Clause 101 — Statutory Nuisance: Insects

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 6th April 2005.

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Lords amendment: No. 3.

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 4.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Lords amendments will exclude most farmland, woodlands, reedbeds, osier beds, market gardens, nursery grounds, orchards, other land on farms designed in regulations by the Secretary of State or, of course, by the National Assembly in relation to Wales, and any land included in a site of special scientific interest, plus most forms of water—rivers, lakes, ponds and so on—from the application of the statutory nuisance regime to insects that emanate from them, thus meeting the concerns that clause 101 would adversely affect biodiversity by incurring action against concentrations of naturally occurring insects on farmland.

I am sure that it is generally agreed by hon. Members on both sides of the House that we want to encourage biodiversity, and it was never the intention that the Bill should apply in those circumstances. Organisations, such as Buglife, expressed some concern that there could be an unintentional misuse of what is generally agreed to be a positive measure in the Bill. I am happy that the Lords amendments improve the Bill and deal with that concern, and I am therefore happy to commend them to the House.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on listening to the concerns of what is a very important industry to the UK. As my constituency is probably substantially more rural and agricultural than his, the fact that, without these Lords amendments, set-aside would otherwise have been introduced would not have been very well received, so I congratulate him and those in the other place for taking action. The Lords amendments will be most warmly received by the bugs industry, and indeed its beneficiaries—the producers and growers.

Photo of Mr Richard Allan Mr Richard Allan Shadow Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, Cabinet Office, Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

These Lords amendments were very much welcomed by my colleagues here and in another place. The issue was of concern to us, so the fact that the Government have accepted its substance is important. I have come late to the Bill, so I have been given briefings on what has gone on before, and they tell me that the statement that I need to make is that we are very grateful on behalf of all rare invertebrates to the Government for agreeing to amend the clause. Given the forthcoming election, we are electioneering and the next bit is the best bit of all: few people have time to think about insects, but for our six-legged friends, we are the effective Opposition. We believe that a success has been achieved on behalf of our six-legged and, I assume—to classify spiders as insects—our eight-legged friends as well. These Lords amendments are useful and helpful, and we are glad that the clause has been adjusted to take account of some very genuine concerns that were expressed.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 4 agreed to.

Sitting suspended.