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Mariana Dam Disaster

Volume 734: debated on Thursday 22 June 2023

Before I call the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) to open the debate, I wish to make a short statement about the sub judice resolution. I have been informed that there is a group action in the High Court relating to the Mariana dam incident, so I remind hon. Members that they must not refer to any specific cases currently before the courts and that they should exercise caution with respect to any specific cases that might subsequently come before the courts in order not to prejudice these proceedings.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the Mariana dam disaster.

I spoke to the Clerks beforehand and I understand the issue very well. I will not refer to specific cases and I am sure that others will not either.

I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting today’s debate and say that it is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mrs Latham. I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead this debate and to raise my concerns about the ongoing situation in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. It is deeply concerning and requires urgent attention by the United Kingdom Government and the wider international community.

The debate is about how British companies conduct themselves around the world and whether they should implement the high environmental and safety standards overseas that we expect of them at home. It is also about how we hold companies headquartered in London to account when they do not live up to the standards that they claim to uphold, as well as accountability and the process in relation to a disaster that happened many years ago, and how we can help the people who are still seeking justice.

I am pleased to see the Minister in his place. I understand that today’s matter is not in his portfolio and that he is filling in because the relevant Minister is overseas, but it is always a pleasure to see him. I know that he, his Department and the officials who are here will carry back the questions that we ask. I am sure that all those who participate will have their questions answered directly by the relevant Minister on his return. Even though this issue is not in this Minister’s portfolio, I know that he shares my passion for doing the right thing by our neighbours and using resources in the best way.

I want to bring to the House’s attention the 2015 collapse of the Fundão tailings dam at the Samarco Mariana mine complex in the state of Minas Gerais, which killed 19 people and released 40 million cubic metres of tailings that polluted waterways, spanning an area the length of Portugal—more than 600 km. That puts it into perspective when we think of the distance of the impact and the people affected. It is more than the distance between where we are sitting in Westminster Hall and my Strangford constituency, and my journey from Belfast City airport to Heathrow on Monday and returning tonight. I travel on that plane at massive speed and the flight takes an hour, from Northern Ireland across the south-east of England.

The Mariana dam disaster was the biggest environmental disaster ever inflicted on the people of Brazil. One company, BHP, was headquartered in London at the time and played a key role in the dam disaster.

I thank the Library for its information—I realise that it is not always easy to prepare for these debates—and I wish to quantify the serious ecological damage that the disaster produced. There were mass die-offs among fish: once the mud reached the open ocean, a total of some 29,000 fish carcases were collected and recorded by the federal police. The death of the fish also resulted in hundreds of birds dying from starvation, and probably also from eating infected fish. A Wilson Centre article explains that, in addition to the loss of native fauna,

“80 percent of the native vegetation located near the tributaries and main channel of the Doce River was destroyed, leaving the river with only 13 percent of the Atlantic forest’s original vegetation.”

Reuters reported in November 2021 that a study undertaken by a company contacted by the Brazilian prosecutor to measure the cost of the disaster estimated the “socio-environmental” damage to be between US$6.73 billion—or 37.6 billion reais—and US$10.85 billion. That gives some idea of the impact and shows that it affected not only people’s lives and jobs, but the environment.

The disaster severely affected the indigenous communities, including the Krenak, by irreparably damaging their river source—the communities’ lifeblood—the Rio Doce. Like others, I had the privilege of meeting victims from the Krenak indigenous community earlier this year in Parliament. With the help of global law firm Pogust Goodhead, they are bringing a case against BHP in London, alongside more than 700,000 victims affected by the Mariana dam disaster. The claimants include individuals, Brazilian municipalities and local churches, all of whom suffered loss as a result. Those human beings lost all they own, their schools, their education, where they worship and their normal lives. The disaster has changed their lives forever.

Right hon. and hon. Members may ask why this disaster should be debated in this House. It is for a simple reason: this is an important step in bringing real justice for the victims of the Mariana dam disaster, and it will create a precedent for victims abroad to initiate claims against UK-based parent companies for environmental damage and human rights abuses before English courts. That would make the companies accountable and responsible, and that is the way it should be.

The tailings dam that collapsed was owned and operated by Samarco, a Brazilian company jointly owned by Vale and the Anglo-Australian mining company, BHP. At the time of the accident, BHP was dual-listed in London and Sydney—a fact that allowed the victims the necessary legal standing to begin proceedings here in London. After all those years, it is only right that the matter should be spoken about.

