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We will not be able to escape the effects of some aspects of climate change but we can be prepared by continually monitoring what adaptive measures we are taking and what needs to be done. The whole goal of the Bill is to provide ways to tackle the challenges of a changing climate and to stop that change through reducing carbon emissions.

The primary aim is to stop the change by cutting down emissions but this goes hand in hand with the impact on the environment that climate change brings. Thus, recognising the immense burden placed on the Committee on Climate Change as well as the importance of programmes and measures to adapt to climate change, these amendments create a sub-committee to focus on these issues. Its duties would include assessing the risks of climate change and providing proposals to mitigate these risks. By having a sub-committee devoted to adaptation, we can be sure that these issues do not become exiled from climate change proposals.

Another of these amendments places a duty on the Environmental Audit Committee to examine the Secretary of State's report on the impact of climate change. We believe that this added level of scrutiny would provide another useful resource on the road to determining precisely what the impacts of climate change have been and what needs to be done to address them. Essentially, the amendments strengthen the mechanisms for assessing the context of our efforts to reduce emissions. I hope that they will receive wide support in the House.

Lord Puttnam: My Lords, I support the amendment. One of the hallmarks of any successful organisation—the Government are no different—is to build on experience and success, and in this respect I think I have something to offer.

Despite some people’s early reservations, in my judgment the success of Ofcom is in no small part due to the work of its excellent content sub-committee. Adequately resourced and ably chaired by Ofcom’s deputy chair, originally Richard Hooper and now Philip Graf, the content sub-committee of Ofcom has managed to allay all those early fears that an essentially economically-focused organisation would somehow allow matters relating to programmes to become marginalised or even reduced to a kind of second-order business. With its own board structure, the availability of independent expertise and a designated section in the Ofcom annual report, an enormous amount has been achieved in establishing an atmosphere of trust among content creators across the whole of the sectors that Ofcom regulates.

Were he able to be present in the House this afternoon, the noble Lord, Lord Currie, assures me that he would have been happy to have confirmed his enthusiasm for the type of committee structure that is suggested by the amendment. In fact, the similarities

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between the issues of content and adaptation are really quite remarkable. Both require a type of specialist knowledge that would need to be accommodated in a single significantly larger climate change committee, which is something that none of us wishes to see happen. To seriously address measures of adaptation in the UK, any statutory sub-committee would have to be very much actions-based, working within the broad policy parameters and addressing the consequences—that is the key word—whatever has been thrashed out and agreed between the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Turner, and the Government of the day. I personally have no doubt whatever that this is the right way to go forward. Frankly, the Government would be wilfully myopic not to talk to Ofcom, study its annual report and take advantage of what has become a real success story for this Government.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, last week we had a very interesting debate on the overseas territories in respect of the National Audit Office’s report on risks to the overseas territories, one of which is the risk of climate change, which particularly affects many of them. That is detailed in the report, so I will not go over it again now. I would like to be assured by the Minister when he replies that those particular risks can be properly considered by the Committee on Climate Change and that there is a good reason, if he is going to oppose the amendment, for saying that the adaptation that is needed to respond to those risks to the overseas territories can be properly considered by the parent committee.

Baroness Young of Old Scone: My Lords, I am always hesitant to stand up in your Lordships’ House and talk about adaptation, because every time I do we appear to be in the middle of some manifestation of the sorts of extreme events that we are likely to see increasingly with climate change. There was a report on the news this morning saying that last summer’s floods were not the result of climate change, with which I entirely agree. Nevertheless, here we are tonight facing some of the strongest storms and gales since the hurricane in 1980-odd. That sets the tone for the fact that adaptation to climate change is going to become an increasingly important issue.

