Amendment 4

Part of Financial Services and Markets Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 6 June 2023.

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Photo of Lord Randall of Uxbridge Lord Randall of Uxbridge Conservative 7:30, 6 June 2023

My Lords, I strongly support Amendment 15, so ably introduced and supported by others. I will speak principally to Amendment 91, to which I added my name. I tabled a similar amendment in Committee, but unfortunately ill health prevented me speaking then. I was grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, for taking over the reins then and I am very happy to support her now.

I support the Government’s amendment in as far as it goes. As we have heard, the Government have made a lot of strides in this area through public finance commitments. Only last month the Prime Minister met with the President of Brazil, pledging £80 million to the Amazon Fund to help stop deforestation. There is more money coming through; at least £3 billion of our international climate finance is devoted to nature protection and restoration.

The question we must ask ourselves is: are we turning a blind eye to the private finance undoing all this good? Preventing private finance doing harm is just as important as the aid we provide. As we have heard, the Government have endorsed this conclusion by pioneering the Glasgow declaration on forests and land use, which includes a commitment to:

“Facilitate the alignment of financial flows with international goals to reverse forest loss and degradation”.

Now is the very time to make good on this pledge and get our own house in order.

This is a sensible proposal rooted in Schedule 17 to the Environment Act and limited to illegal deforestation for that very reason. The amendment itself has been publicly endorsed, as we have heard, by Sir Ian Cheshire, as well as financial institutions representing more than £1 trillion in assets under management and advice, including Rathbone Greenbank Investments, Federated Hermes Ltd and the Local Government Pension Scheme Central Ltd—so it is not just the usual suspects.

At the G7 last month, the UK committed to take steps to redirect finance away from activities causing biodiversity loss “without delay”. I am very grateful to the Minister. As we heard from my noble friend Lord Caithness, she has bent over backwards to try to help and is committed to this. She has not quite convinced me that the Government should not accept this sensible amendment. I hope that it will be accepted and that the Government will follow through here. As I have got older, I may have got mellower but I have got more impatient. I am fed up with hearing every time that it will be in the next Bill.