Air Quality - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:44 pm on 24th April 2017.

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Photo of Lord Grantchester Lord Grantchester Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 4:44 pm, 24th April 2017

I thank the Minister for repeating the Answer given earlier in the other place. However, notwithstanding that the Government may wish to absolve themselves by sharing culpability across other EU member states, they were given their final warning, as was clearly stated in the court case brought recently by ClientEarth, and told that they should publish their proposals to comply with EU law within two months.

Despite the argument that the purdah period on government announcements may start from a vote in the other place to undertake a general election, this announcement of government intentions could be said to be a matter of public health. I am sure the thousands of Britons at risk from diseases caused by air pollutants such as fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ammonia, and the businesses that will suffer lost working days from pollution-related illnesses, would agree that this is a public health issue and that an announcement is desperately needed. Will the Government not consider that an announcement on public health grounds could be made that would then comply with the court and negate any application for an extension?

It would be futile to ask the Government any further questions, as the Minister may well invoke purdah in all his replies. If I may, however, I will tempt him further by asking whether a new clean air Act would not be required to give citizens new rights to breathe unpolluted air and rectify the situation across all the responsible culprits.