Margaret Beckett – 2017 Speech on Withdrawal from the EU

Below is the text of the speech made by Margaret Beckett in the House of Commons on 31 January 2017.

May I say at once that although I deeply regret the decision made by the British people, including in my constituency, to leave the EU, I do not seek to challenge it? I regret the opening remark made by the Secretary of State—I am sorry he is not here to hear me say this—that this debate is about whether or not we trust the British people. It is not about that; it is about whether we commence the process of implementing their decision, a process that will not be simple, easy or fast. It does no one any favours to pretend otherwise.

Although I accept that decision and I will vote for the Bill, I fear that its consequences, both for our economy and our society, are potentially catastrophic. I therefore hope that the practice of dismissing any calls, queries and concerns, however serious and well founded, as merely demonstrating opposition to the will of the British people will now cease, along with the notion that they would merely obstruct the process. Once we commence this process, there are serious and profound questions to address, and it helps nobody to cheapen it in that way.

A second practice I deplore is that of pretending that the question the public actually answered—whether to leave the European Union or to remain—is instead the question some leave campaigners would prefer them to have answered. I hear many claiming that the people voted to leave the single market—that they voted to leave the customs union. First, those were not the words on the ballot paper. Secondly, although we all have our own recollections of the debate, mine is that whenever we who campaigned to remain raised the concerns that if we were to leave the EU to end the free movement of people, we might, in consequence, find that we have to leave the single market, with massive implications for jobs and our economy, some leave campaigner would immediately pop up to assure the people that no such complications or problems were likely to arise and that we could have—

John Redwood rose—

Margaret Beckett

I am looking at one of them now. They would suggest that we could have our cake and eat it—that we could leave the EU not only without jeopardy to our economy, but even with advantage, because we could negotiate other trading relationships without any such uncomfortable ties.

John Redwood

Does the right hon. Lady not remember that the official leave campaign said that one of our main aims is to have many more free trade agreements with the rest of the world and that in order to do that of course we have to leave the single market customs union, because we are not allowed to undertake free trade? No, honestly I do not particularly recall that. I recall those in the leave campaign saying that we could have trading arrangements with a whole lot of other countries, and I am going to turn to that now. India was cited as one example, but I have the distinct impression that when the Prime Minister discussed these issues with the President of India she may have been advised that far from closing the immigration door, he would like to see it opened wider. Nor do I think a trade deal with China will be without any quid pro quo.

Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)

Further to that, does my right hon. Friend recall the International Development Secretary making the case to my constituents of Indian descent, of Bangladeshi descent and of Pakistani descent that leaving the EU would not only lead to future trade deals, but would improve immigration to this country from the Commonwealth? Does my right hon. Friend expect that promise to be delivered?

Margaret Beckett

I am extraordinarily grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, because not only do I recall it, but I originally had it in my speech, only to take it out on the grounds of time.

As for the United States, I am sure that the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who, like me has had a degree of experience in complex international negotiations, is as conscious as I am that one of the first prerequisites is to listen to the words. It was not the President of the United States who said that Britain would be at the front of the queue, it was British politicians. What the President said was, “You’re doing great.” I do not take much comfort from that, especially coming as it does from a President whose motto is “America first.” I wholly share the fears that have been expressed, and that probably will be again in this debate, about the possibility of America’s companies wishing to exploit the healthcare market here or weaken our regulations on, for example, food safety.

The negotiations we will trigger with this Bill will be extraordinarily difficult and very time-consuming. I do not think for a second that they can be concluded within two years, and I do not think anybody who has ever negotiated anything would. It will therefore be vital to make allowance and preparations for possible transitional arrangements.

I am conscious of the time, so I shall make my final point. It is not clear whether the Prime Minister frightened the European Commission with her threat to devastate our tax base and, in consequence, all our public services, but she successfully frightened me. I do not believe—not for one second—that that is what the British people thought they were voting for. When this process is concluded, the European Parliament will have the right to vote on the outcome. If taking back control means anything, it must mean that this House enjoys the same right.

Margaret Beckett – 2015 Speech on Syrian Air Strikes

MargaretBeckett

Below is the text of the speech made by Margaret Beckett, the former Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 2 December 2015.

This debate centres on national security and the safety of our constituents. There will be differences of view within and between every party in this House. In good faith and conscience, Members will reach different conclusions. Anyone who approaches today’s debate without the gravest doubts, reservations and anxieties simply has not been paying attention. We are sent here by our constituents to exercise our best judgment—each our own best judgment. This is a debate of contradictions.

The terms of today’s motion, echoing the UN resolution are stern, almost apocalyptic, about the threat, which is described as

“an unprecedented threat to international peace and security”.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) said, the proposal before us amounts to only a relatively minor extension of the action that we are already undertaking. We have been asked to agree to act in both Iraq and Syria, precisely because that is what Daesh does, and its headquarters are in Syria. We have been asked to make a further contribution to an existing international effort to contain Daesh from extending the mayhem and bloodshed that accompany its every move even more widely across the middle east.

Serious questions have been raised, and I respect those who raise them. There is unease about ground forces. There is proper concern about the strategy and endgame, about the aftermath, and about rebuilding. Some say simply that innocent people are more likely to be killed. Military action creates casualties, however much we try to minimise them. Should we, on those grounds, abandon action in Iraq, although we undertake it at the request of the Iraqi Government, and it seems to have made a difference? Should we take no further action against Daesh, which is killing innocent people, and striving to kill more, every day of the week, or should we simply leave that to others? Would we make ourselves a bigger target for a Daesh attack? We are a target; we will remain a target. There is no need to wonder about it—Daesh has told us so, and continues to tell us so with every day that passes. We may as well take it not just at its word but, indeed, at its deeds. It has sought out our fellow countrymen and women to kill, including aid workers and other innocents. Whatever we decide today there is no doubt that it will do so again, nor is the consequence of inaction simply Daesh controlling more territory and land. We have seen what happens when it takes control. The treatment, for example, of groups such as the Yazidis, in all its horror, should surely make us unwilling to contemplate any further extension of Daesh-controlled territory. Inaction too leads to death and destruction.

Quite separately, there are those, not opposed in principle to action, who doubt the efficacy of what is proposed: coalition action which rests almost wholly on bombing, they say, will have little effect. Well, tell that to the Kosovans, and do not forget that if there had not been any bombing in Kosovo perhaps 1 million Albanian Muslim refugees would be seeking refuge in Europe. Tell that to the Kurds in Kobane who, if memory serves, pleaded for international air support, without which they felt they would lose control to Daesh. Tell them in Sierra Leone that military action should always be avoided because there would be casualties. Their state and their peace were almost destroyed. It was British military action that brought them back from the brink.

Of course, that military action took place in conjunction with political and diplomatic activity, and I share the view that it is vital that such activity is substantially strengthened. I was heartened by what the Prime Minister told us today. Our conference called for a United Nations resolution before further action, and we now have a unanimous Security Council resolution. Moreover, that resolution calls on member states in explicit and unmistakeable terms to combat the Daesh threat “by all means” and

“to eradicate the safe haven they have established”

in Iraq and Syria.

Although it speaks of the need to pursue the peace process, the UN resolution calls on member states to act now. Moreover, our French allies have explicitly asked us for such support. I invite the House to consider how we would feel, and what we would say, if what took place in Paris had happened in London and if we explicitly asked France for support and France refused.

George Kerevan:

Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Margaret Beckett (Derby South) (Lab):

I am sorry, no.

