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Environment Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 26th February 2020.

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Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 2:23 pm, 26th February 2020

Naturally, there is the matter of how the OEP works with the devolved Administration in Northern Ireland, but I agree that it needs to have those powers. I am sure that the Secretary of State will have listened to the hon. Lady’s intervention.

The appointments process in the setting up of the OEP should follow the Office for Budget Responsibility model, in which the Treasury Committee can veto the Chancellor’s choice. I am sure that my great friend the Secretary of State would not mind giving away some of his new fiefdom to the EFRA Committee, but we will wait and see. I offer that to him—or perhaps he might offer it to me.

My final point on the OEP is that my Committee concluded that judicial review is not the most appropriate enforcement mechanism for environmental cases because it focuses on process rather than outcomes and leaves the decision making to the lawyers. That is a really important point. I welcome the tribunal model in the Bill, because I hope that it will allow environmental specialists to have a role. We need practical solutions for when the Government are in breach—such as we have with air-pollution plans—rather than lawyers and going through process all the time. We really want to make sure that we get the experts in place.