HL Deb 09 May 1985 vol 463 cc739-83

3.13 p.m.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Elton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

[Amendment No. 72A had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 72B: Before Clause 8, insert the following new clause:

("Waste regulation and disposal functions.

. The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for the functions conferred by sections 74 and 76 of the Public Health Act 1936, Part I of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 and sections 5 and 6 of the Litter Act 1983 in Greater London and the metropolitan counties to be functions of the London Residuary Body and each metropolitan county residuary body.").

The noble Baroness said: Waste disposal certainly is not a glamorous subject but it is something which affects the lives of all of us. When it goes well we do not even think about it; we quite naturally take it for granted. But when it goes wrong, reactions are sharp, plentiful, and full of anxiety. I believe that in this increasingly sophisticated society where waste is a growth industry the best structure for its disposal is vital, whatever the party politics of the Government in power.

Of all the clauses in this Bill, those relating to waste regulation and disposal give rise to some of the greatest concerns. In other areas where the Bill goes wrong it can result in delays, administrative chaos, increased costs and a reduction in essential services. But in the case of waste disposal and regulation there is an additional factor: the health and safety of many millions of people could be endangered. In this crucial area we cannot allow the slightest uncertainty to persist. This is why I propose this amendment which will effectively provide for a continuation of a strategic approach to waste regulation and disposal in Greater London and the metropolitan county councils.

Let us for a moment look at the voluntary arrangements proposed by the Government. We do not believe that they will work. They have been tried before and have failed. Voluntary arrangements between boroughs and districts would not enable decisions to be made such as setting the budget, granting site licences, entering into contracts, agreeing a London or county-wide strategy on waste disposal plans; for without the unanimous approval of all the districts and boroughs each decision would have to be ratified by each district or borough council individually. Individual districts or boroughs would be able to contract out simply because they did not like a particular decision.

Voluntary arrangements will lead to endless arguments over the provision of the financial resources required. We have seen this before in other areas. A single strategic authority can spread its costs by raising a precept across the whole area. It seems that to talk of a voluntary co-operation in this context is a retrograde step both in central and in local government. The inclusion in the Bill of absolute powers reserved to the Secretary of State demonstrates that the Government themselves have doubts about the appropriateness and practicality of voluntary arrangements for waste disposal and regulation.

Every significant study has argued the case for a strategic waste disposal authority. Within the last month the Select Committee of this House on Science and Technology, under the chairmanship of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, has specifically examined the Bill's proposals and their effect on waste disposal. Their findings are unequivocal. The committee concludes: We reject the Bill's proposal to transfer waste disposal functions to borough and district councils. These councils are too small to control hazardous waste disposal effectively and voluntary arrangements for co-operation between them have no serious prospect of survival. Single waste disposal authorities for London and each metropolitan county council should be set up before public confidence in waste disposal is undermined". I do not think there could be a clearer comment than that.

Following the Government's response to the earlier report on hazardous waste disposal by the same Select Committee under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Gregson, on 3rd April this year they recorded their deep concern at the fragmentation of waste disposal authorities in Greater London and the metropolitan counties: The provisions of the Local Government Bill run counter to the Committee's recommendation in favour of large waste disposal authorities and regional planning". Those are judgments made by a highly expert Select Committee of your Lordships' House. In addition, the chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Sir Richard Southwood, wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment on 14th February 1985, saying: We remain concerned that waste disposal should be planned and operated on a sufficiently large scale to ensure that environmental damage is minimised". This is only the distinguished tip of a large iceberg of grave concern.

It is strange almost to the point of incomprehensibility that the Government do not heed the views of these eminent bodies when they express such deep concern and argue so strongly for the present Greater London and metropolitan county-wide arrangements, and that these should be maintained with the present team of experts and the existing centres of excellence which cover all aspects of waste regulation and disposal. The case for this concentration on the centres of excellence was made strongly in the report of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook.

The success of the strategic waste disposal authority in Greater London from 1965 was widely recognised, so that when local government was reorganised in 1974 waste disposal responsibilities were transferred to the shire and metropolitan counties in England. These bodies have achieved similar success, and the Government have never challenged this. The by-products of this structure are impressive. For example, both the GLC and the metropolitan county councils have attracted expert teams of specialists which it would be criminal to lose. They have promoted technological advance and recycling initiatives. They are able to take advantage of economies of scale to negotiate favourable long-term contracts with the private sector. There are many more achievements that I could mention, but I will not take up time.

In their consultation paper on waste disposal published in November 1983, the Government stated that the boroughs and districts should seek to ensure, so far as is possible, that the transfer of the service takes place without detriment to existing standards of service. It seems odd that in a Government document they should have to say: to seek to ensure so far as possible". Surely the least that could be expected would be to guarantee existing standards. Why on earth does one change the system unless it is to improve it? One does not just hold on to what exists, but makes it better; otherwise, to go to all this trouble, disruption and expense is quite worthless.

The Government's proposals have also been roundly and universally condemned by all professional, academic and industrial opinion. The private sector, including the CBI and the National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors, has been among the most vigorous opponents of the Government's proposals. This has been a rare case of both the public and the private sectors speaking with one voice. One would have thought that the Government would take that seriously. I believe the Government would be hard put to it to give the Committee the name of a single professional or trade body which supports the Government's proposals.

Apart from what is generally defined as hazardous waste—all waste is hazardous if not disposed of properly—waste has to be dealt with every working day. The availability of disposal outlets can change hour by hour, let alone day by day, and without a single strategic authority with the power to direct collection vehicles to available disposal outlets the service could well grind to a halt. Individual districts and borough councils, because of their inherent geographical limitations, will not have the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. Common standards for pollution control on public and private sector sites are likewise imperative; if not, the public and industry will have no confidence in the regulating authority. If there is no confidence, this can only be bad both for the service and for the public at large.

Unless an authority understands the nature of waste, the disposal options and the variety of site conditions, risks must increase. Unless an authority can employ specialists in the chemical, biological and other essential scientific fields, abuse and failures will be inevitable. We cannot risk a disaster like Love Canal in Britain today. The community and industry are entitled to competent strategic authorities which are committed to the protection of the environment and which employ high levels of expertise to ensure safety and confidence.

Eighteen months after Streamlining the Cities we are still waiting for detailed solutions to the problems that abolition will bring. Dissension and disagreement in the boroughs and districts, concern over costs and lack of expertise and knowledge have combined to produce stalemate. The latest ministerial deadline for post-abolition arrangements is the beginning of September 1985—a date too close for comfort. The obstinate pursuit of this course in a desperate attempt to achieve the unachievable can only jeopardise the future health and safety of the public. It is clear that Greater London and the metropolitan county councils must have an efficient waste disposal service from Day 1 after abolition. That efficient waste disposal service exists now. All that is needed is to retain it as it is.

The Minister for Local Government, obviously concerned about this reaction, issued a note of guidance proposing various groupings of boroughs and districts. But in that guidance note the Government accepted that there must be some common unit to deal with hazardous waste management. They accept the need to co-ordinate waste planning activities, they accept the need for some consultation and liaison arrangements to ensure a reasonable consistency in site licensing standards, and they accept the need for some joint consultation on research and development. The particular groups of authorities may wish to join together in financing projects of common interest. This is all trying to bring in what is now in operation, but doing it in the most impossible and unrealistic manner. It is not good enough, because the Government's proposals are riddled with common units, joint consultation and liaison arrangements, where once again the real solution is the single strategic authority. The present service will be in danger of disintegration, staff will leave and the service will therefore be unable to be maintained efficiently or at the standards of convenience and health and safety of the Government.

As I have shown, all expert opinion and all available evidence argues that waste disposal must be the responsibility of strategic authorities. It is strange that the Government do not listen even to bodies that they have set up. The inability of Government or the borough and district councils to produce a workable alternative underlines this. In the end I fear that the Government will find that this is the only solution, and if they do not accept this now the uncertainty about this essential service will be disastrous.

Lord Elton

I am not seeking to be difficult, but the noble Baroness did not open her speech with a reference to any other amendment numbers. I believe she intended also to embrace the next amendment in her name on the Marshalled List. If that is so, she should mention it before she sits down.

Baroness Birk

The amendments have been grouped so that most of these major amendments on waste disposal are together. I am sorry.

Noble Lords

Which numbers?

Baroness Birk

I am speaking to the next one on hazardous waste, which is really incorporated in this, and there are other amendments which do not apply to me at all; but I am coming on to that point now.

Lord Elton

The noble Baroness is speaking, with the leave of the Committee, to Amendments Nos. 72B and 72C so far, but I think she will declare an interest (though it is really for my noble friend to do so) in Amendments Nos. 73 and 74.

Baroness Birk

Yes; I am sorry. I thought it was for the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

It is nothing to do with me.

Baroness Birk

I am speaking now to Amendment No. 72B and to Amendments Nos. 72C, 73 and 74. Amendment No. 72C: Before Clause 8, insert the following new clause:

("Hazardous waste functions.

. The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for the regulation and control of hazardous waste in Greater London and the metropolitan counties to be functions of the London Residuary Body and each metropolitan county residuary body.").

Amendment No. 73: Clause 9, page 4, line 35, leave out subsection (1) and insert— ("( ) On the appointed day there shall be established in Greater London and each metropolitan county a body corporate to be known by the name of the London Waste Disposal Authority or by the name of the county with the addition of the words "Waste Disposal Authority", as the case may be. ( ) Each authority shall consist of members of the constituent councils appointed by them to be members of the Authority. ( ) The constituent councils in relation to the London Waste Disposal Authority shall be the London borough councils and the Common Council. ( ) The constituent councils in relation to a metropolitan waste disposal authority shall be the councils for the metropolitan districts comprised in the county. ( ) Each authority shall be a joint authority within the meaning of Part IV of this Act and the provisions of that Part shall apply to this section as if this section were included in that Part. ( ) The functions specified in subsection (2) below shall be discharged by the authority in respect of the area for which it is established."). Amendment No. 74: Page 5, line 13, leave out subsections (3) to (5). I beg the Committee's pardon if this has caused any trouble, but I think they are all together in the same group.

The case is overwhelming. What we now have to consider—and this is what I was going to say when the Minister intervened—differs from Amendment No. 73 as to what form that strategic authority should take. The amendment I am moving favours the residuary body for three main reasons. First, the Bill already provides for residuary bodies, which have diverse functions incorporated in them. When we come to that part of the Bill, the bodies can be made permanent. Then, the residuary bodies would provide direct linkages with other services.

Lord Elton

We must have this clear. Is the noble Baroness saying that the residuary body will be made permanent. Did I hear that correctly?

3.30 p.m.

Baroness Birk

What I said—and I am sorry that the noble Lord the Minister seems to find me so difficult to understand today—was that the residuary bodies are in the Bill; and I take it that he would agree that that is so. They are in Clause 55. At the moment they are there for five years, but the Secretary of State can prolong their lives. I was saying that they could be made permanent if it is the will of Parliament that they should be. That is what I was saying.

Secondly, the residuary body would provide direct linkages with other services and the essential specialist service could also find its place in these bodies and not be in danger of dissipation. We had on Tuesday the example of transport, which is now being put into the residuary body for London and, so far as the metropolitan counties are concerned, into a joint authority. So already this week we have had a precedent for this.

I do not think that the Minister need be quite so puzzled about this as he appears to look at the moment. The specialist staffs would be preserved and not be in danger of dissipation. The residuary body could then become an elected or an appointed body according to the wishes of Parliament. If we stay with the system as it is in the Bill, the Secretary of State will then be forced to use his reserve powers to bring about a further reorganisation, with all the consequential disruption that that will involve. This subject of waste disposal should not be used as a political football.

