Environmental Protection

Exiting the European Union – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th October 2018.

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Photo of Karen Lee Karen Lee Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Fire) 12:00 am, 25th October 2018

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the effect on UK environmental protection of the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

We continue to have regular conversations with ministerial colleagues across the Government on all aspects of exiting the European Union, including environmental policy. The UK has a long history of environmental protection, and the Government have been clear that they have no intention of weakening our current environmental protections as we leave the European Union.

Photo of Karen Lee Karen Lee Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Fire)

I visited one of my local schools a few weeks ago, and the young people there are very worried about plastic use. This Government are unambitiously pledging to eliminate avoidable plastic waste significantly later than the EU target. Does the Minister agree with me and with the children at the Lincoln Carlton Academy that, with climate change posing an immediate threat, Britain’s environmental protections must not be downgraded after we leave the EU?

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Yes, and we would not be doing that. In fact, the Prime Minister has announced that a new environment Bill will be introduced in the second Session to build on the vision we have set out in our 25-year environment plan to leave our precious environment in a better state than the one we inherited. It will help us to create richer habitats for wildlife, improve air and water quality and curb the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

Will the excellent Minister tell the House who he thinks will be better prepared to look after the United Kingdom’s interests on the environment: this Parliament or EU bureaucrats?

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I thank the excellent Back Bencher—my neighbour—for his question. I obviously believe that this Parliament is better placed to do that.

Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool, Wavertree

Yesterday’s National Audit Office report on the lack of no-deal preparations lists a whole raft of serious issues facing our country in the eventuality of no deal, particularly on environmental standards, where it points to a collapse of our biosecurity standards. What is the Minister’s response to this, given that the Secretary of State said a moment ago that he was looking at all scenarios? Frankly, that is not good enough, so what will he and his Department do to ensure that we are adequately prepared?

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I hope that the hon. Lady will forgive me, but I just do not read the NAO report in the same way that she does. We are obviously preparing for a no deal. We have regular meetings to ensure that we will hit all our targets, and I am confident that we will do so.