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As a former head of the Civil Service, I do not agree with the Minister’s comments about the purpose being to make civil servants do something. Civil servants serve the Ministers of the day. Either that is binding on Ministers and civil servants or it is binding on neither. You cannot say that you are doing it to bind one and not the other. We should proceed along the lines put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and the noble Earl, Lord Caithness.

Lord Puttnam: My Lords, I am mostly reassured by what the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, has said. We probably spent more time discussing this issue in the pre-legislative scrutiny committee than any other. The broad consensus moved from being sceptical to being supportive. The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, has beautifully set it out. The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, is correct. What I like about this amendment is that it is crisp, sharp and precise. What I do not like about the government amendment is the phrase “with a view to”, which strikes me as bringing in an unnecessary ambiguity. I enthusiastically support this amendment.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, the past two speeches were extremely refreshing, if I may say so. Not having been present for much of the Committee stage of the Bill, I am struck by the fact that those people who have been taking part and who have been putting a lot of energy into it have gone somewhat native on the subject. The Bill has become a sort of cause for itself in the way in which it will make these great changes.

I was delighted that my noble friend won the first amendment. It seems to me that the public are looking for a reduction in temperature, because they all see the flowers coming out too soon and the potatoes shooting too soon and all the rest of it. They are very worried and they want the temperature reduced. They want this country to contribute to that. That is what the amendment says—that this country should contribute to it, but not do the whole thing. Now we have the means by which that will happen, through the promotion of policies and measures, including the setting of targets and five-year budgets. That is simple and crisp, as we have just heard. It is interesting when someone in this House who knows more than most of us about how civil servants react to legislation tells us that anything as simple as this is helpful. I very much hope that we will accept the amendment.

Lord Dearing: My Lords, I voted against the first amendment because I thought that it was inoperable. I think that the wording of the clause that we are now debating is inoperable, too, and that it would help the Government to achieve their purposes if they accepted the amendment.



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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, in a debate on a climate change Bill and in an era when a candidate for the presidency of the United States believes that the world began in 4004 BC, it is happy that we can take for our text on the amendment Genesis, chapter 27, verse 22. The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Today, the voice is the voice of Caithness but the words are the words of Crickhowell.

It is genuinely bad luck for my noble friend Lord Crickhowell that he should have been in Moscow for the first day of the Committee stage and is in Mexico for the first day on Report, but he is to be greatly admired for the extent to which he carries out climate change research on the ground. I shall not rehearse what I said in Committee about the British Library Bill but, unlike my noble friend Lord Caithness, I find both my noble friend’s Amendment No. 2 and the government Amendment No. 50 to be genuine and constructive responses to the debates that we had then and I could happily support both of them.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Caithness has usefully informed the House about this issue. It has also been useful to have the views of subsequent speakers, in particular the graduates of the pre-legislative scrutiny process. I wonder whether I ought to declare an interest as a flower grower who, faced with Mothering Sunday and St David’s Day coming in the same weekend, has a great interest in making sure that lots of flowers come out before the markets close.

We understand the purpose of the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Crickhowell. As the Bill stands, there is a legal duty to ensure results. That is simply not within the power of the Secretary of State. Though we are in favour of placing the most stringent possible mandate on the Secretary of State and using the full power of the law to ensure that he does everything to achieve the targets, we understand that he has at his disposal only policies and programmes. However, mandating him to have policies that aim to reduce emissions and placing a duty for these to be sound policies by obliging him to submit them for approval to the Committee on Climate Change are enforceable and something that we would expect from the Secretary of State.

The government amendment, which is grouped with Amendment No. 2, only partially addresses the issue that my noble friend intends to address with his amendment. Indeed, on this side of the House we welcome the Government’s amendment, which requires the Secretary of State to draw up policies and proposals with the aim of meeting the budgets and targets. We are also grateful that the Government seem to have heeded the call that has long been coming from the Conservative Benches to have regard for sustainable development issues when such proposals are made. That is certainly to be welcomed. However, it in no way addresses the issue that my noble friend seeks to address. We want the Secretary of State’s mandate to be realistic. I look forward to the Minister’s response.



