HL Deb 30 April 1974 vol 351 cc11-3

3.0 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to introduce a Bill to make further provision with respect to waste disposal, water pollution, noise, atmospheric pollution and public health; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.

My Lords, I am sure that the House will recognise the Bill which I seek to introduce this afternoon as the Protection of the Environment Bill which we considered quite exhaustively in the last Parliament. Since the opening of Parliament I have been under some pressure to reintroduce the Bill. The only problem has been one of Parliamentary time: whether the Bill could be fitted into the current timetable of another place. I have already had some discussions through the usual channels about the programme for the Bill, and I also wrote yesterday to, I hope, all noble Lords who took part in the debates on the Bill in the last Parliament, to seek their views on whether it would be possible to expedite the Bill in your Lordships' House so that it might stand a good chance of reaching the Statute Book before the Summer Recess. The programme I have in mind is that we should have the Second Reading of the Bill on Tuesday next, May 7, followed by two Committee days on May 14 and May 16, with a view to completing the Bill in the last week before the Whitsun Recess.

My Lords, I realise that this is a very tight timetable and that it may involve fairly late sittings on those days on which we take the Bill; but the Bill was very thoroughly considered in the last Parliament and many of the changes incorporated in the present Bill have been made to meet points of criticism raised by noble Lords during the last Committee stage. I have already received favourable reaction from a number of Peers to whom I have written and I hope that this proposed course of action will commend itself in general to the House. I realise that with the best will in the world it may not be possible in the end to achieve this progress in this House. My attitude therefore is "let us give it a try", since this is a Bill which I think most of us agree is very important and one that we should try to get on to the Statute Book at the earliest possible moment. Naturally I will make myself fully available to any Member of your Lordships' House who may wish to raise any point concerning the Bill in order not only to improve it but to expedite its passage through the House. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 1a. —(Lord Shepherd.)


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for that statement and also for securing the re-introduction of this very important Bill. We know the Bill and we want it. We knew it as the Protection of the Environment Bill. In the intervening period since the Dissolution it has undergone a change of name. But What's in a name; that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet! We have not got the noble Baroness, our "Juliet", the Government Chief Whip, on the Government Front Bench, and while I did not think that I should ever regard the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, as a "Romeo", I think I do so in this context.

My Lords, as the noble Lord has said, there has been consultation through the usual channels about the timetable he has proposed. It is a very tight one; but, as the noble Lord has said, the Bill had reached its Report stage before the Dissolution of Parliament and had had, I believe, eight days in Committee. There is therefore no doubt that this Bill has already been dealt with very thoroughly. It is good to hear from the noble Lord the Leader of the House that some of the changes incorporated in the version that he introduced today result from points of criticism raised in the earlier proceedings. This is a non-Party measure. It is designed to protect the environment and to control pollution, and as such it is welcomed.


My Lords, it is important, I think, that we should have the Bill in its new form printed as soon as possible. Can the noble Lord the Leader of the House give some indication of when it will be available?


My Lords, I have no control over the printers but I hope that, having introduced the Bill, it will be available to-morrow. If any noble Lord who may not get a copy tomorrow wishes it, I will try to find out whether I can let him see a restricted copy.

On Question, Bill read 1a, and to be printed.