Moreover, as representatives of the Krenak community told me, this case is not just about BHP and the disaster; it is a more general story. For too long, some multinational corporations based in the UK, the EU and the US have damaged the environment and communities in other parts of the world without providing full compensation. I cannot help but feel that if British or Australian communities had been impacted by such a disaster, they would not have been treated in the same way. Indeed, it would have been sorted a long time ago.

Order. We have to be very careful about taking about specific cases. They are going to the courts, or are in the courts, and therefore we must not talk about them.

I believe it is important not just to highlight the legal case but to fully recognise the victims. Nineteen people lost their lives, and as I said to the officials before the debate, I want to read out their names to honour the victims of the Mariana dam disaster. You will have to forgive me, Mrs Latham, because my Ulster Scots accent means that the pronunciation may be a challenge for me, but it is only right to do this. I will just mention their first and last names; the names in between are a challenge, and I want to be respectful. I hope hon. Members see past my stumbling and hear what is meant to be heard. These are people whose families are grieving at this very moment in Brazil.

The names are: Cláudio Fiúza, 40 years old; Sileno de Lima, 47 years old; Waldemir Leandro, 48 years old; Emanuely Vitória, five years old; Thiago Santos, seven years old; Marcos Xavier, 32 years old; Marcos Moura, 34 years old; Samuel Albino, 34 years old; Mateus Fernandes, 29 years old; Edinaldo de Assis; Daniel Carvalho, 53 years old; Maria Lucas, 60 years old; Maria Celestino, 64 years old; Claudemir Santos, 40 years old; Pedro Lopes, 56 years old; Antônio de Souza, 73 years old; Vando dos Santos, 37 years old; Ailton dos Santos, 55 years old; and Edmirson Pessoa, 48 years old.

I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting this debate and for speaking to those who petitioned us earlier this year. I thank Members for listening and recognising those names for the record. For the people of Brazil and around the world, such disasters must never be forgotten, lest we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The people of Brazil believe that the disaster could have been avoided. The London Mining Network’s 2017 report, “The River is Dead”, states:

“Since the beginning of the operation, in 2008, the Fundão Dam had presented several anomalies related to drainage defects, upwelling, mud and water management errors and saturation of sandy material. In some cases, emergency measures had been required.”

But the project continued and production levels were kept high until the disaster.

This lawsuit is one of the largest of its kind in terms of the damages to the victims in Brazil, but so far, only £2.8 billion has been ringfenced to cover the liability for the disaster. In the past three years, there have been a further 12 incidents at mining sites around the world involving the collapse of tailings or waste facilities. Progress has been made in setting a global industry standard for tailings management, but only a third of companies with tailings dams have committed to implementing it. This is while the industry continues to make ambitious sustainability commitments and claims over environmental, social and governance credentials.

A report by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, after some of its members visited Brazil, registered concern about appropriate levels of “accountability and responsibility” and “affected communities” and how the companies deal with local people, including those affected by tailings dams. The report also said:

“Nearly seven years after the dam collapse, the end of these reparations and compensation is nowhere in sight.”

I know the Minister cannot answer this directly, but I am hopeful that he will be able to help the victims and ensure that, after seven years, the issue of cost, reparations and compensation can be addressed. I am also pleased to see both shadow Ministers—the hon. Member for Falkirk (John Mc Nally) and the hon. Member for Leeds North East (Fabian Hamilton)—here and I look forward to their contributions.

Companies running large operations worldwide need to be accountable, including through subsidiaries. My first question to the Minister is this: does he agree that the handling of the Mariana dam disaster is a model for company crisis management? If the Minister cannot answer that, I am happy for him to write to me. Many of the companies refer to social value as bringing people and resources together to build a better world. The continued reluctance of some companies to provide compensation for this disaster and for other disasters across the world must be rectified. We are asking for that through this debate. This has a clear impact on the lives of those people and on the environment of the country. As I said, the impacts of the disaster travelled an area equivalent to the length of Portugal.

I believe that the UK has an important role here. It can lead the way by including stronger accountability mechanisms for UK corporations operating both domestically and internationally to help protect against human rights abuses and protect our fragile environment. We all love our environment and wish to see it retained. It is also imperative that, as the host country to large companies, investors and markets relevant to mining and metals, the United Kingdom enshrines in law the global industry standard for tailings management.

