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Environment Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:39 pm on 26th February 2020.

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Photo of David Linden David Linden Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:39 pm, 26th February 2020

When we consider the context in which this debate is taking place, it is important to remember that, in the 1980s, Britain was known as the dirty man of Europe for its air pollution and for its contaminated land and water. It is largely because of 45 years of European Union membership, which concluded at the end of last month, that, more often than not, Ministers had their minds focused on the issue—whether that was to make sure that they did not end up in European courts, or to make sure that Britain was not subject to fines. I guess that we come to the debate today thinking about why it is we have this issue of divergence with the Environment Bill. To be frank, this is not a Government whom I trust very well. It is a Government who said that Parliament would not be prorogued—it was prorogued. It is a Government who said that there would not be an election—there was an election. So, forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker, when I struggle with this notion that we put all these powers into the hands of the UK and that, as a result of divergence, Britain will have higher rather than lower standards when it comes to the environment.

We know that that is the case because, when he was on “The Andrew Marr Show”, the Foreign Secretary spoke about the need for divergence. We know from leaked documents in the Financial Times and on the BBC that there is a desire on the part of the Government to see divergence in order to get free trade agreements over the line. That is something that is very much in the public domain.