These are genuinely extremely difficult as well as extremely serious decisions, but it is the urgings of the United Nations and of the socialist Government in France that, for me, have been the tipping point in my decision to support military action.

Margaret Beckett – 2006 Speech in Berlin

MargaretBeckett

Below is the text of a speech made by the then Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, on the 23rd October 2006 at the British Embassy in Berlin.

Good morning and welcome to the British Embassy. It is a pleasure to be here in Germany and to have the chance to speak to such a gathering of foreign policy practitioners.

I chose Berlin to make a strategic speech on foreign policy after a few months in this post for two reasons.

The first reason is that I want to talk today about the changing face of foreign policy: and there could be no more potent symbol of that than this city itself.

When the walls came tumbling down that November evening seventeen years ago, the world changed. And those whose job it was to comment, understand and shape that world had to change too.

The old skills of cold war analysis – understanding foreign policy in a bipolar world – were still valued and necessary. But as the long-standing power blocks fractured and reformed, new skills, new knowledge had to be added.

And in the time since the collapse of those political barriers we have also seen an erosion of the barriers of distance and of time: a technological revolution – quieter and less visible perhaps– but no less startling and no less fundamental.

Ten years ago, I had never sent an email. I suspect that I am not alone in that. The internet was not a daily part of our lives. Over in Britain we had four television channels – and two of those shut down for the night.

Today the way we live our lives has changed beyond all recognition. No serious commentator now can hope to make sense of the world if he or she does not grasp how that world has been transformed by rolling news coverage and the instant sharing and transfer of information across borders.

Take Islamist terrorism. It is the internet which is such a vital tool not only for planning and financing attacks but for radicalisation and recruitment. And it is from 24-hour news channels that the terrorists draw much of their power to shock and to intimidate.

That same technology not only flashed images of the tsunami around the world but also enabled huge amounts of money to be raised in record time.

So foreign policy has never been a static profession: it has always meant being part of an evolving process in which we seek to deepen and broaden our understanding of a changing world.

Today, nowhere is that change more significant and relevant to what we do than the threat of massive and dangerous disruption to our global climate

The basic science of climate change is no longer in dispute.

But what we have been hearing over the past weeks and months is that the scale and urgency of the challenge we face is worse than we had feared.

Last month, the British Antarctic Survey and the US National Snow and Ice Data Center both reported that polar ice was breaking up faster than glaciologists had thought possible.

And NASA scientists warned that another decade without a reduction in emissions and it will probably be impossible to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change.

Earlier this month we saw the UK’s foremost authority on climate impacts, the Met Office Hadley Centre, present new and worrying data on the likely extent of climate-induced desertification and extreme drought conditions.

It is now clear that tackling climate change is an imperative not a choice, a problem for today not tomorrow.

When I became Foreign Secretary, I made responding to this threat – I call it achieving climate security – a new strategic international priority for the United Kingdom.

I am in no doubt – and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was in no doubt when he offered me the job – that today being a credible foreign minister means being serious about climate security.

Because the question for foreign policy is not just about dealing with each crisis as it hits us. Our obligation to our citizens is to put in place the conditions for security and prosperity in a crowded and interdependent world.

An unstable climate will make it much harder for us to deliver on that obligation.

This is why.

The foreign policy community has long understood that the stability of nations is to no small degree predicated on the security of individuals.

When people are exposed to the stresses caused by overpopulation, resource scarcity, environmental degradation, as they feel the security upon which they and their families depend progressively slipping away, so we see the slide down the spectrum from stability to instability.

What should concern us here in the foreign policy community is that an unstable climate will place huge additional strain on these tensions which we spend our time trying to resolve. They are already at breaking point and climate change has the potential to stretch them far beyond it.

Take food security – the ability of people to have enough to eat. In simple terms climate change will bring more frequent and more prolonged famines. Studies suggest that temperature rises of just 2-3 degrees will see crop yields in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia fall by as much as 30 to 40 per cent. It’s a similar story in China.

Access to fresh water – water security – is already a problem across the globe. Climate change will make it worse. One billion people in the South Asian sub-continent are likely to be suffer from a reduction in Himalayan melt-water and changes to the monsoon. The Middle East and Central Asia will both see significantly less rain.

And then there is energy security – vital not just for keeping the economies of the developed world running but also – crucially – for giving the developing world the means to lift itself out of poverty. Climate change threatens this too. An increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events will threaten port and drilling facilities across the world.

And it’s not just storms that we need to worry about. Melting permafrost will damage energy infrastructure – pipelines – in Russia. Melting glaciers in the Himalaya threaten India’s plans to increase hydro-electric capacity. Plus there is the danger of increased instability in key producing regions like the Middle East.

No wonder that last week Kofi Annan said, and I quote: “Action on climate change is particularly urgent, given its profound implications for virtually every aspect of human well-being, from jobs and health to growth and security”.

We in Europe should be in no doubt that how the world responds to climate change matters as much to us as to anyone.

Look at those things that are highest on the European agenda – strong borders, poverty reduction, the risks of conflict and international terrorism, energy security, jobs and growth. Get our response right to climate change and our ability to deal with all of these is enhanced. Get it wrong and our efforts across the board will be undermined.

Take immigration. If people find their homes permanently flooded they will have to up sticks and move. Simple as that. One study suggests that a sea-level rise of just 50 centimetres – half the most optimistic estimates – will displace two million people from the Nile Delta. A one metre rise will displace 25 million in Bangladesh. Environmental degradation is already driving economic migration out of sub-Saharan Africa and onto Europe’s shores.

By tackling climate change we can lessen the push factors driving immigration. If we don’t tackle it, we have to brace ourselves for populations shifts on a scale we have never seen before.

Or take conflict. Wars fought over limited resources – land, fresh water, fuel – are as old as history itself. By drastically diminishing those resources in some of the most volatile parts of the world, climate change creates a new and potentially catastrophic dynamic.

The Middle East is a case in point. Five per cent of the world’s population already has to share only one per cent of the world’s water. Climate change will mean there is even less water to go round. Current climate models suggest that – globally – Saudi, Iran and Iraq will see the biggest reductions in rainfall. Egypt – a pivotal country for regional stability – will suffer a double blow. Drastic loss of Nile flow from the South and rising sea-levels in the North destroying its agricultural heartland across the delta.

The same pattern emerges elsewhere.

South Asia. Migration into the Indian state of Assam from Bangladesh is already causing tension. Climate change will make this worse.

Central Asia. Nations increasingly at odds over water rights.

The added stresses of climate change increase the risk of fragile states dropping over the precipice into civil war and chaos. And it edges those countries that are not currently at risk into the danger zone.

In short, a failing climate means more failed states.

And that has implications for everything we want to achieve from conflict prevention and resolution to counter-terrorism.

By tackling climate change we can help address the underlying securities that feed and exacerbate conflicts and instability. By ignoring it we resign ourselves to the same crises flaring up again and again. And new ones emerging.

So climate change is not an alternative security agenda. It is a broadening and deepening of our understanding as to how we best tackle that existing agenda.

And whether and how we respond to climate change potentially has an even broader read across to global political stability. Levels of trust between North and South are already at a low ebb, not least because of the lack of progress on the Doha Development Round.

These gaps will only widen if and when the impacts of climate change start to take hold. Because it is the developed world which has had historically high levels of greenhouse gas emissions but it is the developing world – those least able to cope – which will be hit first and hit hardest.

