Badger culls going ahead
Bovine TB is a serious disease and its incidence has been increasing steadily since the 1980s with the number of new cases doubling every nine years. In the last 10 years the disease has cost the taxpayer £500 million.
My colleagues and I remain committed to using all available means to address this disease. It has now been confirmed that the pilot badger culls go ahead in Somerset and Gloucestershire this summer. Ministers have also agreed that an area in Dorset should be prepared as a reserve. The decision to pilot a badger cull is based on the best scientific evidence available. Evidence from Australia, the Republic of Ireland and the USA has shown that TB in cattle cannot be controlled without also controlling the disease in the surrounding wildlife population. Research has demonstrated that cattle and badgers transmit the disease to each other and that sustained culling of badgers leads to a significant reduction of the disease in cattle. The two pilot areas where culling will initially take place are both in TB hotspots. It will be overseen and evaluated by an independent expert panel reporting their findings to Ministers.
Ministers are clear that culling represents only part of a comprehensive package of measures that we are using to tackle bovine TB. In high-risk areas herds are tested annually and any cattle that test positive are removed. Restrictions on cattle movements have been strengthened to reduce the chance of disease spreading, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) continues to look at ways to improve the testing of cattle for TB.
My colleagues and I have also funded and developed an injectable badger vaccine but this has its limitations. Badgers need to be trapped before they can be vaccinated, and the process has to be repeated annually for many years. In addition the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective in preventing TB. As a result, current vaccines will not be as effective as culling in reducing the spread of the disease.
Defra is also planning to invest a further £15.5m in vaccine development over the next four years to develop an oral vaccine for badgers, which may be cheaper and more effective than an injectable vaccine, in addition to a vaccine for cattle. As the EU Commissioner Tonio Borg has recently made clear, no country has done more in this area than the UK. However, it will be many years before these methods are available and unfortunately, the vaccination of our national herd is prohibited by EU legislation. Our cattle industry cannot wait that long. It is therefore vital that we use every tool at our disposal to check the progress of this devastating disease.
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CCTV in slaughterhouses
Let me assure you that my colleagues and I are committed to the maintenance of high standards of welfare at slaughter and does not condone any form of cruelty to animals. As you may know, EU Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing came into force on 1 January 2013. This regulation sets out new standards for governing the handling, restraint, stunning and slaughter of animals for human consumption.
As part of the process of implementing EU Regulation 1099/2009, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has recently consulted on the role CCTV can play in relation to monitoring welfare of animals at slaughter. This included consideration of whether CCTV should be made mandatory.
I am assured that Ministers are currently giving careful consideration to the responses to consultation, and as the PPS to the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, I am doing all I can to advise and assist. When finalised, the response will be published on the Defra website and will confirm whether we intend to change our current approach, which is not to require installation of CCTV in slaughterhouses.
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Valuation of Teachers’ Pensions
As you may know, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, commissioned the School Teachers’ Review Body to see how reforms could be made to help address the quality of teaching, raise the status of the profession and support recruitment and retention of teachers in different areas of the country. They have recommended a simpler, more flexible national pay framework for teachers.
Included in the recommendations are moves to end pay increases based on length of service and linking all teachers’ pay progression to performance, based on annual appraisals. This is already the case for some teachers who are on a higher pay scale.
These recommendations will make teaching a more attractive career and will also give schools greater flexibility to respond to specific conditions and reward their best teachers. I think it is important to clarify that a broad national framework, including the higher pay bands for London and fringe areas and an upper pay scale as a career path for experienced teachers who make a wider contribution to the school will be retained.
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International Land Grabs
I share Oxfam's concern that one billion people go to bed hungry around the world every night and I am proud that my colleagues and I are committed to helping those suffering from hunger and malnutrition. During the London Olympics the Prime Minister took the opportunity to challenge the world to do more to tackle maternal and child under-nutrition. By 2015, UK aid will have helped to ensure four million people have enough food throughout the year and nutrition programmes will have reached 20 million pregnant women and children.
I recognise that high commodity prices and other factors have led to a rush in large-scale land acquisition domestically and internationally. When done well, commercial investments in agriculture have the potential to be transformational, but it is vital that the rights and interests of the people living on the land are taken into account.
