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Grouse shooting and management: review and consultation

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Labour, Newport West 2:45 pm, 5th March 2020

I am pleased to speak to new clauses 15 and 16. We know that our planet and climate are experiencing huge change, and the effects of the climate emergency are becoming an increasing feature of the world in which we live, affecting not just humans, but our natural world and our wildlife. The new clauses call on the Government to think about biodiversity, the uplands, the fragile and insecure rural economy, and the many people who live and make their way of life in our green and open spaces. The new clauses are also about the welfare of our wildlife. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East has campaigned on such issues over many years, and I pay tribute to her tenacity and commitment to animal welfare and our environment.

The weight of the scientific evidence before us is such that we can see that driven grouse shooting damages habitats, pollutes our water, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and involves the illegal persecution of birds of prey. The practice also increases the risk of floods, which damage properties and green spaces and lead to devastating deaths of people and animals alike. Right now, flooding is an issue of real concern for many people up and down the country. Those of us who were present for yesterday’s Opposition day debate on flooding heard powerful stories illustrating the need for upstream land management to prevent downstream flooding. As shadow flooding Minister, I was delighted that the Opposition motion received support from both sides of the House, including the Government Benches. By voting with us, Andrew Percy showed that, sometimes, politics does not need to win but common sense can.

The new clause addresses the effects of a practice that cuts across many different and important issues, and the Minister can surely support it. It would allow us to look at specific areas such our soil, drainage and hydrology, conservation, wildlife crime, and the wider concern about sustainability. As legislation such as this Bill passes through the House, we have the chance to address the many issues that have fallen off the to-do list. Let us take the opportunity new clauses 15 and 16 offer to commission a review so that we can methodically, clearly and carefully work our way through those important issues. The future of our planet and our natural world is in our hands, so let us get on and save it.