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5 pm

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I, too, regret the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, but I do not think that he is travelling between Moscow and Mexico by pony and trap, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, implied. A few gases were being put into the atmosphere there. I cannot put words into the mouth of the noble Lord, but I think that if he were here he would say, “Thank you, the Government have listened to what I said in Committee and have come forward with a practical solution”. Our amendment does not go all the way, but I do not think that anybody is ever going to ask for everything to be perfect. The one regret that he would express is that the government amendment is placed elsewhere in the Bill, after Clause 10, not in Clause 1. However, the amendments essentially cover the same area.

The noble Earl talked about the difference between the duty to meet targets and the duty to implement plans or policies. They are quite different. The duty to meet a target—a budget in this sense—is fairly clear, because we can see whether it has been met from all the emissions statements. Theoretically, therefore, whether you have met your duty can be ruled on. A number would be there; it would have been achieved. The duty to implement policies is not so clear at all. You can get a policy document written in what looks like precise terms but which turn out to be vaguer in implementation. In legal terms, the duty to implement a policy is much less specific. There is a difference, as I hope is accepted.

The noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, raised another issue. This place is full of ex-heads of the Civil Service, but I am served by its present head and my notes are no different from the notes that I had in Committee. The central plank of Clause 1 is to change behaviour in the Civil Service, not just in government. That is intended to send the signal around Whitehall—I gave examples of ideas and submissions that come from Ministers and from the government machine—that the duty in Clause 1 will be instrumental in changing or guiding behaviour in work across Whitehall. Another point is that this is not a Defra Bill; this is a government Bill covering all departments. I made that point in Committee, too. It is true that the Bill is about changing behaviour in the Civil Service and in government, but that does not mean that judicial review will not be possible. If we had no doubt that a budget would be missed, the court might make a declaration to that effect. Therefore, this approach does not close that off completely.

We had a useful discussion in Committee about the importance of ensuring that Secretaries of State are bound by the requirement to meet the 2050 target. I said then that the duty to meet that target was fundamental to the Bill. The target is clear and quantified. It will encourage the action that is necessary for it to be met, and assessing compliance will be straightforward. Therefore, we would not want to accept an amendment that would replace the 2050 duty with what we believe is a weaker alternative. That is why we do not accept Amendment No. 2. Removing the duty to meet the 2050 target would in practice weaken the duty on the Secretary of State. By focusing on the process rather

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than the outcome, the Government could fail to stay within budget and still comply with their duty so long as they had developed what they thought were the right policies. I made that point in Committee and it is still valid.

The proposed duty under Amendment No. 2 could result in a situation whereby the proposals and measures individually had the objective of ensuring that we reduced emissions in general terms but without addressing the need to reduce overall emissions by a specified amount. The Secretary of State could discharge the proposed duty by developing two or three policies and take a few measures with the genuine objective of reducing emissions by at least the current figure of 60 per cent, but if the measures turned out not be enough he would still have complied with his obligation. That cannot be right. Amendment No. 2 would weaken the Bill.

The important rationale for the Bill is to provide greater certainty about the UK’s direction of travel. Weakening the duty is not the best way to do this. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, said when he raised these issues in Committee—I agreed that we wanted to take account of them and to get this as clear and as accurate as we could—we are keen to provide the strongest possible assurance that every Secretary of State between now and 2050, and beyond, will be under an equally strong duty.

However, it would be a mistake to look at Clause 1(1) in isolation. The overall effect of the Bill’s existing framework, as a whole, goes a long way towards relating short-term government actions to the long-term target. In particular, there is already a legal requirement that budgets from this year onwards must be set with a view to meeting the 2050 target and proposals and policies must be published to show how we plan to meet each budget. The Bill’s annual reporting framework will ensure that the Committee on Climate Change and Parliament have a role in scrutinising performance every year. That is an important point, which I probably did not stress sufficiently in our first debate today.

However, bearing in mind the debate that we had in Committee, we want to provide further reassurance on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell. Government Amendment No. 50, which I shall move at the appropriate time, will therefore place an additional duty on the Secretary of State to bring forward proposals and policies that, in his view, are sufficient to meet the carbon budgets for the periods for which the budgets have been set. These policies and measures should be developed with a view to meeting the target for 2050 and any subsequent targets that may be set. To ensure that a UK-wide approach is taken, our amendment provides that in preparing the proposals and policies the Secretary of State may take into account the proposals and policies that he considers may be prepared by other national authorities. This is a better approach, which complements the duty to meet the 2050 target rather than replaces it.