Ministers are therefore discussing the need for good governance and transparency in large-scale land investments with NGOs, to ensure that the legitimate rights of local people are protected, and that local food security is not undermined. The Department for International Development is also supporting over six million people to secure their rights to land and property by 2015. In 2011 alone, 800,000 people have been helped in Mozambique, India, Rwanda and Nepal.
I am pleased that the Prime Minister will be using the UK's G8 presidency to focus on creating the conditions for open economies and societies, including the presence of property rights. He has stressed the importance of transparency and accountability in delivering these rights. In addition, the UK will once again be leading the way in the battle against hunger, with a special event on food and nutrition a few days before the main G8 meeting, to follow up on the Olympic Hunger Summit.
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Payday Lenders/High Cost Credit
My colleagues and I are very concerned about the problems some people are having with the provision of high cost credit and I support steps they are taking to tackle the problems associated with high cost credit.
As you note, we are giving powers to the new regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to impose restrictions on the total costs that lenders can charge. I share your view in welcoming this step.
We are also giving the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) a new power to suspend consumer credit licences immediately where there is an urgent need to protect consumers. We expect this power to come into force early this year. This will help to ensure the OFT remains an effective regulator during the interim period before responsibility for consumer credit regulation passes to the FCA.
Alongside its publication of a progress report in November this year, the OFT announced it has opened formal investigations into several payday lenders. These investigations are targeting aggressive debt collection practices and the OFT has written to all 240 payday lenders about poor practices in the sector. The OFT has also published revised Debt Collection Guidance. This guidance focuses on a specific repayment mechanism to ensure that traders with a consumer credit licence do not misuse it.
Beyond this, my colleagues and I have already taken action to make sure consumers are better protected. Following discussions with myself and my colleagues, 90 per cent of the payday and short-term loan industry agreed to improve their codes of practice to increase transparency and provide better protection for consumers. Commitments include: a good practice customer charter, more help for those in financial difficulty and effective monitoring by the Trade Association to root out poor practices.
I hope this reassures you that my colleagues and I are committed to reforming the high cost credit market and protecting consumers.
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Plain packaging of tobacco products
Every year, in England alone over 340,000 children under the age of 16 are encouraged to try smoking for the first time. I believe that the absence of colourful designs will make the health warnings more effective and reduce the misconception that certain brands are healthier than others.
Previously, I written to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Anne Soubry MP, on behalf of my constituents asking her to support plain packaging and you can see her response here.
I look forward to receiving the Government's response and publication of the consultation that took place on this issue. I will continue to support the call for plain packaging.
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National Wildlife Crime Unit
As a Private Parliamentary Secretary, I do not by convention, sign any Early Day Motions (EDMs), which are primarily used by some backbenchers to assert their opinion. However, my colleagues and I are committed to tackling wildlife crime and fully support law enforcement agencies who are working through the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime.
We also recognise the important contribution of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), which offers advice for law enforcers on wildlife crime matters and coordinates activity to tackle the current UK wildlife crime priorities. The NCWU produces every six months a tactical assessment of progress against each of its priority work areas. This assessment is then considered by the Home Office, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and others members of the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordinated Group. As I am PPS to the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Defra, I am looking forward considering and assisting with this assessment in finer detail.
You may be aware that with the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners in November and the creation of a National Crime Agency, there are significant changes taking place in the broader policing landscape. The role played by the NWCU will evolve in accordance with these. Consequently, I understand from Ministers that decisions regarding Government funding for the NWCU beyond 2012-2013 will be taken later this year. It may be that it is better to let the new Police and Crime Commissioners decide how best to allocate resources at a local level rather than providing specific central funding.
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Animal Welfare in Circuses
I am concerned with the welfare of animals in circuses. I wish to commit to the highest standards of animal welfare and would like to take this opportunity to share with you what we are doing to address this issue.
In March, my colleagues and I set out our approach to the use of performing wild animals in travelling circuses in England. We have said we will pursue a ban on ethical grounds on wild animals performing in circuses. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is currently working on draft legislation which will set out the exact details of that ban. It is expected that this will be laid before Parliament for pre-legislative scrutiny later this session.
