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Amendments Nos. 179 and 180 are consequential amendments that simply make specific provision for any guidance and directions relating to the 2050 review to be given by the Secretary of State alone following consultation with the devolved Administrations. That simply reflects the existing arrangements for the committees advice on budgets or on any of its other functions.
in other words, make a resolution for the approval of the recommendation made by the committee. The Governments amendments do not do that. They do not require the Government to approve the recommendations. They therefore potentially invite drift on a recommendation by the climate change committee. Is that true?
Lord Rooker: Absolutely, my Lords. I have not sought to hide that at all. The Conservative amendment takes the Government out of the process completely, save for laying the order. They have no power either to reject it or to amend it. The Governments position has been all along to get the best possible independent advice, act on that advice and bring a decision that the Government make, having had that advice, to Parliament. In the main, one would assume that we would follow the advice, but there may be occasions when we do not. My noble friend is right.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, may I then pursue my noble friend further down this route? He talks about the best possible advice. The assumption I had made was that the best possible advice would be the advice given by the climate change committee. Does that not suggest that there is other advice that might be treated as more significant and more valid than that given by the climate change committee? Does that not equally invite drift? Does drift not worry my noble friend?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, it would do. I am sorry; I should stick to the brief, really. Best possible advice means the climate change committee. The point is that the committee is small, but it itself will draw in advice in forming its position to come back to the Government and Parliament. It is not as though the five or six people appointed now will work in
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I meant to say to my noble friend that the best possible advice is not the hunch of a Minister, or the hunch of a pressure group or some lobby groupit is the transparent advice from of the climate change committee. If that is not accepted, the procedures in the Bill are such that Ministers will have to be up-front at the Dispatch Box and very clear about why they are not accepting it. The default position is that the climate change committees advice will be accepted, and, if it is not, Ministers will have to explain to Parliament why not.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, that is precisely the problem in this Bill. We will come to my amendments some time next week. This brings us to what happens in conditions of drift. Ministers explain to Parliament why they are not prepared to implement a recommendation or follow the advice of the committee. At that point the debate may well stop and that is where the problem of drift arises.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, the committee has been set up with particular terms of reference and people have accepted appointment on the basis that they understand that the legislation can always change as it goes through and that the committee is in shadow form. There may be cases where the Government do not accept the advice and have to come to Parliament to get approval for something else. However, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change will be open and transparent for all to see. The committee would have a viewquite a serious viewif the Government decided not to accept its advice. My noble friend uses the word drift. I do not think this is drift at allthis is what normally happens. This is an advisory climate change committee, which will give independent advice to Government and, through Government, to Parliament, because it will be published and transparent. It is not an executive committee. It is not making the decision, The implication of what my noble friend is saying is that it should make the decision and there should be no choice whether Government accept it or not. Our view has always been that the Government should make the decisions and be accountable for them to Parliament.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, the argument is that in the event that there is a dispute, the matter should be referred to Parliament for Parliament to decide. In other words it becomes part of the process of resolving the problem.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I do not know whether I had sat down or not. I will check on my noble friends interventions; that is probably causing a rod for my own back. I have now forgotten the point I was going to make.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I can understand the Minister being somewhat confused at this stage. I have been heartened by the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, because they reinforce our view that the key to getting this right lies in that balance between Parliament on the one hand and the climate change committee and the Government on the other. We have that other great body, public opinion, on the outside. To some degree, the Minister has called on that fourth force in suggesting that no Minister is going to publicly override a recommendation from the climate change committee because it would be so electorally difficult.
This is an interesting debate to which we may well have to return at Third Reading, because it involves matters of principle. I recognise the strength of the Ministers commitment to increasing the role of the climate change committee while reserving the authority of the Secretary of StateI think that summarises his position. We are also pleased that the arguments that we presented in Committee have manifested themselves in a series of Government amendments. It is in the interests of the House and the Bill that we encourage the Government in their listening mode. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
( ) It is the duty of the Secretary of State as soon as practicable after the making of a recommendation by the Committee to lay it before both Houses of Parliament and make a resolution for its approval.