Noble Lords


Baroness Birk

Noble Lords may laugh; but it is something that affects everybody and it has to be undertaken by whoever may be the Government or the local authority. What I am saying is that if a system is working well, you should change it only if you can improve upon it. All that we have seen so far are the plans in the Bill which would make it a far worse and more ineffective system. I quoted very distinguished expert sources to support the point of view that you should change it only if you can improve it. This is an outstanding example of the importance of this Chamber using its revising powers in the interests of millions of people in this country who will be gravely affected by whatever is decided in this very important area and to whom we owe a deep responsibility. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

As a brief intervention I would remind your Lordships that this is Committee stage and that it is perfectly normal for noble Lords to stand up and sit down as they wish. This is not Second Reading. I want merely to ask the noble Baroness whether she will tell us whether it is her intention that the residuary body shall become permanent; or is this something that she is going to decide later after your Lordships have decided what to put in it?

Baroness Birk

This is the Committee stage, but I have always been taught to believe since I have been in this House that when one is discussing an amendment at Committee stage one should try to restrict oneself to the amendment. I am discussing the amendment which is before us, Amendment No. 72B. The Minister knows perfectly well that as Parliament can do anything, it can certainly make this residuary body permanent. We shall hear the Government's view later, no doubt.

Lord Elton

My noble friends and I, and other noble Lords on the Cross-Benches, will probably take a different view about what the noble Baroness is proposing if it presupposes later action to change the nature of the body to which she is giving these functions. It is a perfectly relevant question to ask.

Baroness Birk

Whatever form the residuary body takes, in order to guarantee continuity and consistency there will have to be a permanent body set up. That makes sense. There are powers in the Bill to have a strategic body. There is no point in having a strategic body for a very short time. We believe in a strategic body and if your Lordships decide that a strategic body is necessary, obviously one would expect an element of permanence to be attached to the strategic bodies.

Lord Elton

I am most grateful to the noble Baroness. It is quite clear that she says that this is a strategic function and that there is no point in giving a strategic function to a temporary body and therefore it is the proposal to change the nature of the residuary body until it becomes a reflection of what has been abolished by this Bill.

Baroness Birk

Not at all. The Minister has no right to draw that conclusion. It will go into a residuary body, but this does not for one moment mean—and I think that this was made clear; I certainly made it clear at Second Reading and on the amendments on which we spoke at the beginning of the Committee stage—that the residuary bodies should be mirror images of the present GLC, on the one hand, or the metropolitan counties, on the other. There is nothing that I have said and nothing in this amendment that can lead the Minister to come to that conclusion, unless he is dreaming it up himself.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

I realise that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, does not want any assistance from anybody in this Committee, let alone me, to deal with the cross-examination that is now being pursued by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, in this matter. With great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Elton—I have the greatest respect for him—he gives his case away and the Government's case away by the number of questions which he immediately puts to the noble Baroness. Unfortunately, for other reasons I was not here earlier in the proceedings. But I am dealing only with the question forcefully put; I almost said "hectoringly" put, but I will withdraw the word "hectoringly" straight away—I withdraw that. The impression that one has got is that the Government do not know what to do with these matters.

We all agree on this side that the GLC should be abolished; we all agree for the purposes of this context that the metropolitan counties should be abolished. We are not trying to wreck this Bill.

Noble Lords


Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

We are trying to assist. It is very interesting to me to hear those shouts. We are not trying to wreck this Bill. We are trying to be of assistance. Our function here in this House is to assist the Government as to the future policy they are to adopt on such very important matters as waste disposal. I am very sorry indeed to find that noble Lords on the other side of the Committee with whom I have had a lot of discussion on matters relating to defence, science and all that sort of thing should feel that the noble Baroness is trying to wreck this Bill when she is trying to get going a procedure which will assist not only your Lordships but also the community at large which is concerned with waste disposal.

Lord Elton

All that I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, is that I have not yet made my case on these amendments. But I thought that your Lordships should know what it was that the noble Baroness was proposing. She was kind enough to illuminate that, so that we now know.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

I hesitate to intervene, but I understand from the few remarks now made by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that he is trying to withdraw those questions which he was putting—

Lord Campbell of Alloway

Irrespective of whether the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, is trying to wreck the Bill or not, the plain fact of the matter is that an amendment such as this has that effect. If I may say so, she is always frank; and I think I got down correctly what she said. She said: residuary bodies, temporary, yes, for five years; and that they could be made permanent if the will of Parliament should say that they should be so. But that is precisely what is contrary to what has come from the other place and it is contrary to the principle of the Bill. There is no use beating about the bush for then one merely wastes the time of your Lordships. This is a challenge to the principle of the Bill. It is nothing other than part of the declared strategy to load up the residuary bodies with functions so that it can be said, in relation to, I think, Clause 55, that they should be elected because they have so many functions. This is precisely the principle of the Bill which is under challenge, as I understand it.

Baroness Birk

I really must intervene, otherwise words that I have not spoken will be put into my mouth; and I really cannot allow that. I said that the residuary bodies would then become, as they would have to, permanent bodies, and whether they were appointed or elected would be a matter for your Lordships.

Lord Ezra

If I may, I should like to talk on the subject of waste disposal, and in that connection I should like to support the proposition put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, that the waste disposal services, having been so much of a success since they were last reorganised in 1974, should be kept in that state for the benefit of the people they serve. I believe that since that date subsequent legislation, particularly relating to hazardous waste disposal and monitoring, site licensing, waste disposal strategies and siting, make it imperative that county-wide bodies deal with this subject. If we were to change this system not only would we get back to the unco-ordinated system that was present before 1974 and was then corrected, but it would be worse, because the whole question of waste disposal has now become very big business and requires considerable expertise.

That expertise has been acquired and has been brought together at the GLC and the metropolitan county levels. A number of your Lordships have no doubt seen the evidence of their work. I personally have spent some time at the Edmonton incineration and power generation plant. This is symptomatic of the new, imaginative and highly technological thinking that is going on behind waste disposal. It is inconceivable that a small grouping of local authorities could carry out, plan and operate a project of that kind. Other projects of that kind for the London area, I was reliably informed, were in hand. Would they, and could they, be carried out under the new totally decentralised arrangements?

Your Lordships are no doubt aware—those of you who follow this subject—that Messrs. Coopers and Lybrand brought out a report last year on this whole subject in regard to the proposals contained within the Bill. They said the following: Voluntary co-operation is presently the Government's preferred solution. If it is allowed to proceed we can envisage the experiment failing in many cases and the Governmert being compelled to establish joint boards, as indeed provided for in the Bill. Thus, two reorganisations could in practice be the consequence of the Bill as presently drafted, and not one. This cannot be a sensible proposal". That is the conclusion reached by Coopers and Lybrand. I think it shows that this idea of going back on a sector of very successful operation in regard to waste disposal is one that is inevitably putting the clock back.

It is important, in working our way through this Bill as a revising assembly, that we should pay particular attention to what now works efficiently and successfully, with the highest degree of technological expertise behind it, which is testified to by the many foreign visits that are paid to these establishments. We should not, for the sake of the convenience of fitting everything into what the Bill intends to do, go back on what has been so successful. Therefore I strongly recommend to your Lordships that the present arrangements for waste disposal on a county-wide basis should be maintained and should be incorporated, as these amendments suggest, either in the residuary body or as a separate body on their own. We are taking all those amendments together; these alternative proposals are put forward. But, either way, I would strongly press, on the basis of the clear achievements in this area, that the waste disposal authority should continue on a county-wide basis.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I think the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, takes an unduly pessimistic view of the capacity and efficiency of the boroughs, to which, under the Bill as it stands, these functions would be transferred. This is after all throughout the country essentially a local government function and I see no reason—apparently some noble Lords do not agree; but of course it is a local government function—

Lord Ezra

The noble Lord has kindly allowed me to intervene. In fact the shires handle this and therefore there would be a discrepancy in the way that this is handled, if it were to go through.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

This is, as I said, a local government function—

Noble Lords


3.45 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

Noble Lords say no, but it is a function at the moment of the GLC, which is at the moment a local government authority. I do not really see why noble Lords make such heavy weather of that. It seems to me to be the most elementary of propositions. What I was trying to say to the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, was that his speech, no doubt unintentionally, carried a real reflection on the efficiency of the boroughs, to which, under the Bill as it stands, these functions would pass. Experience has shown over the years that authorities of this size—and in London, for example, we are talking of authorities of the size and significance of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden—have been perfectly capable in handling these matters. Indeed, with the growth of the policy of putting out waste disposal to private contract they have proved themselves extremely flexible in adapting to that situation. Therefore I start with the proposition that there is no reason whatever to assume that the authorities to which under the Bill these functions would be transferred would be other than capable of administering them. I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, that I think most of the local authorities concerned would very much resent any imputation to the contrary.

Lord Ezra

As the noble Lord has suggested it, may I say that I was in no way impugning the capability of the local boroughs. I should like to say that was not my intention. I believe that he has in fact made a mistake in talking about these local boroughs putting waste disposal out to contract. What they have done is put waste collection out to contract. The waste disposal function since 1974 has been in the hands of the metropolitan counties and the GLC; and because it has now become so complex and because we have the hazardous waste problem that we have, there is no suggestion that the boroughs are not capable of handling whatever they handle at the moment. However, what we have seen over the last 10 years is the very efficient handling of this very big and hazardous business, and the one thing this country has suffered from is continual chopping and changing. Once we have got something working well, why do we not leave it working well?

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I admire the conservatism of the last part of the noble Lord's speech, particularly as delivered from that Bench. However, I admire rather less his clarity of thinking, because having got very excited about waste disposal, which he argues is not a local government function, he then went on to point out that it was in fact handled by local government authorities, which he named. Therefore we really come back to the question of whether both waste collection and disposal are beyond the capacity of the authorities to which, under the Bill, they would go. Although I am naturally obliged to the noble Lord for indicating that his speech did not convey any reflection on these authorities, it seems to me that for this Committee to take the view that they could not manage this would be a quite serious reflection on large, important, responsible and experienced bodies such as these are.

I am so glad that noble Lords opposite agree with me on that point, because it is a refreshing experience for me on this Bill and I express my gratitude to them. Having dealt with that point, we start on the basis that there is no real reason to believe that the authorities to whom the Bill would transfer these functions would be incapable of discharging them. We then come to the much narrower argument as to whether or not they would be discharged better or worse. That I suppose is the point which noble Lords opposite would seek to argue. There one must look on this amendment, as on all others, not only on its intentions but on its effect. I am not concerned to attribute any motive to the noble Baroness; she was already touchy enough earlier this afternoon and I do not want to touch her off again.

We must look at the effect of her amendment, if it were carried, because after all it is a presumption, is it not, of law that the sane person intends the natural consequences of his act. This is a permanent function; waste collection and disposal will both go on as long as urban life continues. This is a permanent function, and to transfer it to a body which under the Bill is temporary raises two possible questions. Either it means that the noble Baroness is proposing to transfer these functions to the residuary body for five years, and then under further legislation they should be transferred elsewhere—and this goes dead against Lord Ezra's argument against change—or we are assuming that somehow the residuary body will be continued indefinitely.

The noble Baroness wishes to intervene; but if she will permit me to continue, it may be relevant. I do not know how many of your Lordships saw the television broadcast today by Baroness Seear which throws literally a good deal of light on this situation. Perhaps the noble Baroness would like to intervene now?

Baroness Birk

I thank the noble Lord. I am certainly not very touchy; I quite enjoyed the exchange, it livened things up. But I did not think the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was very courteous. I do not like being told to sit down and wait for a moment, I would not have treated him in that way. I just want to say, before this point gets lost in a rather lengthy debate, that I think the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, is a debater of almost Olympic standards. However, this is not the Oxford Union, it is not a debating society. We are discussing the future of a very important function which affects everybody's lives. If I may say so, it seems to have become confused between the collection responsibilities of the boroughs and districts, and the waste disposal responsibilities which, although in a wide sphere are part of local government, were in fact set up as waste disposal authorities. I do not know if the noble Lord is aware of that.