So here too the choice is clear. Work together on a shared challenge that bridges traditional divides and engenders new trust. Or risk a further polarisation of the international community.

But what do I mean when I say that we must tackle climate change?

One thing is clear. We will have to face the shared dilemma at the heart of the debate on climate change.

We all have an interest in continuing economic growth. We all want to see the developing world lift itself out of poverty. But at the moment that growth and development is being driven by the burning of the fossil fuels which cause climate change.

In other words, the very process which is making people’s lives better across the world today is destroying their future.

But the choice between economic growth and a stable climate is a false one.

We have to have both. And we can have both.

Later this month we will see the most detailed and comprehensive study ever undertaken into the economics of climate change. In it, the UK’s Chief Economist and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Nick Stern, will show that climate change will have a potentially devastating effect on the economies of developed and developing countries.

But that same study will also show that moving to a low-carbon global economy does not mean sacrificing economic growth or condemning people to poverty.

Indeed if we take this road, it is not only affordable: it offers huge opportunities for us all.

For developing countries, an opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a reconfiguration of the global economy. It means that they can leap-frog old technologies and produce new fuels and advanced technologies for others. It means better health through lower pollution. And it will provide them with the clean, affordable energy they need to keep growing.

For us here in Europe, it is key to hitting another two of those priorities which I listed a moment ago.

It reinforces our energy security: addressing fuel poverty and reducing our reliance on imported hydrocarbons. In turn that opens the door to more stable strategic partnerships with key energy suppliers around the world. And it means that we can forge more constructive relations with other major economies in our dealings with some third-party countries: encouraging China to take a deeper and longer-term interest in improving governance in Africa is just one example.

It also reconnects the governments of Europe to their citizens. Not only by taking decisive action on an issue which – as every opinion poll shows – they care deeply about. But also by providing the jobs and growth which we have promised and which we have put at the heart of the European agenda.

Here in Germany it is estimated that the renewable energy sector has already created 170 000 jobs and 16 billion Euros in turnover. Industries offering climate protection technologies are growing faster, exporting more and creating more jobs than the broader market.

It’s the same story in my country. Last week, the British oil company, BP published a study showing that responding to climate change is a £30 billion business opportunity for British companies over the next decade.

So taking action on climate change is not just an imperative. It is an opportunity.

And yet, in fact, we are dangerously behind the curve. We are on a direct path to climate chaos.

In the past I have spoken of the need for a globalisation of responsibility. The need to build a politics of interdependence in which we define ourselves by what we hold in common, not by what divides us.

But when it comes to our inaction on climate change our generation is in danger of global irresponsibility on a massive and irreversible scale.

I make no bones about the fact that the challenge we face is a big one.

The International Energy Agency estimates that US$20 trillion will be spent in the energy sector between now and 2030. We must use that money to transform the very foundations of how we live: how we generate and consume power, how we move around, and how we use land.

Most of the US$20 trillion will be from the private sector. But a stable climate is a global public good: and that makes it a responsibility of governments to put in place the conditions that will achieve it.

Our task is nothing less than to build the biggest public-private partnership ever conceived. We must construct the mutually reinforcing frameworks of incentives and penalties, of opportunities and burdens equitably shared, that will drive private capital towards low carbon solutions. And these frameworks will need to be built simultaneously at every level – national, regional and global.

That needs the widest possible political coalition. And that is what makes it our problem too. This is not just an environmental problem. It is a defence problem. It is a problem for those who deal with economics and development, conflict prevention, agriculture, finance, housing, transport, innovation, trade and health.

Building that coalition is a challenge for the whole world: from consumers to the heads of government.

But I am making this speech here today because I want to lay down that challenge to three groups in particular.

First, it is a challenge to the foreign policy community.

Climate change is a serious threat to international security. So achieving climate security must be at the core of foreign policy.

All of us here have to pick up the pace.

I went to the G8+5 meeting in Monterrey earlier this month. It was a good meeting. But most of the ministers there were environmental ministers. It is our responsibility to make sure that this is something that heads of state, energy ministers, foreign ministers, and defence ministers are discussing regularly and at the highest level.

At every level – UN, G8 or EU – one of our top-line objectives must be to make real, concrete progress on climate change.

We need the political resources of foreign policy to create a shared vision for the future. We need to use the expertise of those in this room – and beyond – to build coalitions, to set agendas and to make multilateral institutions work.

It is foreign policy practitioners who can help impress upon a national and domestic consciousness the international imperative of climate change.

Second, it is a challenge for the European Union.

We are the world’s biggest single market.

We have a budget – more than 120 billion Euros a year – that gives us the ability to drive progress in the areas that will define the global response to climate change: research and development, advanced technologies, renewable energy, energy efficiency.

In short, we have the intellectual capacity, the technological capability and the resources not just to steer the global debate on climate change but also to drive global action.

That is what the European Union is for. That is what makes it relevant to its people. Europe has already achieved so much on the environment: more than any country could ever have done on its own.

Now we must make climate security one of Europe’s greatest priorities.

That is why I have put Europe at the heart of my strategy on climate change.

It is why at Lahti European Leaders clearly stated that the EU had to be strong leaders in tackling climate change.

Others have responsibilities too – of course. But we should not use that as an excuse to lower our own ambitions. So for example:

Strengthening the Emissions Trading Scheme by putting charges on airlines as early as 2008 and progressively tightening caps beyond 2012.

Forging deeper and broader energy partnerships with China, India and others to set the technology standards for a global low carbon economy

Agreeing to invest more on renewables

Putting the Commission proposals on energy efficiency into action

Moving as soon as possible to zero emissions fossil fuel plants within the EU.

Accelerating the demonstration and deployment of carbon capture and storage.

And the energy security papers that the UK and other European countries are now preparing will be key and must reflect the full extent of our ambition.

Third it is a challenge to Germany. And that is the second reason why I chose Berlin, now to make this speech.

It is why David Milliband, the Environment Secretary was here a few days ago. And why the theme of the recent State Visit was climate change.

Of all the countries in the world it is Germany which at this moment matters most.

What you do right here, right now during your dual presidencies in the next six and twelve months is pivotal.

There is no point in us sitting down to discuss what we are going to do five or ten years down the line. It will already be too late.

It will be up to you whether Europe delivers on the agenda I have just outlined.

It will be up to you whether the G8 can galvanise broader global action.

We will support you.

We need a more specific, better co-ordinated and large scale project to accelerate development and introduction of clean coal technology – before China builds a new generation of power plants.

We are ready to work with you on a concrete proposal to come out of your twin presidencies.

I know that you are keen to do something specific on degradation of the rainforests. We stand ready to be a partner.

So we will support you. But you must lead.

It is you here in Germany that have the economic clout and the diplomatic and moral authority to make a significant difference now.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

One hundred and fifty years ago Bismarck famously remarked: “The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.”

Today I contend that the exact opposite is true.

The greatest security threat we face as a global community won’t be met by guns and tanks. It will be solved by investment in the emerging techniques of soft power – building avenues of trust and opportunity that will lead to a low-carbon economy.

There is no backstop: politics and diplomacy have to work.

Bismarck was famous for another thing too. He was the first European statesman to recognise that if you wanted to sustain economic growth, you had to invest in the conditions that underpinned that growth.

Bismarck’s concern was for social conditions at the national level: it led him to lay the foundations of the welfare state system that underpins modern Europe.

Today our concern is wider. The threat we face is to the most basic conditions underpinning our global society.

We too must invest in our future. Or risk losing it.

