§ 4.28 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT (BARONESS YOUNG)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Young.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD HENLEY in the Chair.]
BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 1:
Before Clause 1 insert the following new clause:
§ Duty of public authorities to have regard to pollution
§ (" . It shall be the duty of all public authorities in reaching decisions affecting the use of land, water or air to have regard to possible pollution, including noise, arising therefrom, and to take all practicable steps towards the avoidance or mitigation of such pollutant effects; in particular, it shall be the duty of a planning authority to obtain all possible information on the likely pollutant effect of any proposed development and, where necessary, to attach appropriate conditions to any consent which may be given.")
§ The noble Baroness said: As your Lordships are aware, we on this side of the Committee in general terms very much welcome this Bill and wish, so far as possible, to be entirely co-operative in its passage. I hope that it will not seem too carping if I draw to the attention of your Lordships the fact that, according to my computation, there are no fewer than 91 Government Amendments on the Order Paper for Committee stage. Very few of these arise out of our deliberations on Second Reading. It is proper to draw attention to this fact, because it means that we shall have to spend a good deal of time in this House going through the formalities of passing what are sometimes Amendments of substance but a good many of them drafting Amendments which, quite frankly, one hoped would have been sorted out before the Bill came before us. I mention this because we may have a fairly long Committee stage, and I should not wish any noble Lords who are not closely involved in our discussions on the Bill to suppose that the number of Amendments on the Order Paper is all due to Parties on this side of the House.
§ I beg to move the first Amendment which stands in my name and that of my noble friend, Lord Garnsworthy. I do this because I know from a number of representations which I have received from those who are concerned with amenity and the avoidance of pollution 1305 that they feel that this Bill, although it is an admirable Bill so far as it goes, misses an opportunity to make plain how seriously we take this whole question of dealing with pollution. It therefore appears to us to be right and proper that at the outset of the Bill we should have some kind of declaratory statement making it clear that we regard pollution in all its aspects as something which is thoroughly undesirable and something which is to be avoided in so far as it is possible to avoid it. As I said when we were discussing the Bill in general terms on Second Reading, there is a declaratory section in the Countryside Act. This proposed new clause is not drafted in precisely the same terms, partly because we think that in this particular Bill one can be much more specific and direct in one's references to possible pollution. So we make it plain that in our view it should be the duty of all public authorities, if they are taking decisions which would affect the use of land, water or air, to have regard to possible pollution. We have mentioned noise specifically because that might not otherwise occur to them as being a form of pollution; but as there is a complete Part of this Bill concerned with it, it is very much within the general terms of this legislation.
All we are proposing in this Amendment is that public authorities should take
all practicable steps towards the avoidance or mitigation of such pollutant effects".
§ This seems to me to be something which ought to become just common practice in Government Departments and in the affairs of local authorities, public corporations or boards. One hopes that it will also enter into the consideration of private enterprises and individuals in their own personal and domestic affairs, but I think it would be unreasonable to legislate specifically for them. Your Lordships will notice that we have more especially drawn attention to one sphere of public activity; namely, that of planning authorities. That is because so often it will lie with them as to whether or not developments are permitted which could have undesirable pollutant effects. We recognise that in many activities of life there is bound to be some sort of pollution; it is inevitable. All we are saying is that it should be taken into account when decisions are reached; and 1306 a declaration that it should be taken into account would, I think, help those who sometimes carry on a fairly lonely battle. Although the forces against pollution are growing in number almost daily, I think such a declaration would help them if they felt that decisions were being taken by planning authorities which did not give adequate consideration to the possible pollutant effects of proposed development. Circumstances will vary very much from one place to another. One has especially in mind places of outstanding natural beauty, but also developments which might take place near a housing development, where people's private lives might be very much affected, as they certainly have been in the part of the country that I come from. So we think it is, as I say, right and proper that in the opening clause of this Bill we should make it plain that we are all anxious that public authorities should have this duty brought before them. Many of them, of course, observe it already, but by no means all, and we think that they should have this duty brought before them and that there should be no dubiety in the matter.
I hope that the Government will feel disposed to accept this Amendment. If they have any hesitation about it, I admit that I myself have had second thoughts about including the words, four lines from the end, "all possible". That, perhaps, was going a little too far for common sense—and I do try to be sensible in these matters. If the only objection that the Government have to the drafting of this clause is that that is perhaps asking a little too much of busy planning authorities, I should have no objection to deleting those two words, as long as they obtained
information on the likely pollutant effect of any proposed development".
But I hope very much that we may begin our deliberations on this Bill with something a good deal more positive in principle than the draftsmen of the Bill have permitted themselves so far. I beg to move.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
The noble Baroness, Lady White, has made it clear that what she has in mind is a declaratory statement at the beginning to emphasise the importance of local authorities getting down to these functions and dealing with pollution. Often situations arise in 1307 which I think a declaratory statement of that kind at the beginning of a Bill is a good plan, but I am not quite sure that it is necessary in this case. Perhaps a few years ago it might have been necessary, but public opinion and local government is now so alert to pollution in all its branches that it is hardly necessary; and the whole theme of this Bill has this precise point running through it. So I personally have some doubts whether it would be necessary, although it may be that there would be no objection at all to a declaratory statement in the right terms.
The noble Baroness mentioned the Countryside Act, and I imagine that what she has in mind is a sort of parallel statement to the one that is in that Act. I should like to ask her about the words "public authorities". Would that be intended to cover all authorities— central Government authorities, bodies sponsored by central Government, and so on? I am thinking of bodies outside—the Forestry Commission, for instance. Or would it be only local public authorities that she has in mind? I should have some doubts as to whether the word "practicable" is right here, and whether a word like "reasonable" would not be better, because some things which would be practicable would be far from reasonable.
But when I turn to the second half of this proposed declaratory statement, there are some words there which I think are rather objectionable. I agree with the noble Baroness that "all possible" is rather pushing it a little too far; but I have in mind here that planning authorities have a number of specific and clear responsibilities laid on them by various Acts, and it is a mistake to think of a planning authority as a sort of long-stop which is there just to catch anything and take some action about it. They already have to consider all relevant matters within their fields of responsibility; and, as noble Lords will agree, planning staffs are in desperately short supply at the present moment. Authorities at county and district level are finding it very difficult indeed to recruit them and in fact are outbidding one another for the staff that exists. Then, may not the words, "attach appropriate conditions" conflict with, or duplicate, the powers and duties which really would be appropri- 1308 ate to other authorities? So my conclusion is that while I see no objection to a declaratory statement if the Committee feel that it would be useful, I feel that the second half of the clause dealing with the planning authorities would be unsatisfactory in its present form.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
I have listened with interest to the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady White, in moving the Amendment, and to what was said by my noble friend Lord Amory. I think we are all sympathetic with the aim of this proposed new clause. We all want to achieve a better environment. I can assure the Committee that the Government are very serious in their intention on this matter. It follows therefore that we would, in general, want public authorities to consider the environmental consequences of any particular development. What I think needs to be done is to consider how far this proposed new clause would achieve the desired result. The clause is in two parts, and I should like to consider each section of it.
The first part lays a broad general duty on public authorities (they are not specifically defined, but I take the expression to mean in this context planning authorities) to have regard to the possible polluting effects of development, and to take steps to prevent such pollution.
§ BARONESS WHITE
If the noble Baroness, Lady White, will excuse my interrupting, I might be able to make it a little clearer to her and to the noble Viscount, Lord Amory. It does not mean in the first part only planning authorities. I have taken the phrase from the Countryside Act.every Minister, government department and public body.If it is more acceptable to spell it out in that form I do not mind.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
I thank the noble Baroness, Lady White, for that clarification. To return to the first part of this clause, it requires that public authorities or bodies shall have regard to the possible polluting effects of a development. We have looked at this carefully and I feel bound to point out that there could be real practical difficulties arising from this. If I may give one example, an individual opposed to the decision of 1309 an authority could have a very broad locus for criticising and challenging the decision of the authority on planning applications. It would be very difficult for an authority to prove that it had taken every practicable step towards the avoidance or mitigation of pollution. I think that this point was recognised by the noble Baroness, Lady White. It would be open to objectors to frustrate and delay decisions to a substantial extent, and to do so at a time when there is considerable pressure to improve waste disposal facilities.
Turning to the second half of the proposed new clause, I should like to expand a little the points made by the noble Viscount, Lord Amory. It seeks to impose a duty on a local planning authority to obtain information about the pollutant effect of a proposed development and, where necessary, to attach appropriate conditions to any consent given. It is these which could present greater difficulties. The duty of a local planning authority in deciding on planning applications is set out in Section 29 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. The authority is required to have regard to the provisions of the development plan, so far as is material to the application, and to any other material considerations, which the courts have interpreted to mean planning considerations. The authority may grant planning permission either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as it thinks fit, or refuse permission. The duties and powers are thus expressed in broad general terms. Local planning authorities are responsible for assembling any information they need to enable them to determine the application and they have power to require the applicant to supply any information they need.
We are all particularly conscious of the problem of pollution, not only because we, as a Committee, are considering this Bill, but also, and as has been said, because this is a matter of growing concern to the public at large. But I am not sure that it would be desirable to single out pollution for special attention. After all, there are many other issues that local planning authorities must consider—traffic and transportation, the effect of development on services, the need to preserve buildings or areas of architectural or historic importance, the protection of the countryside— 1310 in coming to a planning decision. Moreover, a duty to impose conditions would be inconsistent with the discretion afforded to planning authorities under the 1971 Act generally.