I, too, welcome the Government’s changes to strengthen the adaptation elements of the Bill. I was rather buoyed up in Committee by what I took to be the assurances of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that he saw the merits of an adaptation sub-committee, or at least a mechanism for independent scrutiny and advice. I was a bit disappointed that that assurance did not seem to manifest itself into a government amendment. I support Amendments Nos. 131 and 152, which would set up an adaptation sub-committee with very different skills from those people on the main climate change committee. It needs to be there to allow the two legs of climate change—mitigation and adaptation—to be properly represented at that level of expert advice. This is not a committee the function of which could be performed by parliamentary scrutiny, which is very much general scrutiny in the public interest. It is a committee similar to the climate change committee that gives expert advice and comments

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from an expert perspective on the Government’s programmes and progress towards adaptation.

The reason why I am hesitant in standing up is because I cannot make up my mind whether every time I talk about this we get visited by some manifestation of climate change, or the way that it might be with climate change in the future. If we do not resolve this here in your Lordships’ House and it has to go to the other place, by then we could be into the period when droughts and heat waves would be the manifestations, and I hesitate to wish those on the country this summer. I know that the Minister is anxious about the setting up of an adaptation sub-committee and feels that parliamentary scrutiny is sufficient. I do not believe that it is a substitute; this would be an expert committee.

I was also buoyed up—optimist that I am—when I visited the noble Lord, Lord Turner, last week. I regret that he is not in his place. Having laid out the arguments to him—he has been in the past a notorious sceptic about an adaptation sub-committee—he seemed to get pretty frisky in favour of it. If we have been able to persuade the noble Lord, Lord Turner, perhaps we can persuade the Minister.

5.45 pm

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for missing the first couple of minutes of his speech. I was delayed just outside the door by someone who spoke to me. I am particularly delighted to follow the noble Baroness because, as chairman of the National Rivers Authority, I had the responsibilities that she now has in the successor body, the Environment Agency, for dealing with both the storms that she has referred to and the droughts that almost immediately follow. Our experience is identical. I could not support the amendment more strongly than I do, based both on my experience and her experience.

It is particularly important that we have a separate committee with the time and the expertise to deal with what are really a quite separate set of issues than those that will mainly be drawing the attention of the main committee. That is particularly so because I understand that the main committee will be smaller than I think is wise, and certainly smaller than the very effective committee that I chaired in the National Rivers Authority. With all the responsibilities that it has, it is extraordinary that anyone can conceive that it will have the time that is needed to deal with these specific and very different issues—I refer to the organisations that it will have to deal with, local authorities and others in the countryside—and that it will have the time to make sure that what needs to be done is done.

I know that if I had the responsibilities of the noble Lord, Lord Turner, I would be thankful if there was a separate committee to take on this separate and highly important task. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, said on this, but I do not think that we have to go to Ofcom; all we have to do is go to the relevant bodies that have dealt with those problems and are dealing with them now. The fact that the chief executive of the Environment Agency

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and the former chairman of the National Rivers Authority are in total agreement on this point ought to be considered by Ministers as having some significance.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I take that last point personally, to be honest. The Minister for Climate Change, Phil Woolas, who has been referred to today and whose day job is in the other place, fully considered these matters. I am simply the man on earth in the Lords; that is the reality of this. This is an important point, and I will speak to the amendments as though my heart was fully in it. I thank noble Lords for another excellent debate on a very important subject.

The Government have tabled some amendments, which we will come to later—they are not in this group—on reporting on adaptation, which will increase the ability of Parliament and the public to monitor progress. That is important to ensure proper scrutiny. Currently, the Climate Change Ministers and the Government are not minded to accept these amendments, particularly Amendments Nos. 131, 152 and 165. I am quite happy to accept Amendment No. 197 if anybody wants to push it, but it does not alter the position at all. It is useless to put it in the Bill, but we will do it because that can be done at any time. I would quite like to do a deal and say that we will accept that one if noble Lords do not push the others, but I realise that I am in no position to say that.

The Bill includes completely new duties and powers on adaptation, so we are doing things about adaptation. It is not as though the Government are not taking any action. These new duties and powers in the Bill show that the Government take incredibly seriously the need to adapt to climate change. These provisions have been strengthened by the amendments that we have tabled.

