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Future Generations Bill takes first step towards becoming law

Big Issue founder Lord John Bird gave the draft legislation a first reading for a third time in the House of Lords on Thursday

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill has begun its passage into law after Lord John Bird introduced the bill in the House of Lords on Thursday.

The Big Issue founder gave the private member’s bill its first reading for a third time in Westminster after 2019’s General Election and the pandemic delayed its passage through the house.

The draft legislation aims to ensure all non-devolved public bodies work to national wellbeing goals to improve people’s lives across the country and prevent short-term decision-making on long-term issues such as poverty and climate change.

Lord Bird gave the bill a whirlwind one minute and 22 second introduction to the chamber. He said: “I beg to introduce a bill to make provision for a public consultation to inform a set of national wellbeing goals, to require public bodies to act in pursuit of the United Kingdom’s environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing by meeting wellbeing objectives, publishing future generations impact assessments and accounting for preventative spending.”

The crossbench peer also spoke of the bill’s requirement for the Office of Budget Responsibility to “consider wellbeing” and to “add a duty to promote a future generations principle across government policy” for ministers in government departments.

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Lord Bird also said the bill will require a joint-parliamentary committee on future generations to be created if it makes it into law.

The first reading is the first of five stages of scrutiny that the private member’s bill must pass in the Lords before doing the same in the Commons. Only once it has passed through both houses and received royal assent from the Queen will the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill come into force.

Peers will have their first chance to debate the bill at its second reading on June 25.

The bill’s supporters can get involved with The Big Issue’s Today for Tomorrow campaign. People are being urged to ask their local MP to attend a virtual parliamentary reception of the campaign’s report on the political expediency of long-term policy making on June 30.

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