Amendment 4

Part of Financial Services and Markets Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 6 June 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 7:15, 6 June 2023

My Lords, I rise very briefly to express Green support for the non- government amendments in this group and acknowledge the way in which the weakness of the government amendment has already been acknowledged. Noble Lords will note that the explicitly environmental amendments, from Amendment 15 onwards, do not have a Green name on them. I am delighted about that because there was not space for one, because the amendments have cross-party support from right across the House, which really shows how far we have come in these debates.

I shall make four brief points, because I am very aware of the time. They are building on the points just made by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and reflecting on an article published last week in Nature, which demonstrated that in seven of eight key measures, including climate, biodiversity and water, we are outside the safe and just operating space of this planet. We are absolutely at crisis point and I pick up the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, that we cannot afford to wait. We cannot wait for the next Bill, the Bill after that and the Bill after that. I very much agree with the point just made by the noble Lord, Lord Vaux, that the country should not have to wait for the House of Lords to insert these things into Bills; they should be there in government Bills as a matter of absolute, basic course.

I have a particular point about Amendments 93 and 113, which strengthen the fiduciary duty of pension funds to ensure investors consider the impact of their investments on environment and society. The case has already been made that there is no finance on a dead planet and there are no pensions on a dead planet, but the society element also deserves to be noted. We have had a huge amount of discussion of the problem of the large number of people of apparently working age who are not engaged in our labour force at the moment, and the public health crisis that is associated with that. It is the kind of thing that Green councillors have been going on about, as members of governing boards of pension funds for years: such things as tobacco and the kinds of food products that are being supported are all issues that have an impact on pension returns.

On deforestation, the noble Baronesses, Lady Meacher and Lady Boycott, among others, have already made points about this, but there is £300 billion of UK pension money in high deforestation risk companies and financial institutions—that is a figure from Make My Money Matter. Again, there is a point about risk. The financial sector in the UK faces up to £200 billion of risk in Brazilian beef and soya and Indonesian palm oil supplies alone.

Finally, there is another risk in terms of our international reputation. We are of course enthusiastic signatories of the global biodiversity framework, which promises, under target 14, that the UK will align

“all relevant public and private activities, [fiscal] and financial flows with the goals and targets of this framework”.

How could the Government not be accepting all the amendments in this group?