Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Labour's Failure by Ommission #1010

I've already written that I couldn't see details of the Labour amendment to the Lib Dem motion on

Here is what Joan Ruddock moved as the alternative to the Lib Dem motion which Labour voted down earlier:

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Joan Ruddock): I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from “House” to the end of the Question and add:

"welcomes the 10:10 campaign as a motivator of public action to cut carbon dioxide emissions through individual and collective behaviour change; recognises the value of such campaigns to build public support for action by governments to agree an ambitious, effective and fair deal at Copenhagen; further recognises the significant effort made by individuals and organisations to cut their emissions through the 10:10 campaign; supports the Climate Change Act introduced by this Government, the first such legislation in the world, and the system of carbon budgets that enables Britain to set itself on a low carbon pathway; notes that carbon budgets ensure active policies by Whitehall departments and the public sector that deliver long-term sustained emissions reductions not just in 2010 but through to 2022 and beyond; further supports the efforts of local councils to move towards local carbon budgets by signing up to the 10:10 campaign; further welcomes the allocation of up to £20 million for central Government departments to enable them to reduce further and faster carbon dioxide emissions from their operations, estate and transport; and further welcomes the cross-cutting Public Value Programme review of the low carbon potential of the public sector, which will focus on how the sector can achieve transformational financial savings through value-for-money carbon reductions."

Now there is one thing that the Lib Dem motion didn't do. It didn't supercede the relevance and importance of the Climate Change Act. Nor did it over-ride the operations of Central Government departments to reduce their own omissions.

What the Labour amendment didn't do was to include the House itself.

As Don Foster asked Ms Ruddock:

"Can [the Minister of State] explain why the amendment praises everybody else for signing up to the 10:10 campaign, and yet it refuses to allow this House to join in with it?"

Well in her response I think I found the answer:

"We know that action is required at all levels, which is why we applaud the efforts of the 10:10 campaign and encourage greater ambition and getting ordinary people involved. We also agree with 10:10 that the public sector must lead, and have put in place a raft of mechanisms to make that happen. The Liberal Democrat motion calls for all the public sector to reduce its emissions by 10 per cent. in 2010 and for the Government to produce a delivery plan by the end of this year. I regret to say that that is typical Liberal Democrat posturing. Only a party that never expects to be in government could propose a motion for a totally uncosted, unthought-through programme for a single year cut, as opposed to the sustained actions already under way to meet our carbon budgets—carbon budgets that are designed to deliver three times as much, and that were proposed by us in Committee on 18 May and agreed by the Liberal Democrats."

Wow! I just hope Lembit never has to bring to the House news that he was wrong and that a meteorite will destroy the planet earlier. I'd hate to see a similar response while a big ball hurtles through space at us quicker than anticipated.

In replying to an intervention by Jo Swinson it got even more bizarre.

"Regrettably, the hon. Lady has not been listening to what I have said. I have been making it very clear what is already under way and why signing up to the 10:10 campaign does not make sense—[HON. MEMBERS: "This House."] This House can choose to do what this House wants to do, but the Government are clearly not committing the public sector as a whole—this is what the motion seeks—to the 10:10 campaign."

Now forgive me here for looking confused here, but didn't the amendment she moved say "that carbon budgets ensure active policies by Whitehall departments and the public sector that deliver long-term sustained emissions reductions not just in 2010 but through to 2022 and beyond"? Doesn't that mean that they can influence the public sector as a whole? And didn't her motion also omit the House of Commons itself from 10:10?

So therefore the power that she wanted to claim in her opening words is now not a power she professes to not have less than 15 minutes* later. Yet the one piece of central Government she cannot possibly argue she doesn't have jurisdiction over she has chosen to omit. Maybe this is what Linda Gilfoy means by a "stronger amendment" but many people out there are shaking their heads in disbelief.

In a separate paragraph of his letter to me last night Michael Connarty wrote:

"[This motion] reminds me of the Militant in the Labour Party in the 1980's, who didn't want an improvement or progress, but only to score points against the Party for not being 'Socialist' enough. Obviously if the Opposition Motion is couched in a manner that attacks the Labour Government, which has actually done so much to prioritise reversal of Climate Change, I will vote against such a motion, even if is attempting to hijack the 10:10 campaign."

Now forgive me Michael for again looking confused. From reading and watching the debate the only way the motion was couched as an attack on the Labour Government appeared to be by the Labour Government. I'm sure my MP knows me well enough to know that I have actively looked for improvement and progress on Climate Change including being in at the outset of Linlithgow Climate Challenge. Rather than hijacking the 10:10 campaign the motion was seeking to endorse it an expand its reach.

Having seen the result I'm sure Michael stood in the No lobby (I await confirmation from Hansard). But I hope that when he stood there 'point scoring' that he was working out how to face the many who have already made great steps across the constituency to combat their personal and civic carbon footprint whom he has let down today.

PS Ironically one Labour group in Westminster is not scared to commit themselves to 10:10 today.

UPDATE: No confirmed that Michael Connarty voted no. As did three of Labour's Edinburgh MPs Alistair Darling, Nigel Griffiths and Mark Lazarowicz, plus Falkirk's Eric Joyce.

* I'll get more detailed timing when the official full record is reported tomorrow.

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