I should also draw his attention to Clause 65 which allows, without changing the Bill at that point, the residuary bodies to continue if they still have work to do after five years. Perhaps the noble Lord would be a little more temperate.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

Let me say at once that I should regret it enormously if the noble Baroness thought I had been discourteous to her. That is the last thing I should wish to be. I think, however, she would agree that the noble Lord in possession of the Committee can at least select the moment at which he gives way and not subject his grammar to undue strain by giving way in the middle of a sentence. I would remind the noble Baroness that if she is seeking to lecture me on courtesy, I very quickly gave way to her, which is very much in contrast with the conduct of her noble Leader on the Second Reading who, declined three times to give way to me when he had mentioned me specifically by name. So I am not really very inclined to take lessons in manners from the Bench opposite.

I am perfectly aware of the distinction between collection and disposal; obviously, everybody is. But I am not sure that it is of very great significance to the point which I was making. That point is that it is proposed to transfer a permanent function—the noble Baroness does not dispute that this is a permanent function—to a body which it is contemplated by the Bill shall be temporary. If that be so, this raises the question whether the purpose of this proposal, or if not the purpose, its effect, will not be both to add weight to the argument for making this body permanent, but loading so many functions upon it that then noble Lords opposite will come forward and say, "Oh well, of course, it must be elected, it must have precepting powers". We would then be back to reversing the decision which the Committee took only a day or two ago against an elective precept-levying body. This is what this amendment, if adopted, is a step towards.

Now I come back to the question of the television broadcast by the noble Baroness who leads the Liberal Party which seemed to indicate a complete appreciation of the consequence of these kinds of amendments. Therefore I ask your Lordships to consider this not only as a question of the ideal method of performing a useful function of local government, and whether we can work out better methods when the GLC withdraws the ban on its officials having conversations about the new setup with the incoming authorities. At the moment the GLC are doing their best to make those difficult by forbidding their officials to talk on these matters. It is as well that that should be stated plainly in this Committee.

However, one comes back to the fact that if you pile additional functions on to this residuary body, it could well be part of a strategy for seeking to reverse, by the back door, a major decision which this Committee took a little time ago. I suggest it would be quite wrong to achieve that by this method.

Lord Parry

I am a naif and an innocent in these matters; I tend to believe that this Committee sets standards that it cannot always keep. I feel at the moment we have fallen below the level of the Committee approach. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, has led over the past seven or eight years the "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign, which has contributed more to the understanding of the importance of this subject than perhaps any other body. He has been chairman of that campaign which has focused attention on waste disposal matters, and he knows a very great deal about the subject. Surely, the point he was making was not a matter of the technology of this debate but that we here could consolidate the very real progress that has been made among all the bodies concerned with cleaning.

I happen to be the president of the British Institute of Cleaning Science and chairman of the British Cleaning Council. Systematically there has been built up in the country over the past seven or eight years a new approach to cleaning. There has been a new platform which has given the opportunity for those in contract cleaning to talk with those in the public services. We do not even need any longer to fall out publicly over the matter of who cleans what or when and why.

However, the real point being made by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, as I understood it in this debate is that there has been real progress. To set it all back now would spoil the progress that has been made.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I agree absolutely with nine-tenths of what the noble Baroness said, and I think the Committee on all sides would do so. The importance of looking at the matter of disposal and collection of waste is very important to the nation's health and general wellbeing. The Committee will remember we went through a period when, as a result of the dustmen's strike, we saw rats running all over Leicester Square as a consequence of waste disposal not being carried out.

I should like to make it absolutely clear, so far as I can, that there is no difference of view at all on either side of the Committee as to the importance of getting these things right. It is important; and I do not think the impression ought to be given, whether from the Government side or the Opposition side, that there is anything flippant regarding these things being properly dealt with. So I accept the major part of the speech of the noble Baroness, which I know will be acceptable to everybody.

4 P.m.

However, we ought to confine ourselves to what is the issue. The issue on these clauses is clearly this. Certain noble Lords have the view that we can get the efficiency which would bring about the safety of waste disposal only by leaving the present conditions, where the big authority is responsible for it and has to handle it. We on this side believe that the big authority, which encompasses this as part of its functions, is an unnecessary tier of government which is costly and which in the long run is inefficient as regards giving service to the people of this country. That is what the Bill is about. It is to remove an unnecessary tier of government because it is costly and, in many respects has proved to be inefficient. In removing it the Bill suggests alternative authorities to carry out the functions which that big authority now performs—alternatives which will be more efficient and satisfactory.

The noble Baroness and those who support her have virtually said that there are no alternatives and we must carry on as now. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, produced evidence which was meant to show that we have now reached a state of perfection and that we must never think of altering the present situation. His words could certainly give that impression—

Lord Ezra

May I say that I have no intention at all of suggesting that anything we do now should last forever. All I said was that what we are doing now is totally different from what we were doing before 1974; it is a great improvement on what we were doing before 1974 and what noble Lords opposite are suggesting is that we should go back to that situation.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

The noble Lord was perfectly clear. He said that we must not have all these changes. He said that we had made a lot of advances and that the present position is satisfactory. If that does not mean that he feels we have reached the position where we need not bother and that there are no alternatives, I do not know what it means. I have had experience in local government over very many years and I believe that the alternatives which are envisaged under this Bill, of the local authorities, the boroughs, taking back the powers and being able to take decisions on these matters, are better.

The Select Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, and the noble Baroness have all seemed to say that you cannot rely upon the smaller authorities voluntarily arriving at a position which is as efficient as the present one. Indeed, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool used similar words on another amendment. I am prepared to suggest to my noble friends that this is something which will be better done under a voluntary arrangement, and that, if we give local authorities a chance voluntarily to come to a size which could give proper attention to these important matters, the result will be infinitely better than the position we now have. That is the decision which we have to make on these amendments.

But this Government have brought in extra safeguards, as any sensible Government should do. Just in case the voluntary method which I find so attractive does not work in certain areas, the same Bill gives powers to the Minister to step in and say that they have to do things which will work. That is the whole purpose of leaving the special powers in the hands of the Minister, so that he can fill in the gaps. I do not think that there will be many gaps and—I know that it may annoy some noble Lords opposite when I say this—I believe the only gaps that are likely to occur will be as a result of certain local authorities putting their political ideology above carrying out their functions as proper local authorities with the powers of local authorities. We find that happening now. On the occasions when local authorities are not carrying out the law of the land, the Minister steps in in order to see that there is a continuity of service.

So the only decision that we have to make on these amendments is: are we satisfied with the voluntary arrangement which worked for very many years, and in which many noble Lords sitting in this Chamber have played a part as local councillors, on the joint committees which dealt with health services and on all sorts of matters which need the co-operation of several authorities? The system worked for very many years before 1974 and I have every confidence that given the chance it will work again.

But having said that, I do not think that we ought to run away from the point that my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter made. There is a certain feeling behind these amendments—

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

Will the noble Lord give way? The noble Lord said that the arrangement was working satisfactorily before 1974, but is he taking into consideration the serious problems that arose particularly in the West Midlands, which he knows as well as I do, regarding the dumping of toxic waste, the cyanide scandal and all the other things which went on? Is that the satisfaction that he wants us to have in the future, that we had prior to 1974?

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

The noble Baroness and I come from the same parish. Her experience is almost identical to my own. Any evidence that I could call would be the evidence that she would be in a position to call. My answer very clearly, from my experience in the West Midlands, is that I am satisfied that the joint authorities made up of the smaller local authorities were efficient before 1974 with the knowledge that was then available to all of them, as it is with the present metropolitan boroughs, and there is no reason after all these years to start throwing mud at the excellent service that those local authorities gave before 1974 and would be in a position to give in 1986 and beyond. I believe that of the two alternatives, the local authorities are most likely to produce the best results.

But I want to come back to what is behind all of these amendments. There is more to this than the terms of the amendments themselves. This is quite clear from the number on the Marshalled List and reasonably clear from the speeches that have been made. It is all very well for the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, suddenly to get the applause of the Committee, which he did, by saying that he wanted to go back to discussing waste, rather suggesting that all of the other talk was unnecessary and out of order. But only a few hours before the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, said that from the Liberal Bench, his Leader, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, was saying to the nation on television pretty much what my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter suggested was behind all this.

It has been made crystal clear, and by no one more than the noble Baroness, on television, that part of the strategy behind all these amendments is, first, to get a good answer if they can to the problem of waste; and, secondly, to use these amendments as a vehicle to get through the side door the principle of not ending the county boroughs' extra tier of government, which the Government were given power to do in a mandate, which the other place has agreed to do and which we in our decision on the Second Reading agreed to do. It is no good pretending that there is any other suggestion behind the words used by the noble Baroness in the broadcast and behind the general tenor of the amendments.

This is a matter where the only issue, wherever we sit, on the Cross-Benches, or on either side of the Chamber, is: are we going to adhere to the main principle of removing an unnecessary tier of government, or are we going to leave one little ingredient in the powers of the metropolitan boroughs to damage the whole of that great march forward? It is upon that issue that we ought to make our decision, and in doing that we ought to have confidence that the elected members of the boroughs, and the smaller authorities, are just as capable of coming to the right decisions in the interests of their constituents as are members of county boroughs or even Members of Parliament.

The Countess of Mar

Before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him why, if the local authorities were working so perfectly prior to 1974, it was necessary for a Conservative Government to bring into being the metropolitan authorities and the new shire counties?

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

If I gave the impression that I thought local authorities were working perfectly before 1974, I should say that I have never found any authority, local or national, which I think works perfectly. All of them leave room for a lot of improvement. That is the whole point of debate in Parliament: to find out where it is not working perfectly and to try to move a step towards improvement. In removing this unnecessary tier, I think we are doing just that. What I am saying is that from my personal experience, which covered 15 to 20 years, where joint authorities made up of nine or ten local authorities got together to make decisions which covered a wide area it worked, and worked well. I defy the suggestion made by the Select Committee, by the noble Baroness and by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, that the local authorities are not capable of getting together and will not do it as efficiently as this authority—and I say that on the basis of my own experience as one who worked in it, although it never was as perfect as I should have liked it to be.

Lord Gregson

I want to talk about waste disposal and in particular about hazardous waste disposal. Your Lordships' Select Committee on Science and Technology is very considerably concerned regarding those aspects of the Local Government Bill that deal with the arrangements to be made for the disposal of both domestic and industrial waste when seven of the present waste disposal authorities are no longer in existence. The Committee do not believe that the arrangements outlined in Clause 9 and elsewhere in this Bill are desirable or even viable. That is the reason for Amendment No. 73.

In 1981 the Select Committee conducted a long and detailed inquiry into the disposal of hazardous waste. The report of that inquiry is now accepted throughout the world as an authoritative and unbiased report. For the benefit of your Lordships, perhaps I may point out that it is now in its third edition. It is recognised as one of the most important reports on hazardous waste ever produced. At the end of last year the Select Committee commenced an inquiry into local government scientific and technical services which by definition included a review of the handling of all classes of waste. The passage through Parliament of this Bill obliged the committee to produce an interim report and I shall quote to the noble Baroness the recommendations in the committee's report: They consider that voluntary arrangements have no serious prospect of survival or even of providing the proper degree of control which hazardous waste disposal requires. They therefore recommend that the Bill be amended to provide that single authorities should be established. Furthermore they consider that establishment of those authorities should not wait on the London boroughs and the metropolitan districts, nor run any risk of reducing public confidence in waste disposal, but should be established before the abolition date. Delay would necessitate two reorganisations of waste disposal rather than one and thus an unjustifiable degree of disruption". It is important to understand what lies behind the original recommendations in the committee's report on hazardous waste, which was endorsed on review by the present report. Hazardous waste is a very complex, highly technical subject, and with the almost daily introduction of new materials and chemical compounds the complexity is multiplying. The control and monitoring of hazardous waste therefore calls for a highly qualified multi-disciplined staff. This requirement is further compounded in this country because the great bulk of liquid hazardous waste is co-disposed with domestic waste on the principle of dilute and disperse.

