Clause 44 - Interpretation of Part 1: General

Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 10th November 2020.

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Amendments made: 35, in clause 44, page 27, line 7, leave out

“the National Assembly for Wales”

and insert “Senedd Cymru”.

See Amendment 28.—(Rebecca Pow.)

Amendment 36, in clause 44, page 27, line 17, leave out

“the National Assembly for Wales”

and insert “Senedd Cymru”.

See Amendment 28.—(Rebecca Pow.)

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

We come to amendment 78. It was not moved previously by any member of the Committee, but if any member of the Committee wished to move it now, they would be welcome to do so.

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I would like to. This amendment, as hon. Members will see, Mr Gray, was tabled by two previous members of the Committee. With the effluxion of time, however, they are no longer members of the Committee, for reasons of ascent—

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Elevated indeed, to higher and more august posts in the Opposition ranks. They are therefore no longer on the Committee, but that does not mean that what they put forward should have less consideration by the Committee.

The fact that additional consideration should be given is underlined by the information that we received just before the Committee met, which was that the Government proposed to table amendments that will come up later in the Bill’s consideration, concerning illegal deforestation in supply chains and the due diligence to be carried out in connection with those supply chains. Hon. Members will see from the latest marshalled list of amendments that those amendments—a new clause, which we will debate later, and a defining amendment that will be debated a little earlier than that—have now indeed been tabled.

The amendments, in essence, adopt substantial parts of another amendment that was tabled by some hon. Friends and will appear as new clause 5, which we will debate much later. This concerns the question of due diligence in respect of overseas supplies of timber, for example, and various other elements such as that. I suggest that my amendment was an essential defining part of new clause 5, which has in effect been run with by the Government in the proposals they have just tabled. There is a complete chain of connection between all those.

In that context, what is missing from the Bill is a definition not just of environmental harm, whether direct or indirect, but of what is meant in that context by the global footprint of environmental harm or environmental activity. By tabling their amendments, the Government are strongly indicating that the global footprint of environmental harm is a key element of the Bill.

I am delighted that the Government have tabled their amendments, because they cover an area that a lot of people have been concerned about for a long time. We will debate the detail when we get to the new clause, but the fact that the Government have considered the issue, listened and looked at what is before us in Committee—

Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is good to see the Government using the important proposal tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) and for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) as a stepping stone to improve the Bill? We should welcome the Government doing that.

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Yes, indeed. My hon. Friend reminds me of the constituencies of our hon. Friends who tabled new clause 5, so I may now refer to them.

The amendments that the Government have tabled are important and we welcome them. We would like to add to our welcome the idea that the definition in the clause––which is, after all, as I have emphasised, an interpretation clause to ensure that we know the content, detail and background––should be placed so that it links not only to what we have already discussed in the Bill but to what is in the Government amendments. This will be our only opportunity to discuss this because, by the time we get to the Government amendments, we will have gone past this section of the Bill, so it is important that we decide this one way or the other today.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I apologise to the Committee. I had not spotted the fact that this amendment was debated on a previous occasion and that we therefore should not be having a second debate on it but should have moved it formally.

Amendment proposed: 78, in clause 44, page 27, line 24, at end insert—

“‘global footprint’ means—

(a) direct and indirect environmental harm, caused by, and

(b) human rights violations arising in connection with the production, transportation or other handling of goods which are imported, manufactured, processed, or sold (whether for the production of other goods or otherwise), including but not limited to direct and indirect harm associated with—

(i) greenhouse gas emissions;

(ii) ecosystem conversion and degradation;

(iii) deforestation and forest degradation;

(iv) biodiversity loss;

(v) water pollution and abstraction; and

(vi) air pollution.”—(Dr Whitehead.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Question negatived.

Clause 44, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 45 ordered to stand part of the Bill.