentioned, and while I am not sure why reporting comes up in later amendments, I support those too.

The Bill is restricted to rollover agreements, but I understand from previous ministerial replies and statements that the Government are generally and genuinely ready to listen to suggestions and, as has been said, open to improving if not amending the CRaG process. We all look forward to the Minister’s confirmation of this.

Reporting on an agreement is also important for the scrutiny committees themselves, because it is part of their mandate to follow its progress in the months following ratification. I think we were grateful for the intervention of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith. The recently concluded Japan agreement, which we will shortly all be examining, will provide the first test of these arrangements.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I shall intervene briefly in support of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and speak to Amendment 77. We all know that carbon, and in particular net zero by 2050, are currently important political topics. I am afraid that, as far as many people are concerned, that is often where it starts and more or less where it ends, and thereafter it is thought to be something to do with the Government.

In recent months, in my capacity as chairman of the Cumbria local enterprise partnership, I have been involved on the fringe of how carbon policies should be developed and applied in the county. The key to doing that is to develop a language and accounting standards appropriate to accurately measuring the important aspects of the matter and then generating debate about it. The trouble is that to most people these things are at best unfamiliar, very often counterintuitive and almost incomprehensible.

We cannot, I believe, make serious progress in this area—to be serious, progress has to be accepted by the population at large—unless there is a widespread understanding and acceptance of these things in the same way as traditional accounting and economics are the basis of current politics. Green accounting and green economics will be as important as traditional accounting and economics. Indeed, they already are, and we are going through a revolution that is just getting under way. That has already been mentioned in the discussion about this amendment.

On top of that, if ever John Donne was right, it was when he said that no man is an island. I have been criticised by my scientist friends for saying that increasing the levels of carbon in the atmosphere is like putting the globe into a microwave. That may be bad science, but I think it makes the point. It is the globe that is the battlefield upon which this contest is fought, so it does not matter where the emissions originate; they impact everywhere. Therefore, as is frequently and rightly commented, how our economic life impacts both domestically and on the rest of the world is not simply a domestic issue, hence the importance of the amendment. I believe that it goes back to metrics, the language and engendering an understanding of the issues.

The crucial point about this particular topic is that it cannot be kept in a silo. Environmental policies and problems affect everyone around the globe. It is therefore very important that the Government take the lead in ensuring that these matters enter the general debate of political discourse, and it seems to me that what we are discussing with this amendment would be a very good place to start. We could begin to show that we are serious about what we are saying and to uphold our country’s credentials as one that is concerned about the environment.

Lord Oates Portrait Lord Oates (LD)
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My Lords, in speaking to the amendments I declare my interest as chair of the advisory committee of Weber Shandwick UK and as a non-executive director of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

The Government’s policy on climate change, particularly their policy of net zero UK emissions by 2050, is a laudable one that is widely supported across this House, but regrettably one of its most notable features is the absence of any plan to achieve it. Just last week, in answer to a Question in the House from the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, about sponsorship of COP 26 and concern that oil companies among others might use it for a spot of greenwashing, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, told the House:

“We are looking for companies committed to reaching net zero by 2050 with a credible short-term action plan to achieve this.”—[Official Report, 6/10/20; col. 516.]


In view of that Answer, I asked him whether he did not think it was time that the Government themselves had a credible short-term action plan to meet that goal. He agreed that it was, but, sadly, that one does not exist, although it is promised—“shortly”, I think he said, which I am afraid did not give me much reassurance.