Amendment 1

Part of UK Infrastructure Bank Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 4 July 2022.

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Photo of Lord McDonald of Salford Lord McDonald of Salford Crossbench 3:45, 4 July 2022

My Lords, the House this afternoon represents one of the Prime Minister’s favourite metaphors: a nest of singing birds. Everybody who has spoken agrees with each other; I agree with everything that has already been said, but particularly with what my noble friend Lady Hayman has said. I have added my name to her Amendment 1, and I will make just two additional points to the ones she made.

First, the Government agree that nature, nature recovery and nature-based solutions are important, and they say that all of that is encompassed within the Bill as drafted. But if nature is not mentioned on the face of the Bill, it will always look secondary; it will always nest behind climate. It will not have the same prominence or importance, yet all the facts suggest that the biodiversity crisis is at least as urgent as the climate crisis. These two things, according to the facts and the evidence, deserve to be side by side. If they are not, the bank and others will draw obvious conclusions.

Secondly, the only point I have heard made for why there is resistance to having nature on the face of the Bill is that there are not really any projects ready to go. My answer to that is: so what? This Bill is setting the course for the years ahead. It does not matter that there is not something ready to go in the next few months, because these projects will surely come. One issue that has detained your Lordships’ House time and again over the last year has been water quality and the fact that water companies are dumping sewage hundreds of thousands of times a year into our rivers and the sea. It is easy to imagine a project on water quality that would not really be about climate but would be all about nature. Surely that would deserve to be supported by the UK Infrastructure Bank. So I ask the Minister to reconsider one last time.