My Department gives advice to local planning authorities from time to time by circular about the exercise of their existing responsibilities in relation to particular topics. For example, Circular 10/73 gave advice on planning and noise; and I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady White, that not all people think of noise as being a polluting factor although of course it is included in this Bill. Guidance is being prepared on planning and clean air, including guidance about the need for information and about sources of advice. We know that many authorities make full use of their planning powers in this way to deal with pollution aspects, but this is rather different from laying a duty on a local planning authority.
I think we all hope that as a result of local government reorganisation there will be established not only larger but also more powerful authorities. I believe that authorities are now establishing committees with responsibilities to consider matters pertaining to planning and the environment, and not merely the more narrowly defined land use planning considerations which were the responsibility of former planning committees. It is always a real point for consideration how far Central Government should go in laying detailed duties on local authorities at a lime like the present, when new and stronger authorities have been established. It is open to those authorities to consider the matters which are the subject of the Amendment if they wish. I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, is right in saying that they will take them into account.
I feel it may be helpful to the Committee also to say how we anticipate that the planning powers in this Bill will be exercised. Planning permission pertaining to waste disposal operations will be a matter reserved to county councils in England. We propose, after the Bill has received the Royal Assent, to make an order under the Local Government Act to this effect, and in the meantime we are in full consultation with the local 1311 authority associations and the London boroughs about how all this will be worked out.
After what I have said it may seem that I am trying to damn this new clause completely, but I have advanced these arguments because I think it only fair that the Committee should recognise that there are real difficulties in the way of implementing the clause as it stands. But I meant what I said at the beginning, that we are sympathetic to its intention. I agree with my noble friend Lord Amory that we need—and there would be a great deal to be said for it—a general declaration of intent. As I said on Second Reading, and as I meant, we wish to look at all Amendments as sympathetically as we can and to meet the points where possible. I am therefore prepared to look at this Amendment and consider it to see whether at a later stage in the proceedings we can introduce an Amendment of our own which would take in at any rate this declaration of intent which I believe is the spirit behind the Amendment. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady White, will feel that she is able to accept my assurance on this point.
§ LORD MOLSON
I should like to say how much I welcome the speech of my noble friend Lady Young and the spirit in which she has approached this matter. I entirely agree that it is extraordinarily difficult to impose a duty on a local authority which, under the planning legislation, is bound to exercise its discretion. It is almost impossible to reconcile a mandatory instruction by Parliament with the duty of a local authority to exercise its discretion. I have therefore felt that the new clause in its present form would prove almost impossible to work. As has been said, it is in two parts. The first part, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, has said, is in considerable measure similar to the important declaratory statement in the Countryside Act, that all Government Departments and local authorities are to bear in mind the preservation of the beauty of the countryside. I remember being surprised when a Government Department, and still more the Parliamentary draftsman, agreed to some general declaration of that kind. It is not generally in the tradition of statutes, which are nearly always couched in obscure, but definite, terms. But it was 1312 a most valuable precedent; and it has done a great deal to improve the general planning of the countryside. I think, therefore, that it should be possible to follow that wise precedent, which has worked extremely well, and for the Government at a later stage to introduce an Amendment rather on the same lines.
What I should like to ask my noble friend the Minister is whether she is satisfied that the local authorities have the power, and will be able effectively to exercise the power, to find out in advance whether effluents from some new development are going to be harmful to the environment. What I should wish this clause to do would be to ensure the pollution was prevented in advance, instead of an attempt being made to rectify it after it has taken place.
We are all aware that local authorities are confronted with an extraordinarily difficult situation when a builder, for example, builds a house or erects some building which is a breach of the planning permission given or of conditions attached to it. The local authority then finds itself in the extremely embarrassing position of having to decide whether to exercise its statutory right to insist upon the building being demolished and imposing a very heavy—perhaps a disproportionately heavy—penalty upon the person who has been guilty of breaking the planning permission. If the person concerned happens to be a man without much money, public sympathy will be for him if the local authority insists upon it being demolished; and if, in a place where there is a shortage of housing, the building is somebody else's house, then the local authority will find public opinion too strongly against it to insist on the legal remedy even being effective. I remember a case rather of that kind which occurred in my own constituency when I was in another place.
Therefore I would ask my noble friend Lady Young to consider whether it would be possible not only to incorporate in this clause the general declaration to which she has rather indicated she would be sympathetic but to make sure that local planning authorities can obtain in practice, as well as in theory, the information which is necessary to make sure that pollution does not take place. I should be very glad also if some Penalty 1313 could attach if the applicant for the planning permission does not carry out the conditions which have been imposed. It is, I think, of the utmost importance when we are dealing with this matter to try to ensure that pollution is prevented and not merely rectified after it has taken place.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for spelling out the reasons why she finds this particular clause difficult; and I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Molson, who has great experience in these matters, for his general support for such a clause, and particularly for having seized upon what I regard as one of the crucial matters, the position of the planning authorities; because unless they look into these matters adequately, then, as the noble Lord, Lord Molson, said, all one can do is to try to remedy the situation that has arisen which is often so much more difficult than to prevent it, provided that one looks at it early enough in the chain of events.
I should be quite happy if the Government were to draft some variant of this clause, provided that any draft they produce does not leave out any essential points. For example, I would happily accept the suggestion of the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, that one should use the word "reasonable" rather than "practicable": I see his point entirely. Similarly, I see the point about mandatory instructions to planning authorities, which would cut across the philosophy that they use their discretion. That, too, could be accommodated, I think, if, instead of saying "where necessary", one said "where it"—the planning authority —"thinks fit". I was rather depressed by the noble Baroness's somewhat negative general attitude, until she reached the penultimate paragraph of her brief, putting forward all the reasons why one should not say these things. I am not quite as convinced as the noble Baroness appears to be as to the value of circulars —perhaps "value" is not quite the right word, because of course circulars are valuable; but at any rate they do not always have as much effect as one would wish, particularly in present circumstances.
1314 The noble Baroness spoke of the larger authorities. But surely she is aware that under the Local Government Act there are going to be a great many more small planning authorities; and one of the problems resulting from that Act is that because the number of planning authorities in the country is being increased, there is an acute shortage of staff. This makes it all the more necessary, if we are genuinely concerned about pollution, that we should draw attention to it, because otherwise this is just the kind of thing a busy officer will not bother about. He will say, "There are various things that I have to look at, and we must take a chance on pollution."
I am afraid that a good deal of the argument put forward by the noble Baroness did not seem to me by any means to be fully convincing. For example, she said that there might be other authorities to which some of these references might be more appropriate. Well, there is nothing to prevent the other authorities from carrying out their duties. But this Bill is about pollution, and it appears to me therefore that we are quite properly concerned with the public bodies. As I said, if it were desired to put in the words used in the Countryside Act, I should be quite agreeable to that; but certainly the planning authorities should have their attention drawn to this special duty.
As the noble Baroness was good enough to suggest that the Government would be prepared to put down a variant of this clause, I think it would be only proper to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment at this stage and see what the Government alternative might be. I hope that it will be acceptable, but if it is not, I hope that it will be put down in sufficient time to allow us to suggest a further version. In the circumstances, I shall be most happy to accept the offer made by the noble Baroness.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
Before the noble Baroness withdraws her Amendment, may I take this opportunity of asking my noble friend Lady Young whether it is within the ambit of this Bill to incorporate a clause permitting consideration of the diminution of pollution at the planning stage? As I understand the Bill at the moment, it mainly deals with the disposal of waste, licensing for the disposal of controlled 1315 waste, and so forth. The Bill also deals with regional plans and it also says in the Title that it is,An Act to make further provison with respect to waste disposal, water pollution, noise, atmospheric pollution and injurious substances; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.Although I agree with my noble friend Lord Molson that at the planning stage it may be feasible and practicable to do away with an increase of pollution, I am not sure whether it comes within the ambit of this Bill.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
Of course we shall read very carefully all the suggestions made about drafting Amendments to this clause. This is a matter we must study, and I am glad that the noble Baroness, Lady White, has recognised that we are prepared to consider this general declaration of intent. I do not take her view about the new planning authorities. I find it very difficult to believe that in the context of present-day public opinion on pollution, any officer or committee would not consider, on a matter referring to waste disposal undertakings of one sort or another, whether or not this could have a possible polluting effect. I think this is something which everybody would consider. Furthermore, one must believe, if one believes in the value of local government, that one should give these new authorities the opportunity to exercise their right of decision-making in these matters. Perhaps I should make it clear, in case there should be any misunderstanding about planning powers, that in the English counties the planning powers in connection with waste disposal will rest with the counties and not with the districts. In Wales and Scotland they will all be in the districts. So the situation is, as it were, in parallel, though not precisely the same; and when we are talking about planning powers, we are talking about those at county level.
Perhaps I should say, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Molson, that we see three stages in this complete operation. The first is the establishing of a waste disposal plan by the new waste disposal authorities, and this will be an overall plan for the disposal of waste in their area. Then there will be the procedure for detailed planning permission—for example, for an incinerator, a tip 1316 or whatever it might be. In addition to that, there would be the licensing of the individual waste disposal operator; and it is at that stage that all the matters concerned with the effects of effluents—and particularly any which would be toxic or noxious in any way—would be considered. So I think I can give an assurance, in so far as one can ever give an assurance about something which may happen in the future, that we have done our best to cover the particular points raised.