The baton has passed to Germany. Please don’t drop it.

Beckett, Margaret – 2005 Speech to NFU Conference

MargaretBeckett

Below is the text of a speech made by the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett, on 21st February 2005 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.

Introduction

1. It has already been said a couple of times that 2005 will be a watershed year. Certainly it will bring momentous change to the farming industry. But I would like to see it as a turning point. Four years ago Defra was created in the middle of the FMD crisis. This year we set out on a new road to create a sustainable and prosperous future for British farming.

2. The foundations for such a sustainable future have been laid. This year we will see the first year of applications for the new Single Payment Scheme, the introduction – as Tim [Bennett – president of the NFU] said a moment ago – of the new Environmental Stewardship Scheme and later in the year the Whole Farm Approach, all vital building blocks of our Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy.

3. And while all this change takes place at home, on the international stage, the UK will hold presidencies of the G8 and the EU, and will be working hard to secure real progress in the WTO negotiations. So our agriculture policy is developing in not just an international but a global context.

4. Looking back on these four years, there is much of which Britain’s farming community – and not least those who represent it in the NFU – can be rightly proud. I may as well say to this audience what I say to agriculture Ministers and politicians across the world – that you were well ahead of the game in recognising, not just that the CAP had to change, which seems to have taken some people longer – but the nature of that change. And across the EU there are growing signs of other farming organisations following where the NFU has led. And while there are – and will remain – many difficult issues – including some which Tim touched on – I do detect a growing self-confidence amongst many farmers and an increasing willingness to innovate, to take measured risks and to grasp the benefits from changing market opportunities. At the same time I also see evidence that farmers are increasingly conscious of the importance of sustainable development and of their crucial role in safeguarding the rural environment.

CAP reform & Single Payment Scheme

5. Clearly the biggest immediate change for every farmer is the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme. Application forms will be sent to you in early April. I cannot stress too highly the importance of your members completing and returning these forms on time. It is never easy but it will never be more crucial. After all, in this – the first year of operation – they will be activating claiming payments, but also activating entitlements for this and future years. So please remind all your colleagues the deadline for applications is 16 May.

6. Defra and the RPA are currently running a series of events for farmers around the country at which our experts will be on hand to provide details of the application process and to try and answer your questions. These events will be running until 22 March; there are still places available and I would strongly urge as many as possible to go along.

7. Moving from ten different production-dependent subsidy regimes, many paid quarterly, to one single decoupled payment paid after the end of the year will mean, once the system is bedded in, a clearer and much simplified system. But the change-over inevitably brings its problems. The first year will be more complex but subsequent years will be hugely easier. And in moving to the new system I do recognise that for many there will be cash flow problems as well. The payment window runs from 1 December 2005 to 30 June 2006, but as you know – and as Tim recognised -the RPA recently announced that payments are likely to be made from February 2006. I will not disguise from you my deep disappointment that we cannot bring in the new system earlier.

8. The February date is based on our best estimates for implementing the new scheme and assuring that the payments are accurate and valid. We will keep farmers and their advisers up to date with proposed payment dates so business plans and forward profiles can take account of cash flow and we will shortly be approaching the banks, I hope together with the NFU, to see how best they can support farmers through this period.

9. My Ministers and I recognise our responsibility to do everything we possibly can to ensure that if any payment can be made it is as early as possible.

10. These new payments reflect the new context of agricultural support.

11. Decoupling support from production means that farmers will be freer than for decades: free to produce for the market and not simply for subsidy, free from the levels of bureaucracy required for the many production-linked subsidy schemes and free to decide how their own skills can be used to best effect.

12. I fully realise that not all individual farmers will find the transition easy. For some there may be painful decisions. Some may leave the industry as it restructures, perhaps even after generations of farming.

13. Some areas and some sectors are bound to come out of the change better than others. That happens in any period of transition and even though the majority will benefit from the freedom to pursue the market rather than the subsidy, some will find it difficult to adapt.

14. There may be problems particularly for tenant farmers if landowners try to take advantage of the changing subsidy system by changing leases or succession arrangements – and I recognise in government we have a responsibility to help avoid abuse there. But overall we are moving away from an era of dependency and depression to one of challenge and fresh opportunity.

Environmental Stewardship

15. The crucial role farmers play in protecting and enhancing the environment – landscape, wildlife, soils, water and other natural resources – on 70% of England’s land area is becoming much more evident to the people at large. The very best of farming has shown for decades what can be achieved in the normal course of business, and – as again Tim mentioned – next week I will be launching our new Environmental Stewardship scheme. Within that scheme is a new concept for this country – Entry Level Stewardship. It is a simple, flexible scheme with a menu of options that can be used by all farm sectors. We piloted the scheme in four areas in 2003 and the evaluation was very encouraging. It was popular with farmers, simple to understand and relatively cheap to run. The experts agreed too, that it would deliver the environmental outcomes we want across a much wider area than with existing schemes.

16. And where production-linked subsidies attracted criticism and opposition, public attitude surveys show that most people do support the concept of paying farmers to protect and even regenerate habitats and landscapes – public money for things the public wants but the market will not reward.

Competitiveness

17. But obviously production for the market will remain your primary role. Since the lows of 2000, we have seen a welcome rise in farm incomes despite the most recent dip. Farm incomes reflect so many factors, price volatility, exchange rates, let alone the weather. But that is why it is so important to get farm businesses on to a long-term competitive footing, so that they will be able as other businesses must and do, to adapt to market fluctuations and to be ready to seize opportunities as they arise.

18. That is why we have been supporting initiatives such as the Food Chain Centre, which has been working with industry bodies to identify scope for efficiencies within the food chain; to promote benchmarking; to encourage the spread of best practice; and to investigate the benefits of information sharing.

19. Similarly, English Farming and Food Partnerships has been set up with Government support, to promote and encourage collaboration and co-operation between farmers, and between farmers and the rest of the food chain.

20. We are also working with and supporting industry forums for the red meat, dairy and cereals sectors to help them improve their competitiveness and identify solutions to the challenges they face.

21. Each of these bodies has received support from the Agriculture Development Scheme. They are not of course alone. Since 2000 we have awarded almost £14million under this scheme and so successful has it been that we are planning to boost the budget by an extra £3million over the next three years so that we can continue to fund projects that will help farmers and primary producers in England become more competitive and market orientated.

Farm Business Advice

22. I recognise too that farmers may need help to take full advantage of the opportunities of the Single Payment Scheme for restructuring, diversification, collaboration or other business change. That is why we have recently announced that we will be launching a new advice service to help farmers get to grips with the business implications of CAP reform. That service will replace the current Farm Business Advice Service and will be launched later this year. It should ensure that over the next 18 months to two years, farmers across England have access to specialist support to help them consider their options for the future.

23. One of the potential advantages of the Single Payment Scheme is its potential to reduce bureaucracy, although of course it will require meeting certain basic standards.

24. But alongside the Scheme itself we have been developing the ‘Whole Farm Approach’, to further reduce bureaucracy and help farmers to both understand and plan for regulatory compliance, including rationalising inspections. Phased delivery of the Approach will begin with the roll out of electronic Appraisal in September of this year.

Supermarket Code of Practice / Buyers Charter

25. I want now to touch on a couple of issues where I know that you have particular concerns. The first is the perennial issue of the relationship of farmers and the supermarkets. The Government is very aware of suppliers’ concerns about the effectiveness of the Code of Practice and again Tim touched on this in his speech. That is why we encouraged the OFT to review it’s operation. The Code is of course a formal remedy to a very specific adverse finding by the Competition Commission, which applied only to the then four largest supermarkets, and to a limited range of practices they engaged in when dealing with their immediate suppliers.

