Page last updated at 21:17 GMT, Tuesday, 15 May 2012 22:17 UK

Lucas laments 'absence' of environmental legislation

Effective measures to combat climate change were "conspicuous by their absence" from the government's legislative programme, Green MP Caroline Lucas has complained.

On 15 May 2012, as MPs debated the Queen's Speech, focusing on foreign affairs and international development, Ms Lucas said climate change was a global "issue of security".

"It has been estimated that climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year," she told MPs.

The coalition's failure to live up to its promise of being "the greenest government ever" was therefore a "real tragedy", the Green Party leader said.

She urged ministers to make the Energy Bill, which aims to encourage more investment in low carbon generation and clean energy, "significantly more ambitious".

But Conservative MP Chris Pincher drew attention to the "stupendous" rate of economic growth in China.

"The bicycles have gone, and the fuel-injected engines and the 4x4s have come instead. The young Chinese who have dreams of tomorrow have high carbon dreams," he said.

"They want the nice home, the nice car, the nice holiday - and they're going to get it."

Mr Pincher emphasised the importance of building strategic partnerships with emerging powers like China to boost the British economy.

But Labour's Fabian Hamilton said the government should focus more on "standing up" for Tibetan people.

Ministers should "put further pressure on the Chinese government to ensure that the human rights violations all over that country, but especially in Tibet are brought to an end, or at least brought to public notice", he said.

As MPs continued their wide-ranging debate, another Labour MP, Mark Lazarowicz, decried the "failure of the government to include in the Queen's Speech legislation to make it mandatory for 0.7% of gross national income to be spent on overseas development".

The government expects to meet this foreign aid target by next year, but has opted not to enshrine this commitment to aid spending in law.

Mr Lazarowicz offered an explanation: "All I can assume is that the government, although prepared to do good by stealth in quietly sticking to the 0.7% spending target, was not prepared to proclaim its commitments from the rooftops for fear of attracting too much attention and political flack from its more right-wing members and supporters."

Winding up the debate, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the government was "absolutely clear" about the importance of international aid.

He told MPs that legislation on aid spending "is ready and will be introduced when parliamentary time allows".

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