Here's the early Hansard record of my Westminster Hall debate today on "The Livestock Industry's Impact on Climate Change" (which despite what all my colleagues have been saying to me today is not just about flatulent cows!) Always a bit weird reading things in Hansard as it doesn't convey the spirit in which certain things were said. The Minister requoted the line that becoming vegetarian does more to combat climate change than switching to a hybrid car, and then said she had no intention of doing either (although she did tell me afterwards that her ministerial car is a Honda hybrid). I made what at the time seemed like a humorous intervention, saying I wanted it put on the record that I drove a Smart car. In cold print that just looks completely off topic! Or a bit smug. Actually I said Smart car roadster - the roadster bit is very important, it's not one of those funny little things. Wonder if it's too late to amend Hansard? Or maybe I could bring it up on a point of order after business questions tomorrow? We have to set the record straight!
Bit disappointed with the Minister's response. In fact, I got the impression that the objective was to say as little as possible... or as little on the actual topic as possible. For example, this: "Traditionally, here in the UK meat is an important source of protein, iron, calcium, zinc and other vitamins and minerals. I have a lot of sympathy with those who say that there is no such thing as bad food, that it is the diet that we get wrong and that we need a balanced diet and must exercise greater portion control. Delia Smith was arguing for that just the other day and I think that she is right." Fine, yes, it's one viewpoint, but nothing to do with the topic we were debating. (Her boss, Hilary Benn, is of course a vegetarian).
The main problem was that the Minister is from Defra, and so was only briefed to talk about UK agriculture and to stick up for British farming, whereas as I made clear in my opening speech, it's a global issue, and it requires global action. Reducing the environmental footprint of UK agriculture is just tinkering at the margins. So we really need to take the debate to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Of course what I should have done was raise all this during the passage of the Climate Change Bill, but I was preoccupied with other things at the time and was kind of hoping someone else would do so. Someone who's not a vegan.