I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, will accept, in the context of what I have said, that although there will not necessarily be a diminution in the amount of waste to be disposed of—because in our society it is likely to increase—the intention behind the Bill is that the way in which it is disposed of should be more effective and efficient than has been the case in the past.
May I just say that it might be helpful to the two noble Baroness, in trying to find suitable words of a declaratory nature with regard to pollution, if the noble Baroness, Lady White, had remembered the suggestion of her noble friend Lord Kennet that the Bill should be called "Control of Pollution Bill". Your Lordships may remember that the Title of the Bill has been postponed, and I hope that when we come to deal with that the noble Baroness will move an Amendment to that effect.
§ BARONESS WHITE
If the noble Lord, Lord Henley, had had sufficient time to read to the very end of the Amendments, he would have observed that Amendment No. 212, standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Garns-worthy and I, suggests that the Title should be changed from "Protection of the Environment" to "Environmental Pollution Control".
Before the noble Baroness withdraws her Amendment, should like to ask my noble friend whether, when she is considering a declaratory clause to replace this one, she will consider very carefully the pollution of air. I know people who suffer very severely from the pollution of air—to wit, the aroma coming from a very large herd of very dirty pigs. What I think we must try to do is to 1317 work out some form of declaration which will involve the consideration of stench, while at the same time not making it impossible to grow bacon in this country.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
May I suggest to my noble friend that I hope we shall not be too precipitate in this—I am very fond of the smell of pigs!
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 1 [Arrangements for disposing of controlled waste]:
§ 5.9 p.m.
LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 9, leave out ("and other persons").
The noble Lord said: Clause 1 is concerned with arrangements for disposing of controlled waste. It reads:
It shall be the duty of each disposal authority to ensure that the arrangements made by the authority and other persons for the disposal of waste are adequate for the purpose of disposing of all controlled waste which becomes situated in its area…
§ In other words, it would seem to place a duty upon waste disposal authorities to ensure that satisfactory arrangements are made either by the authority itself or by other operators—and the noble Baroness referred a few moments ago to private operators—for the disposal of all controlled waste in their areas. I should like to ask the noble Baroness whether that is intended and, if so, whether it is right and proper that a disposal authority should have a duty to ensure that other persons, including private operators, should have adequate means to dispose of their waste. If the reply is, "Yes", then it certainly goes beyond the issue of control that is, to say, the control powers that will extend as far as private operators are concerned or as far as producers of waste are concerned. Control should quite properly be exercised by local authorities. It seems that the clause as worded would place the primary responsibility for dealing with waste from the undertaking which produces it (or the private operator) on to the local authority. The primary responsibility should surely rest in the first instance on the producer 1318 —or, if there is a private operator, on the private operator—leaving the authority itself with the duties of control and enforcement in so far as this type of waste material is concerned. The matter is of some concern to one of the local authority associations and I think it is desirable that we should get the position clear at the outset of our proceedings.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
I hope that my noble friend will not accede to the noble Lord's request because in his opening remarks the noble Lord stressed, quite rightly, that the arrangements that were made by the authority should be adequate. I wonder whether, if his Amendment were accepted, they would be adequate. Surely dispersal arrangements would be incomplete. It seems to me that the successful implementation of disposal authority plans would be very much at risk if no other persons could be brought in. I should have thought that co-operation and consultation with these other persons, private operators and industry, was essential and that the Government were quite right to bring in these words, "other persons".
I have raised this point in your Lordships' House at intervals over a number of years. The phrase "other persons" brings in a very important point. I have come to the conclusion that the reason why people dump rubbish in the countryside is because the arrangements for dumping it anywhere else are inadequate. One can understand that ordinary dustmen do not have space on their vehicles for taking large items of rubbish. Therefore the local authority say, "Telephone us and we will provide you with a special collection." When I asked a local authority how soon they could manage that they said, "We can do it in about four weeks' time."
Consider the case of a person who moves into a small house or buys some new furniture or bedding, and wants to get rid of the old. What does he do? He telephones the local authority and they say, "We can give you a collection in a month's time". Meanwhile, the furniture is cluttering up the small house —it may he a flat and the person may not even have a garden. So what does he do? He takes his car one dark night and pops the furniture over my hedge or somebody else's hedge as the path of least resistance. The local authorities 1319 have at long last realised that this is a grave fault in their collection system and have created various dumps to which private people can take their waste. I happened to walk around last Sunday afternoon one of the places which is a favourite dumping ground on the outskirts of Crawley New Town. There was a notice saying, "Please do not dump here; there is a dump at so-and-so". But the dump at "so-and-so" happened to be 12 miles away. That was a fat lot of use!
The other point is that the local authority charges tradesmen of any sort for the disposal of their rubbish. I think this is entirely wrong and leads to a great deal of dumping. The small decorator or garage owner, sooner than pay charges for having rubbish taken away, go out on a dark night, and we see the results of their labours in Sussex lanes wherever there is a stream or a gap in the roadside. It is important that the final authority should see that there are proper arrangements for the disposal of waste by other persons. I have hoped for a long time that the new authority will be more knowing and sympathetic in providing proper dumps nearer to the centres of population where the waste originates.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
Perhaps it would be helpful if I answered first of all the points that have been made by my noble friend Lord Hawke. He has pointed to a real difficulty that a great many people have experienced and of which they are aware—unsightly dumping of rubbish in totally unsuitable places. As he rightly pointed out, the first clause of this Bill confers a duty on the waste disposal authority to dispose of such rubbish, or to make arrangements for the disposal of such rubbish, in its area. It will therefore be an offence to dump rubbish anywhere but in those places where it has been agreed that it should be left. It will be a matter for the individual authority to make whatever arrangements, if any, about charging it thinks fit.
We hope that this Bill will go a long way to solving what I think everybody regards as very much a twentieth century nuisance of unsightly rubbish dumped in the wrong place. We consider, not only for this reason but for the reason advanced by my noble friend Lord Merrivale, that 1320 the waste disposal authority, which will be the county council, in conjunction with the collection authorities, who will be the district authorities, will continue to have the function of dealing with household and domestic refuse. We also need the support of private industry to enable the disposal authority to take into account all the various amounts of non-domestic waste which will need to be disposed of in drawing up its overall plan. Of course amounts and types of waste will vary from place to place in the country, but we are quite clear that it will be the duty of the authority to draw up the plans and to state where, under its planning and licensing stipulations, either tipping, incineration or any other form of disposal shall take place.
But there are so many problems with commercial and industrial waste that there will need to be the greatest co-operation with private industry in finding suitable ways of disposing of it and of controlling it. Indeed, many private firms are now planning treatment facilities on a national scale, both for reclaiming chemicals and treating chemicals to become harmless sludge which can then be used for land reclamation. All this involves considerable capital investment. Rather than exclude the private disposal industry we consider that we shall, if anything, need to strengthen the relationship and the co-operation between the waste disposal authorities and the private sector.
I explain this because I think it is very necessary to realise, when one is considering this Bill as a whole, that we are not talking simply about domestic refuse, but are talking about all types of disposal, industrial wastes as well as wastes from contractors; and this covers all waste that is produced by industry, commerce, or domestic households. We hope and believe that we have provided within this Bill a statutory framework for a better basis of planning for both the public and private sector alike. That is why I cannot accept this Amendment.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I do not want to press this Amendment this evening, and I am grateful to the noble Baroness for what she has said. The Amendment is intended to go some way towards meeting the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, when lie was 1321 speaking on the earlier Amendment. I fully appreciate what the noble Lords, Lord Merrivale and Lord Hawke, have said—and I take the point made by the noble Baroness that we are dealing not only with domestic waste but with all waste—but the Bill does little to bring any kind of pressure on those who produce waste to reduce the production of that waste, and I think this is important. I hope that this aspect may perhaps be looked at. I listened with very great interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, had to say about people dumping rubbish by the roadside or throwing it over the hedge. I do not think this Bill is likely to make a very great deal of difference to people who engage in that kind of activity. This is a matter of seeing that such people are caught, taken to court and dealt with severely, so that they are taught a very necessary lesson.
Somebody in my locality was once taken to court because he happened to dump an armchair, and down in the cleft a letter addressed to him was found. But otherwise, nobody is ever going to get caught. My point is that if there is a place where these people can go, within reasonable reach of their homes, we can expect them to use it.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I take the noble Lord's point—indeed, I had intended to come to it. I realise that armchairs will be dumped, and occasionally there will be some evidence. But the noble Lord is not correct, I think, in suggesting that these people are not caught. They are caught from time to time, and some courts are inflicting much heavier penalties than they used to do. I think there might be a great deal more activity in checking up on these people. The noble Lord talks about difficulty in finding a site near at hand. Where I live there is a controlled tip, not too far away, where people can take waste and dump it quite easily. There is, at equal distance, a beautiful little wood, and some people prefer to take their waste to the wood and dump it rather than take it to the controlled tip.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
Is the noble Lord aware that in Edinburgh the citizens just put their old furniture downstairs on the pavement, and the local authority take it away?