To ensure the welfare of animals is protected before the ban can be introduced, Defra has now put forward draft regulations to introduce a new licensing scheme that will protect the welfare of animals in travelling circuses. These regulations will also ensure that travelling circuses are subject to regular welfare inspections. It is intended that these regulations will come into force from the start of the 2013 touring season.
The regulations are due to expire in 2020. However, there is no connection between when they will expire and the timescale for a ban. Our policy is that all new domestic regulations expire seven years after they are made. Ministers have always made clear though that this will not prevent the regulations from becoming redundant when they're superseded by a ban. With regard to a ban, legislation is being prepared for pre-legislative scrutiny this session. The legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.
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Join the Race Against Hunger Campaign
Malnutrition is a major challenge to human and economic development. Developing countries cannot climb the ladder of prosperity if the next generation – 165 million children worldwide - lack the nutrition to reach their full potential.
My colleagues and I are committed to helping the one billion people that go to bed hungry every night. Since 2010, the UK has more than doubled resources for tackling undernutrition and has set out a plan to reach 20 million pregnant women and children with nutrition interventions by 2015. The UK has also met in full the commitments it made at the 2009 L’Aquila G8 Summit to do more to improve global food security. Our contribution of over £1.1 billion between 2009 and 2012 has helped millions of people fight chronic hunger and undernutrition in over 20 countries.
As the eyes of the world were on Britain during the London Olympics, the Prime Minister took this opportunity to challenge the world to do more to tackle maternal and child undernutrition. We will continue to lead the way in the battle against hunger, following the Olympic summit with an event next year to encourage the growth of more nutritious food and to get it to families at prices they can afford.
The Prime Minister also gave strong support to the ‘New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security’ launched at the 2012 G8 summit, a 10-year initiative in partnership with African governments and African and global businesses to lift 50 million people out of poverty and increase food security.
The Prime Minister has said that the UK can certainly use its G8 Presidency in 2013 to emphasise the importance of food security and nutrition, just as the US did this year. The UK will use its Presidency to help advance the global development agenda and ensure the G8 delivers on its pledges, including the 2012 New Alliance.
It is good to hear that organisations like Save the Children have been rallying support on this crucial but often-neglected issue.
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It is my view that people should be able to plan their tax affairs in a manner that is sensible, fair and reasonable. However, I am eager to draw a distinction between someone who is saving for a pension and some of the aggressive avoidance schemes that have come to light in recent months. An abuse of the tax sustem should not be tolerated and there is now an increased number of staff at HMRC who are working on evasion and avoidance.
Additionally, my colleagues and I have re-invested £900 million in HMRC compliance resources, which will bring in around £7 billion in additional tax each year by the end of the parliament. The Chancellor has also announced a general anti-abuse rule, on the recommendations of an independent review by Graham Aaronson QC. This will improve HMRC’s ability to deter and counter artificial and abusive tax avoidance schemes – without damaging the competitiveness of the UK as a place to do business. This is in stark contrast to the previous Government, who let the gap between the amount of tax that was collected and that could have been collected widen, and saw the number of tax loopholes increase.
Furthermore, last October we signed a groundbreaking agreement with Switzerland to tackle tax evasion. This is significant as the agreement will make it much more difficult to evade tax by hiding money in Switzerland. The UK is likely to receive billions of pounds as a result of this historic agreement.
I should reiterate once more that I am committed to tackling aggressive tax avoidance. As the country works hard to pay off the debts the last Government built up, it is not fair that some people pay money to use complex schemes to avoid paying their fair share.
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A Fair Tax on Flying
My colleagues and I inherited the highest structural budget deficit of any major economy in the world and the highest deficit in our peacetime history. The UK is paying over £120 million every day on debt interest payments alone. APD makes an important contribution to reducing the nation’s deficit and this must be taken into account.
Last year we launched a consultation on APD to improve the fairness and efficiency of the system. Ministers recognise the importance of the aviation industry which is why the Budget in 2011 announced APD would be frozen for 2011-12 and the rise would take place this April instead. I do of course recognise the impact this tax has on the cost of family holidays, especially at a time when household spending is being stretched.