26. The OFT has since commissioned a focussed audit of the supermarkets dealings with suppliers, which I believe it hopes to publish within the next few weeks. I can assure you that the Government will consider the findings of such a report, and any recommendations that the OFT may make, very carefully. Supermarkets have to recognise that in the long run they and their customers need a sustainable UK based supply chain, and that it is not in their long-term interests to squeeze suppliers to the point of elimination.

27. But while the Government is keen that the Code should operate effectively, it is not the only possible way forward. Tim referred to the work the NFU is doing to develop a voluntary Buyers Charter that would apply throughout the food chain. We welcome this initiative and would encourage all sections of the food chain, whether they be retailers, processors or manufacturers, to work positively with the NFU to develop the proposal.

Bovine TB and Badgers

28. The second issue on which I want to touch is another perennial issue – but let’s hope not forever – bovine TB. Over the past year we have been working with farmers, vets and wildlife interests and will launch next week a new 10-year strategic framework for the control of the disease.

29. Bovine TB causes real hardship to farmers in high incidence areas. Other parts of the country do not have TB. It is particularly in these areas where farmers must take responsibility for reducing the risks of introducing disease through cattle movements. We have established a farmer-chaired stakeholder group to develop a practical proposal for pre-movement testing and I look forward to their report shortly.

30. We work continually to improve TB controls and in November 2004 we announced new cattle surveillance measures to reduce the risk of the disease spread.

31. But of course, wildlife, particularly badgers, do also pose a risk. We will be prepared to consider badger culling if the evidence supports this as a cost-effective, proportionate and sustainable contribution to disease control.

32. I welcome the report of the Irish Four Area Culling Trial, and we are now considering independent scientific advice on the significance of those findings for Great Britain. The results, along with emerging evidence from our own culling trial will make an important contribution to the evidence base on which decisions will be made. The new TB strategy will provide a transparent process for assessing all the strands of evidence and I hope an effective partnership between Government, industry and others will be key to tackling TB effectively.

Further CAP reform

33. As I said at the outset, UK agriculture has as always an international and global context. So I am delighted to welcome today our new Agriculture Commissioner, and to say a little about these global issues. While the CAP reforms of June 2003 and April 2004 covered the bulk of subsidies, they did not extend to all sectors.

34. And a major remaining challenge will be reform of the EU Sugar Regime, and particularly reform to achieve agreement in time to contribute to the Doha Round discussions in Hong Kong in December. There is general acceptance – sometimes begrudgingly but general acceptance – both that the present arrangements are unsustainable, and that we should bring sugar into line with the market-based, decoupled CAP model already agreed for most other sectors. We also need to take account of the impact of reform on the EU’s existing preferential suppliers and to ensure that the changes result in fair competition for all concerned, including UK sugar beet producers.

35. Dairy reform is another area which the 2003 reforms failed fully to address. I hope the review of milk quotas in 2008 will provide an opportunity to revisit this regime.

36. We also need to look at rural development. At European level, we will argue for a continued transfer from pillar 1 subsidies to rural development expenditure, but to useful rural expenditure:

For helping farm businesses to adapt, and to take their place as productive, knowledge-based businesses responding to their customers demands, in line with the EU’s Lisbon Agenda for growth and employment;

For delivering the environmental land management benefits that only farming can provide;

And, for those rural areas which are heavily dependent on agriculture, helping to develop the wider business opportunities needed to give them a more diversified and confident future.

WTO; the Doha Round

37. On a global level, the current Doha WTO round is the key negotiation for the future economic prospects of the world as a whole, though especially for, of course, developing countries. Boosting trade in agricultural produce is critical to the success of Doha and the economic development of rich and poor alike.

38. The Framework agreement reached in August 2004 was a significant step forward to which the CAP reform made a huge contribution. I assure you that in Hong Kong we will be working hard for a successful and a balanced deal. Liberalisation of trade if properly phased in to avoid drastic disruption will be in the interests of both Europe and the developing countries. But part of the EU negotiating mandate is on non-trade issues so that food safety, animal health and welfare and environmental standards are not undermined and may even be enhanced by liberalisation.

Conclusion

39. I would like to end with a few words about climate change. Its impact, how we adapt to that impact and what we can do to ameliorate that impact was a focus of a recent stakeholder conference in London. And this year climate change will be one of the priorities for the UK Presidencies of both the G8 and the EU which will include an Informal Council meeting of EU agriculture and environment ministers to focus on climate change and EU agriculture.

40. I think it is very much for the long term benefit of the farming community for policy now to be so firmly placed in the context of sustainable development. When I was first appointed to head of Defra many farmers asked me if British farming had a future. It unquestionably does. That future can be – I believe will be – one of success, of prosperity and of genuine and renewed public esteem. But – most important of all – that future, more perhaps than at any other time in the last 50 years, is in your hands.

Margaret Beckett – 2005 Speech to the Industry Forum

MargaretBeckett

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett, to the Industry Forum at Smith Square in London on 12th January 2005.

1. It is becoming increasingly widely acknowledged that climate change is the biggest threat to our environment. There is no doubt, although there are occasional dissenting voices, that the scientific consensus is that it is happening and that human activity is leading to increasingly severe impacts.

2. And there is increasing recognition that extreme weather events are costly, both in terms of economics and human lives and suffering. In the last week, we have seen high winds and severe flooding particularly in Carlisle and Northern Ireland, and this is a reminder of the types of events that we expect to become more frequent as a result of climate change.

3. As I say this has significant costs for all those involved. In Autumn 2000 sever floods led to an insurance pay-out of £1 billion; in 2003 the European heat-wave led not only to 26,000 deaths and £8billion in direct costs. So the costs of inaction are there, and they are high.

4. 2005 is a very important year for the UK and Climate Change both internationally and domestically. It’s the domestic aspect that I’d like to focus on today and in particular how the private sector can help us meet our challenging targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

5. Internationally it is absolutely recognised and acknowledged the UK is helping to lead the way in showing what action can be taken at a national level – I say that because although this is questioned in the UK, it is not questioned elsewhere in the world. We are on track to meet our Kyoto target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% by the period of 2008 – 2012. In fact latest provisional estimates suggest that greenhouse gas emissions in 2003 were about 14% below 1990 levels, you will appreciate an increased achievement on previous figures.

6. Carbon dioxide emissions were about 7% below 1990 levels. That means that we have made some progress towards our domestic goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2010, because although the figures are down from 1990 then have plateaued. But it is clear that we need to do more and the current review of our Climate Change Programme will be looking at ways in which we can achieve our domestic goal.

7. Historically, economic growth has gone hand-in-hand with increased environmental impacts from production, use and disposal of goods and services. The sustainability challenge is to break that link – to innovate the impact we make is in line with what the planet can bear – and our 5-year strategy launched in December confirms that breaking this link is a key priority not least for my Department.

8. This means we need to continue our actions to halt losses of biodiversity, protect natural resources, minimise waste, improve chemicals management as well as combat climate change. We all want greater prosperity and, if we do things differently, we believe we can have this without damaging the environment in a way that is unsustainable. Indeed, the innovation necessary to meet this challenge will be a driver both for growth and improved competitiveness. I certainly firmly believe that in terms of climate change, economic growth and environment improvement can go hand-in-hand and the fact that greenhouse gas emissions were 14% lower in 2002 than in 1990 and our GDP was 32% higher does confirm this is perfectly possible to break the link. In China also emissions and growth have not kept pace. Their economy has far outstripped their emissions levels.

