Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East
Yesterday in Parliament, the long-delayed Environment Bill came back before MPs, after being amended and strengthened by the House of Lords.
The Government had the opportunity to accept the Lords’ amendments, which included provisions to protect bees from harmful pesticides, adopt air pollution targets based on WHO guidance and force companies to avoid dumping sewage into rivers.
These were common-sense amendments that should have remained in the Bill. But, shamefully, the Government decided to remove them all (despite a notable Tory rebellion over river pollution).
I spoke several times during the debate and supported every amendment to the Bill. I also took the opportunity to flag the weakness of the Government’s proposals to reduce overseas deforestation in UK supply chains – which will not apply to deforestation conducted legally.
These incredibly weak proposals will be reviewed, but not for two years – since the Government also removed an amendment compelling them to conduct this review a year earlier.
Yesterday’s votes were the clearest indication yet that this Government will do all it can to avoid scrutiny, accountability and does not want to take strong action to protect our natural environment.