UK Internal Market Bill: Second Reading

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My noble friend Lady Bennett would like me to explain that we are dividing this Bill between us and she will speak on the internal and devolution issues. She abhors the destruction by this Bill of the rights of democratic devolution that have been embraced and exercised by the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has long had a distinct education system with higher qualification standards for teachers. The Senedd too has plans for better control of single-use plastics than we have managed here in England. Continue reading “UK Internal Market Bill: Second Reading”

Brexit – what next?

Politicians in the UK have largely wasted the last four years discussing border arrangements, rather than the icecaps melting, rivers flooding and forests burning. The environment and our rapidly changing climate doesn’t recognise legal boundaries or custom checks. Despite the admirable efforts of Extinction Rebellion, Parliament has made few actual changes to end or even limit the damage we are doing to our planet. That has to change and I can only hope with January 31st out of the way, we can focus on promoting the New Green Deal and other essential changes. Continue reading “Brexit – what next?”

Withdrawal Bill needs to include scrutiny for any backwards steps on the environment

With all the Henry the Eighth powers, secondary legislation making powers, and judicial erasure powers that Parliament will have handed to the Government in the Withdrawal Bill and other Brexit legislation, Ministers are going to find themselves with an unprecedented ability to rewrite enormous aspects of UK law at will. The Commons will be effectively by-passed and the Lords may feel compelled to wave it all through, as happens with almost every piece of secondary legislation. For this reason, it is so important that we put a backstop into law now, to protect environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards. Continue reading “Withdrawal Bill needs to include scrutiny for any backwards steps on the environment”

Crowdfunder: referendum law breakers

For democracy to work fairly and effectively, all campaigners and parties must operate on a level playing field; no one can be above the rule of law.  Whichever way we voted in the referendum, we should all agree that wrong doing needs to be dealt with.

That is why I have joined with other concerned politicians and ex-politicians, Tom Brake MP, Ben Bradshaw MP and Fiona Mactaggart who believe in accountability and that is why we are asking for your support in our legal action. Continue reading “Crowdfunder: referendum law breakers”

Trade Bill update

My amendment on the Trade Bill was debated this week, with support from Labour and Lib Dems. It contains the current protections for the standards we have. But the Government seems reluctant to accept it, even though the Prime Minister herself has said that she doesn’t want to weaken existing standards in future trade agreements. At the moment it would be possible for Ministers to use statutory instruments to change the rules on this, but my amendment would guarantee these minimum standards were kept for rolling over all the trade deals that we currently have as a result of EU membership.

Continue reading “Trade Bill update”

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”

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. Continue reading “Farming and climate change”