4.15 p.m.

The United Kingdom is almost unique in this method of disposal but it is a most cost-effective route. The Select Committee considered that co-disposal could be a satisfactory procedure but (and it is a very big "but") only if control, monitoring and support research is of the very highest standard and is carried out on a continuous basis.

Two of the issues that concerned the committee on hazardous waste, from the very considerable evidence it received, were, first, that many of the existing authorities—that is still post-1974; I am talking of all the county waste disposal authorities—were too small to have an effective expertise and this gave rise to fragmentation and very uneven performance. I believe that the first report of the new inspectorate for hazardous waste is critical of this situation, and I should be interested to learn from the Government spokesman today why that report has not been laid before Parliament in time for the passage of this Bill through your Lordships' House. It is ironic that among the better waste disposal authorities are the London and metropolitan county councils; which is just as well because the great bulk of hazardous waste arising in this country is in the areas covered by them. The other issue which became apparent was that before 1974 many attempts were made to bring about voluntary groups of the smaller authorities in order to form the size of authority that was necessary to gather together the expertise to deal with this very difficult problem. The outcome was a miserable failure.

The Select Committee has received a great deal of evidence and correspondence regarding the subject we are discussing today, and within my knowledge not one comment supports the concept of voluntary organisations for this most vital area of activity, although many of the bodies commenting strongly support the rest of the Government's Bill. To underline this, I shall quote briefly from the comments that I have received.

The first comment comes from the CBI: We have considered very carefully the Government's proposals that responsibility for waste regulation and disposal should be transferred to individual district and borough councils. The overwhelming majority of members consulted were of the view that voluntary co-operation is unlikely to work and that statutory joint arrangements should be made from the outset". The National Farmers' Union, which I do not think supports this side of the Committee, said: There is considerable evidence of an inability of districts to co-operate in the allocation and management of waste disposal facilities or to employ sufficiently technically competent staff". The Institute of Waste Management, the professional body said: It is clear to this Institute that the most satisfactory alternative option on the abolition of the Greater London Council and the metropolitan county councils is to transfer their waste regulation and disposal functions to statutory joint boards". The industrial side in the private sector, the National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors, is already on record as having expressed the opinion that in the event that Parliament passes the Local Government Bill abolishing the GLC and metropolitan authorities: the standard of scientific and technical services in Greater London and the metropolitan counties will fall drastically in the waste management industry. It remains our strongly held view that statutory joint boards should replace the GLC and metropolitan authorities". It goes on: 'Co-ordination' and 'voluntary joint arrangements' are words regarded by management in both sectors as mere pious hopes. They are rarely effective. As to the guarantee that the Secretary of State has reserve powers where the proposed scheme does not work, one wonders how long a period of chaos will exist before that radical step is taken". It is very important. The insidious danger arising from the land fill disposal of hazardous waste is the possible contamination of our water supplies. That must never, never, be allowed to happen.

Perhaps I may quote from the evidence given by those charged with safeguarding our water supplies—the water authorities: The Water Authorities are concerned that abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils could lead to greater pollution by waste disposal sites of underground and, to a lesser extent, river waters. The investigation of proposals for waste disposal, the specification of tipping arrangements and the subsequent monitoring and enforcement require a high level of scientific and technical expertise. Such expertise is generally found in Greater London and the metropolitan counties but it would hardly be practical for it to be provided at a similar level in the London and Metropolitan Boroughs to whom responsibility for waste disposal would pass. Some form of co-ordination or control of waste disposal appears to be essential if the advances made under the Control of Pollution Act are not to be reversed through abolition of the GLC and metropolitan county councils". Voluntary organisations have been tried before, under much more favourable circumstances. To attempt to create them with the battle lines drawn up between the borough councils, from the extreme Left to the extreme Right, is surely to invite mayhem. Given this emotive subject, with public confidence at stake and with the potential for the most horrendous disasters, I cannot understand why the Government should be so irresponsible as to risk this crucial service descending into a shambles. I say to the Government, "You must not do it". Your Lordships' Select Committee urge the Committee to support this amendment.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

Before the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, sits down, may I ask him a question? He was a distinguished member of the Select Committee; did the Select Committee consider the reserve mandatory arrangements in Clause 9 of the Bill? If it did consider them, why did the Select Committee find those provisions inappropriate, if indeed it did?

Lord Gregson

I will first correct the noble Lord. I was not a member of the Select Committee of review. I was chairman of the Select Committee on Hazardous Waste. It was in that capacity that I spoke today. The noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, was the chairman, and no doubt he will be delighted, during his comments on this amendment, to give the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, the answer to his question.

The Earl of Cranbrook

It may be appropriate at this moment if I intervene and draw the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, to the fact that the amendments which are in the name of the Select Committee do precisely that which he has suggested: take note of the reserve powers. I should like formally to bring before your Lordships' consideration the Motion in my name relating to Clause 8 and Amendments Nos. 73 and 74.

As has been said, I was the chairman of the sub-committee of the Select Committee of which the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, is also a member; I was the chairman responsible for the slim blue volume which has been circulating. The noble Lord, Lord Gregson, is a member of the same Select Committee in whose name that report appears; that is to say, of the full Select Committee. I was very grateful to the noble Lord when, with his long experience of dealing with hazardous waste, he agreed to introduce the subject of the amendments of the Select Committee.

I should like once again to draw your Lordships' attention, before I start dealing with the matters in the Bill, to paragraph 4 of the Select Committee's report, in which we made it very clear that in discussing these issues—the issues of science and technology in respect of local government, metropolitan county councils and the GLC—we genuinely abandoned our political stances. As is usual with a Select Committee of your Lordships' House, we were a cross-party Select Committee. There was the appropriate number of Members from all sides of the House. The membership was selected by your Lordships' Committee of Selection. It was very genuinely a cross-party, objective review.

When we discussed this matter, members of the sub-committee said to me, "You must excuse us but we cannot remain neutral when we come to discuss this subject on the Floor of the Chamber". As chairman of that sub-committee, I am very grateful for the restraint that was displayed in our meetings. I do not expect the Lord Chairman to try to exert his influence in a similar fashion here and now because obviously we have reached the moment when people are taking political sides. While thanking the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, for introducing this matter I draw his attention to the fact that he regretted any arrangement that would require two reorganisations. So would I. If the noble Lord chooses to vote for the amendment of his noble friend Lady Birk, it is highly likely that there will be two reorganisations. One reorganisation would put the waste disposal authority with the residuary body, and then the residuary body, in the terms of the Bill, would be wound up.

At all costs the Select Committee—and now I speak as chairman of the Sub-Committee—was concerned to avoid any disruption or hiatus in the arrangements not only for the collection of waste in the urban areas, in the conurbations of England and in London but, more seriously, in its proper treatment and disposal. As the Committee will realise, waste is not nowadays simply dumped into a hole in the ground or put into the sea. We all know that local authorities at whatever level—whether they are shire counties, metropolitan counties or the Greater London Council—have invested in sophisticated equipment in order to dispose of waste in a responsible fashion and thus safeguard, as the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, has said, future generations.

Mention was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution which is currently undertaking a study of the whole process of waste disposal in this nation. I do not believe it is necessary formally to declare this as an interest, but I am a member of that Royal Commission. This has given me a remarkable opportunity, while I was simultaneously chairman of the sub-committee, to travel around the country and see waste disposal facilities and consider the whole matter of waste disposal.

I will now explain the purpose of the amendments that I wish to bring before the Committee. First, the Motion on Clause 8 stand part is not, as some noble Lords may fear, a wrecking Motion or anything of that kind. It is simply that the Select Committee, in order to safegard its amendments to Clause 9, wished to dispose of Clause 8 purely because it introduces terminology which, it might be suggested, could make our amendments to Clause 9 impossible.

The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, was rather more clever in the placing of her amendment; she placed it before Clause 8. We would have done so if we had thought of that artifice; we would have placed our amendment before that of the noble Baroness. Then we would, perhaps, have had an opportunity of voting on ours before voting on the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk. That is why my name stands to the Motion that Clause 8 should not stand part of the Bill.

Amendments Nos. 73 and 74 taken together fall back on the reserve powers which are already in the Bill. They do not set up a new authority. The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, may have misled the Committee in suggesting that these two amendments have the same purpose as previous amendments. They do not. They merely require the Secretary of State to take up the option that is already in the Bill and to exercise it from a stated day; that is to say, to start the process of holding together the present waste disposal functions before abolition day.

At about the time we produced our report we also had the benefit of Department of the Environment guidelines. Mention has already been made of these and of the guideline on hazardous waste which, I would remind your Lordships, reads as follows: There is a strong need for close co-ordination of such controls and for maintaining existing centres of specialist staff, facilities and equipment—especially computer-based records. It has accordingly been concluded"— and the Committee will realise that I am quoting the government guideline— that some common unit to provide these services will be essential in each metropolitan area". The Select Committee heartily supported that approach to hazardous wastes. From experience that I have gained lately, in seeing a great deal of non-hazardous commercial and domestic waste, I am perfectly convinced that one cannot separate the two processes. As the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, said, under our present system it is essential to have a firm deposit of non-hazardous commercial and domestic waste in order safely to co-dispose hazardous waste. That is the system which has evolved in this country. It is a peculiar system and one which may be open to criticism, but it is an essential system for the present functioning for the disposal of hazardous waste. The two go together, and cannot be separated.

4.30 p.m.

There are other reasons why they cannot be separated. The laboratory facilities which support a hazardous waste disposal system are equally essential for commercial and industrial wastes. One cannot have two sets of laboratory facilities for different kinds of waste, or one ends up with an awkward situation.

As long as our present system of co-disposal continues, it is essential we have one common service supporting the waste disposal function. I choose my words rather carefully. I am talking about services that support functions, and this is a distinction which has been made by the Government, and which was made by your Lordships' Select Committee.

I am perfectly aware, as are many of your Lordships, that in Scotland and Wales it is the districts which handle waste disposal. But I have visited Scotland and talked to public analysts in public laboratories there, and I realise the concern which exists over this situation. Quite recently, the Blue Paper, the Stoddart Report, appeared, and the present system which exists in Scotland was supported. It was decided that the district powers to dispose of waste should be maintained in Scotland, but when it comes to analysing the hazardous waste presented to them the districts at present have to refer to the regional councils in order to obtain the laboratory services they require. I have spoken to the Strathclyde regional public analyst. He has outlined to me certain difficulties, which ultimately we shall be dealing with when we have the opportunity to produce our final report. The sort of difficulty which arises is that he receives from districts nasty material—sometimes very nasty material—for analysis. He analyses it; but his authority does not then have the control of the subsequent disposal of those materials, nor is his authority the authority which produces analyses and publishes reports on the disposal of hazardous wastes.

I realise this is not what we are talking about, but I must raise the point that, subject to considerations which will be made clear in the Select Committee's final report, at the minute I have anxieties about the system which exists in Scotland. I am not at all sure that it would be wise to perpetuate that system in the metropolitan areas of England.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

Perhaps I may interrupt the noble Earl on that point. Those who have the authority and the power to dispose always have the benefit of the expertise that the laboratories give to them. If they disregard the expertise and make no note of it, that it questioning their acumen in being able to carry out their disposal powers. I am saying that the fact that they dispose does not mean that they cannot engage the expertise. They therefore have the knowledge which the experts make available to everybody, including the people who dispose of it.

The Earl of Cranbrook

I am not sure of the purport of that intervention. The system I am trying to maintain—if I can make it clear—is that the laboratory facilities which support the waste disposal service in Scotland are under authorities which are not the authorities having the waste disposal function. It is important that the laboratory facilities should be kept together with the waste disposal.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

But their knowledge is made available to those who have the disposal powers. So it comes to the same thing. That is what I am saying.