It is vital that changes are enforced to prevent such terrible disasters from happening again and causing such devastation to the world’s natural environment. The after-effects will remain for a long time; indeed, some are changed forever. Will the Government recognise that the UK has a vital role in stopping such disasters ever happening again? Will my Government and my Minister take action to crack down on British companies that fail to live up to their social and environmental credentials at home and abroad?

I thank the Backbench Business Committee, right hon. and hon. Members from across the House who have been involved, and my friend, the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), for securing this emotive and hard-hitting debate. It is about how British companies conduct themselves around the world and whether they implement the highest safety standards, which we rightly expect of them. It is also about how we hold companies headquartered in London or elsewhere in the UK to account when they do not live up to the standards that they claim to uphold.

The House’s sub judice rule—as you rightly pointed out, Mrs Latham—prevents me from commenting on any ongoing court action relating to the hundreds of thousands of claimants seeking compensation for damage caused by this horrific incident. However, as the hon. Member stated, the Mariana dam disaster has been called

“the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history.”

The disaster severely impacted indigenous communities including the Krenak people by irreparably damaging the river source and the community’s lifeblood, the Rio Doce. It is important that we recognise the victims and their grieving families, with 19 lives lost because of the disaster. For the people of Brazil and other fair-minded, good people around the world, such disasters must not be forgotten, or we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The people of Brazil believe that the disaster could and should have been avoided. Indeed, the 2017 report “The River is Dead” by the London Mining Network states:

“Since the beginning of the operation, in 2008, the Fundão Dam had presented several anomalies related to drainage defects, upwelling, mud and water management errors and saturation of sandy material. In some cases, emergency measures had been required.”

However, the project continued, and production was kept at high levels until the disaster.

A recent report published by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, after some of its members visited Brazil, found:

“Nearly seven years after the dam collapse, the end of these reparations and compensation is nowhere in sight. Consequently, affected community members have suffered for over seven years, and the companies and investors continue to accrue costs associated with the delayed provision of reparations and compensation”.

Companies running large operations worldwide cannot be allowed to hide behind their subsidiaries when things go wrong or when there is an ecological and environmental disaster. The UK has an important global role. It can and should lead the way by exploring ways to introduce stronger accountability mechanisms for UK corporations operationally, both domestically and internationally, to help to protect against human rights abuses and protect our fragile environment.

I apologise to my hon. Friend and to you, Mrs Latham. It is one of those days when there is a lot going on in the other Chamber that we take an interest in, so I will need to go, but I want to raise one point first.

I completely understand why the Chair is twitchy about sub judice issues, but the whole point of having this debate is so that maybe some good can arise from this tragedy. There is potential for our Government to lead on legislative reforms, which can then be developed internationally to ensure the accountability of companies, prevention of human rights abuses and environmental protections. It is about directors’ responsibilities as well. There is an agenda that the Government could seize to turn this tragedy into something beneficial globally.

My right hon. Friend speaks with a great deal of authority. He has eloquently explained the importance of today’s debate and why many of us are hoping that the Minister and the Government will take corrective action to ensure that we learn from the mistakes of the past and put legislation in place so that there cannot be future environmental disasters without the necessary repercussions.

In conclusion, the only question is: will the Government now recognise that the UK has an important role in preventing similar disasters from ever happening again?

As always, it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Latham. I congratulate the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) on securing this hugely important debate. Not only is it timely because of the ongoing challenges facing those affected by the disaster, but it relates to the wider topic of how we ensure that UK-based companies uphold the social and environmental standards that we expect of them at home and abroad.

As we have heard, the Mariana dam disaster was a devastating event, killing 19 people and destroying homes, towns and countless livelihoods. The collapse has affected around 700,000 people. I am particularly concerned to hear about the impact on indigenous communities such as the Krenak people, and about the long-standing pollution of the River Doce. For many, including the Krenak people, the river was a source of fishing and livelihoods, as well as a sacred resource. Reading the testimonies of the victims of the disaster, I was astounded by the sheer scale of the devastation it has caused. For example, Cristiane Fachetti, a farmer from Colatina, wrote:

“There are days when you sit down in the afternoon and you don’t have one Real, knowing that you have water, electricity, energy, everything to pay and you couldn’t pay it...Today when someone says, ‘it’s raining up there’ everyone says ‘there’s more mud coming’.”