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
It seems to me that the complaint of the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, could be dealt with if local authorities made more reasonable provision for rubbish disposal. I think this Bill will encourage them to do it. I do not think it is going to cure the kind of person who has no love of the countryside and who takes a car and dumps it, or who takes an old bed and dumps it. At the wood to which I referred there are people who even take grass cuttings down and dump them, as well as building materials and all kinds of things. One does ask: ought the local authority to be made responsible for the producer of waste, the industrial producer of waste? Is not control sufficient in that regard? I ask that more attention might be paid to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, because it is one of some considerable substance. I should like to think that the matter will be looked at further. However, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for what she has had to say. As I said, I have no intention of pressing the Amendment this evening, and with the Committee's permission I will withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.24 p.m.
LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 1, line 12, leave out ("and") and insert ("or which").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: This is a massive Bill which deals with matters of great public importance, and I do not apprehend that your Lordships would greatly welcome lengthy discussions on what are really drafting points. However, perhaps it is our duty to examine the language which Parliamentary Counsel has chosen with a view to avoiding obscurity so far as it can be removed, and achieving precision. Your Lordships may think that I do not trespass unnecessarily on the time of the Committee if I move this Amendment quite shortly.
The point is this. In Clause 1, controlled waste is referred to as,
waste which becomes situated in its area…and is likely to become so situated".
If I refer, in ordinary parlance, to an object which is A and B, I should have thought that I would be taken to be referring to one object of which it could
be predicated that it has two characteristics. If one considers a single parcel of garbage, it is difficult to suppose that that single parcel of garbage is both "situated in an area" and "is likely to become situated in an area." I suppose, by a process of refined logic, one could arrive at the conclusion that the reference is to a two-phase proceeding: one parcel of garbage is first likely to become situated; then the second phase is that either that parcel of garbage, or some other, becomes so situated. That is the dilemma which I faced when I read this language. I submit to your Lordships that it would be much easier to understand, and it would read much more naturally and tidily, if one struck out the word "and" and substituted the words "or which". Then controlled waste would be "waste which becomes situated in its area…or which is likely to become so situated." I beg to move.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
May I start by saying that naturally I welcome the purpose underlying the noble Lord's Amendment. Anything that makes a Bill easier to understand is certainly going to be welcomed by non-lawyers, like myself. Furthermore, we can applaud the noble Lord's intention so far as the underlying purpose of what he wants to clarify is concerned, and also in that we want to cover waste which is in the area and which is imported into the area.
I am one of the least suitable people in your Lordships' House to start indulging in semantic arguments with the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill. He mentioned the Parliamentary Counsel and I must do the same. We contend that the result achieved by the present wording is what the noble Lord wishes; and that if this should be unclear, then the Department is indeed in sympathy with the spirit of the noble Lord's Amendment. But Parliamentary Counsel has pointed out that the noble Lord's drafting is defective, and its effect would be to preclude a disposal authority from taking account of both sorts of waste in one plan. However, Counsel has made some suggestions which he feels would meet the noble Lord's point, although he has not finally made up his mind on this one at the moment. Therefore, we should like to consider the noble Lord's suggestion.
1324 I may at the same time point out that in this case a similar Amendment would probably be required after the "and" in Clause 2, page 1, line 18. I hope that in these circumstances we shall succeed in satisfying the noble Lord in the long run.
§ LORD STOW HILL
I am very much indebted to the Minister for what he has said. I think the discussion was useful, and I hope your Lordships will agree that it was brief. I beg to ask the permission of the Committee for leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [Preparation and revision of waste disposal plans]:
§ 5.30 p.m.
LORD CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 1, line 18, after ("of") insert ("and reclaiming").
§ The noble Lord said: I believe it would be for the convenience of your Lordships if we could discuss on this occasion my Amendment No. 4 with my Amendment No. 38, and also at the same time Amendments Nos. 5 and 7 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady White, and her noble friends. When I read this Bill for the first and the second time—I am referring to Part I—it seemed to me that it was a Bill about disposal as it is commonly understood. I know that in paragraph (e) of subsection (2) of this clause there is a mention of reclamation as part of the plan. But at the moment it is not a Bill really about anything other than disposal as it is understood.
§ We are moving from a period of plenty into a period of shortage and, with the inevitably increased costs, the use of reclaimed waste will become more and more worth while. Looking ahead, I can conceive the disposal authorities finding it not only in their interest but their duty to reclaim as much refuse and to re-use as much refuse as possible. So I put down this Amendment because I wanted, as it were, Part I of the Bill to change direction by strengthening and underlying the duty of reclamation and re-use, even though I know that within Parliamentary drafting, "reclamation" is part of "disposal".1325
§ I should like briefly to get on the Record why I put down Amendment No. 38 which refers to the kinds and quantities of waste which may be dealt with. I wanted reference to the kinds and quantities of waste which "shall be disposed of or reclaimed". I felt that in granting a disposal licence this may be very important in the national interest, and that a person asking for a licence might be interested in one particular product which he was reclaiming but there might be other products which, without some direction, would be lost. So I felt that the phrase "may be dealt with" had neither the teeth nor the direction of my suggested words. Before I sit down I must say that, since I put down my Amendment No. 4, the noble Baroness opposite and her noble friends have put down an Amendment which I think gives very much the effect of what I should like to see. So I have at this stage no intention of pressing Amendment No. 4. So far as No. 38 is concerned, whatever the outcome of these Amendments, I would leave it to my noble friend Lady Young to put down an Amendment at a later stage if she thought that my Amendment was worth while.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ LORD SAINSBURY
If it is in order, I should like to address my few remarks to Amendment No. 5 which stands in the name of my noble friends Lady White and Lord Garnsworthy, and myself suitably last. In my opinion the Amendment aims to provide Encouragement—
§ LORD MOLSON
If I may intervene, is it the intention that Amendment No. 5 should be discussed at the same time as No. 4?
§ LORD SAINSBURY
I thought that that had been agreed. The Amendment aims to encourage the disposal authorities to regard waste collection, disposal and re-cycling as parts of the same problem. What is needed, in my opinion, is an integrated effort. When I spoke during Second Reading I mentioned that several local authorities in Sweden were successfully using such waste products for heating homes and offices. I should now like to move much nearer home and refer to a G.L.C. plant at Edmonton which burns unsorted waste collected in an area inhabited by about 1 million people. This plant produces electricity, 1326 I understand, which is fed into the national grid. I happen to know that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, has more practical experience than I have. In fact, I believe she has actually visited the plant.
The plant has not been, I admit, in operation for a very long time. Also it is only frank to mention that it had some teething troubles. But it is now regarded, I am told, as very worth while and as a viable project. What has been a great handicap in the past is the question of sorting waste, and this plant can use unsorted waste. I believe, particularly in the light of the Statement we heard earlier this afternoon, that efforts of this kind must be very much encouraged; that this must be done on a much wider scale, and that we can use to great effect the potential resources of this waste. Therefore, I strongly support my noble friends in this Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
I also strongly support my noble friend's Amendment and other Amendments related to this question. May I point out that there is in this country to-day a firm who are importing waste from the Continent to make use of it here for industrial purposes. I think that the fact that we are even importing waste (I can give noble Lords the name of the firm if they wish) adds importance to the real need to reclaim waste and conserve all our own waste that can be used commercially. Therefore, I strongly support this Amendment.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
The noble Viscount, Lord Amory, rose when I did and I very willingly give way to him, if he wishes.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland. My intervention will be very brief indeed. It is really to support what the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, said in general about the importance of reclamation. There is no question about it at all. We must give a great deal more attention to this matter, and I have no doubt it will be given. I myself always feel slightly guilty when I tip my refuse into one container. Even without any knowledge of what is reclaimable and what is not, I should be entirely prepared to take a little trouble if only I knew, and to separate my refuse into what is reclaimable and what is not, 1327 in two separate containers. Unfortunately, one does not know what is reclaimable. I did this once on my own to see what might be reclaimable, and when I looked into what I had separated as reclaimable I was not bursting with enthusiasm at the prospect of seeing it back again in some other form; indeed, I suppose one would not recognise it. I was glad that my noble friend Lord Craigton, in dealing with this subject said that on consideration he preferred Amendment No. 5 to Amendment No. 4. So do I. I think Amendment No. 4 is a little too specific and Amendment No. 5 seems to me to deal with the matter in just the way I thought was sensible. I look forward to hearing what the noble Baroness, Lady White, has to say, and also my noble friend Lady Young.
I heartily agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury. While he was speaking I could see on the Front Bench, sitting next to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, the late Lord Morrison, of Tottenham. He used to sit there, and I feel sure he would have given us a wonderful disquisition on his waste reclamation plant in the Borough of Tottenham and the nourishing properties of "Tottenham Pud", which was a most valuable product during the War and just after.
As one who skims through the American Press (or part of it) most days I keep coming upon these questions of reclamation. They are making great progress in re-cycling things in America and we really must do a little more about it here. Some time ago when there was a bit of a recession in the heavy industries in this country I suggested, through a Question to Her Majesty's Government, that they might like to place an order for a few of these reclamation plants with a view to letting them out to local authorities. I cannot remember the exact words of the Answer, but of course it was a dusty one. It would have been useful if they had taken my advice because the unemployed could have been put to work and we should now have these plants. Nobody so far has mentioned paper, but at this moment we are still not—
§ BARONESS WHITE
If I may interrupt the noble Lord for a moment, by agree 1328 ment we were hoping to have a separate debate on paper, on which there are a number of Amendments.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
This is a highly important issue, but it is also an emotional one, and I wondering whether the Amendment standing in the name of the noble Baroness, to which a number of noble Lords have given preference, is really necessary, for subsection (2)(e) of Clause 28 requires a disposal authority in its plan to include reclamation as a method of waste disposal. I presume that to do so the disposal authority will need to look into the practicability of reclamation. At first sight re-cycling is both sensible and attractive, but whether it is practicable in a number of cases is quite another matter.
