Amendment 52

Part of Environment Bill - Report (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 13th September 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 5:30 pm, 13th September 2021

My Lords, I will speak first to Amendment 52, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, to which I was pleased to attach my name. It also has the cross-party and non-party support of the noble Lord, Lord Randall, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. I will also briefly address the other two amendments here.

Your Lordships’ House might not be surprised to know that my arguments around Amendment 123 might be slightly differently expressed, and I might have drafted the amendment slightly differently. None the less, the fact that we are still pumping lead out into our environment is disgraceful. We hear the phrase “world-leading” a great deal. As we have heard, Denmark banned lead shot for hunting 25 years ago. California did it last year. If you look around the world, it has taken an unconscionably long time but we have just seen Algeria become the last country in the world to stop selling leaded petrol. We have known for a long time the damage lead does. We cannot justify continuing to use it in this way. This might have been an amendment for which the term “no-brainer” was invented, when you think about the fact that this is damaging the brains of children in particular. As the noble Lord, Lord Browne, said, we have banned lead-shot game here in this House but have not acted outside the House. That really cannot be defended. It is untenable.

Amendment 53 looks at protecting nature from the toxic, disastrous chemicals that are pesticides, but I really want to focus on Amendment 52. We have been debating for some time and I want to come back to briefly highlight the powerful points made particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. Many Members of your Lordships’ House, particularly those sitting opposite, will be able to picture the scene: an air-conditioned cab with air filtration; an operator equipped with a whole range of complex, high-tech protective equipment; and a child playing in a garden right beside where the person in all that protective equipment is applying chemicals.

The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, said she sees the other side of this in her professional practice. People—sometimes young people, sometimes very young people—with cancers, with neurodegenerative diseases. Once the noble Baroness sees them, it is essentially too late. We cannot allow this to continue. This House has many times expressed its strong support for this amendment. I stress that these three amendments are not an either/or, pick-and-match lot. All these amendments should be in the Bill.

I very much hope that, given the direction of travel and where push pressure is coming from, the noble Lord will concede on Amendment 123. We have to vote. I urge the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, to put this to the vote. We have to get both Amendments 52 and 53 through. This is not an either/or option.