Amendment 110

Part of Environment Bill - Committee (4th Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 30th June 2021.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative 5:30 pm, 30th June 2021

My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this very interesting debate of just over an hour and a half. I have to say that I was saddened by my noble friend Lord Framlingham: when he started talking about how much soil had been lost to development, he did not mention HS2. We know my noble friend’s thoughts on HS2, and I thought that might well be top of his list—but it is in there too, I am sure. I have received a lot of support for my amendment. I agree with my noble friend Lord Randall of Uxbridge; I do not really mind whose amendment wins at the end of the day. The important thing is that we get it in the Bill.

I am very grateful for my noble friend the Minister’s reply to me. There were some very good things in what he said, and we seem to have hit a good day to discuss soil, with the announcements that are going to be made by his fellow Minister. As for his final remark to me, that soil is already covered in the Bill as it stands, that is the same reply we had during the passage of the Agriculture Bill. We put soil on the face of that Bill and this Bill must tie up with it.

The brief from the department has a strangely familiar ring, even though it was 25 years ago. I seem to recognise quite a lot of the wording my noble friend used.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, mentioned the good work done on soil by my right honourable friend Michael Gove, who was Secretary of State. I think it would be wrong not to mention the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, in this debate. I remember that when my noble friend Lord Gardiner of Kimble was taking the Agriculture Bill through, he referred to the “Krebs amendment” when it came to soil. It is a pity that the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, is not with us.

This leads me to a general point. My noble friend the Minister said that the “business end” of a Bill is done on Report. That never used to be the case in this House. We used to divide a lot in Committee, and we got rid of a lot of amendments that way. I am really very worried about this Bill now. There has been no ground given by my noble friend, and we are not even halfway through the Bill. I have no doubt that we are going to be under very severe time constraints on Report and at Third Reading because of the urgency to get this Bill on to the statute book before 1 November and the COP in Glasgow. We are, in effect, going to have a guillotine put over our heads, and there is an awful lot of stuff coming back. I tell my noble friend that this amendment is coming back too. I say to him and my noble friend the Whip: there must be some way we can progress this slightly better than by leaving everything to Report. I want a good Bill and I want the House to work well. I am not trying to be obstructive, but the way it is going will cause a lot of problems in September and October. I think there is a better way for us to get the Bill going at the moment.

With that, I thank everybody who took part. I thank my noble friend but, again, warn him that I will be back with this amendment. In the meantime, I will discuss it with my noble friend Lord Randall to see in which of the two places in the Bill it ought to go. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 110 withdrawn.

Amendments 111 to 113A not moved.

Clause 43 agreed.

Amendment 113B not moved.

Clause 44: Meaning of “environmental protection”

Amendments 113C to 113E not moved.

Clause 44 agreed.