Written evidence submitted by Caroline
Lucas MP |
I am writing with a short submission to ask your
committee to consider two proposals to help reduce the carbon
footprint of catering department.
The first proposal is to ask you to consider the
attached correspondence that I have had with Sue Harrison, the
Director of Catering and Retail Services for the Commons. As you
will note, along with colleagues from other parties, I wrote to
ask if Ms Harrison and her counterpart in the House of Lords would
consider introducing "Meat Free Monday" (MFM) to the
catering outlets in Parliament.
You may already be aware of this campaign, the central
message of which is what a difference one meat free day can make
to the environment.
Livestock farming is now recognised as a significant
contributor to today's greatest environmental problems. According
to the United Nations, it is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse
gas emissions, more than the entire transport sector combined.
Parliament could send a powerful message and set
a great example by designating one day a week as Meat-Free.
As you will note, I made the above points in my letter
to Ms Harrison. However, as you will imagine, I was disappointed
in Ms Harrison's negative response, based on her fear that MFM
would be "deeply divisive and disruptive". I would like
to try and address her concern in this submission as I feel this
is a misconception and that we could move forward on this issue.
I would like to clarify that the MFM idea is that
it wouldn't be possible to buy meat in Parliament on that day,
not that anyone would be told not to eat it. The aim of making
one day meat free is not to "enforce an eating regime"rather
it is instead very much about encouraging people to take a day
a week "off" eating meat to help save the planet. If
someone wanted to eat a ham sandwich on the Parliamentary Estate
on a Monday of course they could!
There is cross party consensus that climate change
is the biggest issue facing human-kind. I would suggest that if
properly explained a MFM in Parliament might create a minority
of vocal detractors but in reality I believe it would command
widespread support and would not be divisive.
The Committee will no doubt have noticed publication
today of WWF's bi-annual Living Planet report. The key finding
of which is that humanity's demands exceed our planet's capacity
to sustain us. MFM could be part of Parliament's response to this
and show us to be taking a lead on climate change and the crucial
issue of reducing our carbon footprint.
I do urge the Committee to give active consideration
to the MFM proposal. Given the extremely high standard of vegetarian
cooking by Parliament's catering services, this would in my view
be easily achievable whilst operating a MFM policy.
Finally, I would also ask the Committee to consider
recommending the introduction of a financial disincentive to using
take-away paper cups and plastic lids whilst at the same time
making available re-usable travel/thermos mugs for takeaway hot
Sue Harrison Director of Catering & Retail Services
Tim Lamming Head of Catering and Retail Services
Dear Sue and Tim,
Meat Free Monday
We are writing to ask if you would consider introducing
Meat Free Monday to the catering outlets in Parliament. You may
already be aware of this campaign, the central message of which
is what a difference one meat free day can make.
Farming and slaughtering animals is now recognised
as a significant contributor to today's greatest environmental
problems. According to the United Nations, animal farming is responsible
for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire
transport sector combined. As well as saving carbon, reducing
the amount of meat in our diets will also help improve health.
Parliament could send a powerful message and set
a great example by designating one day a week as Meat-Free and
we very much hope that you will be supportive of this initiative.
We look forward to your response.
CAROLINE LUCAS MP
JOHN LEECH MP
Caroline Lucas MP
John Leech MP
Kerry McCarty MP
9 September 2010
Dear Ms Lucas, Mr Leech and Ms McCarthy
Thank you for your email asking me to consider introducing
Meat Free Monday into the catering outlets in the House of Commons.
I have, indeed, already heard of this campaign and am aware of
the issues it is highlighting.
As you can imagine, we receive many similar requests
to support campaigns for one thing or another. A few, such as
Fairtrade Fortnight, we regularly support. However, in considering
a request, I must balance the interests of Members, or others,
making the application against the interests of our customers.
The cafeterias and restaurants in the House of Commons are primarily
provided as a place for Members and staff to take a meal break
away from their work or to offer hospitality, and it is the responsibility
of my Department to provide food that is not only nutritious and
appetising, but also food that they want to eat.
Much as some Members and staff would undoubtedly
share your support for the campaign, I fear that it would be deeply
divisive and disruptive to enforce an eating regimeeven
for one daythat denied our customers the opportunity to
eat meat if they so choose. On that basis, regret that I am unable
to support your proposition.
Director of Catering and Retail Services