A week in my life: Feb 2019

I recently wrote an article for the Parliamentary House Magazine describing a regular week in my working life – except, nothing is regular here at the moment. I left a debate on Lords’ Reform to go meet school children on their Climate Strike and to get the police to let them use a sound system. I did the BBCR4 review of the papers on Broadcasting House. Oh, and I had to apologise after I got annoyed in the Chamber about silly things being said about incinerating plastic and referred to Conservative Lord Ridley as that ‘fellow over there’.

JJ diary article Feb 2019

 

 

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”

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’”

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.

Latest podcast now available

Ending the war on drugs and what happens next, with ex-undercover officer Neil Woods – listen here

Neil has authored two fascinating books about his experiences as an undercover cop turned whistle blower and he joins me to give us his insights on the war against drugs and explain: how drugs money has caused escalating violence on the streets; why younger children are being used; how drugs money supports others forms of crime and leads to endemic corruption in our police force. Continue reading “Latest podcast now available”

A little bit of vegan goes a long way

For 2019 do you want a fast way to reduce animal suffering, lower your greenhouse gas emissions and lessen your risk of disease? Going vegan is the answer. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to give up everything; you can start with a vegan meal, work up to a vegan day, week, month – there are no rules. Continue reading “A little bit of vegan goes a long way”