The Earl of Cranbrook

Indeed; but the capacity to analyse and treat the data is limited.

The existing metropolitan county waste disposal authorities and the Greater London Council waste disposal authority, as has been emphasised by other speakers this afternoon, are genuine centres of expertise to which other countries and other authorities in this nation refer. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, mentioned the Edmonton site, and I shall not say anything about that. But I would draw your Lordships' attention particularly to the one piece of expertise which has not been mentioned so far, the experiments on derivation of oil from waste by the Greater Manchester Council. This is very important scientific research which is being carried out. It has now reached the stage when it is on the verge of practicability. This is technically referred to as cellulose liquefaction using either refuse or biomass as the cellulose feedstock. It is potentially an important method of recycling energy from waste and is one which the new Minister in another place will doubtless be considering. It has been developed by a metropolitan county and is research fully supported by universities, research institutes and public funding.

The noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, just now referred to the West Midlands where there is a plant for the recovery of energy by combustion. Each of these centres has developed the most important research into such subjects and it is extremely important that this expertise should not be lost.

Under Amendments Nos. 73 and 74 I would wish to follow the Government in separating what in the guidelines paper has been called "non-operational functions" and "operational functions". I do not find this terminology particularly clear. But as I understand it the system operates perfectly satisfactorily; that is to say, the function, the power, the duty of collecting and disposing of waste resides with the districts or the boroughs. They jointly combine in a joint authority in order to obtain the services and the facilities in order so to do. The services are the laboratories, the sites, the transfer stations, the chemical treatment plants, the energy recovery plants, the ferrous waste recovery plants—these are in the nature of the facilities.

I would stress that the amendments to which I have put my name go only a very little bit further than the present Bill. In the Bill, the Secretary of State is required to wait until he sees disruption looming before he acts. Quite objectively, quite calmly, and non-politically, without waving any particular banner, I am absolutely convinced that it is essential that the smooth transition should be ensured without argument, without risking what everyone in this Committee has recognised as being an essential function of local government.

If I may speak to my noble friends on the Front Bench, on Tuesday the amendments for which I stood, and for which a modicum perhaps of avuncular approval was indicated, fell because the alternatives were voted on, and the amendments in my name thereby could not be considered. Without seeming unduly arrogant to my noble friends, may I say that if they suggest that the amendments put forward by the Select Committee are broadly acceptable they may carry with them a very large proportion of noble Lords from all sides of the Committee. I believe there are people on all sides of the Committee who have listened to what I have tried to say, and I have tried to say it as briefly and tersely as possible. I do not support the removal of the waste disposal function first to a residuary body, then leaving it in a limbo of total uncertainty until the Bill is passed. That uncertainty will continue until it is known what will be its final destination.

I favour action now. There should be a clear message going from this Committee to the professionals (who, as we have said, are in the forefront of their field), and to the citizens of the conurbations of England that there will be continuity in the collection and disposal of waste, and that a system will be perpetuated which has provided for genuine innovation and which has given a lead forward to a confident future so that the hazards which have been aired, perhaps rather rashly in this Committee, will never arise.

Lord Molson

Before my noble friend Lord Cranbrook sits down, will he answer an important question? I am not happy about the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk. It is essential, however, that the disposal of waste should be maintained at a centralised level. Will my noble friend Lord Cranbrook make sure that we have an opportunity of taking the views of the Committee on his Amendment No. 74 if we vote against the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, on this occasion? It really is a matter of great importance. I much prefer his proposal which is, I think, far better and is supported with all the authority of the Select Committee. Will my noble friend give that assurance?

The Earl of Cranbrook

I do not believe that such an assurance is in my hands. I have outlined what I see as being my dilemma. I stand liable to correction by those who know more about the procedures of the Committee.

Lord Elton

I do not know whether I know more than my noble friend. I know, however, that it is open to him, after we have disposed of, as I hope we will, the first set of amendments, to move his own if he so wishes.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

Before my noble friend sits down, was he saying that the system for disposal of waste in Scotland—including Strathclyde, which he visited—carried out by the lower-tier district councils is unsatisfactory and dangerous? I have never understood that there was any problem at all. It may be that the analysts whom he mentioned would have liked this to be a regional council function. However, I have never understood that there was any problem.

I was surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, with his great experience of Scotland, did not think that this was a satisfactory way of conducting the operation. I have always understood that it worked perfectly well. I also understood that the Liberal Party was committed to doing away with the regional councils in Scotland and would presumably want to leave the disposal of waste in district hands. The noble Lord said, I think, that the Stodart report has reviewed the whole of local government overlapping functions in Scotland and has confirmed the disposal of waste by district councils as satisfactory. Is my noble friend saying that Scotland's arrangements do not work and that they should be altered?

The Earl of Cranbrook

I believe that it is myself rather than my noble friend Lord Elton who has not sat down. I would say to my noble friend Lady Carnegy that, clearly, I did not say that. If she reads what I said, I hope she will find that I said what I meant to say. The matter is subject to our final report. It will be considered in the final report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology on local government. It is a small issue involving a small area of concern over the analysis of hazardous materials submitted for disposal as hazardous waste that was brought to my attention in Strathclyde. I made nothing like the broad generalisation that my noble friend has put in my mouth.

Lord Gregson

When we carried out the detailed study of hazardous waste disposal, at the time in 1981, some of the more difficult waste to be disposed of was transferred to England for disposal. I do not think that I am giving away any secrets in saying that. I do not think that it has differed since. I would ask your Lordships not to misunderstand this. There are some very good facilities for doing this in England. That is how some of the more difficult material was dealt with.

The Earl of Cranbrook

It was not sent necessarily to England. It was sent south of the border and conventiently forgotten.

Lord Elton

Will my noble friend enlighten us on one matter? Is he saying that in Scotland it is broadly all right for ordinary waste but there are reservations about hazardous waste so that as regards ordinary waste we have an effective model before us? Is that what he was saying?

4.45 p.m.

The Earl of Cranbrook

The Select Committee on Science and Technology report is not dealing in detail with the disposal of domestic and commercial waste. The Select Committee has not looked at the disposal of domestic and commercial waste anywhere. The concern raised with me, as I have stated, was a small point in relation to the disposal of hazardous waste in Scotland. Hazardous waste, as the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, has made clear, has been a major concern of the Select Committee on Science and Technology for a long time. I do not anticipate that the Select Committee will make any firm recommendations on the disposal of household and domestic waste anywhere in this country in its final report.

Lord Elton

My noble friend is therefore accepting the view of my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour on commercial and domestic waste without testing it within the Select Committee, and is not casting aspersions upon it?

Lord Gregson

There is a difficulty here. The system of co-disposal in this country means, in effect, that you cannot deal with household waste as a separate issue. Having put down the household waste on the land fill sites, you then pour in the hazardous waste which the household waste helps to digest and dispose of. You cannot really discuss as separate issues household waste and hazardous waste. As soon as you co-dispose, every single household waste site that is used for co-disposal purposes becomes a hazardous waste site.

Lord Plummer of St. Marylebone

We are urged not to take a pessimistic view of the ability of the London boroughs to come together to deal with bulk waste disposal. For those us who have been in local government for a long time, I can safely say, I believe, that we have seen it all before. It did not work then, and it will not work now. Before the formation of the GLC, waste disposal was the responsibility of the London borough councils. The result was chaotic. A hotch-potch of arrangements deriving from a multiplicity of diverse standard small authorities proved that it was costly, inefficient, haphazard, environmentally unsound and unplanned.

Waste did not go to the most appropriate disposal point. Routes criss-crossed. For instance, waste from Lambeth went north to Buckinghamshire, crossing waste from Hammersmith going south to Surrey. There was a total lack of, and absence of, strategic planning. There was no long-term assessment of future needs and requirements. In an effort to sort these things out, the boroughs in 1947 formed into voluntary groups much along the lines now proposed in the Bill. The groups failed. They collapsed in disarray and disagreement. I believe that the same will happen again if the operation is handed over to these groups of boroughs.

Every significant study of waste disposal in London has argued the case for a strategic waste disposal authority. The success of a strategic waste disposal authority in London was so evident and so widely recognised that when local government was reorganised in 1974 waste disposal responsibility was transferred everywhere to the upper-tier authority. I say "everywhere" but it was not quite so, in fact. In Wales, for instance, the responsibility remained with the district councils. The results in Wales, it can I think be safely said, have been unsatisfactory—so unsatisfactory that in October 1982 this Government issued a consultation paper on a possible reorganisation. What did that consultation paper say? It said: The Welsh Office are aware that the small size of waste disposal authorities in Wales is causing problems. The system in Wales tends to mitigate against waste disposal authorities employing specialist staff and causes problems in providing sites". It goes on: There is certainly a lack of waste disposal expertise. The Welsh Office have recognised these problems and have encouraged the district councils to combine into three regional waste disposal study groups". What happened to these voluntary groups? They failed. So what did the Government propose for Wales? The Secretary of State for Wales, when presenting the results of the consultation in February last year, said: There is considerable room for improvement in the way in which the waste disposal function is carried out in Wales and the criticisms which led to the review were in general fully justified. … The transfer of the function to the County Council, which consultation has shown to be the most satisfactory of the alternative options … would require legislation". But of course the Government have not yet introduced this legislation, because at the very same time as they were highlighting the inadequacies of the Welsh system they were proposing to introduce that same inadequate system in London. At the very same time as they were recognising the need for strategic waste disposal authorities in Wales, they were proposing to dismantle the most successful of all strategic waste disposal authorities in London.

The Government's proposals for waste disposal in London have been roundly and universally condemned. All opinion—professional, academic and private sector—is so concerned at the provisions of the Bill that the national association delivered two letters of objection during the Committee stage of the debate in the other place. All opinion is unequivocally damning of the Government's proposals. In another place the Government were unable to name a single independent organisation that supported their plans.

I shall not weary your Lordships' Committee with the details of the lack of progress since the publication of the White Paper, Streamlining the Cities. All I would say is that the state of affairs really cannot go on. Over a third of the London boroughs have taken no part whatever in the attempt to reach agreement. Here we are, under a year away from the proposed abolition, and we have not even reached the starting tape. New deadlines have been set and passed without significant progress. The latest ministerial deadline is now the beginning of September 1985.

As I say, this state of affairs really just cannot go on as it is putting the health and safety of Londoners at risk in a desperate attempt to achieve the unachievable. London must have an efficient waste disposal service from day one after abolition, and that efficient waste disposal service exists now. It must be retained on a London-wide strategic basis.

Just over a month ago the Minister for Local Government issued a note of guidance in a last ditch attempt to get things moving. He proposed seven voluntary groupings of boroughs in London. The proposed groupings are as unrealistic as anything that has been produced in this area so far. Indeed, I would say that adversity makes strange bedfellows. Apart from the operational, financial and other inadequacies of the proposed groupings, it is, I think, stretching credibility to expect voluntary agreements between Lambeth and Wandsworth and among Barnet, Islington and Hackney.

What was interesting and important about the Government's latest paper was what it did not say about costs and savings and what it did say about non-operational functions. The Government apparently now accept that as a last resort there must be a single strategic body to deal with hazardous waste management. They accept that there must be centralised, co-ordinated action on waste planning. They accept the need for a central organisation to deal with the licensing of waste disposal sites. They accept the need for centralising co-ordination of research and development. En short, they accept the need for a single, strategic waste disposal authority but choose not to satisfy that need; yet the only function the Government seem prepared to trust the voluntary borough groupings with is the operational side of waste disposal.

All expert opinion and all available evidence argue that waste disposal must be the responsibility of a strategic authority for London. The inability of the Government or the borough councils to produce a realistic, workable alternative emphasises the point. I believe that the Government will in the end have to accept that; so why do they not accept it now?

