Speaking during a debate on the Environment Bill in the House of Lords yesterday, Goldsmith said the assertion, reported in the Telegraph and also carried by ENDS, were not correct.
“I do not think any names were attached to the article, so it is very hard to know who to take this up with, but it certainly seemed to me to be almost entirely mischievous and not true,” he said.
“We do want to get this bill done by COP26—we do not have to, but we want to, for obvious reasons that we discussed in committee—and we feel that it is in the national and international interest that we should pass the bill in the strongest possible form before COP26,” said Goldsmith.
“No one involved in the passage of this bill would put their name, privately or publicly, to the comments that appeared in the newspaper,” he added.
Also speaking at the debate, Baroness Natalie Bennett said: “We were told—indeed, we seemed to be pressured by the government—that too many amendments might embarrass Alok Sharma as chair of the COP 26 talks. Well, it is terribly important that we acknowledge—I hope the minister will—that just as a puppy is not just for Christmas, the Environment Bill is not just for COP.
“A strong Environment Bill to show the world at COP is a positive side-effect, but what we are actually doing is creating the framework for the next decade and beyond in the UK. The government’s focus must be on getting the strongest possible Environment Bill, as has clearly been the focus of this House."
The government suffered three further defeats in the House of Lords yesterday, bringing the total number to 10. The three new amendments that passed related to sewage pollution, single-use products and protections for pollinators.
Peers will continue to debate the bill tomorrow as it completes the report stage in the House of Lords.