Withdrawal Bill debate shows why we need Lords reform

One of the surprises of life in the Lords is that our laws are partly decided by the bar room stamina of government supporting peers. The Lords defeated the government three times yesterday over the charter of fundamental rights and also earned a good concession from them over the protection of public health. The Opposition was on a roll and not one of the peers in the chamber got up to speak against the amendments sponsored by green NGOs to retain the EU’s environmental protections and principles. No one opposed, but vast numbers of Conservative peers were hanging out in the bars and restaurants, waiting for their whips to call them to vote. In the end, the Minister rose, made concessions and the amendment was withdrawn. Continue reading “Withdrawal Bill debate shows why we need Lords reform”

Lords can defeat government on EU rules

This is a busy week in the Lords as we have the chance to defeat the government on some key amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill which retain crucial environmental principles. I’m hoping for lots of votes. The Labour and Lib Dem whips mustn’t skip over anything crucial because they are worried about the Lords over stepping its role. If something is wrong with the legislation, then we need to say so. 

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Protecting human rights post Brexit

The Government promised that the EU Withdrawal Bill would bring across all the EU laws and turn them into British laws, so why aren’t they doing that? By exempting the Charter of Fundamental Rights they are significantly weakening the current system of human rights protection in the UK. If that is their intention, then let the Government have a proper discussion about it, rather than sneaking it through as an exemption in part of the much broader debate about the EU Bill. Continue reading “Protecting human rights post Brexit”

I still want to leave the EU, but I absolutely cannot support the [Government’s] Bill as it stands.

My speech to the Lords yesterday here and below

My Lords, I did something very controversial during the EU referendum campaign: I went against my own party’s remain position. I campaigned to leave the EU because the EU is a top-down project designed to promote endless industrial development and economic growth. It remains my strongly held belief that we can have a greener, fairer, healthier country by leaving the European Union. In taking this view, I feel a strong personal responsibility to Greens everywhere and to the country to do what I can to ensure that Brexit is a success for the environment. I still want to leave the EU, but I absolutely cannot support the Bill as it stands. Continue reading “I still want to leave the EU, but I absolutely cannot support the [Government’s] Bill as it stands.”

A 25 Year Environment Strategy that won’t last five minutes

The Government’s long awaited 25 year strategy for saving the environment will make very little impact on decisions made in the Treasury or other Ministries, unless there is hard law to make sure it all happens. 

With the UK government already in breach of many of its environmental commitments, environmental campaigners are increasingly reaching for the law in order to make change happen. Client Earth have taken the Government to court over air pollution, and won three times. It’s taken repeated legal threats from the EU for the Government to do anything about cleaning up our polluted rivers. Continue reading “A 25 Year Environment Strategy that won’t last five minutes”

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”