This is not a political matter. I never found politics in waste disposal while I was a councillor. It is lust a good management matter. Control over the management of hazardous waste in particular, as has already been pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, must continue efficiently and effectively, and the only way that that can be achieved is in the continuation of a strategic authority.

The Minister in another place failed in any way to make any sort of case for altering the present arrangements for the planning, regulation and disposal of waste in London. He was unable to point out any savings in costs from the changes proposed. He was unable to guarantee even the same level of service, the same capital investment or the same innovation. There are no clear plans for the future and, even if there were, there is inadequate time left for a smooth transfer.

As I said, no one in the waste disposal industry has any confidence in the proposals for joint arrangements. I say again that only a single waste disposal authority for Greater London will be capable of safe, effective and efficient control over waste disposal and regulation in the capital.

Lord Ingrow

It may be surprising at this time to find the Committee a very comforting place. One can leave and come back; an amendment is before the Committee, and the same sort of arguments are being advanced. One has to inquire what the particular Motion is, but the arguments are much the same as we go down the list of amendments. But the air of plausible verisimilitude is being dissipated, and we are left with the bald and unconvincing narrative. This is not an individual matter of waste disposal. It is part of a policy, as was said earlier today.

I make no complaint about that. I am full of admiration for those who dream up a way such as this to defeat the intention of another place and the decisions of this House. I am full of admiration for that. I greatly respect the professional attitude, but I am not conned by it and I do not want to see a decision taken in this Committee by those who may be conned into thinking that this is an illustration solely on its own concerning waste disposal.

Lord Gregson

Is the noble Lord also implying that the Select Committee deliberately cooked up some sort of plot?

Lord Ingrow

I shall come to the Select Committee in a minute. The trouble for those who have dreamt this up is that the gaff has been blown rather earlier than they would have wished at this particular stage.

I must confess with the greatest possible respect that my admiration for the deliberations of the Select Committee falls little short of adoration in this respect. I listened with great care to the speech of my noble friend Lord Cranbook on Tuesday. I got an impression—and it may be quite unjust—that here was a body that had decided that this was right and this was what was going to be imposed. I could be wrong. I have not yet had time to read that. But the impression came out, "We have considered this. We are the Select Committee, and we have decided". I did not really think that that was the way modern thinking went. But even then at the end of the day I thought actually that Governments took decisions and not Select Committees.

I do not have to disagree too much with my noble friend Lord Plummer because I am more concerned with the metropolitan boroughs and not the London ones, but he said that there was no politics in waste disposal. With the greatest respect to him, he does not have the qualities that I know he always has had if he believes that and if he looks at how the voting goes tonight. However, it is the kind of remark I might have made had I wished to carry out his kind of argument. It has been said earlier, I think by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, "Why make a change?". I remember that being said about a dozen years ago when it was proposed to give to the borough authorities in the metropolitan districts the power over education. Education in West Yorkshire has been substantially better since it was run by the county boroughs and not a large part of it run by the West Riding County Council. It is possible to change and improve matters. The other method is entire ossification. It is said that there were problems in the past about getting authorities to run together. However, the authorities we are now talking about are much larger than they were before 1974.

5 p.m.

I come back to the point that "democracy" is a word frequently used in this Chamber. The one place it must not apply is where it is nearest to the people, where the people actually elect borough councillors as opposed to county councillors. The borough councillors are the ones who have to levy a rate. They are the ones whom the local representatives know. Nobody knows the county councillors. They know the borough councillors. These are the people who, throughout discussion in this Committee, are being steadily traduced. I think it is wrong.

The CBI were mentioned. Not everybody in industry would agree with all the observations of the CBI, because many of us think they are getting quite a number of them wrong. However, they are among the biggest complainants about the very high rates charged by authorities such as the GLC and others.

Lord Mottistone

Perhaps my noble friend will allow me to come in. I should have come in earlier. I noticed that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, quoted the CBI as being in support of this amendment. I have been briefed by them. There is no suggestion that they are behind this, and I think that was a misquote.

Lord Gregson

If it is, I will apologise to the Committee at the right time. However, as far as I am concerned, I have it in black and white.

Lord Mottistone

I have been in touch with them constantly throughout this. At an earlier stage they may have made some statement, but in an up-to-date briefing they are not concerned at all about this point.

Lord Gregson

I understand there is considerable support for the rest of the Bill except for one issue, and one issue alone; that is hazardous waste.

Lord Ingrow

Perhaps I may join in the battle again. I am not very bothered whether they are or not. I am not briefed by the CBI, and if I think the CBI are talking nonsense I am quite happy to say so. However, in this case they are very concerned, as they are very concerned about the antics of the GLC in organising transport and roads in London. Thus what we are doing, or trying to do, may be very damaging if some of these amendments are passed. I hope very much that it will be realised that this important amendment, as it is, can perfectly well be carried out by the proposals of the Government. For me, it is not a question of preferring one amendment to the other. I personally shall vote for the one which I think is right and sensible, the one the Government have produced.

Lord Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon

I want very briefly to make only one point. Listening to my noble friend Lord Plummer and to noble Lords on the other side, anyone would think that when local government reorganisation took place the decision to separate collection and disposal of waste was unanimously agreed as being a step in the right direction and making for efficiency. As I am sure my noble friends Lord Boyd-Carpenter and Lord Harmar-Nicholls will remember, it was one of the most bitterly contested and controversial items in the entire legislation. As I recall, it was only by a comparatively narrow margin that the Government came down on the side of splitting these two functions and giving waste disposal to the upper-tier authorities.

The fact of the matter is that the upper-tier authorities then did not particularly want it and the lower-tier authorities were perfectly confident that they would continue to deal adequately with it. It really is nonsense to say that this was some great universally agreed reform at the time. It was not. The local authorities, in concert or by themselves, were getting on reasonably well and were perfectly happy to keep the disposal function. If they could do it then, I, like my noble friends, believe they can do it again.

Lord Beloff

I should like to return for a moment to one of the alternative proposals before us, the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk. It seems to me that that incorporates not so much a threat to the pollution of the environment but a pollution of the English language. A residuary body is not a body upon which, in the normal meaning of the word, new functions can be conferred. Indeed, I was so surprised that I thought at first that it was just that the noble Baroness had been brought up in a very polite way and was taught to use the word "residue" rather than the word "waste", so she thought residue could go to a residuary authority. However, I understand that that was not her intention.

A residuary body, in the normal meaning of the English language, and as expounded in relation to this Bill at some length in subsequent clauses, means a body which is constituted in order to take over responsibilities that continue when a particular body has ceased to exist. It might be compared to a receiver in the case of a company which has gone into liquidation. The receiver collects moneys due and does his best to meet the needs of creditors in a way which the law demands. When he has concluded this, his functions naturally come to an end.

Lord Mishcon

Perhaps the noble Lord will kindly forgive me. He is teaching the Committee English and fact. A receiver is not a liquidator of a company. He means the word "liquidator". A receiver is appointed for a secured creditor or debenture holder. I would not have interrupted the noble Lord, but I noted his desire to be so precise.

Lord Beloff

I, too, thought that there was such a distinction, but the affairs of the National Union of Mineworkers have rather confused this distinction in the public mind.

However, perhaps I may return to the Bill. A residuary authority, whether the comparison with a liquidator—as apparently the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, would prefer—is a correct one, would still be with a person who is appointed for a limited term, for a precise set of functions which are then to disappear. If the liquidator of a company manufacturing bicycles were to think it part of his possible duties to see whether the company could not now start up in the manufacture of stockings, I think he would be going beyond the normal use of the word "liquidator". Similarly, a residuary body cannot possibly take on or be asked to take on functions which do not directly arise out of the residuary matters left over in abolition. Whatever the solution to the problem of waste disposal or any other issues that may come before the Chamber, it is impossible that they should be entrusted to a residuary body which, by its nature, is evanescent.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Because we seem to have gone backwards and forwards so often from Amendment No. 72, the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, to Amendment No. 73, I think a degree of confusion is arising in the Committee. I should like very firmly to oppose Amendment No. 72. I should like also to draw attention to the fact that the movers of Amendment No. 73, or those who have spoken to Amendment No. 73, have made very effective points against Amendment No. 72, in particular their statement that a function requiring a long-term and assured future should not be handed over to a body that has only a life of five years. Therefore I think that anyone who is seriously interested in the long-term future of waste disposal must be very clear on that point: that it is no good handing it over to a body whose life is limited to five years.

The noble Lord, Lord Gregson, quoted a number of different authorities which would support a statutory joint board. However, in no case did he say that they wanted the residuary body to be the authority to take this on. I have been a representative of both a borough council and a regional council. I have noticed that in this Chamber there is always confusion when people refer to a local authority when they mean what we now think of as a regional authority. In fact, it is still a local authority, but it does cause confusion. I noticed the other day that when the Minister was defining parks and open spaces the same confusion arose because he kept defining them as an area owned by a local authority and people were thinking of that authority as a regional authority. Therefore, we do sometimes get ourselves into difficulty as regards terminology.

However, as someone who has been involved at both levels of local and regional government, I take the view that we cannot afford to underestimate the ability of the local boroughs to cope with the problem of waste disposal. They deal with waste collection perfectly effectively; I do not think that it is a very major step forward for them to deal with waste disposal.

The point has been made repeatedly in this Chamber that great expertise has developed in this field over the years since the reorganisation of local government and that that expertise would be equally available to the local boroughs as it is available to the GLC. I believe that the scientific branch at County Hall will remain as a cohesive whole, wherever it goes. Therefore, it will still be in a position to hand out the necessary advice. Stories have been put forward again and again in this Chamber, but strangely enough they have not been put forward with an unnecessary degree of alarm. However, the people who read them may be alarmed that the people of London or of other parts might be poisoned. That was a rather frightening tactic that we could happily disregard.

Expertise and knowledge are growing all the time. As regards savings, examples have been given of boroughs that might not work together. Let us consider some of those boroughs which have made enormous savings and which have still carried out a very cost-effective and satisfactory (from the point of view of the ratepayers) waste collection process. I would very strongly oppose Amendment No. 72.

Baroness White

I do not want to come between the Committee and the Minister for too long, but I am deeply concerned about the confusion into which we have brought ourselves. I am so sorry that the scientific expertise of my colleagues on the Select Committee on Science and Technology has led them into a parliamentary procedure which has put us into great difficulty. I am not quite clear how we shall vote upon Amendment No. 73 and the accompanying Amendment No. 74 if by any chance Clause No. 8 is accepted by the Committee. The two are incompatible, as has been indicated by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook. I hope that we shall get a little guidance from the Minister as to how we are to deal with the situation. Personally, I hate to disagree with my noble friend on the Front Bench, but I am not entirely happy that her solution is a better one than the one contained in the proposals of the Select Committee.

What worries me so much is that so many Members of the party opposite in particular—although by no means universally, I am happy to think—are living in what one might call the "horse and buggy age", but in what I shall call the "hole in the ground age". As the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, indicated the other day, he thinks that holes in the ground are the beginning and end of waste disposal. With great respect, those who have had an opportunity of discussing these matters on a scientific and technological basis know, on the one hand, of the advances that are being made in the techniques of disposal and in the use of waste for energy and so on and, on the other hand, of the increasing dangers that are arising from our mixed disposal of waste—a matter which the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, made very clear. We cannot really dissociate one from the other, except in a very few instances. The chemical hazards to which we are being exposed and the biotechnological hazards which are increasing year by year really make it essential that we view the matter not just as a question of expert advice but also as a matter of expert operation of plants, equipment installations and techniques for dealing with these matters.

I do not wish to labour the point, but I hope that we may get guidance on how those of us who might wish to support Amendments Nos. 73 and 74 may do so. I also plead with those who, quite frankly, are behind the times. You cannot go back to pre-1974. A great deal has happened since 1974. Everything that has happened since 1974 has been in the direction which was so eloquently described by the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, on one side of the Chamber, and by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, on the other. They really know what they are talking about and, with great respect, some of the "horse and buggy" or "hole in the ground" brigade do not.