9. The sustainable use of energy is a key means of helping us meet our climate change targets. Government has put in place a number of policies and programmes to support and encourage the industry to move in the direction of greater sustainability. The EU emissions trading scheme, Climate Change Agreements, Climate Change Levy, the Renewables Obligation, and other targeted tax allowances, including those for Combined Heat and Power, our most energy intensive industries and the power generation sector have strong incentives to reduce their emissions in the most cost-effective way.

10. I’m pleased to see that business’ commitment to tackling climate change is growing in the UK. Many firms are now recognising that action to reduce emissions can bring wide-ranging benefits including lower costs, improved competitiveness and new market opportunities. The DTI’s 5-year strategy confirms that the transition to a low-carbon economy will create significant economic opportunities for UK business. Two years ago, environmental technology industries were worth £16 billion and employed around 170,000 people. Today, they are worth £25 billion and employ around 400,000 people.

11. We need the private sector to continue that good work. We want to encourage and if we can enable you to take the lead in finding and implementing cost effective measures to cut emissions, while ensuring that a healthy and competitive business base is maintained and indeed improved. Central to this is the EU Emissions Trading Scheme; a major policy measure designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at least cost to industry, which began on the first of January this year. We are discussing with the European Commission amendments that we notified to our National Allocation Plan last October. We will announce our proposed installation level allocations next month, we hope, and aim to make final allocations by the end of March.

12. Emissions trading itself makes sound business sense, enabling market mechanisms to deliver emissions reductions cost effectively. That is an idea that has already been recognised in the private sector, evidenced by the introduction of the London Climate Change Service Providers Group. This group has been established to promote the business opportunities and economic benefits for its members from the development of emissions trading markets in Europe. Potential benefits include increased employment opportunities, innovation, and of course revenue. The UK’s commitment to emissions trading means we believe well placed to secure a significant share in this new and emerging market.

13. The scheme will also make climate change an even more important factor in shareholder investment decisions. From April 2005, I expect many quoted companies to use their Operating and Financial Review to report on their climate change and indeed their wider environmental performance.

14. In addition to allowing us to take a detailed look at progress being made towards meeting emission reduction targets, the review of the Climate Change Programme, to which I referred earlier, will also allow us to consider how successful we have been in delivering our climate change policies.

15. One of the most important of these is energy efficiency, which is generally acknowledged as the most cost-effective way to deliver the critical goals set out in the 2003 White Paper. The 2004 Energy Efficiency Action Plan provides a clear framework for improving energy efficiency at an unprecedented level. We are now working in partnership with industry and other stakeholders to deliver the 12 million tonnes of carbon savings by 2010 that are targeted. In all, the measures and policies in the Action Plan will save businesses and households over £3 billion per annum on their energy bills.

16. But of course in many way that is just the beginning. Many of the measures in the Plan depend on voluntary action by homeowners and businesses, so communicating the urgency of climate change and promoting demand for energy efficient products and services is a high priority. It is vital to raise awareness more widely of the links between climate change, energy policy and the choices and behaviour of individuals, businesses and also, of course, of public sector organisations.

17. We recognise we need to communicate better about climate change at every level, recognising that Government must play a leading role. In support of this aim, my department expects to contribute substantial new resources to a new approach to climate change communications and we hope that you, as leaders in the business world, will embrace and reinforce these messages and help ensure that carbon emissions and energy efficiency have an increasingly high place in your companies strategic priorities.

18. Even where awareness has been raised, many unsustainable behaviours are basically locked-in and made to seem ‘normal’ by the way that we produce and consume, by the absence of easy alternatives. We need to enable different choices, even where the barriers to change appear too great.

19. Better products can enable people to do things differently. Each time someone buys an inefficient product we lose the opportunity to reduce environmental impacts until it is replaced or wears out – often up to 10 years later. The mandatory A to G energy label enables consumers to choose the most efficient products. It has also enabled industry to innovate in bringing to market more efficient products. And we are looking to strengthen approaches for driving up environmental standards of products. At EU level, the framework directive on eco-design for energy using products will be particularly important.

20. We are continuing to inform, advise and support both businesses and the public sector through the activities of the Carbon Trust, with additional funding of £60m announced in Spending Review 2004, to support its advice, information and support services. Services that are leading to real benefits for their customers. Services that are leading to real benefits for their customers. Scottish and Newcastle plc for example are implementing carbon savings worth £2.5 million a year, saving 13,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

21. Innovation can also play a key role in helping us make a step change in energy efficiency and in the move towards a low carbon economy. In the Pre-Budget Report the Chancellor announced a £20million fund, to be managed by the Carbon Trust, to accelerate the development of energy efficient technology. The new funds should provide a focus for investment in energy efficiency, and will help to build new partnerships between business, research and policy-making. Additionally, a joint Defra/Treasury ‘Energy Efficiency Innovation Review’ into whether technological, policy, financial and behavioural innovation, by Government, industry or consumers, is contributing fully to energy efficiency measures is now underway. And that review itself will provide an important input to the Climate Change Programme review.

22. So all of us – whether in Government, business and as individuals – should be prepared to think more deeply about how the benefits of a modern lifestyle can be enjoyed in a way that enhances rather than harms the world around us. At present, our homes and their contents, our transport choices, our food supply all come with big environmental footprints that must be reduced if we are to meet the sustainability challenge.

23. We have made and are continuing to make progress, but to reduce these emissions further does require radical thinking and the participation of all sectors of society. I am looking to the business community to help us find the answers and would like your views on what we can do to help you to engage fully in the review of our Climate Change Programme.

Thank you.

Margaret Beckett – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, to the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 29th September 2003.

By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone”

Those words from the Party’s membership card have been coming into my head all week since I saw in a recent newspaper article the reported comments of a pensioner. Asked what she wanted from this Labour Government – what kind of future she sought, she called for a better quality of life – greater security, good healthcare, safer streets, less vandalism.

It’s what she wanted for herself. It’s what we want for every citizen because that is only fair – fair and right and just.

As that pensioners comments revealed, the public face of public services for the great majority of Britons starts at their front door. That public face may not be of our schools, unless there are school age children in the family. For the majority it may not immediately be healthcare unless there is a current experience of ill-health. But for each and all of us it is the condition of our streets, and open spaces. It’s litter, graffiti, abandoned cars or even discarded chewing gum. It’s vandalism experienced or even just feared.

These are the things that blight all of our daily lives, which make us feel more insecure. Yet we know that all of these things are beyond the reach of any of us as an individual. They require that common endeavour.

Government’s role is to provide local authorities and others with powers and funding to help address these problems in the communities where they occur, working with those closest to them, community groups, the police, youth services and local businesses.

We cannot just will this change from Whitehall but the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill, for example, will give local authorities new powers to tackle fly-tipping, graffiti and noise.

If we are to meet the challenge set for us not only by that pensioner but by the millions of our fellow citizens at home and across the world who share her ambitions for their own lives, we must strive to overcome the divisions which beset our communities.

Above all, we must achieve this in international climate change negotiations. I believe this to be the predominant challenge of our time – the challenge that dominates our future, no matter what else may befall. And though that challenge will affect us all, it will affect first and most the most poor and the most vulnerable. Even if we act now, with as much boldness and effectiveness as we can summon, the science tells us that, for example, by the end of this century 20 million more people are likely to be affected by flooding every year- most of them in developing countries. If we do not act that figure will be at least 90 million.