What is perhaps even more distressing than the disaster itself, as other Members have mentioned, is the lack of accountability, the lack of justice and the lack of adequate compensation for victims from the mining giant BHP. It is clear in the aftermath of the disaster that these huge companies are simply shrinking from their responsibilities and passing on the blame to one another. Not only is the lack of responsibility morally wrong and reprehensible, but it undermines the trust that society places in these companies to act in the best interests of the communities in which they operate. An impartial observer would say that they simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

As others have said, the recent study by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum detailed ongoing concerns about

“the slow pace and inadequate nature of reparations”.

It noted that

“only a fraction of the houses had been built in the resettlements and the communities were awaiting a range of other compensatory and reparations measures so that they can start to rebuild their lives.”

The report also said that there is

“a general concern that Anglo American, BHP, Vale, Samarco, and Renova Foundation have not accepted an appropriate level of accountability and responsibility for the impacts of their business practices on a range of stakeholders, including affected communities.”

As other Members have said, the reparations and compensation are nowhere in sight.

British-listed companies should not be able to hide behind their subsidiaries when things go wrong. It is shocking that almost eight years after the disaster we still need to have this conversation. While we learn about the truly terrible conditions that many in Mariana still face to this day, BHP continues to wax lyrical about its social value targets and stewardship of the environment, local cultures and economic development. It appears to me that they are hooded crows masquerading as peacocks.

I have three questions for the Minister. First, what assessment have the Government made of the recent Local Authority Pension Fund Forum report on BHP’s failure to help victims of the disaster? Secondly, what assessment has the Minister made of BHP’s strong environmental and social value claims in the light of that report? Thirdly, will the Government take steps to ensure that all British listed companies operating at home and abroad are bound to the high standards that we expect of them?

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this afternoon, Mrs Latham. I want to start by thanking the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), because he has raised an issue that I have been grappling with since I took on the brief for Latin America in our shadow Foreign Office team. I have found it distressing, fascinating, shocking and appalling. I was privileged to host the Krenak people when they came to London, but I will say a little more about that in a minute.

The scale of the disaster that the hon. Member for Strangford rightly points out is shocking and appalling: 600 km of pollution. He mentioned the birds and fish affected by the pollution in the Doce river, which literally means sweet river. It is not a sweet river any more, sadly. It is in south-east Brazil and stretches over 530 miles, which in the UK would be a huge distance, but is minuscule in the massive country of Brazil, which is 33 times bigger than the United Kingdom.

My hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) said something very important: he said that this is a debate about how British companies live up to the high standards that we expect of them. That is at the heart of our debate this afternoon, so I thank the hon. Member for Strangford for securing it.

The Mariana dam disaster occurred on 5 November 2015. As hon. Members have said, it was the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history. We need to be clear that the situation and the ongoing legal case must not be allowed to set a precedent for the future that pits multinational corporations against the will and needs of indigenous populations and environmental activists. I was shocked to learn that 60 million cubic metres of iron waste poured into the Doce river when the Mariana tailings dam collapsed. It is in nobody’s interest for something like that ever to happen again. We must highlight the shocking injustices wherever and whenever they occur, as we have done in this debate.

At the beginning of this year, I met victims of the disaster from the indigenous Krenak community when they came to London to have their testimonies heard at the Court of Appeal. I hosted them in Parliament to give Members the opportunity to hear their harrowing experiences of how over 60 million cubic metres of toxic mining waste had wrecked their homes, livelihoods and communities, and about those who lost their lives, as the hon. Member for Strangford has said, as a result of the disaster. One thing that struck me was how humanity is so diverse that there are people in the House of Commons with whom we have very little in common apart from our shared humanity.

The Krenak people looked so extraordinarily different, yet they had wonderful names such as Maria and Umberto and they spoke beautiful Portuguese—a language I am not privileged to speak, unfortunately, but they had a very good interpreter. They told their human stories of a land far away, a lifestyle we have no real familiarity with, and yet they touched our hearts. Everybody there was moved by the testimonies that were given of their first-hand experience. I will not reiterate here today the experiences and first-hand testimonies that we heard—obviously I cannot, anyway—but it is important to recognise that this disaster did not affect just Brazilians. There was even a Yorkshireman in that area. He lived a modest life, which he adored, but he was forced to leave his home after the disaster. The truly global impact, which is the point that has been made this afternoon, of this appalling event can never be fully understood, or overstated. It has ruined the lives of many Brazilians as well as those from abroad wanting to make a life for themselves in that beautiful, stunning country and landscape.