Lord Shinwell

I should—

Lord Elton

Will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I have been asked a question and I shall be only a moment. The noble Baroness is absolutely right. As regards the Question that Clause 8 stand part, my noble friend has put down that he will resist that because it paves the way for Amendment Nos. 73 and 74. Therefore the discussion will take place on clause stand part. If your Lordships were to decide that Amendments Nos. 73 and 74 were what you wanted in the Bill, you would have to declare that by voting that the Clause do not stand part of the Bill. Therefore, the decision would be taken at that stage.

The noble Baroness also asked how she and her friends could support Amendments Nos. 73 and 74. The other prerequisite, of course, will be to defeat Amendments Nos. 72B and 72C because they are inimical to it. I hope that we shall have the help of the noble Baroness in that regard.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Shinwell

Obviously there is some confusion in the minds of those Members of your Lordships' Committee who are not experts in matters of local government. We have to follow the experts and as there is a variety of them most of them adopt different lines of thought and so it is very difficult to come to any conclusion. My purpose in rising to intervene before the noble Lord the Minister makes some observations is that I feel that the noble Baroness was justified in indulging in what has been a moderate criticism that has developed in the course of this debate. That criticism should not be levelled against Members of your Lordships' Committee. If it has to be directed at all, it should be directed against the Government. I shall give one example. The Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Elton—if I may have his attention for a moment—in the course of a very short speech in reply to my noble friend Lady Birk, said words to the effect, "I am quite unable to come to any decision until I know what decision will be reached about some other amendment". The noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong, but that is what I understood him to say. That, indeed, surprises me. The Government are introducing a measure which calls for the abolition of an organisation. You can regard it as either responsible or irresponsible; it is a matter of judgment or point of view. It matters little because you have to face the fact that the Government want to abolish it. The general feeling of the Committee is that it has to be abolished simply because it is unsatisfactory and inadequate in some respects. I shall leave it at that for the moment.

When the Government decide to embark upon an adventure of this nature, introducing legislation so complicated and so inadequately prepared, and when they have not looked ahead, considered the consequences of every possible amendment and every proposition which they themselves may make in the course of presenting the various aspects of legislation, there is bound to be some confusion. I cannot understand why the Government rushed into this adventure. It is a kind of exploration in uncharted seas, uncharted land, areas which have never before been explored. The result is that the Government find themselves in a measure of confusion. They are not sure where they stand. The very fact that the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, asks my noble friend Lady Birk not to come to a decision about one amendment until we decide what we do about another amendment indicates that there is confusion in his mind also. That ought not to happen.

I make a suggestion. The Government should decide now, or after some consideration which would take a little while, that in the circumstances and because of the confusion and the criticism which have emerged they do not intend to pursue this legislation until there has been more adequate preparation and will leave it over for a month until after the Recess, and come back again before the autumn and reintroduce the legislation when there has been adequate consideration of all the consequences. If they did that, I think the House would accept it and there would be less confusion in our minds.

It may well be that the confusion exists only in my mind. I confess that I know little about local government. My first association with local government took place in the year 1916 when I became a member of the Glasgow Town Council. I was a member for seven years until I managed to get a parliamentary candidature which was successful. That was the end of my knowledge of local government and, quite frankly, I know nothing about it since them. Foreign affairs, I know a little; shipping, a little; defence, a little. I know a little of everything and perhaps not very much of anything consequential, but nevertheless I do my best in the circumstances. But about local government I know very little, and I find myself even more confused than anybody in your Lordships' Committee.

The best way to remove my confusion is not to proceed with this legislation for, say, a month or two. I say to the Government: come back again when you are better prepared and you are refreshed after your summer holiday. After that we shall meet you with no desire to criticise, but a desire to help to make this legislation well worthwhile in the interests of London and the shire counties, and all the rest of those involved. I make that suggestion. I hope that it will be accepted.

Lord Elton

I am deeply touched by the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, for my welfare. If he is offering me a long and paid holiday, I can think of few things that would be more difficult for me to resist at the moment. But if he is doing that because he believes that I am in a state of confusion, all I can say is that I am not aware of it.

We have two simple propositions before us. The first one comes from the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and her supporters in the form of Amendments Nos. 72B and 72C. That would transfer responsibility for either all waste disposal and regulation functions or just the regulation and control of hazardous waste in London and the metropolitan counties to the residuary body for that area.

Your Lordships have quite properly perceived that it is a totally different suggestion from that of my noble friend Lord Cranbrook, who has advanced another one from behind me, supported by the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, who sits opposite me. There is a degree of ecumenism here which your Lordships will find agreeably unfamiliar. That is a different proposition. I propose to address myself to the first, so that we can dispose of it. It is inimical to the second. Then we can address ourselves to the latter.

As currently drafted, the Bill provides for responsibility for waste disposal and regulation in London to be devolved in the boroughs and in the metropolitan counties to the district councils. Your Lordships will know of course that the boroughs and districts are already waste collection authorities for their areas, and you will probably know that another Select Committee from the other place on trade and industry reported last December.

The report of that Select Committee, which was called The Wealth of Waste, clearly identified as one of the major obstacles to waste recycling in England the separation of the responsibility for collection and disposal. Our proposals to create unitary collection and disposal authorities in London and the metropolitan counties will mean that, for the first time in a long while, those authorities can receive the full benefits from recycling in terms of both reduced disposal costs and income from the sale of recyclable material. This will give greater impetus to recycling initiatives.

The appointment of my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for Industry as Minister with special responsibility for co-ordinating Government initiatives on recycling was in direct response to that Select Committee's report. Your Lordships will wish first of all to think carefully before striking out of our hands the first fruits of that committee's work and the benefits which they can offer to all of us. That is the first thing I ask your Lordships to remember.

The creation of unitary collection and disposal authorities will greatly help my honourable friend in his task, and these amendments would separate the functions, contrary to the advice of the Select Committee, and thus forgo those benefits. In London they would do so by transferring them to the London residuary body. That body will be made up of members appointed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State subject to his direction. The same is true of the metropolitan residuary bodies. In each case their role will essentially be an executive and technical one. It will also be limited by Clause 65 to a life of five years. It is a transitional home, and the permanent transfer of waste disposal and regulation functions would scarcely be suitable to that.

The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell—and I cannot refrain from calling him my noble friend ever since he did me the honour of inspecting me at the parade at Sandhurst in honour of the end of the last World War when I was a cadet and I had something else to celebrate—has said that it was odd that I asked what position the Opposition would take on this question of the final form of the residuary body. But it was a necessary question, and the confusion was not in my mind. The confusion was evidently in the mind of the Opposition because they had given a permanent function to a temporary body, which was an obvious mistake unless they intended it no longer to be temporary, which was an obvious stratagem. It was a stratagem which was endorsed by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, when she spoke on television last night and again earlier today, and I was lucky to see her, when she said, "There would be logic, wouldn't there, in giving an elective nature to that body as well".

Baroness Seear

May I intervene, since I have keen quoted at least three times in connection with my television appearance, which I think nobody can have seen? I had forgotten my exact words, and I am glad to be reminded by the noble Lord the Minister that what I said was a simple statement of fact. The logic of the position would lead in this direction. What I was saying was that experience of what we were proposing would mean that you would find that this was the optimum size for operating these services. If the Minister and his supporters think that what they are doing now is absolutely fixed for all time regardless of the experience of the next four or five years, all I can say is that they have no knowledge of history and no sense of the future.

Lord Elton

I compliment the noble Baroness on the elegance of her reply. But what she said on the air was: if you find that you need to have a larger authority for an accumulation of special services—and if your Lordships look down the Marshalled List, you will find that this is not by any means the only service which is to receive this treatment—if you find yourself in that position, the logic of that is surely that sooner or later you are going to have to have an elected body.

Therefore, the logic of the position of the united Opposition parties is that we transfer enduring functions to a temporary body, in the sure knowledge that the intention stated by the noble Baroness was that she should be able to exploit the possibility of making them permanent, and bearing in mind the probability expressed by the noble Baroness that they would also become elective. I am thus tempted to launch into what I thought was the most telling part of my speech last Tuesday, but I shall refrain from doing so because I am sure that it is etched on your Lordships' memories.

We are not in the business of recreating a lesser form of the authority that we are now abolishing, and your Lordships have decided that. It is to the decision of the Committee in that respect that I principally appeal. Your Lordships will want me to fill out—I knew that the noble Lord would wish to rise.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

One has to rise because the noble Baroness made a perfectly sensible statement. She said "if" we find that a thing does not work we shall have to do something else. That was the essence of it. If the noble Lord does not agree with that he should say so.

Lord Elton

It was not if it does not work. She said that if there was an authority for an accumulation of special services the logic is that it becomes elective. I do not want to make much of this.

Noble Lords


Lord Elton

I shall make as much of this as your Lordships wish.

Baroness Seear

I am extremely flattered that my broadcast is becoming a substitute for the subject of the debate. I really believe that we should get back to the subject of the amendment.

Lord Elton

The subject we are debating is the body that is to discharge the various functions that have to be discharged after abolition has taken place. One of these functions is the collection and, more particularly for our purposes, the disposal of waste; both the common domestic and commercial waste, and the hazardous waste to which the Select Committee addressed itself. The question to which I shall revert was the one I outlined: whether it was proper that that body should be both permanent and elective. I do not want to give the noble Baroness any more publicity than she wants for her broadcast, though I hope the ratings go up in future because I thought she was very good! I want to revert to the subject in hand because the Committee will want to know more about what we propose.

Noble Lords have stressed the need to ensure joint working between the boroughs and the districts particularly in relation to hazardous waste. As your Lordships will know, we invited the authorities concerned to submit statements of the arrangements they proposed for carrying out their waste disposal and regulatory functions after abolition. We asked them to include arrangements for co-ordinating action where that was appropriate. So far we have received initial responses from 21 London boroughs embodying an outline plan for the discharge of these functions across the whole of London. Those proposals envisage seven groups of authorities for disposal and other purposes with arrangements for co-ordinating some regulatory and other non-operational functions and the creation of a separate unit to deal with hazardous waste.

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Local Government met the co-operating boroughs in March. He was impressed by the positive and constructive approach they have adopted to planning for the takeover of functions in London. For the metropolitan counties no comprehensive proposals have yet been put forward; but the issues there are generally less complex than in London and the task correspondingly simpler. Some six district authorities have sent statements setting out their own individual proposals. The forward planning which has already taken place and which is continuing is therefore encouraging. Much more must be done of course. In particular, I hope that those authorities which have so far refused to co-operate with us will do so. I must point out to my noble friend Lord Plummer that it is all very well to say that waste disposal is not and never has been political; but in that case it is difficult to understand why the Socialist-controlled proposed waste disposal authorities have refused to talk to us on political grounds about waste disposal. It seems to me that it has become very political, and that is to be regretted.

I hope that those conversations will take place for the sake of the staff as well as for the sake of the service. To assist this further planning, the department in March issued a guidance note to authorities offering advice on the practical arrangements which might be appropriate in each area. Further discussions are already in hand with boroughs and districts on the basis of that guidance.

I should mention in particular two of the criteria that we have made clear by which we shall judge authorities' proposals which I hope will further reassure your Lordships. The first concerns arrangements for hazardous waste on which one of the amendments focuses and which is of great interest to your Lordships, not only to the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, and my noble friend but others. I assure the Committee that the Government fully share those views about the importance of proper and effective arrangements in this area. The Government totally accept the need for effective application and enforcement of standards in this field. Early in June my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will be publishing the first report of the Hazardous Waste Inspectorate. The noble Lord, Lord Gregson, alluded to this. I assure him that there was no intentional delay. The report is being printed now and we hope to have it in print in the first week in June when this Bill will still be in your Lordships' Committee.

Lord Gregson

By rumour and another sort of suggestion, that report has been hanging around for a long time.

