On 2 November, the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords, with strong cross-party support.
Baroness Jenny Jones’ speech to the House:
“I wish to record my thanks to this whole House for letting my Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill progress so quickly after topping the ballot of Private Members’ Bills.
“As it heads to the Other Place, I would like to highlight four quick points.
“First, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Great Smog, we should learn its greatest lesson which is to take action! The Clean Air Act 1956 showed how clean air legislation can drive innovation and deliver dramatic gains for a healthier, happier and fairer society. It also made us a world leader.
“Second, Parliament has the need, the power and the opportunity to enshrine the human right to clean air precisely and explicitly in England and Wales law. Doing so would improve the quality of decision-making at all levels of government overnight.
“Third, my Bill is reasonable. It would: establish the right to breathe clean air; set clean air targets for air pollutants and greenhouse gases; set deadlines while allowing postponements; encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency; and ensure a proportional approach to enforcement.
“Fourth I would like to remind the Government that the very first Clean Air Act was enacted by a Conservative government after Sir Gerald Nabarro MP, a Conservative MP, topped the Private Members’ Ballot with a Clean Air Bill that would implement the Beaver Committee’s recommendations for action after the Great Smog.
“I hope therefore that MPs will support my Bill and that the Government will allow it time to progress in the Other Place and reach Royal Assent. If the Government doesn’t, I hope that all other political parties will adopt it in their manifestos for the next election.
“Lastly, I wish to pay tribute to Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah who is with us again today. I hope that this House’s action in sending my Bill to the Other Place will demonstrate, more clearly than I can say, that we hear her call for action.
“My Lords, I give you Ella’s Law.”
The Bill now proceeds to the House of Commons. Please tell your MP that you expect them to support the Bill and its aims, in particular the need to bring air quality in our towns and cities to minimum World Health Organization standards.
The 70th anniversary of the Great Smog of London is this week. Air pollution is less visible than it was in 1952, but it still kills about 40,000 people a year in the UK. We need a new Clean Air Act. We need the right to breathe clean air to be recognised as a basic human right.
That is what Ella’s Law would do. It would save tens of thousands of lives a year and prevent severe ill health for countless others.