To ensure fairness, Ministers have closed a loophole so that from April 2013, business jet passengers will also have to pay this tax.
The reduction in the deficit, combined with the low interest rates my colleagues and I have secured, means that the UK is saving £36 billion in debt interest payments compared to our predecessors.
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I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of an inquiry into culture and professional standards in the banking industry. In the wake of the LIBOR abuse scandal, the inquiry will look at what lessons are to be learnt in relation to transparency, conflicts of interest, culture and the professional standards of the banking industry. This inquiry will take evidence under oath and have full access to papers, officials and Ministers, including Ministers and Special advisers from the last government. The Government has committed to give the inquiry all the resources it needs to do its job properly. It will report by Christmas so its recommendations can be included in upcoming legislation on banking reform.
This is the right approach because it will be able to start immediately, it will be accountable to Parliament, and it will get to the truth quickly so that we can make sure this can never happen again.
A long costly judge led inquiry was not the right answer. It would have taken months to set up and years to report. We already know what went wrong from the extensive three year Financial Services Authority (FSA) investigation. We can’t wait until 2015 or 2016 to fix these problems. We need a new culture of responsibility in banking as soon as possible, not in many years time and at huge expense.
I am pleased that the House of Commons has voted to back the decision to hold a Parliamentary inquiry and that despite voting against it in the House of Commons, the Labour Party have agreed to work with the inquiry, which can now move forward.
On the wider issue of the LIBOR scandal, rest assured my colleagues and I will take the appropriate action to reform the UK’s financial regulation so this can never happen again.
I am also taking an acute interest in the scandal of interest rate swapping for which RBS and other banks have been found culpable. A number of constituents have suffered as a result of this practice and I am pressing the FSA to take precise and effective action.
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Changes to Legal Aid
Legal aid forms a vital part of a system of justice of which we are rightly proud. As a criminal solicitor myself, I strongly believe that access to justice is a hallmark of a civilised society. Our legal aid system is, however, now among the most expensive in the world, costing over £2 billion a year or £39 per head of population, compared to £19 per head in New Zealand. In the current fiscal climate, this is simply unsustainable.
Legal aid has also expanded far beyond its original scope, and is available for a wide range of issues, many of which should not require any legal expertise to resolve.
Ministers have therefore introduced reforms which will drive down the cost of criminal legal aid, and redefine the scope of civil legal aid so that the focus will be on those who need it most, for the most serious cases in which legal advice or representation is justified. The Government’s principled stance is that legal aid should routinely be available in cases where people’s life and liberty is at stake, where they are at risk of serious physical harm or immediate loss of their home, or where their children may be taken into care. It should not routinely be available where other funding is available, where litigants can present their own case, or where the taxpayer is at risk of paying for litigation that any person paying from their own pocket would not finance and participate in.
One of the key principles behind these reforms is that it wants people to take more responsibility for exploring the range of advice available to them to tackle problems early, rather than immediately taking legal action which should be a last resort. Mediation, for example, can be cheaper, quicker, simpler and provide better outcomes for many people.
I have always been clear that the protection of those at risk of domestic violence is a priority, which is why it has decided to continue to provide legal aid in private family law cases where domestic violence is a feature. Under the new proposals legal aid will be available for anyone, whatever their means, who seeks to deal with a case of domestic violence, usually by taking out protective injunctions such as non-molestation orders.
Ministers are also ensuring that legal aid will remain for victims of domestic violence who are involved in private family disputes before the courts. In these cases, it is essential that there is objective evidence of the presence of domestic violence before legal aid is granted. Without this there is a real risk of incentivising false allegations of domestic violence, and worsening the dispute at issue. The Government has significantly widened the range of evidence accepted, and this will now include a letter from a GP, a letter from a refuge, and a letter from a social worker and police cautions will be accepted as additional forms of objective evidence of domestic violence. It has also doubled the time limit for evidence from 12 months to 2 years.
