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Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL]

Volume 818: debated on Friday 4 February 2022

Third Reading

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill, has consented to her place her interest, so far as it is affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.


Moved by

My Lords, I thank the many people who have been involved in the life of this Bill. It started very much as an imitation of our Welsh friends’ and cousins’ Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act. This Bill was inspired by that. I remind noble Lords that it was also inspired by the fact that I came into the House to prevent poverty and not to make the poor slightly more comfortable than they were before I came in. I have always started from the premise that what is important is finding preventive methods, methodologies and systems that allow us to intervene before the problem presents itself. As we always seem to be living and treading on the mistakes of the past—past interventions, past actions, past acts and past activities—it is important that we look again at how we can prevent the future from being a poor version of the present and the past.

Therefore, I thank all the people who got behind this. The APPG for Future Generations has been sterling, as has the steering committee. I also thank my office, whose members are up there somewhere. They have worked very hard and led me on this. They have pushed me, cajoled me and supported me to ensure that we were in places where we could influence the decision-makers. I spent a lot of time talking to members of the Government. It is surprising that certain departments are very much for the idea of a future generations Bill becoming an Act. Obviously, there are others who will find it difficult.

I thank the many Peers from all sides of the House who have said to me that this is a very good Bill, which we must see go through to the other place and not get kicked into the long grass simply because the Government cannot make the time. I cannot think of anything else to say except thank you very much and God bless you all.

My Lords, we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, not only for bringing this Bill forward and thus allowing the important issues that it encompasses to be debated in your Lordships’ House but for displaying today the customary flourish and passion that he brings to his contributions. That noble Lords endorse the need for such a Bill was clear at Second Reading, when 36 spoke in a debate that lasted in excess of two hours. With very few exceptions, the Bill’s aim to ensure that government policy-making takes into account the interests of future generations was warmly welcomed.

I will not repeat any of the arguments, but I will repeat a line that I used at Second Reading. The question should not be what the cost will be of pursuing the actions called for in the Bill but rather what the cost will be of not doing so. The Government adopted a strong stance at COP 26 and worked hard to build support for it, surprising many of us who had not anticipated that they would do so. That demonstrated an understanding of the issues that were facing future generations and the need to act decisively now. A positive response today by the Minister would not only reinforce that forward-looking approach by the Government but would allow this Bill to move to another place with a fair wind behind it. I very much hope that, here and in another place, the Government are equal to that challenge.

My Lords, I will not delay the House but I just want to reinforce the words of the noble Lord, Lord Bird, and my noble friend Lord Watson. I had the privilege of speaking at Second Reading. On a day when the figures of young people being referred to the child and adolescent mental health services should disturb us all, the future of our generations—of our young people, our children and grandchildren, our nephews and nieces—and the importance of prevention and early intervention should be at the top of the agenda. I can see no reason why the Government would oppose this Bill.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.