Minister misleads

s216_LordDeMauley-1aI was talking to a former, very distinguished, colleague yesterday about the environmental question time event the week before last, and how Rupert (Lord) de Mauley was so slippery and smooth that nobody could get hold of him. He was like a Turkish wrestler covered in olive oil.

But his statement, which I have now checked on the recording of the event (at 16 min 20 secs), that ‘the Chief Executive of Natural England is confident that we can achieve our strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020’ has been worrying me.  Surely no long-serving government Minister could believe this? Did Lord de Mauley misread his notes? Mis-speak? Or misunderstand? Whichever it was he misled the audience as there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that we will halt the loss of biodiversity in England by 2020 – and certainly not with the feeble measures, badly implemented, that have been the inadequate response of Lord de Mauley and his fellow Ministers.

Maybe Defra would like to clarify this amazing statement.






15 Replies to “Minister misleads”

  1. Well spotted………….Orwellian double speak.

    I agree and maybe you could clarify why you think this impossible (?) and would wider reform of the CAP help; should we be asking for greater flexibility from Europe to modulate all the 3.3 billion into Pillar 2 by 2020 ?

  2. I understand it is allowable for ministers to lie their faces off in Commons and Lords……? In fact lying is now the norm; they hardly realise they’re doing it. I heard that selection of candidates and ministers now involves a kind of reverse lie-detector test.

    1. Their protection is by virtue of parliamentary priviledge, obviously far superior to that which the poor environment or wildlife receives?

      1. Parliamentary privilege is only available to MPs inside the House of Commons & for peers in the Lords. Not outside. So MPs can’t be sued for liable/ defamation if they are giving a speech in the Commons. But repeat that speech outside…

        However, whilst they can state that X is a vile beast quite safely in the Commoms , they can’t call X a liar! Liar is unparliamentary language. Winston Churchill got round this by accusing an MP of terminological inexactitudes!

        So if Lord de Mauley has made erroneous claims then he ought to be questioned on these. However, I would suggest his response, if there is one, would be along the lines of, “Well that is your opinion, I couldn’t possibly comment.”

  3. Yes, Lord de Mauley had a particularly slippery and smooth week. Answering a question in the Lords (Hansard source Citation: HL Deb, 17 March 2015, c998) about Forest Holidays and backdoor privatisation of the Public Forest Estate, the noble Lord managed to show just how firmly he is on top of his brief when he stated that
    “Forest Holidays also has its own site selection criteria, which exclude any site where there are significant environmental constraints.”
    Does he have any idea what happened at Fineshade Woods? (LINK TO VARIOUS BLOGS) Has he seen and checked for himself FH’s selection criteria? Has he even checked that these criteria exist?

    He also stated “In practice, Forest Holidays is unlikely to be able to progress a site if it
    does not have the full support of the Forestry Commission.” It certainly seems that they were not able to progress the Fineshade site but it was not because of lack of support from the Commission, but rather because of local democracy at work – East Northants Councillors listened to the ecological arguments and decided to protect the woodland species and habitats – something that the Commission itself was singularly unprepared to do.

  4. Well, I thought it was worth a go…

    xx xx MP
    House of Commons
    SW1A 0AA

    Re. Statement by Defra minister on halting the loss of biodiversity

    Dear xx

    I hope this finds you well.

    I know the general election is fast approaching and with it the dissolution of Parliament, but I wonder if you could clarify something for me.

    The Environment Minister Lord de Mauley is quoted as stating at a recent Environmental Question Time event in London that:

    “the Chief Executive of Natural England is confident that we can achieve our strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020”

    This would be a remarkable turnaround given the picture revealed by the 2013 ‘State of Nature’ report (see for example You may recall this report is a collaboration between 25 UK conservation and research organisations and revealed that nature is declining at an alarming rate: 60 per cent of the species studied have declined over recent decades. Furthermore more than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from these islands altogether.

    I wonder therefore if Defra, Natural England or the minister could provide more detail on how this ambitious target to halt biodiversity loss will be achieved by 2020? In particular, which specific measures initiated by the current government and in future plans will help those wildlife habitats and species in most trouble which would lead the minister to make such a confident statement? Details of targeted actions which would make such a decisive difference to the fortunes of our wildlife would I am sure be widely welcomed. What milestones does the government have year on year to progress towards meeting this target? How is progress against these milestones to be measured and success judged? Where will these results be published and publicised? Will they be independently scrutinized, for example by the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee? Is the government committed to act on any further recommendations? And is Defra confident that whatever the makeup of the next government this target can be met by measures already in place, or where they are aware there is already cross party commitment to environmental measures that will achieve this aim? Again, can Defra provide more details?

    Thank you, as ever, in anticipation of your reply.

  5. I would say that Lord de Mauley may well believe in what he said. However that being so and with all the evidence of the desperate situation that nature and biodiversity is now facing, his statement clearly shows that he has little, if any, grasp of his subject and that he is, therefore, the wrong person for the job he holds.

    1. “he has little, if any, grasp of his subject”

      Situation normal. That’s not how it works. Opens mouth, out comes briefing.

  6. Sorry, I am failing to spot the untruth from the minister. It’s a straight forward reporting of a statement by the brand new NE CEO. It’s veracity could be checked with the NE CEO. The interesting question is whether Lord De Mauley believes that we are on target to halt the decline I’m biodiversity by 2020. An impossible question for him to answer!

    1. matt – well presumably Rupert wouldn’t repeat something he thought was untrue. Surely not.

    2. Sorry Matt but why impossible to answer?

      If NE haven’t been collecting data and cannot therefore provide statistics then that is the reply surely?

      If those pesky badgers keep moving the goalposts or the cull of scientific staff within the organisation is such that they are no longer able to gather data, then that too is an answer?

      Sadly in our region there is far more focus on transforming NNRs to country theme parks than undertaking science to inform Favourable Condition Status &c.

      What Lord De Mauley believes is not likely to have any scientific foundation so would it really be of interest?

      1. Impossible to answer because he risks losing all credibility if he says he thinks it is true, and he risks losing his NE CEO if he says he dosen’t believe him!

  7. Overall, it was a fascinating debate and so much the better to hear more detailed answers than the usual sound bites we normally get from politicians on environmental issues.
    For me, it was the Lib Dem and Labour spokespeople who were on top of their briefs.

    The Conservative spokesman only left his script when talking about ileagal wildlife trade. The event was livened up by UKIP – worth watching if only to hear the comments on Countryfile!

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