Clause 34

Climate Change Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:00 pm on 3rd July 2008.

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Advice in connection with carbon budgets

Amendment proposed [this day]: No. 12, in clause 34, page 18, line 6, leave out subsection (5).—[Joan Ruddock.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Peter Atkinson Peter Atkinson Conservative, Hexham

I remind the Committee that with this we are discussing the following: Government amendments Nos. 19 and 20.

Government new clause 3—Advice of Committee on Climate Change on impact report.

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

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Atkinson.

I was endeavouring to answer—clearly not successfully —some questions asked by the hon. Member for Cheltenham. I shall now, once again, try to clarify just why some of the adaptation sub-committee’s functions in subsection (5) are to be deleted.

As I have said, our objection is to the policy role. That was agreed in the other place. We do believe that the Committee on Climate Change, through the sub-committee, should be given not the job of commenting on the adequacy of the Government’s adaptation programme, as under subsection (5)(a), but rather functions relating to the progress of implementation. We will come to that when we debate the next clause. We consider the adaptation programme to be a policy matter and, therefore, that is ruled out by what I said about policy matters earlier.

What we believe should happen is what we have already made provision for in clause 63, under which the Secretary of State must publish a strategy for the use of his powers to issue guidance and directions to reporting authorities. That is a policy issue as well. For that reason, we are removing subsection (5)(d). I hope that the hon. Member for Cheltenham will see that there is a coherent theme and that we are removing  consistently what we regard as policy matters. In the subsequent clause, there are other functions in which he is interested.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

It is good to be serving under your chairmanship this afternoon, Mr. Atkinson.

I am grateful to the Minister for her comments and her permission for me to talk to her officials during the break. However, I am afraid that both her remarks and those conversations reinforced my belief that while subsection (5), which gives the adaptation sub-committee the duty to provide expert advice, is being removed, nothing equivalent is being substituted. Government new clause 4, to which the Minister referred, puts in place a scrutiny duty subsequent to a Government programme for adaptation being developed, but I am afraid that I cannot see any equivalent to the core function of the adaptation sub-committee described in subsection (5) being replaced. I am afraid that I have to remain opposed to Government amendment No. 12.

The Minister has not addressed amendment No. 20 a great deal, but I shall comment on it in passing. During the recent debate in the Chamber on detention without charge or trial for 42 days, new clauses to the Counter-Terrorism Bill were moved allowing the Secretary of State, on making an order under powers to declare reserved power exercisable, to

“forthwith notify...the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons...the chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and...the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee”,

thereby giving statutory functions to Select Committees. There is a precedent for including Select Committees in statute and it should be followed in this case.

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

On that latter point, the issue is not at all comparable. That was a notification process, including a whole range of Committees. We are talking about one Select Committee being in the Bill, when we believe that other Select Committees—indeed, many—would be relevant.

As the hon. Gentleman and I differ on the matter, I will say one more thing to him: new clause 3 will be added to the Bill after clause 55. That means that when we come to debate clause 55 in part 4, it will be clear that that part of the Bill deals with adaptation. Therefore, the new clause and what it tells us about the duties falling within that section make it clear that this is advice on risk assessment, which is related to adaptation.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 9, Noes 3.

Division number 9 Nimrod Review — Statement — Clause 34

Aye: 9 MPs

No: 3 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 34, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.