Sentient creatures and Brexit

The Commons came within 18 votes of passing a Caroline Lucas amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would have included protection of sentient creatures. Early next year I shall put this same amendment to the Lords. It is an existing EU principle and one of many principles underpinning EU law and regulation that have been rejected as amendments by the government.

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Pesticides in our food, our soil and our countryside

I asked the Government what steps they are taking to protect rural communities from pesticides and whether they intend to adopt non-chemical farming methods post-Brexit. It is almost inevitable that my question achieves little more than raising a neglected issue on behalf of neglected communities. However, it does allow other peers to join in with their own set of constituent concerns or issues. Continue reading “Pesticides in our food, our soil and our countryside”

Solutions for the farm of the future

As a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism I’ve been asked to look at the findings in a report produced by the New Economics Foundation in collaboration with the Vegan Society as part of their Grow Green campaign.  You can read the full report here but it is essentially identifying the barriers to increased plant protein crop production in the UK and how we can overcome them. Continue reading “Solutions for the farm of the future”

The Government must act to protect UK citizens from exposure to toxic crop sprays

People are often surprised to learn that highly poisonous chemicals – that were originally designed as weapons of war1 – have been allowed for many decades, under successive Government policies, to be sprayed on crop fields all over the UK. The chemical warfare in the countryside – known as ‘conventional farming’ – has resulted in thousands of residents suffering devastating, even fatal, consequences to their health and lives.Sprayer Continue reading “The Government must act to protect UK citizens from exposure to toxic crop sprays”

Going vegan for a week

After hearing about the film ‘Cowspiracy’ which outlines the major impacts of industrialised dairy production on both the environment and the animals themselves, I thought I would rise to the challenge and join in with the Vegan Society’s ‘plate up for the planet’ week. I have to admit to being a bit wary.  Continue reading “Going vegan for a week”

Deposit charge on plastic bottles will work

I was in the House of Lords’ Chamber this afternoon to ask the Government Minister about recycling and waste disposal. It was reassuring that Peers from across the parties were calling on the Government to simplify recycling schemes across the country. Recycling rates vary massively between local authority areas, and in recent years recycling has been falling in England. It’s essential that we take what is working from the highest performing areas and bring all local authorities up to this standard. Recycling should be easy and accessible for everyone. Continue reading “Deposit charge on plastic bottles will work”

Lords debate Brexit

As someone who has advocated leaving the EU for over two decades, I resent people saying I am out to ‘wreck’ the Brexit bill by seeking to amend it. Many of us have huge concerns that we will lose environmental and social protections because of the way the Prime Minister is approaching these negotiations. I am concerned that the Cabinet will attempt to dump protections for everything from wildlife and countryside to workers rights and climate change, by using a combination of exit negotiations and secondary legislation. It is wrong to use the referendum result as cover for by-passing proper Parliamentary scrutiny and the Lords has the job of ensuring that a democratic process is followed throughout the different stages of the negotiations. As for the threats of Lords abolition and replacing it with a democratically elected second chamber, that would be a welcome bonus.

Iran’s ecology under threat from oil rush

This is a crucial time for the local people and environment of South West Iran, as the area faces an oil rush prompted by the lifting of sanctions. I agreed to host a meeting in the Lords (alongside Peter Tatchell) to launch a new report on the Ahwaz region because it makes clear that Iran’s ecology matters most to its minority communities whose lives and livelihood are at risk. Continue reading “Iran’s ecology under threat from oil rush”