I should like to confine my remarks to that aspect. I think the practicability must be based on a properly organised survey, and a disposal authority, particularly in the early stages of its existence, would, I should imagine, not be equipped with adequate resources successfully to undertake the necessary investigation. To noble Lords who may think that I am being unreasonable in my belief that the disposal authorities will not be in a position to inquire fully into the practicability and to carry out the necessary detailed investigations, may I draw the attention of the Committee to what is already being done by industry, which I think is relevant, and also to the work that is involved in reclamation and re-cycling. Already in 1969 industry was re-cycling a considerable proportion of the metals it used. In that year the total value of the copper, lead, tin, aluminium and zinc recovered was £271 million—a not insignificant amount. If one also bears in mind the considerable quantities of waste paper, rubber, some plastics and cullet which were re-used, I think one can see that this matter is already being carefully looked into.
To mention the last product—the cullet which is used in the glass-making industry—the conclusions and recommendations alone on re-cycling contained in the Report of the Glass Industry Liaison Working Party with Government Departments, of which I have a 1329 copy in my hand, show up the complexities inherent in plans to re-cycle waste materials. To quote but three passages from this Report will, I think, prove the point I am making. The Report says:We suggest that the industry initiates research into developing a specification that will enable larger quantities of cullet to be used.It then says:Research in the United States and limited use in the United Kingdom indicates that there are potential markets for cullet other than in glass making.The Liaison Working Party go on to recommend that the Glass Manufacturing Federation should set up a re-cycling advisory bureau to co-ordinate and disseminate information on re-cycling. That shows that this is a complex and highly specialised business, and I think the authorities are not properly equipped to carry it on.
The Report also takes into account two gaps in the re-cycling chain; namely, the difficulty of purchase of a sufficiently high standard of cullet and the difficulty of supply. As I have said before, if one looks at this overall aspect of this one industry one can see how difficult the problem is. In the case of this industry the conclusion reached was that it was essential that there should be a liaison between the Government Department concerned and the research institutions responsible for such development, and the glass industry. The fact that this is a highly complex problem is therefore highlighted.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
I am sorry to have to say that I felt the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, was making excuses in advance for disposal authorities not doing as much as we expect them to do in the way of reclamation. My noble friend Lord Sainsbury drew attention to the fact that the gigantic destructor plant at Edmonton is going to feed electric current into the national grid. There is really nothing new about this kind of activity. I remember well over fifty years ago in Birmingham one of our destructor plants had a series of steam pipes from the furnaces where the refuse was burnt to the local electricity generating station across the way. That was a boon to the electricity generating station and it was a financial boon to the ratepayers of that 1330 city I learned with surprise that the question of waste paper was going to be excluded from the discussion on Amendment No. 5 for I had intended to say something about it, but I must await my turn in patience.
"Re-cycling" has become almost as fashionable a term as "conservation"; but I do not think we need to be mesmerised by the magic of words. There is nothing really new about re-cycling; we have had it with us for a long time. But I think that in the present circumstances the need for paying more attention to the re-cycling of waste materials is almost as important as it was during the days of the two World Wars. It is no longer just a minor matter of local government administration. It has to be lifted to the level of national economic necessity.
At the moment, we have an adverse trade balance which last month was £270 million; it was over £370 million in the month before that. We know that we shall have an adverse trade balance next year of perhaps £1,500 million—probably more. At the same time, the prices of all the raw materials we have to buy in the markets of the world are soaring: copper has doubled in price in the past year, lead has doubled in price, tin has doubled in price, zinc has risen by between three and four times during the past year and rubber is now at the highest peak that many of us can remember. The price of paper has been rising consistently over recent years, and we are faced with a further 20 per cent. increase from January 1 next. Some materials are in a state of actual physical shortage. We have to adjust ourselves to what is in the nature of a siege economy. I do not want those two words to be taken too literally, but the atmosphere in which we have to operate during the next few years is certainly going to be one where many raw materials are either scarce, or are almost unobtainable because of price.
I do not want to exaggerate the situation. Reclamation is already with us in a very big way, and as the noble Lord has said, a great deal of it is carried out by private commercial firms. Forty-two per cent. of the copper we use has been recycled; over 60 per cent. of the lead, 50 per cent. of the iron and steel, 20 per cent. of the aluminium and 18 per cent. of the tin that we use. But is enough 1331 being done? I do not think it is. This is where we have to get the local authorities to undertake more vigorous work on reclamation, and to do it in a mood of patriotic endeavour, not necessarily in a strict book-keeping sense.
We are at present throwing away far too many valuable materials. I have mentioned that only 18 per cent. of tin is being reclaimed. We throw into dustbins 300 million tin aerosols every year. Over 1,000 million beer, soft drink and fruit tins are similarly being thrown away each year. Why are we not recovering more of the tin and steel that these represent? I know it can be done. More than fifty years ago I was in charge of the Costing Department of the Birmingham Corporation Refuse Disposal Department. That was before I degenerated into journalism. We used to collect millions of tins each year, bale them and then export them to Germany where, with the aid of an electrical process, they separated the tin from the steel base and both the tin and the steel were subsequently used in German industry—and, for all we know, perhaps some of that steel came back to us in the shape of bombs during the last world war.
Our position is difficult now so far as the acquisition of raw materials is concerned. It is going to be more difficult still, because many of what we used to call the backward countries are now rapidly developing and will themselves be using many of the raw materials for which we and similar countries were previously the only market. Furthermore, the supply of some of these materials is not inexhaustible. That is why I feel that this is not a mere matter of municipal administration, not a mere matter of financial book-keeping to see whether it pays a certain council to reclaim certain materials which go to its tips or destructors. I think this is of very great importance in the national economy. The cost of this reclamation is only one facet of the problem. The other facet is our balance of payments. We must do something to improve our balance of payments, for that is vital to the future of this country.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I rise to speak to Amendment No. 7. This Amendment has been tabled in the hope 1332 that it may be helpful. It is making it the duty of a disposal authority to include in the plan it prepares information as to a number of things. Paragraph (g) reads:the estimated costs of the methods of disposal mentioned in the plans
The Amendment would add:
… any estimated benefits whether of a financial nature or otherwise which in the opinion of the disposal authority may accrue as a result of the reclamation of substance from the said waste".
§ It is quite clear that your Lordships are fairly unanimous in feeling that a great deal more needs to be done in reclaiming and re-cycling waste than has been the case. My noble friend Lord Leather-land has laid some emphasis on the fact that frequently opportunities for the reclamation of waste are lost because the public and industry generally are not aware of what is being discarded. I sometimes think that those who have persuaded us that we need not bother about empty bottles have done a very great deal to create the atmosphere where the public thinks that articles that could be used again can quite easily be thrown away. I think they carry a heavy responsibility for persuading us that we need not worry; we can put our empties in the dustbin, they will be dumped, and that is the end of it.
§ This Amendment seeks to make the point that it is not only a matter of the financial gain that might follow reclamation and re-cycling, but it takes a rather broader view. It is a question of whether as a nation we need the reclamation and re-cycling of waste. I would venture to suggest that the Amendment might well improve the present low level of waste recovery. In any case. I would suggest that the Government justifiably might be asked to give guidance to the collection and disposal authorities from time to time (I think it needs to apply to both of them) on the potential means of recycling waste. I hope that the Amendment will commend itself to the Government. I should like to think that they regard it as being helpful.
§ LORD REDCLIFFE-MAUD
May I raise a quick voice in the wilderness? I agree with everything that has been said about the importance of re-cycling and reclaiming. I believe the people of this 1333 country would entirely agree with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Leather-land, said, but we have had two instances mentioned, in Tottenham and Birmingham, where over the last years, long before the general public was aroused to the problems, locally elected authorities took an initiative and under their powers did what they could, in a way that I know the late Lord Morrison would have greatly approved. I would ask the Committee, before we spell it out in even greater detail, to consider what local authorities in our opinion must take account of and must give information about, and whether we cannot trust these local authorities, now that we have reformed local government, to do still better. I suggest that even though this Bill already spells it out, we should consider whether the local authorities are not really capable of sharing in our enthusiasm in the new move towards re-cycling and reclaiming, and doing some of these things for themselves.