The noble Earl said: In Clause 2, the Secretary of State may by order change the 2050 target and change the 1990 baseline. While I am sure that a Secretary of State would not make these important changes out of political expediency, we want to ensure that they are made with the blessing and recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change. Our amendments are designed to ensure that the committee is playing a central role in terms of the overall scientific frameworkthat is, the targets in the baseline year. Orders to amend these shall not be made unless there is approval of the committee. In that respect these amendments are very straightforward.
I concede that Clause 2(2) says that changes can only be made if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in scientific knowledge about climate change. The Minister talked about best possible advice in the debate on the previous amendment, which of course means the Committee on Climate Change, and I am rather hoping that when he responds to this he will come up with the same thing. When there is a reference to scientific
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We do not want to allow the Secretary of State the leeway of ignoring the Committees advice, or indeed not seeking its advice at all, on these very important issues. We do not see these amendments as taking away powers from the Government. We simply feel that how much carbon emissions need to be reduced, by when, and how that is to be counted, are wholly scientific matters. Of course, how the Government go about doing so is up to them. We will come to the committees role in this later on.
As my noble friend Lord Taylor said, we want a balance between the roles of the committee, the Parliament and the Government. We called it a triangular relationship in Committee. The amendments seek to ensure that the appropriate emphasis is placed on the appropriate side of the triangle and that these scientific matters need to be considered by the committee. I appreciate that the Government do not intend to build a situation in which they can ignore the committee. We are just trying to guarantee that this does not happen. I beg to move.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I can be brief because my arguments are exactly the same as on the previous amendment. If one simply takes the effects of Amendments Nos. 28 to 30, the Government would have to follow the committees recommendations and the only alternative is not to act at all. If either House of Parliament rejected the committees recommendations there would be complete stalemate and nothing could be changed. It may be triangular to the noble Lord, but it is giving the committee executive functions.
We want the committee to give advice and the Government to be accountable to Parliament. This is the very last point my noble friend was asking me about. I agreed with him that it Parliament would take the decision and not Ministers, because Ministers would have to come to Parliament in any event. Therefore, we had these discussions at some length in Committee. We want to ensure that we design a system that has some element of democratic accountability. The proposals put forward in this group of amendments would mean that the Committee on Climate Change would essentially be responsible for taking the decisions. As I have said, decisions about how we reduce carbon emissions will have far-reaching consequences which, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, will require brave actions. It is only right these are made by an elected body. Delegating such decisions to the unelected committee undermines democratic accountability.
The committees role is to provide the best possible advice on the level of budgets and to hold the Government and the country accountable for progress towards them. The Governments view is that the committee should not have a role in choosing the policy mechanisms most appropriate to meet the budgets. The climate change committee will be incredibly influential. In this respect, it will be much more powerful than some advisory committees. I hope that good heart has been taken from the members who have been appointed to the Committee.
I cannot accept the amendments but I promised in Committee to consider how we can ensure that the committees advice is given full prominence and that the Governments response is fully transparent. In particular, it needs to be clear where our views diverge, if and when that happens. We will debate the Government amendments separately. We are proposing that the Government should be required to seek and take account of advice from the committee in three additional situations. We are tabling amendments to propose that the Secretary of State should be required to explain if he disagrees with the committees advice on targets, greenhouse gases and budgets, and we will come to those at the appropriate time. But that is largely why we cannot accept this group of amendments. They fall into the same trap as the previous amendment.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I think that this issuethis relationshipis at the heart of the Bill. I ask noble Lords to consider for a moment what happened with the establishment of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England. I remember being advised as a humble Labour Back-Bencher at the time that we could not trust the politicians and that we needed an independent body to take a major decision affecting management of the economy, whereby prior to elections we would not put interest rates down and after them we would not put interest rates up. It was as simple as that; that is how it was presented. I accepted it on that basis and I think that my noble friend probably accepted it similarly on that basis. I cannot see the difference here. The policy of raising interest rates after elections and putting them down before is the policy of drift, and it does not work. The Labour Governments greatest success in all these years has been to take that one decision which removed from us that responsibility. It did not provide for drift. This is another amendment which is trying to tie us down and tie us in to a decision taken by the committee; whereas, alternatively, some of us believe that drift is inevitable.