I believe that the company in question, Anglo-Australian mining firm BHP, has behaved appallingly since the disaster struck. It has failed properly to engage and work with the victims. As was mentioned by the SNP spokesperson, the hon. Member for Falkirk (John Mc Nally), the Renova Foundation—

Order. Could we not stray into giving too many names and being too specific, because of the impending court case?

Of course, Mrs Latham. I sourced this information from publicly available sources, which are on the websites, but if you would rather I did not mention any specific names, I will not.

Okay. That is fine.

The organisation set up to remediate and compensate for the damage caused by the failure of the dam has come under increasing criticism for its lack of transparency in the way it was spending financial resources, as well as the way it excluded affected community representatives from decision making related to the resettlement. Again, we must not let that behaviour set a precedent whereby companies are able to treat indigenous populations like cattle. I would be interested to hear from the Minister whether he believes that that kind of behaviour points to a worrying and wider targeting of indigenous populations, and environmental activists, by multinational companies. It is the same attitude that led to the murder of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in Brazil a year ago; and farmers from the El Bajío community in Mexico had their livelihoods destroyed through illegal mining by a FTSE 100 company.

We must note that there has been a radical change in Government in Brazil since the disaster occurred. I would like the Minister to tell us what discussions he has had with his Brazilian counterpart regarding this case and how he is working with the Brazilian Government under President Lula, as well as Governments across Latin America, to prevent man-made disasters like this from destroying communities. I recognise that the Minister here today is not the Minister generally responsible for the region, but perhaps he has some answers to these questions on behalf of his colleague.

My hon. Friend the shadow Minister has referred to environmental activists and the damage being done environmentally in Brazil, as well as across the globe. When we look at the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, and given that we have just passed the one-year anniversary of the brutal murders of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, it is important that while we protect our environment and the people, we also prevent those excellent environmental activists, journalists and indigenous activists who are fighting the good fight— not just on their own behalf, but on behalf of all of us—from coming to harm. It is important that our Government work with the Brazilian Government to ensure that the perpetrators of those brutal murders are brought to justice.

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. In a way, it is precisely what I wanted to ask the Minister today about how we can work more collaboratively and co-operatively with the Brazilian Government to lend our expertise, to show our support, to do what we can, along with other nations across the world, to preserve the Amazon rainforest and, of course, to protect environmental activists and indigenous people in those countries. It would also be helpful to hear whether the Brazilian Government’s attitude towards these disasters, and the prevention of them in future, has changed since President Lula took office. Obviously, our Government would know that and notice that.

We must of course champion those many excellent British companies that do good work abroad—there are many—but it is also right that we hold them to account for any wrongdoing. Given the tragic stories and experiences we have heard about today, does the Minister agree that British companies should be held to account in British courts for their actions across the world? No company should be able to greenwash its image by painting itself as a net zero leader while at the same time mining the minerals needed for the energy transition in the way that some have done. They simply cannot give with one hand and take away with the other.

I was appalled to learn that this disaster and the actions that followed it disproportionately hurt indigenous peoples and many people of colour. A community in the municipality of Marinara that is closest to the dam and was most affected by the disaster has a population that is 84.3% comprised of black Brazilians.

Will the British Government collaborate on an international law on ecocide to make damage to our ecology, our planet and our environment an internationally recognised criminal offence? The Opposition certainly support that, and it would be good to collaborate with the British Government.

Finally, I pay tribute to Pogust Goodhead, the firm assisting the victims with their case—but mainly to the over 700,000 victims, a few of whom have shown outstanding courage by travelling to the United Kingdom to let English courts know the true extent of the disaster. For the sake of Bento Rodrigues, the town destroyed by the disaster, the Doce river, which was severely polluted, and the 39 municipalities that felt the environmental catastrophe on their doorstep, this injustice must be put right.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) on securing this debate. I am grateful for his contribution and for those of the hon. Members for Slough (Mr Dhesi), for Falkirk (John Mc Nally) and for Leeds North East (Fabian Hamilton), and I will address their question. I am standing in for the Minister with responsibility for South America, my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley), who is in North America as I speak, but I am pleased to be here on his behalf.

This November marks the eighth anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history, the bursting of the Mariana dam. We have heard a moving evocation of the human impact and the scale of it in the state of Minas Gerais. The dam failure released some 60 million cubic metres of toxic waste, which claimed 19 lives, wrecked towns, villages and livelihoods and deeply affected indigenous communities, as has been discussed at length. The flow of waste travelled 600 km to the Atlantic ocean, destroying water supplies, natural habitats and livestock, with effects that are still being felt today. I add my condolences to those that have been expressed in the Chamber today to all those affected, particularly the families and friends of those who died.