We and other developed countries accept that while everybody has a part to play and must find ways of playing that part, we the developed countries have a duty to act earlier, to make a greater contribution, to shoulder a larger part of the responsibility – because we can. That is fairness. It is also international solidarity in practice.

The contribution of Britain’s scientists and the lead taken by our government as well as personally by the Prime Minister has brought us huge international respect.

But none of us have taken more than the very first steps on a long long road. Agreeing the Kyoto Protocol and its legal framework laid the foundation but there is much much more to do to match the scale of the challenge we face.

President Putin acknowledged that challenge today. We are in no doubt that it is in the interests of the whole world, Russia included, for the Kyoto Protocol to come into force with Russian ratification. It is also strongly in Russia’s economic interest.

But as I say we must do more. That is why in our Energy White Paper this year we set out on a long-term path for Britain – we set the goal of reducing our carbon emissions – the main source of climate change – by around 60% by the year 2050 – the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. It is at the heart of our pursuit of a low carbon economy. In Britain we have already shown that economic growth and emission reduction can be achieved side by side. We do not need to choose between them. Carbon emissions fell 13% between 1990 and 1999, while the economy grew by 28%. In fact in many cases environmental gain can bring economic benefits. Companies and individuals saving carbon are companies and individuals saving money.

There is one other area I want to raise, which people do not often mention when you ask them about their quality of life, perhaps because wrongly we take it too much for granted. That is the way Britain looks and is. Our landscape. Our forests. Our rural environment. And what that means to all of us in terms of leisure opportunities and tourism.

The creation of DEFRA strengthens the link, between the quality of our landscape and our quality of life. We are developing agri-environment schemes for farmers which reward them for improving landscape and biodiversity. We’re considering the creation of two new National Parks in the New Forest and South Downs. River water quality is at an all-time high. Wild bird populations are at their highest level since 1990. And there are more trees in England than there have been for 100 years.

And this is just the beginning. For decades the structure of the Common Agriculture Policy with its powerful and direct links between levels of production and subsidy was providing a perverse incentive to undermine much of what we most value, about what is after all a managed landscape – 70% of it farmed.

Incidentally it was the perverse incentive to overproduction which also led to us dumping our surpluses on world markets, undermining the prosperity of farmers in many developing countries.

The dramatic changes which we can make as a result of the recent historic agreement on CAP reform stem from breaking that fundamental link between production and subsidy levels. They offer us an opportunity to work towards the goals set for us by the Curry Commission at the beginning of this Parliament – a more sustainable agriculture which is better for consumers, taxpayers and farmers – as well as being better for our environment.

That reform deal formed the basis for our approach to the recent WTO talks in Mexico, where for the first time the world community as a whole sought trade deals whose over-riding purpose was to improve the long-term prospects for developing countries.

At those talks there was the opportunity to maintain the momentum created by the Millennium Development goals, the Monterrey finance agreement the Johannesburg Summit and the many practical partnerships for development that it launched.

Sadly, in Mexico that opportunity was not seized. I am well aware that many who passionately support the cause of development believe that this is for the best. I hope more than I can say that their tactics and their optimism prove to be justified. What I profoundly fear is that we are in danger of irrevocably damaging the prospects for sustainable development which will be of most worth to those who need it most. There is a terrible risk that major players in many different parts of the world will judge that country to country deals could serve them almost as well. Yet it is only through multilateral processes that we stand any chance of protecting the interests of the smallest and the most weak.

So it is internationally as well as at home that we must all strive for real improvement in the quality of life for all.

The issues brought to mind by that phrase are fundamental to our well-being. Few of them are easy to tackle or to overcome. But real benefit to human health and happiness follow from addressing them successfully. And as I said at the outset that can only be a common endeavour. Perhaps after all it’s not “the economy stupid”. It is the quality of life.

 

Margaret Beckett – 2002 Speech at Labour Party Conference

MargaretBeckett

Below is the text of the speech made by Margaret Beckett at the 2002 Labour Party conference.

I commend to conference the Quality of Life report, and composite number 8 on the Johannesburg world summit.

Ten years ago at the Rio earth summit the world accepted the need to manage the planet as a single whole for the whole of the human race. And it was at Rio that the ideal of sustainability through true integration between environmental, social and economic issues took on substance and shape – that all must be weighed one with the other if human beings are to thrive and prosper without destroying our natural inheritance or the prospects for generations to come.

Concerted international efforts were agreed to tackle global problems: climate change, land degradation, the threat to biodiversity. And with them recognition that governments alone cannot deliver so ambitious a programme, which requires commitment from across our society and economy.

And 10 years on the theme that ran through the Johannesburg summit a month ago was this decade’s recognition that, just as dire poverty and environmental degradation are mutually undermining, so action on poverty and the effective management of natural resources are often mutually reinforcing.

Much has been achieved on Rio’s programme agenda 21 but somewhere down the line momentum was lost. We began to regain momentum with the setting of the millennium development goals. But the main focus for new momentum was the Johannesburg summit itself – part of a continuum of commitment from the Doha trade round focussed on addressing the needs of the developing world, through a substantial increase in international aid at Monterrey. And then Johannesburg – not a new earth summit but as someone called it the ‘down to earth summit’.

It was never the intention to draw up a new master plan in Johannesburg. There’s nothing wrong with the master plan we already have. But at Johannesburg we sought to create a mosaic of implementation – including what some have called a new Marshall plan for the environment, since disintegration of the environmental pillar of sustainable development would lead to the inevitable collapse of the others.

More than 200 concrete partnerships for delivery were promised in Johannesburg – including governments, national and local, developed and developing countries, NGOs and the business community.

These are partnerships for water supply and sanitation, for energy supply, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. Forest partnerships include a project of over a dozen nations to save the forests of the Congo basin – one of the richest sources of biodiversity remaining on the planet. Targets and timetables were set for tackling sanitation, toxic chemicals, biodiversity, natural resources, fish stocks, oceans and energy.

That was Johannesburg.

And though some expressed regret that we did not propose further action on climate change in Johannsburg in three weeks in India, we will examine the next steps on climate change.

The same complaint was made about agricultural subsidies but the Doha trade talks will take on reality in the spring. These talks are vital. In Africa particularly, agriculture is key to sustained economic growth. It accounts for two-thirds of the labour force, on-third of GDP and half of all exports.

Yet OECD figures show that while in 2000 developed countries gave $50bn in aid, they spent $350bn subsidising their own agriculture. The World Bank has calculated that a 50% cut in agriculture subsidies and opening our markets, would be worth three times as much to developing countries as they get in aid.

That’s why this winter’s talks on CAP reform are so important. The CAP takes almost half the EU’s budget. Yet no one believes this is money well spent. We all pay twice, both as taxpayers and as consumers. Farmers resent both the bureaucracy and the failure to secure their livelihoods. And, as the commission on food and farming, chaired by Sir Don Curry, reported earlier this year, it is often actively damaging to the environment.

We want to switch resources from irrelevant or damaging subsidy so that we can support environmental improvement or rural prosperity more directly and effectively than is possible today.

There is no doubt that such a switch and such support are needed. When the Conservatives left office Britain’s rural communities were as devastated as the rest of our country.

Between 1983 and 1997 an average of 30 village schools in England were closing every year. By 1997 only one in four parishes had a daily bus service, and a third of all villages had no shop.