I want just to support, anyway in principle, both Amendments 5 and 7, but I would draw attention to the brilliant work which has been done in the Government laboratory at Warren Springs, where they have a laboratory scale plant which does all the things we have been talking about. I thoroughly support it, and I think it should be pushed strongly. There is one other problem. I come from Scotland. Most of these plants are geared to an intake of something like a million people. In the whole of Scotland there are 5 million people, and the problem in Scotland is to induce small local authorities to collect their waste, properly separate it, and take it to a centre. That is a completely different problem from that existing—not that it should not be tackled; it should be—in the highly populated areas in England. I should like to support completely, in theory anyway and in spirit, both these Amendments.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
I have listened with great interest to what I think we all regard as one of the most important debates we have had in Committee on this subject. Re-cycling was a matter raised by the majority of the noble Lords who spoke at Second Reading, and I went hack to read very carefully what they had said. We must consider our remarks to-day against the background 1334 of the very serious energy crisis which we are considering as a country. In principle, no one can be against recycling or reclamation of waste materials. The whole idea of recovering valuable products from otherwise discarded waste appeals to our ideas of thrift; but at a time such as we have at the moment of serious and growing concern about the long-term availability of many resources on a national and local scale, we should, as a matter of prudence, investigate thoroughly the possibility of effective and useful recovery of waste materials. Therefore, the Government's attitude is entirely favourable to re-cycling where this can be sensibly and usefully done. Indeed, as I indicated at Second Reading, there are over 1,000 firms involved in the reclamation business at present, recovering metals, waste paper, rubber, textiles, solvents and a wide range of other materials.
I was most interested to hear what my noble friend, Lord Merrivale, said about this. Not only did he confound us, but he indicated quite rightly what a very complex business this is. It is not something which is simple to do. Often the capital equipment required for it can be very expensive. I was very glad to hear from the noble Lord. Lord Redcliffe-Maud, what local authorities were doing. Lord Sainsbury mentioned Edmonton. My noble friend, Lord Strathcona, and I. visited the plant last week. It is a very impressive sight. I think I am right in saying that it takes the household refuse from a number of London boroughs. It is an incinerator. The ash is used for fill on roads. The metal objects are extracted by magnets, and the metal waste is sold. I think I am right in saying—it is rather a technical matter—that it generates enough electricity to light and heat a town about the size of Bath. One cannot help but be very impressed by this example of local authority work. It has had its difficulties, but it is now working very well. Of course, it is an extremely expensive proposition. I have not had the opportunity to visit the plant at Birmingham, or the one at Nottingham, which I believe as an experiment is heating part of its city by burning waste. They are all very good examples of local authority enterprise.
Having said that, I should say that we believe that more could and should be done to encourage the positive use of 1335 waste materials. We accept that this Bill can be made the vehicle for some of the necessary encouragement to do this. I said at Second Reading that there are two important proposals in the Bill which relate to re-cycling and reclamation. Under Clause 2(2)(e) the disposal authorities are required to consider the reclamation of waste substances in preparing their disposal plans. Under Clause 12(3)(c) they are given a very broad power touse, sell or otherwise dispose of the waste or anything produced from it",which should enable them to do a great deal in the recovery field. A great deal of waste is now used for land reclamation. We should make a great mistake if we did not recognise that, apart from the value of disposing of refuse, this provides a great public service in that it brings back into use land which otherwise has no real value at all. On our visit to various disposal sites last week, we saw pictures of an area near Heathrow of between 39 and 40 acres which has been tipped with rubbish and is now in use at least for grazing purposes. Of course, such tipped land can be used afterwards as building land or as a public open space or playing fields.
We believe that the provisions already within the Bill are important. We accept, however, that it ought to be possible to strengthen and improve them. In view of the wide concern which has been expressed by noble Lords, we have ourselves been considering what more we could usefully do in the present Bill. We are not yet ready with our detailed Amendments, but I think it would be helpful to the Committee if I explained our general thinking on this subject. The main point is to ensure that the possibilities for reclaiming waste materials are properly examined and evaluated when the disposal of those wastes is under consideration. Too often waste materials from every kind of source are discarded and abandoned because no one has taken the trouble and effort to work out what could usefully and economically have been done with the wastes. What is needed is that responsible people should find out in detail what wastes are arising in their area and think out whether or not such materials could be used in a positive way. This is again the point that Lord Merri- 1336 vale was making when he said we need a thorough survey of the waste materials arising in an area.
As I said just now, Clause 2(2)(e) already requires a disposal authority to consider reclamation along with other methods of disposal in preparing their disposal plans, but we could consider laying a positive duty on them to keep in mind the scope for reclamation of waste materials situated in their areas and to investigate the possibilities for separate collection, or the separation of different waste materials with a view to the possible recovery of those which are useful. That is the kind of proposal which the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, and the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, had in mind in the remarks they made.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
I wonder whether I could interrupt my noble friend for one moment at this point. I imagine that sorting is a formidable difficulty in many cases. Would it help much if householders or commercial concerns segregated their waste into different categories, or would that be too difficult? If it is desirable, would local authorities have the power to influence householders and commercial firms to do that?
§ BARONESS YOUNG
Some local authorities already ask people to separate waste paper, and they provide a container to do this. There is nothing to prevent any local authority from doing that at present.
LORD GARNS WORTHY
I wonder whether the noble Baroness has any idea how many local authorities—I realise it covers the country and it may be a big thing—collect waste paper and how many do not, because, to my knowledge, there has been a tremendous fall-off in this matter. I do not want to go into another debate, but the information could be very helpful.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
I do not in fact have the exact number of authorities who do it, but I will take steps to see whether I can get useful figures on this point. The noble Lord is quite right in saying that there has been a falling off. Of course, during the war householders were asked to separate all types of domestic waste, and it was a very acceptable thing in those circumstances to ask people to do so and then to go to the trouble of sorting it out. It is always difficult for a local authority 1337 to know how far it should be prepared to ask the residents and the commercial and industrial firms to sort out their waste and how far it is prepared to pay for different containers for them to put it in. All sorts of complicated matters are involved. It may well be that in the light of national circumstances public opinion will feel that this is something we should do, and local authorities will be prepared to make much greater efforts in this regard. But not only is there a question of making that acceptable to the public; there is the value of the product at the end. To get it they are going to some expense, and they would want to feel there is a use for it. I think it is perfectly true that whereas at certain times certain substances are wanted, in order to make it financially viable for a local authority to insist on this it must have a pretty steady market for the waste paper collected. I think this is something which can be done, and it is something which in the future must be looked at more thoroughly.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
I wanted to try to answer the question which my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy put. There are about 400 local authorities in this country which do not deal separately with their waste paper.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
I thank the noble Lord. It is in fact 400 out of 1,300 local authorities, who in fact sort out the paper, and it is thought that about 350,000 tons of waste paper is collected.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
As I was saying, we do believe there is in fact a need to investigate further the possibility of collection and separation of different kinds of waste. Such consideration would need to be undertaken jointly by the disposal authorities and the collection authorities, since both would need to be involved in schemes for recovery. The requirement might, therefore, be for the disposal authorities and the collection authorities to consult together on reclamation with such other persons as would seem appropriate. This of course would be a reference to industrialists who would use the waste products, because clearly there would need to be close consultation between the two.
1338 Apart from a general duty of this kind, we must also ensure that the local authorities have adequate powers to undertake recovery operations where appropriate. As I have indicated, Clause 12(3)(c) is already drawn in fairly wide terms, but we will certainly undertake to look further at whether any more detailed powers are desirable for such purposes as the generation of heat or electricity from waste, on which there are later Amendments. In view of the joint interest of collection and disposal authorities on recycling, we may need to look again at their respective responsibilities and powers and the interaction between them. Joint working would obviously be desirable in any integrated scheme for the collection or separation of particular wastes by the collection authorities, and their subsequent' treatment' by the disposal authorities. Most importantly, we should need to re-examine the allocation of costs and receipts between the collection and disposal authorities in respect of such arrangements. On this, too, there are later Amendments which we shall wish to consider. I think a point is made by the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, in Amendment No. 7 on this matter of costs.
I hope I have said enough to indicate our approach to this important problem of re-cycling and the Amendments that have been put down. I will at a later stage introduce Amendments on this matter which will seek to meet the points that have been raised in these various Amendments. I hope, therefore, that having had that assurance, noble Lords who have moved these Amendments will feel willing to withdraw them.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I am sure we are all extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply and for her assurance that the Government are going to take this matter very seriously. After this debate. I think no one could be in any doubt that this is a matter of considerable concern. Although she is quite correct in saying that there is one reference in Clause 2(2)(e). and another very vague reference in Clause 12, I have before me a letter that I have received from someone who takes a close interest in these matters, who did not realise what Clause 12 embodied. He says:The only reference to recovery of materials in the environment Bill is in half a sentence 1339 buried in a sub-paragraph. It is woefully inadequate.I feel that all of us—the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, and the rest of us who put down Amendments on this subject—were entirely justified in doing so in order to emphasise the great importance of this matter. I am very well aware that one has to face a difficult economic problem in relation to certain substances; for instance, plastics. You may try to re-cycle plastics, but very often the end product just is not worth the cost of re-cycling. There are other materials. I was very much interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, said about glass. I understand from the speech made by the Under-Secretary in another place on November 22 that there are working parties on plastics, glass, paper and tin boxes. What I think is missing is some central point to which the individual local authorities could turn for advice, including technical advice and economic advice, on the best way of dealing with their own particular circumstances.
The noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, mentioned that the glass industry was of the opinion that there should be a recycling bureau. We have in the University College in Cardiff a very strong department on the re-cycling of waste, and we had a very interesting conference about a month ago, presided over by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, at which the discussion on re-cycling was one of the main parts. Many of us felt that there should be something of this nature, a waste resources board or whatever you like to call it, to which people could turn for advice. I understand there are such institutions in the United States and in Japan. The Government should take this seriously, though it would not necessarily come into this Bill, as a matter of policy when we are setting out on a new era in dealing with waste disposal.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
I wonder whether I may answer that point. I think it is a very real one. Along with the other proposals, we are considering the setting up of an organisation such as an advisory council, rather on equivalent lines to that we might have for noise. How its composition would be worked out is not clear at this stage, but clearly it would require 1340 people from central Government. from industry and possibly from universities. I think we have in mind the kind of suggestion the noble Baroness has made.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I am delighted to hear it. Whether an advisory council is the best way of doing it I am not sure. I think one needs an institution of some kind to bring together the work which is going on in many fields and in many universities. The noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, mentioned Warren Springs. A great deal is being done there; but it is at the moment rather scattered and unco-ordinated. Busy people in local authorities have a great deal to do. One would like them to be able to turn to a central point.
I was not terribly impressed with Lord Redcliffe-Maud's comments because, after all, one can count on the fingers of one hand the number of local authorities who are in fact doing what Edmonton and Nottingham are doing, for example, in the use of waste for heating. The mills really grind much too slowly. In our Amendment we suggest that local authorities, in carrying out the investigations which they are under an obligation under the Bill to carry out, should seek advice. I should have thought that that was the least one should expect them to do.
May I say one more word on the question of cost? I hope that in any central body which is established, whether an advisory council or research institute, or whatever it might be, this matter of costs can be carefully examined. It is not always economic at the present level. It is a chicken and egg situation. Some materials, if you re-cycle them in relatively small quantities, would not be an economic proposition. If, on the other hand, you could make the transition to a much larger quantity and reduce the cost by economies of scale, then you might get a much better demand for the materials, which would then he cheaper than the virgin raw materials which you would otherwise probably be importing from overseas. It would not be appropriate to go into the details of this.
I have had an interesting memorandum sent to me on this question. This is one of the most important points, because we shall not get adequate conservation of our resources unless we can solve some of the economic problems. 1341 This may be a place where Government assistance might he necessary and helpful in helping with the provision of plant, even on an experimental basis, to see whether we can break through this barrier of cost and the economies of scale.
We are most grateful to the noble Baroness for what she has said, and we shall await with intense interest the alternatives that she is proposing to put forward. We shall not move Amendment No. 5. I shall leave it to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, who moved his Amendment No. 4.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
I listened with great care to what the Minister said. She said that she was going to strengthen the powers to consult, investigate, and cooperate. The noble Baroness, Lady White, said that what her Amendment did was to add that they should seek advice. It says, "to seek advice with a view to adopting". The one short point that I want to make is that I bear strongly in mind, as do my noble friends, that there will be a financial burden on the disposal or collection authorities, but that, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, said, these may well be offset by the value of the re-cycled waste. When the noble Baroness comes to draft what she has promised, I hope that she will make everything possible just as soon as it becomes worth while. That is what we want to see. We realise that local authorities cannot do at once everything that ought to be done. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNTROYAL moved Amendment No. 6:
Page 2, line 27, leave out ("the said waste") and insert ("controlled waste in its area").
§ The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lady Young, I beg leave to move Amendment No. 6, which is a simple drafting Amendment. Clause 2(2) lists various matters which are to be included by the waste disposal authorities in their disposal plans. Several of the matters refer to information to be included about "controlled waste", but at paragraph (e) a reference to "the said waste" has intruded. The proposed Amendment substitutes "controlled waste" so that it conforms to the drafting employed elsewhere in the subsec- 1342 tion. That is all this Amendment is about.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ LORD HENLEY moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 2. line 36, at end insert—
("(h) the after-treatment of the disposal site following the period specified in the plan;").
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment seeks to add something to what the disposal authority is to include in its plan, and it deals with after-treatment. This is to try to bring it in line with what local authorities often do with regard to planning for mineral extraction, or for the extraction of sand and gravel. Often one has, in extracting sand and gravel, to make an awful mess. This is sometimes inevitable, but what one can at least do is ensure that it is put hack as best as it possibly can be. This should also apply to the after-treatment of sites for disposal of waste, which are often extremely unsightly and not properly dealt with.
§ I do not want to fall into the error to which the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, drew attention, and to try to spell out in too great detail what a local authority—in this case a disposal authority—is supposed to do, as if that disposal authority were incapable of doing it. Nevertheless, something should be said about it, or, if the Government think it should not, I should want to know why. I cannot find that covered in the Bill. There is something about it in Clause 2(2)(e), which deals with disposal and reclamation. Again, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, mentioned, there is a vague reference to the question of disposal in Clause 12. However, none of these really cover what I am getting at, which is the after-treatment of the site. Nor would it have been covered if the noble Baroness's Amendment No. 1, dealing with public authorities having regard to pollution, had been accepted. It seems to me that it is a useful addition to what is required of a disposal authority, and I beg to move.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
I am sure that we all have a great deal of sympathy with Lord Henley's proposal about the after-treatment of disposal sites. Clearly, after rubbish has been tipped the site should be left in as tidy and orderly a condition 1343 as possible, because it is going to be either left as an open space or used for something else. This is a matter of importance. We do not think that the Amendment is in quite the right place. The noble Lord is suggesting that it should be part of the waste disposal plan. That of course comes as the first stage. The waste disposal authority will draw up a plan. What the plan should in general terms include is set out under Clause 2(2) in these various further subsections. But the type of plan that it will be can only be stated in terms of the general matters; and the actual conditions attached to the running of each disposal site must inevitably vary because each authority will be different and each authority will have different problems with which to deal.
To include a stipulation about landscaping at this overall plan-making stage would be to put it in the wrong place, because we do not consider that these general, overall plans should contain this detailed advice about the conditions to be imposed upon a particular disposal site. However, we have considered this matter, and we are proposing an Amendment to Clause 4(7) which will provide that site licence conditions should indicate the steps to be taken with a view to facilitating compliance with any conditions of the planning permission in force for the site. This means that we hope to meet the point of the noble Lord, Lord Henley, later on in the Bill in those clauses which deal both with planning permission (which will of course include detailed conditions about the site and the condition in which it should be left when it is no longer used for tipping) and with licensing conditions, so that the licensing conditions will be in step with the planning permission. I therefore hope that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, will be able to withdraw his Amendment.
I am much obliged to the noble Baroness. I hope that I have not missed what she is going to do in one of the Amendments she already has down. I have been caught out by this once before, in not having read Amendment No. 212. Have I missed it in the Amendments down in the noble Baroness's name under Clause 4, or is it something which will be put down at a later stage?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.32 p.m.
VISCOUNT AMORY moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 3, line 13, after ("Wales,") insert ("each other disposal authority in the area of the county within which the disposal authority is situated and with")
§ The noble Viscount said: I beg to move Amendment No. 9, and I should like to speak briefly also to No. 10. I am venturing to do something that I have never had the nerve to do before, which is to speak on behalf of Wales. I think noble Lords know that, generally, the counties in Wales would have preferred that the disposal functions should have been laid on counties rather than on districts, as in the case of England. However, I do not propose to pursue that point at this stage; but what the Welsh counties do feel is that it really is important that waste disposal plans made by a district should be related at least to the county in which that district is.
§ The suggested Amendments do not in any way alter the statutory responsibilities of the new Welsh district councils; in fact, there is already in this clause a provision requiring a district to consult with the county. What is suggested here is that districts should not only consult with the county but consult also with each other.
§ It is proposed in Amendment No. 10 that this should be done through a joint committee, the constitution of the committee and other consequential matters being left to be prescribed in regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. I know that consultation runs the whole way through this Bill, as indeed it does through the whole of the new Local Government Act. My noble friend may say that it is difficult to go on laying down in detail that consultation is required, but it seems that in this particular case, in relation to Wales (that, at any rate, is the opinion I think held by the counties), it would be helpful if the districts within a county consulted together, and not only with the county council 1345 itself, to make sure that whatever is done is related to the interests of the county as a whole. I beg to move.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I am delighted to welcome the interest of the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, in the affairs of the Principality, more particularly as I happen to agree with him. It is of course perfectly true that under the Local Government Act the situation in Wales is different from that in England in so far as the Welsh districts are both the collection and the disposal authorities. But this, I think, is going to lead to very great difficulties in the industrial areas of Wales, particularly: far less so, I would surmise, in the rural counties. When the division of responsibilities for the Welsh local authorities under reorganisation was determined, it was very natural, think, that one should wish to place as many responsibilities as one reasonably could upon districts which had formerly been very noble counties in their own right—and there were a number of them in Wales. One could go through the list—Anglesey, Caernarvon, Merioneth, Montgomery, Cardigan and so on. These counties now become districts; so one can well understand the reasons why this particular disposition was made in the Principality.
