Caroline Lucas and Lord Bird have brought forward Private Member’s Bills with the objective of putting sustainable thinking at the heart of public policy decisions.
I think it is absolutely right that there should be sustainable thinking in Government, and I would like to assure you that the well-being of future generations is at the heart of UK Government policy. We are the first major industrialised country to have set a legal target for zero carbon emissions.
These Bills follow the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act which was introduced in Wales in 2015. This legislation imposes obligations to act in accordance with a sustainable development principle. Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, is charged with monitoring the implementation of these obligations in Wales.
I do not believe, however, that the Bill as it stands provides the right mechanism for achieving these important objectives. I also have reservations about creating a new public body with additional duties. The Government has, however, listened carefully to the arguments made in support of the Bill and I can also assure you that it remains committed to promoting the economic, environmental and social well-being of the country.
I wish to congratulate Lord Bird in particular whose approach to difficult issues in society is thoughtful and considered. I believe that the work of the Parliament is much improved by his contribution and I am much encouraged by his efforts.