some default text...
Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Climate Change

Question

2.59 pm

Asked By Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer



8 Dec 2009 : Column 988

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, no: we remain absolutely convinced by the comprehensive and compelling evidence that shows that humans are causing the climate to change.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I am very thankful that the Government are taking that position and I thank the Minister for that Answer. Does he agree that, just as in a sick person, the temperature rise is just one symptom of the very sick state of the planet, and that the conference at Copenhagen represents a step change in trying to deal with many of the symptoms to do with our overuse of resources? Does he also agree that it is an outrage that those who quibble with the evidence and who want to deny the little bits of evidence here and there are those who want to continue business as usual and deny future generations their rights?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Yes, my Lords, I think that the noble Baroness is spot on in her analysis of where we are and of the importance of the Copenhagen discussions. No one should underestimate the challenge of reaching agreement at Copenhagen but we are confident that we can see a successful outcome.

Lord Krebs: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia agree with the two data sets collected independently in the United States at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Climatic Data Centre, and that all three data sets show that thermometer measurements of the global temperature have risen by 0.75 degrees since 1850? Does he also agree that where direct measurements from thermometers conflict with proxy measurements such as those from tree rings, the thermometer measurements should be treated as more reliable?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Lord speaks with great authority. I cannot disagree with him at all in his analysis, which suggests that the credibility of the climate science on which we are informed is not in doubt.

Lord Clinton-Davis: Is it not clear that the vast majority of scientists conclude that there is a real risk of climate change and that it is preferable to take precautionary action now rather than be sorry later?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Again, my Lords, I agree with my noble friend.

Baroness Wilcox: My Lords-

Lord Rees of Ludlow: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the rise in carbon dioxide is entirely uncontroversial and that if we had no other information apart from the agreed measurements of carbon dioxide and the projections that they carry for the second half of this century, that would in itself motivate very strong action at Copenhagen?



8 Dec 2009 : Column 989

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I think that that is right, and that is why it is so important that we should reach agreement in Copenhagen. No one should have any doubt that the evidence has been rigorously assessed by a number of institutions throughout the world and that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is real, it is happening, and we have to do something about it.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords-

Baroness Wilcox: I'm up, and I'm staying up.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that questioning theories by subjecting them to rigorous testing is the foundation of scientific method and is how our body of knowledge was built? Although the revelations at the University of East Anglia are deeply concerning, our knowledge of climate change does not hang on this set of e-mails but on the work of thousands of scientists pursuing many separate lines of inquiry over many years.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I agree with the general thrust of the noble Baroness's question. As for the UEA, the university has announced an independent review, and I think it best to await the outcome. However, I am convinced that the evidence overall, not only from that university but also from other universities around the world, is utterly convincing.

Lord Dykes: Will Her Majesty's Government promise to work very hard indeed through the usual polite channels to persuade a few myopic and reactionary US senators of the need to support a full universal treaty when the time comes on 20 December and not to resile back into old views which are out of date on this matter?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I have some sympathy with the noble Lord's point. However, I think it is worth saying that the position of the US Administration is very much more positive than it has been and we are very much encouraged by that. However, no doubt there will be considerable challenges ahead.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords-

Lord Clark of Windermere: My Lords-

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, I think we should hear from this side.

Lord Clark of Windermere: My Lords, while I and a great many noble Lords are persuaded of climate change and that much of it is manmade, and that science and change in lifestyles will have to be used to counter it, will the Minister accept that nature can give us a hand in this? Has he seen the independent report chaired by Sir David Read, which has concluded that an extension of our woodland cover in the United Kingdom by 4 per cent would allow us to sequester 10 per cent of our carbon emissions? I declare an interest as chairman of the Forestry Commission.



8 Dec 2009 : Column 990

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I have not read the report, but I understand my noble friend's point. There is no question that forestation offers many opportunities. As part of the agreement in Copenhagen, we must ensure that action is taken to prevent further deforestation.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the discovery of the mammal in Siberia that is said to be 37,000 years old? As a result of some of the investigations that have been made, it is clear that 37,000 years ago the arctic was tundra; there were grazing animals and people living there. It was considerably warmer, and it is doubtful whether there was any ice there at all. Would the Minister agree that as a result of that we are probably in a cycle returning?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for imparting that information to your Lordships' House this afternoon. The fact is that of course there have been periods of warmth, and natural processes can obviously affect climate. However, we are seeing temperatures rising rapidly due to human activities. I am convinced that we have to take action to limit this warming to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords-

Canterbury City Council Bill

Motion to Approve

3.07 pm

Moved By The Chairman of Committees

Motion agreed.

Nottingham City Council Bill

Motion to Approve

Moved By The Chairman of Committees

Motion agreed.

Bournemouth Borough Council Bill [HL]

Revival Motion

Moved By The Chairman of Committees

Motion agreed.



8 Dec 2009 : Column 991

Manchester City Council Bill [HL]

Revival Motion

Moved By The Chairman of Committees

Motion agreed.

Procedure Committee

Membership Motion

3.08 pm

Moved By The Chairman of Committees

Motion agreed.