The scrutiny of the risk assessment and adaptation programme is very important; we are all completely agreed on this. I want to set out why we think arrangements different from those for mitigation are justified for adaptation. I accept, of course, that there are links between adaptation policy and mitigation policy, but there are some important differences. One is about controlling pollution, the other about managing the changing risks. The people who will need to take action are often different. Mitigation policy focuses on power, heat, transport and consumers. Adaptation policy is definitely much broader and the issues vary more by location. The expertise for reducing carbon emissions and the expertise for managing new risks are different.

I fully accept that what has been said in one or more of the speeches implies different or additional people, but I am speaking about the Committee on Climate Change as set out in the name and numbers in the Bill. Amendments Nos. 131, 152 and 165 propose a new sub-committee of the Committee on Climate Change, designed to focus on mitigation issues and provide expert advice to government on what reductions in emissions the UK will make. It will report annually to Parliament on progress towards the targets and budgets set under the Bill. Although I fully agree with all that my noble friend said about Ofcom, although I do not know the details, I

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understand that that committee effectively reports to the regulator of Ofcom, whereas this committee is effectively reporting to Parliament and the Government. I would not go to the wall on that, but the parallel of that sub-committee reporting to regulator is not exactly the same.

All noble Lords agree that these are important tasks, and it is therefore vital that the climate change committee is properly resourced and has the right skills. There are several reasons why the committee or any sub-committees are not the right bodies to deal with adaptation. First, it is wrong to assume that a body with one type of scrutiny function should naturally be given another. Secondly, the committee could become unwieldy and unfocused if its remit were significantly expanded to take on adaptation responsibilities. The amendment proposes a new sub-committee with a whole new set of members. That is the point I am making: we are talking about additional groups of people. Proposed new sub-paragraph (3)(j) in Amendment No. 131 says that the sub-committee should include expertise in “any other ... adaptations required”. This, of course, could cover every sector of society and the economy. It could become quite unwieldy.

Thirdly, we have discussed on a number of occasions whether the Committee on Climate Change should have a role in policy. The Government have argued strongly that it should not, as this would damage its impartiality and credibility as a technical-expertise independent body in its role of advising on targets and tracking progress against those targets. I quote from one of our debates on 8 January:

which,

When I first read that in my brief I remember thinking that I had not said it, and I had not; it was the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. I remember responding, because I put it the other way around. We did not want it to be politicised. We are now discussing amendments which would require the Committee on Climate Change to assess the adequacy of government programmes and the contribution of government policies. There is a contradiction here and I have no doubt that the noble Lord will explain that in due course. He could, of course, explain it by withdrawing the amendment. Our view is that, whatever happens, we must not undermine the credibility of the Committee on Climate Change as a body focused on the science. We emphasise that. It is focused on the science, rather than on any of the political aspects.

Finally, I note in passing that noble Lords opposite have also tabled Amendment No. 134, which seems implicitly to criticise the value of sub-committees. We are not sure how that amendment fits with the amendments we are discussing here, which would set up a whole new sub-committee. We will come to that in due course. Mainstreaming adaptation into normal business will be critical to successful adaptation.

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There is no question about that. It is a big, big programme. I do not seek to undervalue that in any way. The most effective scrutiny of whether each sector is adapting to climate change would be a matter for the relevant parliamentary Select Committees. This issue will dominate work in Parliament in the years ahead.

As I have said, I would be quite happy to accept Amendment No. 197. The audit committee already has the right to scrutinise the national risk assessment, so the amendment merely reflects the current position, but we are quite happy to put it in the Bill. It is true that I have not come back with anything. We have thought about it and it has been discussed in government. The fact that I have not come back with anything is not to say that we have not had quite vigorous discussions in government. I hope the totality of government amendments tabled on Report, following Committee, shows that we have genuinely discussed these issues. Where we have been able to move collectively, we have done so. There are some issues, however, where the position set out in the Bill is one we wish to maintain in this House. It will then, of course, be subject to scrutiny in the other place.