But when one looks at the industrialised counties—and I have a list here of the districts in the North-East corner of Wales, in what is going to be the new county of Glwyd, in Gwent and in the three counties in Glamorgan—one sees that they illustrate the point made on Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Beeching, in, I thought, an extremely interesting and powerful speech when he spoke of theill-match between sources of waste and disposal facilities".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27/11/73, cot. 60.]Now some of these districts are quite small—and I speak with the most intimate knowledge of Flintshire, which was once my constituency. These areas, by themselves, and independently, are quite inappropriate for the disposal of waste material. I have had representations both from the shadow authority of Clwyd and from Glamorgan pointing out the extreme difficulties that will arise unless some 1346 special arrangements are made. As I say, the difficulties will be of particular significance in the industrial areas. In Flintshire, of course, we have an even greater difficulty because we are expected to take sometimes extremely toxic chemical waste from Cheshire. Apparently Cheshire, within its borders, does not have adequate facilities for disposal of some very disagreeable waste, so they bring it across the Border into Wales; and the county authorities there are, as I say, most disturbed at what may happen if this kind of disposal is not carefully planned between the various districts within their area. We have not had time to have the fullest possible discussion with all the Welsh counties, but they have considered this matter and no doubt it is for this reason that the noble Viscount Lord Amory, with his well-known interest in county council matters, has tabled these Amendments.
The meeting of the Welsh Counties, which is a sub-division of the County Councils Association, was held a couple of days ago. There is therefore this proposition, which will enable the conscience of the districts to remain unimpaired. They will remain the disposal authorities, of course—we are not suggesting for one moment that they should not—and also the collecting authorities; we do not want to upset that. But I think two things are necessary. My own later Amendment, No. 17, also refers to this situation in Wales, where we think that mere consultation, as suggested in the Bill as it stands, is not sufficient. I think we are going to have a—chaotic is perhaps too strong a word, but at any rate a very difficult situation unless we can he quite certain that there will be consultation between the neighbouring disposal authorities. As I shall hope to say when we reach Amendment No. 17, in my view there should be not merely consultation with the county as the planning authority but also the agreement of the county as the planning authority, subject always to the agreement of the Secretary of State where desirable. However, at this point I would only say that all the advice which I have received—and I have received a good deal in the past few weeks from various acquaintances and friends of mine in Welsh local government circles—is that these two Amendments should be accepted, and I hope they will be.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
I should like to welcome my noble friend Lord Amory to the ranks of those of us who speak on matters concerning the Celtic fringe. If I had one dispute with him about what he said it would be that he said he spoke on behalf of Wales, because others of us think that we also speak on behalf of Wales. But I am very concerned to answer his points which I am sure have great validity. The noble Baroness, Lady White, as she said, has another Amendment later in the list, No. 17, and perhaps we could go into the points she raised in more detail later. The noble Baroness goes further than my noble friend, requiring the agreement of the county council; my noble friend asks for consultation and a joint committee. When the noble Baroness was referring to the small districts and the difficulties they would have with waste disposal, I could not help thinking of my own small district, Mountain Ash Urban District Council, one of the first in Wales to install any reclamation plant for waste disposal. They did it a great many years ago, when the only other one that existed happened to be in Scotland. It is still working and I think they deserve great credit for it.
My noble friend has explained what he is after by his Amendments. Amendment No. 9 is designed to require that one disposal authority, one district, should consult all the other districts in its county area as well as the county council. There is already within the clause as it is drafted, provision for early consultation with the appropriate county council, and for considering at a later stage representations that might be made about the content of the draft plan. There is also in Clause 12 provision for consultation where the waste of one area may be disposed of in another waste disposal authority's area. I think that covers the point that was made by the noble Baroness, Lady White, about Flint and the neighbouring English district. Under Clause 12 consultations would be required between the two districts.
I agree that in principle other waste disposal authorities might wish to be consulted about the intentions of their neighbours. But I do not agree that this need be arranged as a statutory process within the framework of the county area. 1348 I am quite certain that in circumstances where it is desirable local authorities will consult with each other without having to be ordered to do so. The disadvantage of a compulsory county framework would I think be, for example, that it would require consultation between the Montgomery District Council and the Brecknock District Council because they would both be in the same county. But it would not require the much more likely need for consultation, between, say, the Rhymney Valley District and the adjoining District of Tonfaen because they would be in different counties. So I do not think that Amendment No. 9 would add very much; indeed, it might discourage the very consultations which we are seeking to provide.
So far as the next Amendment of my noble friend is concerned, about a joint committee, we have already decided, in the local Government Act of 1972, the question of the refuse disposal function, which in Wales is at district level. This was debated in your Lordships' House as well as in another place, and if my recollection is right, the noble Baroness, Lady White, was in favour of its being a district function in England as well—at least, that is the way in which she cast her vote. The issue in Wales has been settled at the otuset and the function remains, as it has been since 1936, the duty of the district councils. The Amendment suggesting a joint committee implies a measure of doubt about the adequacy of these consultative processes particularly as they concern the new Welsh county councils. I should like to reassure my noble friend on this score that the county councils will have all the planning control they need over land use, which is the major factor in this matter.
I will go into rather more detail on this matter when we come to Amendment No. 17, but I hope that what I have said is sufficient to convince my noble friend that while we are determined that there shall be full consultation we do not think that putting it in the statutory form he suggests would be of any advantage.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
I have listened carefully to what my noble friend has said, and I agree with him that we must rely on the habit and the practice of consultation between local authorities in all cases where it seems common sense on 1349 their part to do so, perhaps without laying it down specifically in every case in the Bill. My noble friend reminded us that consultation between a particular district and the county is required under the Bill. I suppose my noble friend visualises that if in the course of consultation the county felt a particular district should consult its neighbours, it would point that out and hope that the consultation would take place informally. If my noble friend is really sure that the required amount of consultation will be assured so far as possible under the provisions of the Bill as it stands, I shall not feel justified in pressing my Amendments further. I hope that, in one way or another, all the consultation that is required, particularly in the cases to which the noble Baroness, Lady White, referred in the industrialised areas of Wales, will take place. I understand that my noble friend is giving us his opinion that all the necessary consultation will take place, and I therefore beg leave to withdraw my Amendment No. 9.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.48 p.m.
LORD HENLEY moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 3, line 19, leave out ("such persons as are prescribed") and insert ("the owners and occupiers of the lands which the disposal authority propose shall be the sites for disposing of controlled waste, and such other persons as are prescribed;").
§ The noble Lord said: My Amendment also is about consultation; indeed I have several others on the same point. I fear that I may get the same sort of answer as was given to the noble Viscount, Lord Amory. It is on consultation in no small measure that the success or otherwise of the disposal authorities will depend, and I hope that on some of the Amendments which I propose to move the Government will bear that very much in mind and will come some way towards meeting me. This particular Amendment seeks to add to "such persons as are prescribed" further people. The existing wording does not seem to me to go far enough and the fact that the "persons" are to be " prescribed " by regulation is not altogether satisfactory. It seems to me that people on the land, who have their being by it and know about it, the owners arid the occupiers, should be consulted in the 1350 first place. It may be that they are consulted as a matter of course; that may be implicit in the Bill, although I have not noticed it. I am not sure what is the form with regard to other Acts of a similar kind where, as a last resort, land is taken by compulsory purchase from an owner or occupier or what degree of consultation is provided for. But here it seems to me, especially with regard to disposal sites (I spoke just now about the after-treatment of disposal sites, and in a way this follows on that), that the owner or occupier should be consulted. I hope that I shall get some comfort from the Government.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
At first sight, certainly the proposal the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has made seems to be a reasonable one. If it is severely frowned on, I suppose he and I will have to leave the Chamber to hold some kind of indignation meeting.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
I should like to support briefly what my noble friend and the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, have had to say about consultation. My experience has been in industry rather than as a landowner—apart, that is, from hacking about on my two acres in Cheshire. After what the noble Baroness, Lady White, said about Cheshire, I am not sure that I should confess to having both lived and worked there for some time; but that is the case. I suggest that the principles which underlie what can happen in joint consultation in industry should apply in this particular case. Increasingly one principle to which good management seeks to adhere in industry nowadays is that before taking decisions they should, as far as possible, consult with those who are likely to be affected by those decisions. It often happens that what is decided is then regarded as being better, not simply by those who have been consulted but by management—better, that is, than what would have been the case without the contributions of those affected by the decisions. I suggest that the same principles should be applied here and that all disposal authorities, in preparing their plans, would themselves benefit from consulting with owners and occupiers of the land of which they propose to make use. I should like to support what has 1351 been said, and I hope that the Government will in some way find it possible to accommodate this point in the Bill.
I, too, support this proposal, not as a landowner but from the point of view that the owners or occupiers of the land are likely to be the people most able to represent the viewpoint of the local inhabitants. I well remember a case where the local authority, in an authoritarian manner, proceeded to locate a waste dump about 400 yards upwind of our local village. Eventually it got into the national Press through the rumpus created by two or three people, and ultimately the dump was closed. Those are the sort of people who should have been consulted in advance, and the dumps should never have been located there at all.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
There is no doubt that this Bill includes a number of occasions when there must be statutory consultation, and for all the reasons which have been advanced by noble Lords who have spoken this is a principle which we accept as being of importance. Indeed, subsection (3) makes it quite clear that in five cases there must be statutory consultation with various authorities that will be concerned in the waste disposal plan; and subsection (6), as the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has said includessuch persons as are prescribed by the Secretary of State".The noble Lord is suggesting that we should add yet another group of people with whom there should be statutory consultation. One of the difficulties is that it is very easy to multiply the list of people who should be statutorily consulted and therefore make a much more complicated situation. However, I think there is substance in the point that landowners should be considered. It could well be that we should consider the private waste disposal operators in this connection. So I am prepared to consider this Amendment to see whether we should make it include statutory consultation on the lines suggested.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
In view of the time, and what we know of another function that is taking place this evening, I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.