Mark’s mission to change the world

Backbench power is making all kinds of waves in the House of Commons. One man definitely making his mark is Labour/Co-op MP Mark Lazarowicz. Just 48 hours after...

Backbench power is making all kinds of waves in the House of Commons.
One man definitely making his mark is Labour/Co-op MP Mark Lazarowicz. Just 48 hours after the historic Government defeat over 90-day detention, the House gave a Second Reading to his "Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill"
Along with fellow Co-op MPs Andy Love, David Taylor and Linda Riordan, Mark had rebelled on the Government&#039s plans to bring in 90-day detention. But it was not a role which he relished in the slightest.
"I was very disappointed that it was not possible to reach a consensus. I think that could have been resolved and it&#039s the first time I have ever voted against the Government."
Happily, there is a growing groundswell of support for his Bill, which places a requirement on the Government to report to Parliament on a yearly basis – and aims to promote renewable energy sources, including microgeneration and renewable heat.
The original motion was supported by 232 MPs from across the political spectrum but it&#039s still early days and the path of Private Members&#039 Bills is a notoriously tricky one. However, the MP for Edinburgh North and Leith is optimistic that his legislation will make it to the statute book.
"I think the prospects are good but there are still some backwoodsmen on the Tory benches who we have to convince.
"However I have lots of front bench support; the Government has supported my Bill throughout. It&#039s not easy getting even small-scale measures through via a Private Member&#039s Bill. But I was lucky in the ballot and very fortunate in getting a lot of support from MPs and NGOs."
Mark, 52, has been lobbying for environmental change for many years. "There is now significantly greater public concern and it&#039s important that we reflect that," he said.
"Issues like climate change affect all of us. I believe recent events like the hurricanes in the US and last year&#039s tsunami are linked to global warming and environmental concerns. It&#039s in all our interests to do something about it."
Mark regrets that a second Bill, the Management of Energy in Buildings Bill promoted by Alan Whitehead MP, was prevented from receiving its Second Reading – due to action by a few backbench Conservative MPs.
But for now he is focusing on the positive implications which his proposals will have on the environment if they get the go-ahead.
"The backing my Bill received shows there is the political will to tackle our carbon emissions and promote renewable energy.
"We need to turn this will into action and I hope this Bill will become law and make this possible. Reducing emissions encourages communities to take control of their own energy choices.
"International agreements and international action are necessary and important but we have our own role at home to play too in combating climate change.
"The UK has committed itself to a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, but on recent trends we will struggle to achieve that.
"My Bill, if passed, will help to put the UK back on track to reach its targets for cutting greenhouse gases, and also to help individual householders play their part in helping to tackle climate change."
Throughout his campaign, Mark received backing from influential environmental bodies like Friends of the Earth and the Micropower Council.
The Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill will now go on to the Committee stage in the House of Commons.
People interested in helping it become law can visit the Co-operative Party website ( to keep informed on what comes next, and when and how to lobby their MPs to help the Bill get through the Report stage.
Mark says he is very proud of the Co-op&#039s record in campaigning for a greener world.
Born in Romford in 1953, he was educated at St Andrews and Edinburgh universities and pursued a career as an Advocate at the Scottish Bar.
A member of the Labour Party for more than 30 years, Mark served as a Labour Councillor on the City of Edinburgh Council from 1980 to 1996, and then from 1999 to 2001.
He was Leader of the Council from 1986 to 1993, and was the Council&#039s Executive Member with responsibility for transport from 1999 to 2001.
He was responsible for starting the largest programme of 20mph zones in any Scottish council. Mark also successfully promoted bids for &#163 20 million extra funding from the Scottish Executive to promote road and pavement repairs, and bus route improvements including the now operational West Edinburgh busway system, and safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists
In 2001, he was elected as an MP. Since his election to Westminster, he has taken a keen interest in a range of issues including climate change and the environment, debt and personal finance, road safety, trade justice and international development, and the future of the European Union and the United Nations.
In 2002 Mark successfully piloted his Private Members&#039 Bill – the Employee Share Schemes Bill – through the House of Commons and has also served on the Commons Committees which scrutinised the Consumer Credit Bill, and the Gangmasters Bill, and the Proceeds of Crime Bill.
Married with three sons and one daughter, he is a founder member of the centre-left think-tank, the Centre for Scottish Public Policy.
He says: "I think co-op ideals are as valid today as they ever were. The Co-op Party has been at the forefront of looking at new ways of meeting our energy needs and encouraging community enterprises which encourage that. That&#039s something we can really be proud of."

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