Part of Environment Bill - Third Reading – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 13th October 2021.

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Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 4:15 pm, 13th October 2021

I am grateful for all the remarks by noble Lords and will address them briefly, because we will of course have more opportunities for debate. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, and indeed the noble Baronesses, Lady Parminter and Lady Jones of Whitchurch, for their polite encouragement as we come to the final furlong of this huge Bill. I absolutely assure the noble Baroness opposite that I will continue listening and engaging. Like everyone in this House, I am very keen for the Bill to be as strong as it possibly can be.

I sincerely thank many noble Lords for the pressure they have applied and the manner in which they have applied it over the last few weeks because that has led to improvements in the Bill, as a number of noble Lords have commented. It is not my place to discuss or make statements in relation to upcoming debates that we are likely to have. I cannot give my noble friend Lord Cormack a guarantee that we will avoid ping-pong; I encourage everyone to get their best bats, just in case. However, the pressure has been extremely effective and useful. I know that that pressure will continue in the same vein and be equally valuable.

My noble friend Lord Marlesford mentioned unachievable targets. We do not want to impose any unachievable targets. There are some things, no matter how difficult, that simply have to be done; I would say that the 2030 biodiversity target is one of them. There is no possible justification for not making that commitment in law and, although we do not know all the steps we will have to take to achieve it, we know that it will be extraordinarily difficult and that it has to be done. We must find a way but I take his broader point.

Finally, my noble friend Lady McIntosh mentioned storm overflows. This is one of the issues that we will return to in coming weeks but, again, it is a testament to the tireless campaigning of noble Lords, including the noble Duke, the Duke of West—I apologise but I have done it again; it is the noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington—and the pressure that he applied so effectively. As he would acknowledge, we have moved considerably on this issue but there are debates remaining to be had. That is probably enough said for the moment on that.

I hope I have answered the main issues that were raised. I repeat my thanks to noble Lords for their dedication to the Bill. It has been an honour to assist its passage and to serve your Lordships, and I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.