Lord John Bird launches bid to create a new Future Generations Act

The Big Issue founder wants the UK to follow Wales’ lead by bringing a Future Generations Bill into force during the next parliament

Lord John Bird MBE has set out his bid to bring forward Future Generations legislation that has been so successful in Wales to England with a new private member’s bill in the next parliament.

The Big Issue founder has worked closely with the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales and Big Issue Changemaker Sophie Howe over the last year after being impressed with how the Welsh legislation has put sustainable thinking at the heart of public policy decisions.

Coming into force shortly before the EU referendum in April 2016, the Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act puts a focus on long-term planning and prevention, ensuring that decisions made now have a positive impact on long-term issues like poverty, ill health, poor air quality and low-quality jobs.

Lord Bird was so taken with the idea that he delivered last year’s inaugural Well-being of Future Generations Commissioner for Wales annual lecture at Cardiff University and has now promised to bring a private member’s bill forward during the next parliamentary session.

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Addressing the House of Lords in a debate he led on June 20, Lord Bird said: “I don’t think that we will find a way to do anything about poverty unless we reinvent the future. Unless we bring the future forward to today. And unless we can find a methodology and laws to go with it I don’t think we’re going anywhere.

“If we want to avoid our streets being filled up with the most needy, we need to embrace tomorrow now.

“I will be introducing a private member’s bill and what I really want to do now is move the argument on. Let us embrace the future, let’s not be frightened by it. If we do not do what we have to do about embracing the future by looking very carefully at the legislation that has been enacted in Wales then we are missing a major chance.”

The cross-bench peer stressed that the idea of moving away from quick fixes to intelligent, long-term sustainable thinking is one that he has long supported.

The very idea that one of the countries of the United Kingdom had the space, the time, the energy and the desire to change the way that they encountered the future is everything that I wanted to do

He told the Lords that the forthcoming bill will aim to “prevent our need to spend 70 per cent of our time and energies handling the problems of 30 per cent of the people in this country”.

Lord Bird added: “Wales is leading the way in the world and I must say and the very idea that one of the countries of the United Kingdom had the space, the time, the energy and the desire to change the way that they encountered the future is everything that I wanted to do. Where Wales has led, let us follow.”