Amendment 52

Part of Environment Bill - Report (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 13th September 2021.

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Photo of Lord Randall of Uxbridge Lord Randall of Uxbridge Conservative 5:00 pm, 13th September 2021

My Lords, I strongly support Amendment 52 to which I have added my name, and the very important contributions, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty. I am of course passionate because this is a matter of great importance. As I have said previously, on both the Agriculture Bill and in Committee for this Bill, we have a history of underplaying certain risks to human health, which we only find out about later. I am thinking of tobacco, asbestos, air quality—which we have just been discussing —and various things which cause harm. It must be obvious that these chemical pesticides—because of the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff—are nothing but harmful.

I am particularly concerned about cocktails of chemicals. I am not a chemist and did not do much science at school, but I know that if one mixes certain chemicals, they have a completely different effect and can be even more toxic. Do these chemicals accumulate in the soil, and not simply vaporise, as the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, said? That is something we should be looking at.

If it were one spray, it would be bad enough, but most of these people are subject to this on a regular basis. We hear that there is almost constant spraying, in various seasons. I thought that there was a principle that it should be down to the producers to provide proof that this is safe, and not the other way around, meaning that we must prove that it is harmful.

I will also speak briefly to Amendment 53, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville and Lady Jones of Whitchurch. While Amendment 52 is about human health, Amendment 53 is about the natural world and insect health, which has an effect on human health. It is the same principle—we do not understand what we are spraying, and we must.

Finally, Amendment 123 concerns the same thing: it is about lead polluting the soil and in the food we eat. I have read in Farmers Weekly—not my usual journal of choice—that flour millers are left disappointed finding lead shot contamination in milling wheat and cereal grains. This has almost certainly come from people shooting vermin with lead shot in barns, containers and grain stores. In this instance, the customer had to pressure the miller to replace the domestic wheat with imports in the flour blend to prevent a repeat incident. We will be hearing more about lead.

On all these counts, we must push the Government more, because they are almost at the point of doing this. We should be taking this incredibly seriously, or future generations will ask “Why on earth did they not do something then?”