Today a Labour government is working to deliver the goals of the rural white paper, and to produce high quality services in rural areas.

Already total unemployment in rural areas is down by over two-fifths on its 1997 level, long-term youth unemployment is down by over three quarters, and the proportion of young New Dealers entering work is 17% higher in rural than urban areas.

There is a drive to provide affordable homes. NHS direct is available throughout England and an investment programme in rurual healthcare is underway. A new rural police fund to the tune of an extra £30m stands alongside £70m a year for rural buses, and an extra £80m a year for small schools which particularly benefits rural areas. And there is wider support for rural regeneration including particularly in market towns.

And across the country we are addressing issues whose existence the Tories failed even to acknowledge.

In the last two years alone we have taken 400,000 people out of fuel poverty and will take a further 400,000 out in the next 2 years.

Continuing work on energy and resource use in industry and transport help tackle individual prosperity and economic sustainability.

And there is much more to do – not least on waste. Every week we could fill Wembley Stadium with what we throw away. And unless we change course that will have doubled by 2020. We’re running out of space and we need a new approach.

Such problems can be successfully tackled. Drinking water, river water, beaches and bathing water – including at Blackpool – are at the highest quality ever, and 50 years on from the great smog of 1952 in which people died levels of some air pollutants have already fallen to levels last seen before the Industrial Revolution.

These issues all contribute to our quality of life, now and in the future, in this country and across the world. The pursuit of sustainable development is not a luxury for a few rich countries. It is a necessity for all.

This year more detailed forecasts of the impact of climate change tell us to expect greater extremes of weather, along with rising sea levels – devastating floods, the spread of tropical diseases and the loss of biodiversity. Poorest countries will be the worst affected because they will be the least able to adapt. But all countries will suffer.

These global problems cannot be resolved by nation states acting alone. Climate change, migration, poverty, terrorism, drug abuse are challenges to the international community as a whole and require the engagement of that whole community.

I fully understand the disappointment of those who wanted more from Johannesburg but the summit was not the end of a process it was a beginning.

Let there be no doubt. The combination of the millennium development goals and the Johannesburg programme of implementation represent the greatest challenge the human race has ever set itself. If delivered it would mean a revolution in the lives of the poorest people on the planet and the start of a revolution in our approach to the planet itself. We dare not fail.

Margaret Beckett – 2002 Speech on the Darwin Initiative

MargaretBeckett

Below is the text of the speech made by Margaret Beckett on the 19th November 2002 on the Darwin Initiative.

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen: we’re here tonight to celebrate the success of the first ten years of the Darwin Initiative, and to mark the launch of   a new Phase of the Initiative. I am glad to see around me many longstanding ‘Friends’ of Darwin, including some who were involved from the outset. Others among us will be less familiar with the Initiative.

I hope that after tonight you will all consider yourselves Friends of Darwin;   and will help us promote it – especially our honoured guests representing many developing countries and, of course, the press corps. The Initiative has acquired a remarkable reputation for its achievements. A reputation which has reached far and wide. I am very pleased to tell you that we even have a message of support tonight from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. You will all get a copy of the Prince’s message on the way out.

Charles Darwin, himself, is of course in the news at the moment. I see he is currently number [four] in the BBC’s poll of Great Britons. We certainly picked an   iconic figure as our inspiration for the Initiative.

For those of you that don’t know, let me explain that the Darwin Initiative is a small grants programme run by my Department. It:

– uses UK expertise

– works with local partners

– helping countries rich in biodiversity but poor in resources

– to conserve and use their biodiversity sustainably.

I first became fully aware of the Darwin Initiative as we were preparing earlier this year for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. What I learned impressed me a great deal. I am full of admiration for the quality of work that is carried out by UK institutions – many of them represented here tonight – and by their partners in developing countries:

– work, often in remote and inaccessible areas of the world

– work that is innovative, imaginative, and fulfils high standards of excellence

– work that has a lasting impact on biodiversity and local livelihoods

Darwin projects can be influential, too. I believe that the University of York’s project in Belize played a small part in the decision last week to give the Whale Shark protection under CITES.

We are now into the 11th annual round of Darwin grants. By the time new allocations are made, we will have committed over 30 million pounds to well over 300 projects in more than 100 countries

The Darwin Initiative, was launched at the Rio Earth Summit and it was fitting therefore, on the 10th anniversary to review the Initiative and its budget. I was very pleased therefore to be able to boost Darwin funds by an extra 7 million pounds. As many of you will have heard, the Prime Minister announced this increase in his Maputo speech on the World Summit.

The annual budget will rise next year from three million pounds to four million and will go up again year on year, rising to seven million pounds per year by 2005.

This budget increase will help us do a lot more. And the Darwin Advisory Committee has been looking at plans for the future of the Initiative. You will see on our publicity materials the new Darwin logo. Still based on Darwin’s Finches, it reminds us of the very real challenges we face in safeguarding the world’s biodiversity. For only last week, we heard of the threat to half the species of Darwin Finch from a nest parasite introduced from the mainland.

Our plans for phase II will

– strengthen the links with the Convention on Biodiversity

– increase the legacy of Darwin projects, and

– improve the partnership element of projects

Professor David Ingram, Chairman of the Darwin Advisory Committee will have more to say on these plans shortly.

The Darwin Initiative is, to my mind, a shining example of the sort of partnership we need to foster: partnerships that make a real difference in the work they do on the ground. Partnerships are not a new idea. But their importance is so fundamental that, in a novel move for the UN, over 300 of them were formally endorsed by Johannesburg. Let me say a few words about the Summit.

We set out with an ambitious agenda. Rightly so. Yet the final deal – between the 180 participating countries – was a success. Some of those who pushed for more may have been disappointed. But what we did achieve, taken in conjunction with the UN Millennium Development Goals will –   if implemented – represent a revolution in the lives of the poorest people on the planet, and the beginnings of a revolution in how we treat the planet itself.

The Summit agreed an impressive plan of implementation, including

– a new target to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people living without basic sanitation:this will save millions of lives in developing countries.

– new targets and timetables on chemicals, biodiversity, marine protection and fish stocks: these and other commitments will galvanise action and set standards for the next 10 years or more.

– joint actions on reliable and affordable energy for the poor and to increase the global share of renewable energy sources: the Prime Minister announced that the UK’s Export Credit Guarantee Department will make available £50m per year to renewable energy exports to developing countries.

Taken together, these represent a sizable agenda for change that will really make a difference to people’s lives and their environments.

Making a difference is what the Darwin Initiative is all about. I would like to pay tribute to those far sighted individuals who developed such a successful formula. I am truly proud of what Darwin has achieved since its launch at the Rio Summit in 1992. But you don’t need to take my word for it. In a few minutes we will see a video of some of these achievements.

First we will hear a few words from David Ingram. But before I hand over to David, I want to express my deepest thanks to the commitment and dedication of Darwin Committee members past and present.   They are all unpaid. And yet they contribute above and beyond the call of duty – putting in time to promote the Initiative and the cause of biodiversity conservation generally; this, in addition to their bread and butter role of advising Ministers on the award of grants.

They are of course, too many to name individually. But I should like to pay especial thanks to former chairman Crispin Tickell and current Chairman David Ingram.

Finally, to all Friends of Darwin, new and old, I would like to say keep up the good work. Darwin the man, and Darwin the Initiative are an inspiration and I am very very proud of what we have achieved.