Clause 44 - Interpretation of Part 1: General

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

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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) 11:00 am, 10th November 2020

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—