Additionally, the Home Office is for the first time providing more than £28 million of stable funding until 2015 for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services, and £900,000 each year to support national domestic violence helplines and a stalking helpline. The Government is now contributing towards the funding of independent advisers attached to specialist domestic violence courts and is giving a total of £9 million for that purpose up to the end of 2012-13. It is allocating £3 million a year to 65 rape crisis centres and opening new ones. Domestic violence protection orders are being piloted in three police force areas. Ministers have also announced a one-year pilot which will take place from this summer to test out a domestic violence disclosure scheme, known as Clare’s law.
Our system of welfare benefit tribunals is designed precisely to support individuals to make their case in plain English without needing the assistance of lawyers - and in fact DWP decisions are most commonly overturned because the Tribunal elicits additional information from the appellant, rather than from their lawyer. For that reason, the Government has pledged £60million over three years to the Not for Profit sector which is well placed to provide the general advice and support which is required in these sorts of cases.
However, Ministers do recognise that where appeals are made on a point of law in the upper tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court there does need to be legal aid, including for applications for leave to appeal.
I believe that the Government’s reforms target legal aid where it is most needed. The provisions in the Bill protect spending for the great majority of cases where a child is a party, maintaining around 96 per cent of the Government’s current spend. In the remainder of cases, the Government does not accept that for children the best option is to go to court when the issue requires general advice, available in a less formal, often more suitable way from the Not for Profit sector, rather than legal advice.
Providing legal aid for all clinical negligence cases involving children is unnecessary because this would cover a whole range of less serious cases which are already funded by no-win no-fee agreement. However, my colleagues and I are categorically clear that in cases where any baby is severely disabled and suffers a brain injury during pregnancy, child birth, or the post natal period they will receive legal aid, including for expert reports. For other highly complex cases, these will be funded through the legal aid’s exceptional funding scheme, where necessary to ensure the protection of the individual’s right to legal aid under the European Convention on Human Rights. For less complex cases (where the costs of reports are lower), conditional Fee Agreements will be available in these cases, in the same way they were available throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
The Government’s reforms will ensure that we have a legal aid system which is targeted at those who need it most, in the most serious cases, as well as providing value for money to the taxpayer.
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Plain Packaging of Tobacco
I strongly believe that all possible measures should be taken to reduce the numbers of young people who take up smoking in the first place.
In March 2011 the Government published Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England which set out a comprehensive plan to stop over 200,000 people smoking by 2015, as well as a range of other actions to reduce the risk from secondhand smoke and to diminish the impact of anything which promotes tobacco use.
I am pleased that the Government has committed to explore options to reduce the promotional impact of tobacco packaging and has announced a public consultation on the standardisation packaging of tobacco products.
My colleagues and I have an open mind at this stage about introducing standardised packaging. Through the consultation, it aims to understand whether there is evidence to demonstrate that the standardised packaging of tobacco products would have an additional public health benefit, over and above existing tobacco control initiatives.
I would strongly suggest that you take part in the consultation which will be open for responses up until 10 August 2012 and further details can be found here: http://consultations.dh.gov.uk/tobacco/standardised-packaging-of-tobacco...
I believe that it is vitally important to reduce smoking prevalence and the harms from tobacco in England and I am confident that the measures taken by the Government will help to create a supportive environment for adults who want to quit smoking.
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I support the Government’s position that these reforms are about protecting the NHS. That is why spending has increased for the NHS and maintained the guarantee that it will always provide treatment free, regardless of ability to pay.
However, I believe investment alone is not enough. The major demographic changes of an ageing population and the availability of new medicines will create greater pressures on the NHS and its budget. I believe in a long term vision for the NHS with reduced bureaucracy so every penny can be targeted at front line services. The NHS needs to modernise and the Government are determined to put the NHS on sustainable footing for the future.
Put simply, the Health and Social Care Act supports a set of changes which aim to put the patient at the heart of the NHS; strengthening patient voice, bringing clinical leadership to the forefront of the design and delivery of services, and increasing patient choice.
The reforms involve a fundamental shift in the balance of power away from politicians to patients themselves and to doctors and other professionals. Greater local autonomy is one of the key things that will enable local front-line services to become more responsive and innovative, in turn delivering greater efficiency and quality.
