It is a great privilege to follow the generous addresses that we have just heard.

 

For decades, the Prince of Wales has been a champion of the natural environment, and I want to take a moment of the House’s time to comment on that. Some people have pejoratively described it as meddling; I would call it contributing. He has been way ahead of most of us on many of these issues. He was talking about the danger of plastics in our oceans decades ago. His work on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change caused, at times, criticism—but again, he was way ahead of his time. Now he speaks a language that really has a remarkable affinity right across the political divide in this country. He raised these issues when it was unfashionable to do so. There is also his work on promoting the circular economy, which is now being mainstreamed by all parties in this House, moving away from the “extract, use, dump” culture to one that really does deal with how we use our natural resources in this country. In his book “Harmony”, which he co-wrote with Tony Juniper, he connected the environment with related issues such as health and wellbeing in a way that was really prescient for its time.

Let me conclude by mentioning—I think that this has already been commented on—his power as a convenor. There are very few people in this world who have the power to say, “There is a problem, which we need to talk about,” and world leaders, captains of industry and cultural figures will then jump on a plane to go to any corner of the world to engage in that problem. I have seen at first hand how he has been able to do that on issues such as oceans and fisheries and wildlife crime, with the extraordinary work of his International Sustainability Unit.

I am not a constitutional expert, so I cannot say what is or is not possible in the future. However, I want to take this opportunity to thank His Royal Highness for what he has provided and, I hope, will continue to provide—that is, thought, dialogue, reason and challenge.