There is strength of feeling on this issue and I understand why the noble Lord has tabled the amendment. We want to put our intentions beyond doubt in legislative terms. It goes without saying that climate change mitigation policies must not ride roughshod over the

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need to consider other environmental issues, such as biodiversity. In most of these cases, we would expect policies to seek win-win situations.

It is true also that the broad existing principle is well established and embedded in government policy making—I am thinking here of the sustainable development strategy, which was quoted back at me earlier. Given the sustainable development action plan published by government departments and the independent advisory advocacy and watchdog role relating to government operations that we have given to the Sustainable Development Commission, there is no need to make additional provisions in the Bill. We raised this argument in Committee, and government Amendment No. 50 meets the points that we made then. Amendment No. 2, however, would weaken the Bill. We can argue about the duty, whether it is supposed to send signals to the Civil Service, or whether that would be the appropriate mechanism, but the words in the amendment would weaken the Bill. That cannot be a sensible way forward.

The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, stands alone in trying to defend the Government on Clause 1(1). The score is 9:1—almost familiar to a game of football against Scotland these days, sadly. Having listened to what has been said in the House about Clause 1 being incoherent, inoperable and having no force, I am convinced that what my noble friend Lord Crickhowell and I are trying to do is right. I acknowledge that government Amendment No. 50 makes a small response to our concerns, but we have to consider Clause 1(1). It is unenforceable; it is a spin on the actual situation, which does not set a good example. In view of the government amendment, it is right that I should come back with slightly revised wording to take it into account. I cannot do that now, but I give notice to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that his reply has not satisfied me. I do not think that it has satisfied the rest of the House; certainly, those of us on the Joint Committee are still not happy. I commend the Government for going some way, but perhaps between now and the next stage they might put another gentle foot forward. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 3:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment goes to the heart of what, we believe, the Bill should be about, which is setting targets. Noble Lords have talked about the aim of the Bill as set out in Clause 1, but this short amendment looks at its core aim, which is the 60 per cent figure that was set out. Many noble Lords have talked about the science, and this figure was reached by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution in its 22nd report, Energy—The Changing Climate, which was published in 2000—seven and a half years ago. An enormous amount of work has been done on climate change since then. In understanding climate change and its effects, we have not even plumbed some of the intricacies of such things as feedback mechanism.



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The issue of 60 or 80 per cent is important because that is our commitment. Many noble Lords have said that it makes no difference what we do, because a new power station coming on board each week in China will make our actions almost irrelevant. However, we have created an historical legacy of carbon in the atmosphere. People talk about pre-industrial levels, but it was inventors in this country who utilised the steam engine, and we have some responsibility for the vast amounts of coal that have been burned since then, which have added dramatically to the problem.

We should not look at moving up to an 80 per cent level as a problem; it is an opportunity. If we are to move to a low-carbon economy, we must look at adapting all our technologies. If every country in the world were also honour-bound to meet those obligations, it would give us a position in the market place that would be extremely helpful. We need only look at the Danes taking on the wind turbine industry to see that we missed out significantly in that area.

5.15 pm

The real issue behind this, as we discussed at Second Reading, is whether the decision to go to 80 per cent should be taken by the climate change committee or in Parliament. It is an important point that we cannot get away from. I took on board the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that the decision could be the first indication that the climate change committee had teeth. However, that is a real problem. We are talking in a legislative chamber about a target that looks very bland on a piece of paper—this is an extremely short amendment—but that will have massive implications for how everyone in this country lives their life, for how laws are formed and for how local authorities set their own targets for meeting this objective. It will have implications, both financial and personal, for many people and businesses throughout the country. Turning it over to a committee is a major problem. The committee is a worthy organisation, but does it undermine the political push behind the 80 per cent target if that target comes from the committee? The target might well be based on science, but we should not fool ourselves. It will take an enormous amount of political will power to meet this target, and for that to happen, it must be set by the Government.