Competition has existed in the NHS for a long time. The Act provides for competition to be used appropriately to secure the best possible treatment for patients. The Act ensures that the NHS is a properly regulated sector so that all services – be it the NHS, charitable groups or the private sector – will have to focus on what is best for the patient.
I believe that the Act will deliver the improvements and the sustainability needed to strengthen and safeguard the NHS for the future.
We now need to ensure that our local health service receives its fair share of investment and that we improve the health outcome across Enfield.
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Protecting our Children
As of this month three of my six children are teenagers. I have also helped publish a report of a cross-party Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection. These two facts are not unconnected as I grapple as a parent with the increasing sources of online information being accessed by my children. As an MP I wish to support both parental and Internet Service Providers' responsibility in relation to accessing extreme sexual and violent content.
Our report highlights very serious concerns about what our children are accessing on the internet. During the inquiry we found that many children were easily accessing websites that featured pornographic and extremely violent material. I strongly believe it is time for Britain’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to start helping parents to protect their children from viewing inappropriate, and often harmful, material online. ISPs need to start taking more responsibility when it comes to keeping children safe and the Government needs to make it clear that this is what we all expect. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has now agreed to consult on establishing an "Opt-In" filter to access adult material on the internet.
This is not just an issue about what is accessed on a home network and our inquiry recommended that public wi-fi networks should have a default adult-content bar. At the least ISPs should provide more support and signposting for internet safety education - for parents and children.
Parents also have a vital role and we must avoid the temptation to put our 'heads in the sand' when it comes to new technology. Sickening images are just a couple of clicks away for our children unless we all, parents, ISPs and Government take more responsibility.
On the subject of 'heads in sands' I am very disappointed that the Council has not provided sufficient primary school places in Southgate. The Council has been warned by me and others of the unmet demand for local school places. However, the application for a new primary school at the Old Southgate Town Hall in Palmers Green was dismissed in favour of a housing development.
We now need to look urgently at how we can expand some of our excellent primary schools. I have had meetings with the Education Secretary Michael Gove and Council's Director of Education to make the case for more school places and flexibility with class sizes.
Please let me know your views about these important issues affecting our children.
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Green Economy Bill
A number of constituents have written to me about the Energy Security and Green Economy Bill and so I wanted to make my position on the Bill as clear and available as possible.
The Bill has three principal objectives: to tackle barriers to investment in energy efficiency, enhance energy security, and enable investment in low carbon energy.
The Bill will provide for the Green Deal, which finances fixed energy efficiency improvements to properties. It will be supplemented with a new Energy Company Obligation, focussing on households that could not save money without support on top of the Green Deal finance. The Bill will also allow tenants who rent privately to ask for reasonable energy efficiency improvements to be made to their homes, and crucially will allow local authorities to insist that landlords improve the worst performing homes.
With significant challenges ahead for the energy sector, all action taken over the next decade and beyond must be closely aligned. My colleagues and I have launched a consultation on electricity market reform, which will include an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) that new power stations will be required to meet. We have already committed to an EPS and made it clear that coal-fired power stations could not meet an EPS without sufficient carbon capture and storage.
The UK will still be dependent on oil and gas for many years as we make the transition to a lower carbon energy world. Therefore, we must either produce oil and gas in UK waters, where we have one of the most robust safety and regulatory regimes in the world or buy oil and gas from elsewhere. The new Bill will allow us to make the most of our substantial resources as well as boosting our economy.
Ministers have pledged to make this the greenest Government ever, and I wholeheartedly support their efforts towards achieving this goal.
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In our programme for Government, the Coalition made clear its firm support for better protecting animal welfare, stating unambiguously that:
“We will promote high standards of farm animal welfare. We will end the testing of household products on animals and work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. We will promote responsible pet ownership by introducing effective codes of practice under the Animal Welfare Act…”
I fully support this agenda, and am very pleased that the Government is already undertaking work to define what products will be affected by a change in the rules. I can assure you that this is a space that I will be watching with interest.
I am also concerned by the upward trend in the use of animals in scientific procedures and support replacing animals in research with non-animal alternatives where that is possible. We must reduce the number of animals in experiments and refine procedures to minimise suffering.
It is essential that we ensure the highest standards of animal protection possible in the UK, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that this goal is achieved.
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