Legal Services Act 2007 (Functions of an Approved Regulator) Order 2009

Link to the Grand Commmittee Debate

Legal Services Act 2007 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2009

Link to the Grand Commmittee Debate

Transfer of Functions of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Order 2009

Link to the Grand Commmittee Debate

Transfer of Tribunal Functions Order 2009

Link to the Grand Commmittee Debate

Amendment to Schedule 6 to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 Order 2009

Link to the Grand Commmittee Debate

Motions to Approve

Moved By Lord Tunnicliffe

Motions agreed.

Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill [HL]

Bill Main Page
Copy of the Bill
Explanatory Notes

Second Reading

3.09 pm

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of

8 Dec 2009 : Column 992

the purport of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Moved By Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): My Lords, as someone who, like others in this House, has campaigned for the purposes of this Bill for many years I feel privileged to be present in the House today. Perhaps I may express my warm thanks to noble Lords in all parts of the House for their strong and articulate support for this Bill in the Queen's Speech debate.

This Bill has a very clear objective; that is, to put in place prohibitions on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions in UK territory and by any UK nationals. In doing so, it will implement our country's international obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, paving the way for the UK to ratify this significant arms control treaty. I also thank your Lordships for the wider moral support and commitment across this House on arms control for many years. I particularly want to join the tributes paid to my noble friend Lord Dubs and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who have campaigned tirelessly for the banning of cluster munitions. I look forward to working with the whole House to ensure that our shared objective of the speedy ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2010 can be realised.

The House will be aware that in Oslo, just over a year ago, my right honourable friend David Miliband signed the treaty on behalf of the UK. As he said, the Convention on Cluster Munitions,

Like the Ottawa convention on anti-personnel mines before it, it is an example of what can be achieved when like-minded Governments join forces with parliamentarians and civil society.

When my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown took part in his first debate on cluster munitions in this House he welcomed this activity. He said:

"Pressure in a Chamber such as this moves the issue forward".-[Official Report, 15/11/07; col. 602.]

I agree. Debates in this Chamber supported by civil society helped to shape the UK's policy and ensured that we saw international progress. I believe that this treaty will make a difference. As many of us in this House have seen for ourselves, cluster munitions can cause immense suffering to the civilians caught up in conflict and can leave a deadly post-conflict legacy for future generations when they fail to explode. It is right and proper that we are taking global action to prevent this.

Recognising the humanitarian implications, the UK Government have been at the forefront of efforts to prevent the proliferation of cluster munitions. The Export Control Order 2008 placed cluster munitions in category A, making them subject to the most stringent trade controls. This measure effectively banned trade

8 Dec 2009 : Column 993

in cluster munitions by any UK entities. Cluster munitions will remain in category A. We see the Export Control Order 2008 as complementary to the Bill's prohibitions.

As your Lordships will know, the UK has also been at the forefront of the international debate on how to address the problem of cluster munitions. We were one of the original signatories of the Oslo declaration in February 2007 calling on countries to prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. This declaration started the international negotiation process and we continued to play a leading role in bringing this to a successful conclusion, with the Prime Minister's personal intervention breaking the deadlock at the final conference in Dublin where the convention was adopted on 30 May 2008.

The decision taken by the Government to give up our remaining cluster munitions was not taken easily, especially with our substantial and active military commitments, but we recognised the importance of our endeavour. That was referred to in the opening address at the Dublin conference, which was made by the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross. When he quoted the authors of the St Petersburg declaration he said that the task was,

I believe that we have a Bill that robustly and faithfully implements the terms of the convention. In doing so, it puts in place a strong and practical framework to enforce all of the convention's prohibitions. A good example of this is the provision establishing the offence of assisting others to engage in prohibited activity, as set out in Clause 1. This reflects the wording of the convention. I understand that not all countries that have passed similar legislation have included such a prohibition. However, the Government felt it to be imperative to do so, thereby creating the widest possible prohibition, according to the treaty.

On assistance, I refer noble Lords to my Written Statement yesterday in which I clarified that the prohibition on assistance will cover direct financing of the production of cluster munitions. Given the Government's desire to see an end to cluster munitions, it also outlined the further steps we will be taking to prevent indirect financing, including working to produce a voluntary code with British business. With this commitment the UK is, I am proud to say, again at the forefront of international action.

The Bill's prohibitions are also extra-territorial, applying to all UK nationals and companies regardless of whether they engage in prohibited activities in the UK or elsewhere. Again, not all countries that have passed implementing legislation have done this. But Article 9 of the convention stipulates that states parties are required to prevent prohibited activities from taking place both on their territory and being engaged in by persons under their jurisdiction or control. We thought it important to reflect this.

I will now outline the main provisions of the Bill. It will give effect to the Government's future obligations as a state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, notably to prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions on UK territory and by UK nationals. The Bill has a great deal in common

8 Dec 2009 : Column 994

with the Landmines Act 1998 that implemented the Ottawa convention on anti-personnel mines. In both cases the issues of breaches of humanitarian law have been cited as a clear justification for the broad support of the House.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page