The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, and, if I can say this on his birthday, the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, said that this could be the first decision that the committee took; indeed, I hope that it will be the committee’s first decision if it does not get passed to Parliament. However, there is still a fundamental problem with passing the decision to a committee. It really must be taken in this House. When speaking to an earlier amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said that he was not going to second-guess the committee. I do not think that we should second-guess the committee; the committee should be given firm and direct guidelines that 80 per cent is the target that we believe will be met. The target is based on science and is the one about which most international observers are now talking. If we are not prepared to stick it in legislation in what is a very brave Bill, as has been noted, that undermines the entire case and the strength of the committee. On that basis, I beg to move.



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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I certainly appreciate the commitment of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, to ensuring that the 2050 target for carbon emissions is robust. However, we do not think that this is the best way of gaining such a commitment. We certainly agree that the 60 per cent target is outdated. As we have noted in the House many times, that target is based on eight year-old science, and it is almost certainly not the right ultimate goal. However, we do not feel that parliamentarians should set the targets, which should be scientifically based. This is why we have tabled an amendment that would place a duty on the Committee on Climate Change to set the targets. That has been part of our position on this side of the House from the outset: science, not politics, should be the driving force behind the targets for carbon emissions.

Last November, the Prime Minister said that the 60 per cent target seemed insufficient and that, in all likelihood, the overall target would be increased. We on this side of the House hope that any change in the target will be a reflection of the scientific deliberation of the Committee on Climate Change and not the result of a ministerial proclamation or even of an amendment voted on in this House. Thus, although we recognise the importance of having robust targets, we continue to insist that they must also be authoritative. Therefore, although we understand the spirit of the amendment, we cannot support it.

Lord Puttnam: My Lords, we on the scrutiny committee discussed this at great length, and I thought that we came out at exactly the right place, for all the reasons set out by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor.

The amendment is inappropriate because this is the golden opportunity for the climate change committee to establish itself. Furthermore, it will not have escaped your Lordships’ notice that this Bill, which affects every person in this country, is going through this House untouched and unnoticed by the media, which I find extraordinary. It is my sincere hope that, when the Committee on Climate Change comes up with the science to require that the target be moved to 80 per cent, it will be a sufficient wake-up call for the media. I hope that national newspaper headlines will cover it and that the media will realise the situation that the nation faces. For that reason, almost more than any other, I should like to leave this to the Committee on Climate Change, which will unquestionably make a lot of noise when it makes this decision—and I hope that it does.

Lord Jay of Ewelme: My Lords, I hesitate to take a different view from that of the chairman of the Joint Committee, particularly on his birthday, but I support the amendment.

It is clear that 60 per cent is now widely seen as being too low a figure; the Prime Minister, a large number of scientists and some UN bodies have said that. My noble friend Lord Stern has said it, and he repeated it in a newspaper article a couple of days ago. Therefore, against all that background, if the Bill says 60 per cent, it will look and will be weak, which will destroy its credibility nationally and internationally.



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I welcome the Government’s proposal to put a duty on the Committee on Climate Change to decide as one of its first acts what the target should be, but I am not convinced by the argument that that will strengthen the position of the committee as an independent committee—rather the contrary. There is a risk that, if the committee is asked to do something with a nudge and a wink from the Government that 80 per cent is the right answer, that may weaken rather than strengthen it. I would strongly argue that we should put 80 per cent in the Bill and that the committee should focus on other targets and on means of implementing that 80 per cent.

The Earl of Liverpool: My Lords, I had not intended to speak on Report, although I spoke at Second Reading when I supported the 80 per cent objective. I have been persuaded by what the noble Lord, Lord Jay, has just said. It is a great opportunity to say what we really think we mean, which is to go for 80 per cent and to have it in the Bill. So I support the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, and I am sorry that I shall not be taking the advice of my Front Bench.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, it is an index of the importance that our world attaches to climate change that the first global conference that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association ever held—under the auspices of the UK secretariat—should have been on climate change. The noble Lord, Lord Jay, chaired the first session of that conference at the end of November. I attended the conference, and I had to make up my mind on whether to attend the Second Reading of this Bill in the House or to go on attending the conference, and I chose to stay at the conference.


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