Clause 61

Climate Change Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 3rd July 2008.

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Compliance with Secretary of State’s directions

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

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

My questions pertain directly to clause 61 and this part of the Bill, but they also have relevance to other measures in the Bill.

The Government stated in their command paper on the draft Bill that the legislation places a legal duty on the Government to ensure that the UK meets its targets and stays within the limits of its carbon budgets. Clause 61 gives the Secretary of State a duty to

“publish the report in such manner as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”

Subsection (1) states:

“A reporting authority must comply with any directions under section 60.”

Will the Minister explain how the Government could be required to take remedial action by order of a court? Will the directions of the Secretary of State be justiciable and legally enforceable? Will they be subject to judicial review?

If the Bill—particularly clause 61 and, indeed, the whole part on adaptation—is to have legal effect at all, it is important that there should be a possibility of a challenge. This relates to some of the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury. In its report on the draft Bill, the Select Committee said that if what the Government seek to achieve is to mean anything at all, there should be legal sanctions and the possibility for a case to be taken before a court of law.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Climate Change, Biodiversity and Waste)

I hope that I can satisfy the hon. Lady by giving her a very direct answer: yes, the directions will be legally enforceable. It may be helpful to the Committee if I say that the clause means that a reporting authority that has been given directions to produce a report by the Secretary of State is under a duty to comply with those directions.

Furthermore, the clause requires that reporting authorities must have regard, as far as is relevant, to the Government’s reports under clause 55, which deals with the national climate change assessment, and under clause 56, which deals with the UK adaptation programme. That will ensure that reporting authorities factor in the latest information about climate impacts in the UK and take into consideration Government priorities and policies on adaptation. I hope that the hon. Lady is satisfied with the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 61 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 62 to 68 ordered to stand part of the Bill.