Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill
The Duke of Montrose (Deputy Chief Whip, Whips; Conservative)
In speaking to Amendment No. 293C, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 293D. This amendment would ensure that the code of practice inserted at Clause 50 is not confined merely to known non-native species. We fully support the code of practice on known non-native species, but consider that it could be extended to ensure that the effects of hybrid species and their cultivars are kept well under check. This amendment focuses on what should be included in a code of practice and not on the specific control of non-native species. For the code to cover just known non-native species effectively shuts the stable door after the horse has bolted. Non-native species should be tackled at the point of invasion.
Flora locale, an organisation which advises on the use and supply of native flora, has alerted us to a widespread problem in the seed trade. It stated:
"For the people who buy or use native plants for large-scale landscaping, forestry or ecological restoration projects, the lack of information on the native origin of plants they buy has been a significant problem. Currently, the majority of plants and seed on sale do not say where they originate from. There is also a different interpretation of terms, such as 'origin' and 'provenance' used in horticulture. This creates confusion, and makes selection of plants of appropriate origin almost impossible".
Clause 50 would not improve that situation. I understand that this may have implications for the Trade Descriptions Act and would remind noble Lords that this is a probing amendment. The amendment stands to suggest to the Minister that the code of practice, while promising, is not wide enough. The sale of non-native seed species could be detrimental to biodiversity. The code of practice should encourage the planting and establishment of indigenous species and discourage the use of non-native species, particularly in ecologically sensitive areas. To widen the code of practice along the lines of our amendment would ensure that the code is proactive and would assist the trade and the consumer to practice in the best interests of the environment.
On a lighter note, as we consider invasive species, when the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, raised slightly unintentionally the question of Martians, I had visions that we had better get this issue of non-invasive species right in case someone started quoting to us the fact that Martians would contribute to biodiversity. I beg to move.