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Environment and Wildlife (Legislative Functions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 8:15 pm, 12th February 2019

My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses for their contributions to this debate.

I hope that I can clarify immediately for the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, the issue of leghold traps. Perhaps I should have referred to it, but in my opening remarks I said that Regulations 10 and 11 confer functions under the EU regulations governing the use of leghold traps and the import of pelts. I went on then to talk about the distinct two elements, which are in effect about forms and the format of forms. By way of reassurance, it is not that there will be no requirement for statutory instruments on leghold traps but that, candidly—proportionately—most people would think it unreasonable to have a statutory instrument on the format of a form. I hope that I can immediately take that concern out of the way.

On CITES, we are considered a very strong participant in CITES and we take our international obligations extremely seriously. I was at the conference in London during the passage of the Ivory Bill and many countries there recognised what our country is doing. We are a party to CITES in our own right. We have higher protections than mandated by that convention, and we will comply with all international decisions made at the CITES meeting in May this year. Clearly, it is important that there is alignment not only among us in Europe but across the world to ensure the importance of looking after wildlife around the world. Certainly, our commitment in terms of our international obligations is very strong. Whatever arrangements there are, we will want to work very closely with partners in the EU and internationally.

To answer the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, if this statutory instrument is passed today, we will be in a position through statutory instruments to make changes. These are distinct technical areas that we are taking forward, but more generally I hope that I can reassure the noble Baroness and noble Lords that we wish to enhance rather than retreat. There may be changes, but this particular statutory instrument deals with those technical points that we are drawing back.

The issue of expertise is hugely important. The Government rely on the best experts available. We will use our consultation principles requiring relevant expert advice to be sought where appropriate, and those affected by any policy must be properly consulted. The noble Baroness is absolutely right that, in the case of these regulations, Regulation 9(10) explicitly requires the Secretary of State, or DA Ministers as appropriate, to consult bodies and persons likely to be affected. Of course, many of the obligations relevant to these regulations derive from our participation in international conventions such as the Stockholm convention on POPs and the CITES convention and will continue to involve us directly in multilateral expert dialogues. But the noble Baroness is right. Clearly in this area we will want to seek the views of experts and we will want to consult.

Access to EU systems will clearly be a matter for negotiation. We are all working for a deal, but I very much hope that, in terms of access, the importance of mutuality across the continent will mean that we continue to work collaboratively together.

I do not have in front of me a precise note of timings on the common framework, but the noble Baroness is absolutely right. The discussions that we have had with the devolved Administrations on this matter and others show that, for all the political knockabout, it makes sense in so much of this to work together on a UK basis. That is why, although some of the matters are devolved, we have worked extremely collaboratively and productively with the devolved Administrations. The whole purpose of the common framework is to acknowledge exactly what the noble Baroness said. We all agree mutually that any divergence should be the exception in something like this because I am sure that we all—in England in the UK Government and in the devolved Administrations—want to work positively for the environment. As soon as I am in a position to clarify anything further about the common framework I will, but all I can say is that I hear very positive signs of what I think we would all suggest was a common-sense way forward on such important matters.

I will study Hansard and if there are any particular points that I have not covered, I will of course write. In the meantime, I beg to move.

Motion agreed.