Green MP Caroline Lucas has told parliament that Lord John Bird’s Future Generations Bill should be central to how the country rebuilds following the coronavirus crisis as she gave the bill its House of Commons debut.
Lucas, who is sponsoring the bill’s passage through the Commons, delivered a Ten Minute Rule motion in the chamber today told MPs how Lord John Bird’s bill will seek to instil consideration for future generations into parliamentary policies and decision-making.
The Big Issue founder has been bringing the Future Generations Bill through the House of Lords where it received cross-party support at its second reading earlier this month.
And it has continued to unite politicians across the political spectrum in the Commons with 11 co-sponsors backing Lucas as she introduced the bill today.
.@CarolineLucas is now presenting the #FutureGenerationsBill. It aims to ensure UK policymaking takes the interests of future generations into account.@BigIssue founder @johnbirdswords recently presented the Bill in the @UKHouseofLords too.
— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) March 24, 2020
Lucas told MPs: “I wish that I was introducing this bill in very different circumstances but I am confident that honourable members can see that the bill does not conflict with our immediate priorities, which are rightly elsewhere.
“Indeed at times like this it is only human to ask: what could we have done differently to have prevented this from happening? How can we stop something like this from every happening again? Our common interests, our connectivity to each other and our passion are all burning bright in an otherwise dark moment. Acting today for tomorrow is as relevant now as it will ever be.”
If passed into law, the bill would require the creation of a UK-wide Future Generations Commissioner to scrutinise decisions and policies to ensure that their future impact on our children and the generations that follow are taken into consideration. It is inspired by the existing Welsh act. In addition, the legislation will require a joint-parliamentary committee to be set up on future generations.
.@CarolineLucas is making the case for the Future Generations Bill in @HouseofCommons (watch at https://t.co/qnQljfhaXY) – it's fantastic that see MPs advancing the @today4tmrrw campaign, there's never been a more important time to act #todayfortomorrow https://t.co/544yVtXQI8 https://t.co/X02WqnmAe2
— John Bird (@johnbirdswords) March 24, 2020
Lucas, who had a letter published in today’s Guardian newspaper on the subject, drew attention to The Big Issue’s Today for Tomorrow campaign that is running alongside the bill in her ten-minute speech.
MPs gave the motion their approval and a date for the second reading of the bill has been provisionally set for September 11. But Lucas has eyes on more immediate matters to demonstrate how the bill can help tackle the short-termism so often in evidence in Westminster.
“It is essential to deal with the coronavirus as it is a global emergency,” said Lucas. “But it is clear that we must work harder to predict and prepare for the existential risks we face. Not only from the threat of pandemics but from the climate crisis too. That is the nub of the Today for Tomorrow campaign.”
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
She added: “When we are rebuilding on the other side of this pandemic we can choose to do so with greater consideration for future generations with stronger passion for every person and their wellbeing.”
Lucas may be sponsoring the bill through the Commons but backing has already been secured support from across the House with Conservatives Simon Fell, Bob Blackman and Kevin Hollinrake acting as co-sponsors.
Fell said: “The government has a simple duty to protect people – whether from the catastrophic effects of climate change, or from falling into the poverty trap. Politicians must focus on long-term solutions that will ensure that we leave this country, and planet, better for future generations.”
Crabb added: “A really important initiative from the Big Issue to get us to focus on the long term issues facing our country. Lots of work to be done in the new Parliament to make this pledge count.”
From Labour, Bambos Charalambous, Anna McMorrin and Abena Oppong-Asare are also supporting as is Labour and Co-operative Party’s Alex Sobel.
Elsewhere, Lib Dem Wera Hobhouse, Claire Hanna of the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts are acting as co-sponsors alongside Dr Philippa Whitford.