Clause 46

Climate Change Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 3rd July 2008.

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Relevant national authorities

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

In their own words, the Government admit that the devolution settlement on climate change policy is complex. Elements of energy policy and international relations are reserve matters, although generally energy policy is not reserved to Northern Ireland. Environmental policy is devolved to varying degrees, and the devolution settlement reflects that. The provisions in the Bill will be backed up by a concordat that will set out the rules and responsibilities of the different Administrations in more detail. If the concordat is not finalised until the Bill has finished its passage through Parliament, will we therefore not have the opportunity to scrutinise it? A climate change Bill will be presented to the Scottish Parliament in the autumn, so would it be a good idea to submit the concordat to the House for our consideration?

Photo of Phil Woolas Phil Woolas Minister of State (Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hon. Lady asks a fair question. We are trying to define the national authorities that may make trading schemes under the powers in the Bill. We are looking at future schemes, 30 years ahead, and the clause sets out the scope of each authority, reflecting the devolution settlements of each legislature. As the Bill’s scope is UK-wide, it is right for each UK Administration to have the power to introduce trading schemes, reduce emissions or encourage activities that reduce emissions. That will ensure that contributions towards meeting the targets and budgets in the Bill can be made by each of the UK’s territorial authorities, and as the hon. Lady says, that should be done in a way that does not cut across the devolution settlements.

Clause 48 and schedule 3—the other side of the coin with regard to clause 46—will allow the national authorities to establish trading schemes jointly. That is our preference over a single-country scheme, as it provides for an increased number of participants, which will give a deeper and more liquid market.

In the interest of transparency and continued constructive relations between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations, we expect to publish the concordat when it is finalised. That is consistent with the approach taken, for example, in the case of the bilateral memorandum of understanding on fisheries between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Scottish Executive, which, I am told, is publicly available. However, as the precise detail of the concordat depends on the final provisions included in what, we hope, will become the Climate Change Act, it is not appropriate to publish the draft concordat ahead of Royal Assent. The answer to the question is yes, but we can do it only after Royal Assent.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 46 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 47 and 48 ordered to stand part of the Bill.