Meeting with Minister on Trade Bill changes

I had a meeting this week with Trade Minister Baroness Fairhead to discuss my amendment to the Trade Bill which aims to make our existing standards the foundation of all new trade agreements. Despite the number of advisors in the meeting on the government side, no one could give any reason why my amendment was bad in law or in principle. From what Ministers say in public, we are all in agreement about not using trade deals to lower standards. The main disagreement is over whether we need this principle enshrined in law. Continue reading “Meeting with Minister on Trade Bill changes”

Further questions on child spies

The police now have a four-month period before they have to review the deployment of individual child spies. I want to know if this change in the rules by the government will lead to the police using child spies more frequently. As well as putting forward a series of written questions (below), I will ask this question of the Government on 18thMarch:

“Further to the Regret Motion of 16 October 2018, what assessment has Her Majesties Government made of the recruitment, use, deployment, numbers and oversight of children used as spies by the Police?” Continue reading “Further questions on child spies”

Nearly 2000 air pollution ‘hotspots’

A data audit by Friends of the Earth has revealed the 1,845 sites across the UK that have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels, which is set to protect health. High levels of NO2 can cause a flare up of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing. A leading cause of NO2 pollution is emissions from road traffic. Continue reading “Nearly 2000 air pollution ‘hotspots’”

Why I oppose ‘no deal’ Brexit

“I voted with Labour and Lib Dem peers (plus a few Conservatives) for a motion that ruled out the diaster of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. As well as the obvious impacts on food supply, businesses and people’s lives, there is a huge backlog of legislation that the government is failing to get through.

It is staggering that by the 29th March we have to deal with: 6 major Bills; 9 statutes; 600 statutory instruments; 120,000 EU statutes to transfer in UK law; produce a schedule for WTO; and 5,000+ WTO product lines to be agreed by 163 WTO countries. The only sensible option is to rule out a no deal.”

 

Categories EU

Farming and climate change

Following a recent meeting with the National Farmers Union (NFU) I asked the government what they were doing to reduce the 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gases that come from the agriculture sector. There are quite a few initiatives being taken, but none on the scale needed to make a significant impact, according to the Climate Change Commission.  The draft Agriculture Bill offers a rare chance to change the system of financial incentives to give a boost to public goods, such as reducing climate change and rewilding the countryside.

Many of the follow up questions from other peers raised vital points about reducing food waste and the failure of voluntary measures. Also, the need for a clear government timetable for reducing emissions down to zero. This is how the Minister replied:

“With the environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill, we will bring forward an environmental land management scheme where mitigation of and adaptation to climate change are going to be so important. Therefore, public money for public good is part of what we are providing, along with specific schemes to reduce, for instance, ammonia.”

As the NFU have made clear, the big challenges of Brexit are as a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared with the climate emergency which is unfolding on our planet. I hope the environmental movement will try its best to use the Agriculture Bill to fundamentally change how we produce what we eat. While we as consumers think carefully about what we eat.

Stansted 15 must be freed

We urgently need new legislation to exempt those taking part in non-violent direct action from all the anti-terrorism legislation that has been passed in previous years. That legislation was not (we hope) designed to throw peaceful protestors into prison, but it is now being used to jail fifteen citizens whose ‘crime’ was to stand in the way of deporting people, some of whom have subsequently won the right to remain. Continue reading “Stansted 15 must be freed”

Buffer zones between rivers and farms to bring back beavers

Creating a 20m buffer zones between all watercourses and farmed land would leave space for a wide range of wildlife and plants to flourish, including beavers. I will be asking the government (3rd December, Oral Question) to introduce such buffer zones as part of a rewilding of the countryside. Such a move would instantly create natural corridors that would allow rarer species to travel and migrate in response to a changing climate. Continue reading “Buffer zones between rivers and farms to bring back beavers”

Solar Alliance to light lives of a billion people

I find the ambitions of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) enormously exciting, which is why I organised a Lord’s debate on the UK Government signing up to them.  It is an international agreement, formed at the United Nations by treaty between 121 states. Importantly, the alliance is being led by India, which makes it the first large-scale climate initiative to be led by a ‘developing’ country. Together the signatories seek to raise $1 trillion US dollars for investment in solar power, and by 2030 the treaty aims to provide affordable green energy to a billion people who do not currently have any electricity. These are lofty goals and they demonstrate an understanding that green investment gives the opportunity to significantly increase the living standards of the world’s poorest while protecting the ecological resources on which all our livelihoods depend. So far, all good. Continue reading “Solar Alliance to light lives of a billion people”