“(aa) Are necessary in order to inform the OGA’s role in developing and promoting carbon storage;
(ab) Are necessary to meet the terms of the Climate Change Act 2008 or European or international obligations on climate change”
This amendment would allow the Secretary of State to give direction to the OGA if the Secretary of State considers that these are necessary to inform the OGA’s role in developing and promoting carbon storage and/or to meet the terms of the Climate Change Act 2008 or any international obligation on climate change.
We now move to the area that the Minister alluded to in the debate on clause 9 on “Matters to which the OGA must have regard”: directions in relation to national security and public interest, which the Government may give to the OGA in the exercise of any of its functions. The clause lists various circumstances in which directions may be given. They are drawn fairly widely in that the directions
“are necessary in the interests of national security, or...are otherwise in the public interest.”
However, although the clause gives the Secretary of State fairly wide powers to provide directions to the OGA, it does not include the issues to which we adverted in the discussion on the previous clause, which is the question of what happens to the OGA’s role in developing and promoting carbon capture and storage, and how the OGA meets the terms of the Climate Change Act 2008.
Clause 10 could be strengthened by clarifying the circumstances in which direction might be given, bearing in mind that the issues are wider and more long term than those on which the Bill currently provides guidance to the OGA. It is now rather more important to include in the Bill guidance and clarity on where directions are necessary, given what occurred on the previous clause, where, despite our best endeavours, the matters to which the OGA must have regard stayed as they were, with what I suggest is a less than perfect regard for what we might call wider horizon issues as far as the OGA’s function is concerned.
The amendment explicitly underlines the directions
“to inform the OGA’s role in developing and promoting carbon storage”,
and states that they are necessary
“to meet the terms of the Climate Change Act”.
That provides the right boundaries and the framework in which those Government directions might be undertaken. That is why we have tabled the amendment.