I remember some weeks ago when my noble friend stood there and told us that, one day, he would return to the Back Benches. I have a vision of him standing on the Back Benches in a number of years time hectoring and belabouring the then Governmentnot necessarily a Labour Governmentover the fact that they have allowed drift to interfere with the committee's decisions and that we will not meet targets because they have allowed electoral considerations to interfere when the real decisions have to be taken.
Lord Turnbull: My Lords, perhaps I may respond to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. I think that he has misread the analogy with the Bank of England. The true analogy is that the Government take the fundamental political decision on whether we are a high-inflation or low-inflation economy and on the degree of rigour. The Government set the target and then assign the task of delivering that target to an operational body. The analogy is not the same in this case. What is being proposed is that the target should be set by the committee. That is a completely different constitutional position. The position set out by the Minister is therefore right. The target is set on advice
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Lord Woolmer of Leeds: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours will undoubtedly repeat variations of his remarks throughout the two to four days of this Report stage. We may therefore rehearse them again. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, says, it is not an exact analogy at all. Far from a tripartite arrangement, it is not at all clearas the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, saidwhat role the Government would serve here other than as a post box. The opposition Front-Bench proposals throughout the Bill effectively involve the climate change committee taking decisions about a whole range of things. If it made a recommendation on the emissions from energy generation of a particular scale and rigour and those could effectively be met only by nuclear generation on a large scaleand that is not impossibleit would mean that the Government of the day, even if opposed to it, would have to accept the target knowing that the means of achieving it was something to which they were diametrically opposed. That seemsalthough I would personally be in favour of such a policynonsense.
The climate change committee will make proposals based on judgments it has reached through its scientific and rigorous assessment, and those proposals will have implications. The Government of the day will have to face the question of what they will recommend to Parliament, and they may have to take a different view. That is the role of government. The Government of the day have to weigh up a whole range of complex issues as well as the expert scientific advice. I cannot imagine a situation where any Government would want to be bound in this way.
I finish with the following conundrum. If Parliament rejected what the climate change committee recommended, who would negotiate with the committee to change the situation? Would it be the Government, who are a post box for a disagreeing Parliament? With which House of Parliament or party would it negotiate? It is the politics of the madhouse. The Government of the day ultimately have the responsibility of proposing to Parliament. That is their political responsibility. They will agree or disagree. But if Parliament rejects the proposal, it is then clearly the Government's duty to negotiate with the climate change committee. If the Government are simply a post box, the Secretary of State will be in a totally invidious position. He would have no locus or authority. The climate change committee would say, Its no good negotiating with you because Parliament has rejected it.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, when we had the debate on Schedule 1, particularly on paragraph 1, where there was a reference to the experience that the committee would need in terms of their individual contributions, I raised the issue of the absence of change making. The Minister, to his very courteous credit, not only responded in the debate but
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Earl Cathcart: My Lords, as things stand in the Bill, the Secretary of State can amend the 2050 target or baseline year if it appears to himand that seems to be a hunch to methat there have been significant developments in scientific knowledge about climate change. We were trying to tie the Minister down that it will be the Committee on Climate Change that gives this scientific knowledge to the Secretary of State. I think that we can take some comfort from that and I thank the Minister for setting out his stall on this. At this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I was very pleased by the positive reception that this amendment received in Committee; by and large, many noble Lords seemed to think that the idea behind the amendment was a sound one. I return at Report with the same amendment, hoping that, having had time to consider it fully, noble Lords will give it a similar welcome not just as an idea but as a point which your Lordships will seek to include in the Bill. The Minister agreed to take the idea away for consideration and even said that,
Although the Minister did not make any commitments to bring back anything on Report, I was slightly dismayed when I looked at the Marshalled List and did not find a government amendment attempting to do what our amendment does. I therefore look forward to hearing from the Minister. I beg to move.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right that I was sympathetic. Yet even where I have made no commitment to look into an issue, we have had the best brains in Whitehall looking seriously at what your Lordships have been saying because, as I constantly remind my ministerial colleagues, the Government do not run the Lords, so we have to listen. I also explained that in a letter that I sent.
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