§ Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 2, line 7, leave out from "to" to second "to" in line 9 and insert "a right of appeal"
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Marcus Fox)
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this we may take amendments Nos. 2 to 4, 158 to 168, 223, 233 to 241, and 264.
§ Mr. Fox
Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are technical and merely correct the drafting of clause 1 so that it accurately reflects the contents of the schedule that is dependent upon it.
Amendment No. 4 makes a minor correction to the drafting of subsection (6) so as to reflect more accurately the contents of schedule 6. It adds new subsections (7) and (8) which introduce respectively the highways and road traffic 231 provisions of a new schedule to follow schedule 6.
Amendment No. 168 adds a new schedule to the Bill, after schedule 6. This restores to the Bill provisions which had originally been included in the No. 1 Bill but which were omitted from the No. 2 Bill because of pressure of time. However, in the other place we were persuaded to reinstate them in the form of a schedule. They are largely uncontroversial and represent Government policy. They serve to relax ministerial controls over local authorities' highways and road traffic functions. There are many examples, such as the provision of pedestrian crossings and even disputes over bus shelters, which under present legislation have to be referred to the Secretary of State.
Amendment No. 158 is a drafting amendment that makes the relaxation of controls more specific. Amendment No. 159 deals with the removal of the requirement for the Secretary of State to confirm orders creating smoke control areas. Confirmation will no longer be necessary for orders made in the future, but there are two exceptions for which provision is necessary. The first is a transitional exception because there are a number of smoke control orders that are awaiting confirmation. Some cannot be dealt with before this Bill becomes law because of the need to arrange and hold public inquiries. This amendment provides for those situations to be dealt with under the existing procedures, and for a decision to be made on confirmation.
The second exception concerns future orders that might vary or revoke existing smoke control orders. Undertakings were given in Committee that the removal of controls would not lead to a lowering of national environmental standards. By this amendment we are ensuring that, in the unlikely event of a local authority wishing to revoke smoke control, the decision will be subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State. We regard this ultimate safeguard as important in the implementation of our agreement with the European Community for an air quality standard on smoke and sulphur dioxide.
Amendment No. 160 is a minor correction intended to make clear that the purpose of paragraph 3 of schedule 2 is to delete the words from the second "or" 232 in section 31(6) of the Clean Air Act 1956. That is to remove the need for the Minister to be involved in any disagreement between local authorities as to which should deal with any premises that straddle the boundaries between them.
Amendment No. 159 rewords paragraph 2 of schedule 2 in order to provide that the power of confirmation will apply to any orders already made but not confirmed at the date of Royal Assent. They also require confirmation for any future order, varying and revoking orders already confirmed by the Secretary of State. This amendment is consequential upon the alterations to paragraph 2.
Amendment No. 166 is consequential on amendments Nos. 162 and 163. These amendments do not alter the Government's intention to relax the Secretary of State's regulation-making powers in respect of condition and use of receptacles for the control of waste.
Amendments Nos. 164, 165 and 236 refer to the prohibition of parking to facilitate street cleaning and are intended to clarify the position under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 now that all but one of the Secretary of State's regulation-making powers are to be repealed.
Amendment No. 167 provides for a smooth transition in the removal of the Secretary of State's powers of confirmation of noise abatement orders. It is identical in intention to the first part of amendment No. 159 on smoke control orders and it allows noise abatement orders which have already been made to be completed under the existing procedures.
The effect of amendment No. 223 is to preserve the right of a tenant of a cottage holding to appeal to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food against the refusal of his county council landlord to allow the improvement of that holding.
Amendment No. 233 is a minor correction intended only to make clear that the purpose of paragraph 3 of schedule 2 is to delete the words from the second "or" in section 31(6) of the Clean Air Act 1956. That is to remove the need for the Minister to be involved in any disagreement between local authorities as to which should deal with any premises 233 which straddle the boundaries between them.
Amendment No. 234 is a technical amendment required to ensure consistency between this schedule and schedule 2, paragraph 3(2), which excluded Scotland from the repeal of the control contained in section 31(6) of the Clean Air Act 1956.
Amendment No. 235 is concerned with paragraph 2 of schedule 2, which removes the requirement in section 11(1) of the Clean Air Act 1956 for smoke control orders to be confirmed by the Minister. These amendments provide for further repeals consequential upon the loss of this power.
Amendment No. 237 again refers to paragraph 2 of schedule 2, removing the requirement in section 11(1) of the Clean Air Act 1956 for the smoke control orders to be reconfirmed by the Minister. The amendment provides for further repeals consequential upon the loss of those powers.
Amendments Nos. 238 and 239 are purely technical amendments to remove reference to two provisions which the Bill erroneously repeals.
Amendment No. 264 is again a technical amendment to ensure that the long title is fully consonant with the detailed provisions in schedules 1 to 7. The relaxations of controls contained in the Bill extend not only to local authorities but to other public bodies such as river purification boards, thereby necessitating the amendment.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 4 agreed to.