HC Deb 03 February 1982 vol 17 cc436-7


'Section 12 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (Collection and Disposal of Controlled Waste) shall have effect subject to the following amendments:—

  1. (a) section 12(1)(b) (which imposes a duty to arrange for the collection of commercial waste) shall cease to have effect;
  2. (b) at the end of section 12(1) there should be added the following subsection—
  3. "(1)(A) Each collection authority may, if requested by the occupier of premises in its area to collect commercial waste from the premises, arrange for the collection of the waste". '—[Mr. Mates.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Michael Mates (Petersfield)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Sections 12 to 14 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 have remained unimplemented since the Bill became law. The main reason is that the present power under section 73 of the Public Health Act 1936 to collect trade refuse is converted by section 12(1)(b) into a duty to collect commercial waste. Some rural councils do not provide such a service and the introduction of that section could mean additional expenditure on vehicles, administration of rounds and additional staff—a cost put in 1977 at just over £1 million a year.

The new clause would turn the prospective duty to collect commercial waste into a power. That would avoid additional public expenditure, which cannot be afforded, and pave the way for the Government to lay an order, bringing the section into force. I commend the new clause to the House.

Mr. Macfarlane

It may help if I preface my comments by recalling the purpose of the Bill. It is to enact, in general legislation, powers for which there is evidence of national need by their inclusion in local authority rationalisation Bills introduced into Parliament.

The new clause has not appeared in any rationalisation Bill so far introduced. Although that alone does not demonstrate that there is no demand by local authorities for the proposed change from a duty to a discretion to collect commercial waste on request, it shows that the Bill is not an appropriate vehicle for such a clause.

Except in the case of inner London boroughs, which already have a duty to collect trade refuse on request, local authorities currently have only discretion to do so. The decision to change from a discretion to a duty under section 12 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 was based on a recommendation contained in the Browne report on refuse, storage and collection in 1967, which suggested that an obligation would reduce the burning and illicit disposal of trade refuse, with obvious benefits to the environment. Implementation of sections 12 to 14 has been deferred due to the continuing restraint on public expenditure, but that decision is under active review.

The Association of District Councils has been asked for information on costs so that public expenditure implications can be taken fully into account in the decision. In the context of this review, the question of a relaxation of the obligation to collect commercial waste is a very relevant issue and I can assure my hon. Friend that it will be taken fully into account when the estimate of costs are available. I hope that that will be sooner rather than later and I hope that my hon. Friend will see fit to withdraw this clause.

Mr. Mates

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's reply and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

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