Lord Puttnam: My Lords, there may be a misunderstanding here on which I may help the Minister. It was certainly not my intention, as one of the people who put their name to this amendment, that the sub-committee would report to Parliament. The sub-committee, in my mind, reports to a sovereign climate change committee and, only through the climate change committee, to Parliament. That is a very important distinction.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, could I ask the Minister to respond to what I said about the national audit committee’s report on the overseas territories, which we debated last week? Will the risks from climate change that the overseas territories are said to incur in that report be subject to examination by the Committee on Climate Change?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I do not criticise the noble Lord for not being present but I have said repeatedly that the agenda and role of the Committee on Climate Change and what it looks at are not prescribed in the Bill. The committee can go much wider than what is in the Bill. I make it abundantly clear that if the committee chooses to look at climate change issues and at the science with a view to giving advice, there will be no no-go areas. In a way, that is one of our criticisms, because on the one hand we have to give an idea in the Bill of the nature of the committee’s work, but on the other we do not want to prescribe its functions and curtail it because changes will occur. Other information, other reports, science from around the world and the effect of climate change on other parts of the world are bound to be taken into account by the committee, and it does not need the permission of government or, indeed, the permission of the Bill to do so. The Bill does not curtail the committee; it gives a list in a subsection

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that states that the above is not the totality of the work of the Committee on Climate Change. It is free to look at other issues.

Baroness Byford: My Lords—

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, this is Report. We have had two interventions since the Minister sat down. That is quite enough on Report.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, it is difficult because the Minister did not respond to the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, on the question that I was going to raise. I think that my point is relevant and I hope that my intervention will be acceptable to the House. Following what the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, said, did the Government consider the amendment in the light of the information being reported to the new Committee on Climate Change rather than, as the Minister implied, it being reported to the House? They are two totally different issues. That was simply the point on which I sought clarification.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, as I said, I do not want to make a big thing about this. The example that my noble friend gave was a good one, although I am not familiar with the inner workings. It is wholly right that a committee which is to represent viewers’ rights and maintain broadcasting integrity should advise a communications regulator, but it does not follow that a sub-committee scrutinising a government programme should advise a committee established to set carbon budgets. My point was that there is a parallel to be drawn because of the success of what has happened in Ofcom, but it is not necessarily exactly a dead square fit with what we are debating here.

Lord Teverson: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. Given the very positive view that he gave in Committee of this type of move, I am disappointed that there has been no further movement and that the Government have not been able to come up with anything more substantial.

I absolutely stand by the depoliticisation quote, which was in the context of the Committee on Climate Change bypassing the Secretary of State and effectively implementing policy, whereas here—and I have tabled amendments on exactly this basis—I am saying that the committee should assess government programmes to see whether they will meet the objectives.

Therefore, I am disappointed by the Minister’s response. I think that adaptation must be brought up one or two more leagues in the Bill due to its importance. I am a convert to that but I think that the Government remain to be converted, and I wish to test the opinion of the House.

6.01 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 131) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 160; Not-Contents, 137.



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Division No. 2


CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Ashcroft, L.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Best, L.
Blaker, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brookeborough, V.
Burnett, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cathcart, E.
Chelmsford, Bp.
Chidgey, L.
Chorley, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cotter, L.
Courtown, E.
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dykes, L.
Eccles, V.
Eden of Winton, L.
Falkland, V.
Falkner of Margravine, B.
Fearn, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fowler, L.
Geddes, L.
Glasgow, E.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Greaves, L.
Greengross, B.
Hamwee, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Harries of Pentregarth, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Haskins, L.
Henley, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooson, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Inglewood, L.
Janvrin, L.
Jay of Ewelme, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Jopling, L.
Kilclooney, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lewis of Newnham, L.
Liverpool, Bp.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lyell, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mawson, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Montrose, D.
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