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It is a great pleasure to follow Mary Creagh, on whose Environmental Audit Committee I served until March this year, when I was called back to the Front Bench, but here I am again back on the Back Benches.
For many years, our core environmental policies had been jointly agreed at EU level, with proposals from the European Commission being amended and confirmed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Indeed, I served in the European Parliament between 1999 and 2004 on the environment committee, so many of the directives and regulations currently in force were agreed when I was there. Indeed, I attended many of the conciliation meetings late into the night that hammered out the detail of much of this legislation.
Leaving the European Union gives us an opportunity to take back control and to move forwards, not backwards. The Bill will secure the progress that we have made on a wide range of environmental priorities and put in place the framework needed to keep pace with EU and global standards. It will also allow us to take the lead in setting new levels of performance: we will no longer have to move at the speed of the slowest.