There is, understandably, much interest in the compensation made available to those affected by the catastrophe. As has been mentioned, there is an ongoing legal case against the mining company BHP—it operates in Brazil through a company called Samarco, which managed the dam. It is not appropriate for me to comment on matters pertaining to those legal proceedings, but I can share with the Chamber how the UK has been working to promote the safe management of tailings dams in Brazil since that calamitous disaster.

In 2016, the trade and investment team at the British consulate general in Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais, took responsibility for the mining sector. From day one, it prioritised the promotion of improved technology, governance and safety standards for tailings dams. The consulate has held annual public events to showcase UK innovation and expertise in this field to Brazilian stakeholders, including from private companies, the Government, academia and civil society organisations. Those efforts have raised awareness of the critical need to improve safety standards, and they generated discussion among key players about how best to do so.

A further calamity took place in Minas Gerais state in 2019, when the collapse of the Brumadinho dam killed 270 people. In the aftermath, the Department for International Trade supported an initiative led by the Church of England Pensions Board to publish the world’s first global industry standard on tailings management to improve safety worldwide. The initiative was a collaboration with Sweden, the International Council on Mining and Metals and the United Nations. It included input from communities affected by the Brumadinho disaster, plus leading international experts and Government and mining company representatives. In 2021, the British consulate general in Belo Horizonte held workshops in partnership with the Brazilian Government and the United Nations environment programme to promote this new global standard in Brazil. More than 1,000 participants joined the online workshops, convening leading figures from the Brazilian mining sector, academia and civil society.

Also in 2021, the British embassy in Brasilia signed a memorandum of understanding with the prosecutor’s office in the state of Minas Gerais to collaborate on technology and transparency standards for the management of tailings dams. That led to the launch in May 2022 of the world’s first independent tailings dam monitoring centre in Brazil, in collaboration with the UK Government, using British satellite monitoring systems. That was an important moment with potentially global implications. The centre applies British satellite monitoring systems, in partnership with the UK’s satellite applications catapult, to monitor a growing number of tailing dams in Brazil, thereby improving safety and transparency in their management. The learnings and best practice developed at the centre are playing, we hope, a trailblazing role in raising global safety standards and reducing the risk of similar disasters.

The Mariana dam and Brumadinho catastrophes must not be forgotten. They should serve as stark and tragic reminders of how critical it is that we work together to improve safety standards across the globe. I was interested in the question posed by the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Leeds North East, on ecocide law. I will not pre-empt any judgment of my colleague the Minister for the Americas, but I will ask that he write to the hon. Gentleman with an update on his judgments about the utility or otherwise of such ecocide law. We are reassured by the work that has already begun, with the UK at the forefront in collaboration with Brazil and working alongside the Brazilian Government to increase safety in these sorts of environments together with international partners.

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have made contributions. If we were to put together all our thoughts, they would be that regulation is needed across the world, not just for companies here in the United Kingdom but globally. Hon. Members referred to the need to speak up for those who have no voice, and it is important to ensure that that happens; the hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) outlined that very well. The right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), in an intervention, said that the UK can lead; we could and we should, and we look for that to be the case. The hon. Member for Falkirk (John Mc Nally) reiterated the important issue of how we can work better together on behalf of people who have been maligned and affected by this. As always, the hon. Member for Leeds North East (Fabian Hamilton) encapsulated the issue very simply but directly. We must stand up for the indigenous people. The world must also get together, and we must work in tandem.

I thank the Minister, who was standing in but has understood what we are requesting. I have written down what we are looking for. He reminded us that this was one of the worst disasters in the world, but that others have taken place as well. He told us about the effect on livestock, animals, people, houses and the environment. He referred to how safe management must be the conclusion we wish to have, and said that there must be a new global standard across the world. He referred to a satellite system as well, which is another way of monitoring what is going on and keeping better track of it. He also reminded us, at the end, that it must never be forgotten. The reason we are here today is simply that it will not be forgotten. We have asked our Government and the Minister to take forward the issue where they can to help and assist those people—we met them in January or February this year—who sometimes think that nobody knows about them. Well, today in this House we have ensured that the world knows about them and their quest, and the role that our Government can perhaps play in that.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered the Mariana dam disaster.

Sitting suspended.