My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comments, especially about continuing dialogue and revisiting this; that is incredibly important. I thank all Lords who have contributed. It is obvious that we all think there are problems with the Bill. I hope that not just the Minister is listening but the Government, and that they understand the depth of concern we are expressing here.
Lord Khan, called my previous summing-up speech “candid”. At first I thought that was a compliment, but then I thought that it actually sounds like something out of “Yes Minister”, when the civil servant says: “Yes, very brave, Minister—very candid.” I hope I am candid, but at the same time I try not to be rude—I do not always succeed.
I welcome the support of Lord Anderson, however tentative, and thank him for his examples. Quite honestly, I wish I had asked him to present my Amendment 104. I think he would have made a superb job of it, and I look forward to him using his teeth on Report. Quite honestly, if it comes to a challenge between the Government and the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, my money is on him. He has my full backing.
Lady McIntosh of Pickering—I sympathise with her visit to the dentist and hope she is feeling better—is right to say that our amendments take things forward. I will be keen to push this on Report.
Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, used an extremely good phrase about working for future generations that I wish I had used. That is absolutely crucial when we are dealing with this Bill. It is not just for now, the next six months or the next few years but for future generations. He was also quite generous when he said that the Government believe in the rule of law. I have huge respect for the Lord, but I am not sure that is true. I think the Government talk about the rule of law but do not actually observe it; that is my observation of how they behave. We must trust the judges, as he says.
Lord Krebs, for whom I have huge respect, said that the office for environmental protection has to wield a big stick. That is absolutely right; it has to have the authority and the power to achieve all sorts of things. He also felt that Amendments 104 and 107A were a step too far, but I do not see why that is a valid argument. Quite honestly, giving up money hurts, and somehow we have to make it punitive.
Lord Caithness, said that the OEP has to be independent and authoritative; that is absolutely right. He also said that financial penalties can be effective but then suggested that, because the money was recycled, perhaps it was not that effective. Again, I disagree. It is not only the pain of the penalty but a visible example of the fact that the Government are wrong.
I thank Lord Hope of Craighead, for his support. He emphasised the value of case law—something that was used a lot when we were in the EU—where the Government are really held to account.
The lay woman’s view from Lady Young, is extremely valid and very cogent. I thank her for her support.
The Bishop of Gloucester talked about leadership and COP 26. The fact is that we need an Environment Bill that will look good on the statute books when we get to COP 26, or our Government will be seriously embarrassed. The fact that the OEP will have fewer resources than the preceding body is a matter of huge concern. She also said that the window for action was closing, which is absolutely true, not just of this Bill but of all our actions on the climate emergency. At the moment we are seeing endless examples of very unusual weather patterns, whether in Canada or over much of Africa. We have to understand that we have to act urgently.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern, pointed out the illogicality of the Bill—I really enjoyed that—and the fact that environmental law is seen as a grade below other law. That is absolutely true. I think Defra has much lower status than other parts of the Government, and that is a terrible shame. It should be involved in absolutely every part of government.
I was delighted to hear Lord Cormack, with his customary common sense, support the polluter pays rule. Of course polluters have to pay and the Bill has to stand the test of time. He said that it is “riddled with absurdity”. I wish I had said all this; it is much tougher than what I said.
Lord Duncan of Springbank, freed from the shackles of collective responsibility of his ministerial post, has joined our forces—I welcome him—and spoke strongly about the need to give real teeth to the new system of environmental protection. I thank Lady Parminter, for her support of Amendment 104. She made the very valid point that the Scottish body is more powerful. Why would we do less than our Scottish cousins? The idea that the Government are using the term “world-beating” alongside the words “office for environmental protection” here in England is ridiculous.