Lord Elton

I have not, so I do not know whether it is true. While the Bill will not indicate any evidence of damage to health from the disposal of hazardous waste, it will indicate (I think the noble Lord expects this) that basic site management practices on the part of waste disposal management are in many cases inadequate and that site licensing, inspection and enforcement by waste disposal authorities varies throughout the country. That is not a problem confined to London or to the metropolitan counties. I must allude to it because it touches both. The solution has to be wider It calls in the first instance for action by site operators themselves to apply recognised best practices. We look first to the industry and its representative bodies to put their house in order. Secondly, we look to waste disposal authorities to impose the right licensing requirements and to check on and enforce their application. We also look to authorities to apply full and economical charges for disposal of commercial and industrial waste on their own sites.

But we think it right to legislate when opportunity permits to charge on waste, on disposals, the costs of the central system itself. That is consistent with the polluter pays principle; and, secondly, we have recently published the report of a review of the regulations dealing with control of special wastes. That report discussed various possible measures to secure more effective and consistent applications of control. We are now seeking views on that report and welcome those of noble Lords and of the Select Committee on Science and Technology. But I make this clear: the question is not whether we shall act on this report, as the noble Lord may think it is, it is what action we shall take, because act we shall.

I have much more I could say on hazardous waste, but your Lordships wish to get on. We accept the need for close co-ordination of controls over hazardous waste and for the maintenance of existing centres of specialist staff, facilities and equipment especially computer-based records. The boroughs have already proposed a separate unit to provide these services for London. The guidance note makes clear that we wish to see such units in each metropolitan county. The creation of the separate units will mean that there will he no need for any involvement of the residuary bodies in these arrangements. There is no more case for transferring responsibility for hazardous waste to the residuary bodies than there is for transferring to them responsibility for waste disposal and regulation generally.

I said I would refer to two criteria. The second is the need for consistency in site licensing standards. I have said already what we propose to do in the light of the HWI report. I believe the best way we can do that is by keeping existing expertise together.

In conclusion, your Lordships are anxious on three counts: the first is that the provisions already in the Bill for voluntary co-operation may be inadequate from the start. The second is that they may prove adequate to start with but, following the predictions of my noble friend Lord Plummer prove inadequate subsequently. The third is that in either event there should be satisfactory obligatory arrangements in their place. The Government believe that the voluntary arrangements can and should work from the start and that they can and will continue to operate satisfactorily in the future, and I sought to persuade your Lordships to that view. If I have failed or, if I am wrong, I entirely accept that there is a need for something other than hope deferred. This is why we already have Clause 9 in the Bill.

My next purpose therefore is to put it firmly on the record, as the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, clearly would wish me to do, that my right honourable friend is fully seized of the importance of establishing systems which really work and give real protection to the environment and to health. They must be in position before 1st April next year and my right honourable friend is seized of that as well and he undertakes to use the reserve power under Clause 9 to establish a mandatory system, if that is what the public interest demands. He will not take that decision at the last minute; he will take it in September.

If the effective cover is not then visible, we shall use the reserve power; and I also assure your Lordships that if voluntary arrangements start out in a satisfactory way and then deteriorate, as has been suggested, my right honourable friend will again be prepared to use the Clause 9 powers promptly to protect the public interest. Those of your Lordships who fear that the supply of voids to fill the waste may atrophy under district supervision should realise that the Secretary of State will have this power should circumstances require him to use it.

I have suggested that your Lordships should reject these amendments for a number of reasons; the proper time to introduce compulsory arrangements is after voluntary arrangements have proved unattainable—and they have not so proved yet. Both of these amendments are therefore premature. It is not right to pre-empt the decision on the use of the reserve power. It is not right to use this occasion to water down the devolution to districts, which they fully expect, of the functions of the abolition body. And it is not right to go against the clear recommendation of the Select Committee of another place in order to satisfy those of our own Select Committee when all that they wish to protect can be protected; as I believe I shall be able to demonstrate to my noble friend Lord Cranbrook when we come to his later amendments in the Bill directed specifically at protecting the specialist and technical support services.

I do not wish to broaden this debate now because your Lordships will want to come to a conclusion, but I would say that the central thing that noble Lords on the Select Committee as I understand it, want to preserve is the support and technological service. They have other points, but this is the principal one; and that, I believe, we can take care of. I do not think that it is right to insist on changing the Bill to provide prematurely a compulsion that is already provided for in the Bill as it now stands for use at the right time.

I hope that I have convinced your Lordships that this is not an ad hoc, irresponsible, short-term, pro tern solution. This is a solution which transfers to the lower-tier bodies the functions which they properly expect and have been promised from the upper-tier bodies. It is being done in a framework of co-operative consultation which they are free to use voluntarily, but if they fail to use it voluntarily, they can be given an answer by my right honourable friend under compulsion. My noble friend Lord Cranbrook will ask me what sort of an answer that might be. I can tell your Lordships that in Clause 9 there is provision for the Secretary of State to provide the sort of joint authority which my noble friend has on the Marshalled List. It need not be exactly the same, but it can have all the same elements that he requires, and the difference between my noble friend and me is only a matter of two months; but there is a world of principle because the Bill becomes a statute at the end of this Session and I have undertaken that the compulsory power will be used in September.

My noble friend wishes to pre-empt that through an amendment which says, "Use that power now and produce this body in exactly this form". Between now and September we wish to test the voluntary principle and we expect, at least in part, to have perfectly adequate areas. We do not want to sweep up those good, workable, safe, hygienic voluntary arrangements into a compulsory arrangement with other boroughs and other districts who have refused to co-operate. We wish to leave them. Therefore I ask my noble friend to defer the compulsion that he seeks to put on the Secretary of State so that he can tailor it to the situation which exists in September.

Your Lordships are not a democratic House but you believe in the democratic principle. We propose to transfer to elected authorities important functions—and not on political grounds. I say to your Lordships: just look at the political complexion of the people to whom we are giving these functions before you tell me that this is a Tory bonanza. This is a practical, sensible thing endorsed by your Lordships at Second Reading and endorsed last Tuesday; and I hope that it will be endorsed again in a minute.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Gregson

Before the noble Lord the Minister sits down, may I ask him to clarify something? I would not like it to stand on the record as I heard it. I seem to understand from his words that he gave more priority to the commercial possibilities of waste recycling than to the urgent necessity of a proper control of hazardous waste. That is how it came over to this side of the Committee. I should like the Minister, please, to explain that point.

Lord Elton

It was certainly not intended. My experience of my speeches is that most of them are forgotten but that the beginning is forgotten quickest and therefore I put in the least important bit then. I started by saying that the first thing that I would like your Lordships to remember was that this was in accordance with the other Select Committee, that of another place, and that if this amendment went through, that fruit would be struck from our hands. That would be a pity. It is not a trivial matter. Waste recycling affects closely the way people look at the environment. It has a great deal to do with the way we live. It is important commercially. The questions noble Lords have been addressing are wider than that; and I concluded on those.

Baroness Birk

I listened very carefully to what the Minister said in reply to this quite lengthy and interesting debate. I must confess that I did not find his arguments convincing to any degree at all. He said that he was looking forward to receiving views on paper which will be put out by the Government. It is hard to understand why the Government need any more views on any more papers when they have had the report of the Select Committee chaired by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook. They have also had the report of my noble friend Lord Gregson's Select Committee on hazardous waste. Those noble Lords have spoken in the debate this afternoon from a tremendous depth of experience and knowledge; and the Minister is saying, in return, that what we should do is to go ahead with the proposals in the Government Bill and then, if they do not work, try something else. If one ran a business on that basis, it would go bankrupt, and one would then have to decide what should have been done before, and then start all over again.

Apart from the political points that have been made, quite fairly, on all sides, I think that the basis of the informed opinion has been expressed in this Committee from the administration side of it in London, from the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, and from the scientific people, from the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, my noble friend Lord Gregson and the noble Lord, Lord Ezra. I feel very strongly that the wish of the Committee would be to support the amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook.

Therefore, I intend to withdraw my amendment, No. 72B. I shall not be moving Amendment No. 72C and I ask my noble friends to support the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, and I ask that, too, of other noble Lords in the Committee who obviously are unhappy and uneasy with what is in the Bill and feel that a strategic body is necessary. That is the most important thing today—not the method by which we get it. That is why we shall be supporting the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 72C not moved.]

On Question Whether Clause 8 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of Cranbrook

I have given notice of intention to oppose the Question, Whether Clause 8 shall stand part of the Bill? In my speech I have already made it clear that this is simply paving the way to the two amendments, Nos. 73 and 74, on which I have already spoken and to which my noble friend has referred. My noble friend has stated that the difference between us is a matter of two months. I think that this speaks for itself; that he also lacks confidence in the system and he believes that in two months' time it will be necessary to take the step that I hope your Lordships will take now.

Lord Elton

Before my noble friend sits down, if that was his conclusion—no, the noble Earl has not concluded—I think I ought to disabuse my noble friend—

A noble Lord

He has concluded.

Lord Elton

I think my noble friend should understand that I did not say I expected it to fail. I said I expected it in large part to succeed but that we could not be certain whether it would succeed altogether. I therefore said that we thought the power he proposed should properly be used when we could see whether it had succeeded in part or whether it had wholly succeeded. If it has succeeded in part then that power should be applied only in those parts where it has not succeeded. I hope that my noble friend is aware of that. I had one or two other things to say about the proposed amendment, but I understand that the Committee is anxious to come to a decision, and so I shall only say that I hope your Lordships will stand firm.

5.51 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 8 shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 166; Not-Contents, 170.

Abinger, L. Greenway, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Grimston of Westbury, L.
Ampthill, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Annaly, L.
Annan, L. Halsbury, E.
Arran, E. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Astor, V. Harvington, L.
Auckland, L. Hood, V.
Barber, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Howe, E.
Beloff, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Belstead, L. Ingrow, L.
Bessborough, E. Ironside, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Kemsley, V.
Brentford, V. Killearn, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. King of Wartnaby, L.
Broxbourne, L. Kinnaird, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Kinnoull, E.
Caithness, E. Kitchener, E.
Caldecote, V. Lane-Fox, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Layton, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Carver, L. Liverpool, E.
Cathcart, E. Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E.
Cawley, L. Long, V.
Chelwood, L. Lothian, M.
Coleraine, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Luke, L.
Colwyn, L. Lyell, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Cottesloe, L. McFadzean, L.
Cox, B. Macleod of Borve, B.
Craigavon, V. Malmesbury, E.
Crathorne, L. Margadale, L.
Croft, L. Marley, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Marsh, L.
Davidson, V. Marshall of Leeds, L.
De La Warr, E. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Digby, L.
Dilhorne, V. Melville, V.
Drumalbyn, L. Merrivale, L.
Dundee, E. Mersey, V.
Ellenborough, L. Milverton, L.
Elles, B. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Morris, L.
Elton, L. Mottistone, L.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Ferrers, E. Moyola, L.
Ferrier, L. Munster, E.
Fisher, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Fortescue, E. Newall, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Gainford, L. Norfolk, D.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Norwich, Bp.
Gibson-Watt, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Glanusk, L. Onslow, E.
Glenarthur, L. Orkney, E.
Gowrie, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Grantchester, L. Pender, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Penrhyn, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Rankeillour, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Reading, M. Swinfen, L.
Reigate, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Renton, L. Terrington, L.
Renwick, L. Teynham, L.
Rochdale, V. Torrington, V.
Rodney, L. Trefgarne, L.
Romney, E. Trenchard, V.
Rugby, L. Trumpington, B.
Runciman of Doxford, V. Tweedsmuir, L.
Ryder of Warsaw, B. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
St. Aldwyn, E. Vestey, L.
St. Davids, V. Vivian, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. Ward of Witley, V.
Sandford, L. Weinstock, L.
Shannon, E. Westbury, L.
Skelmersdale, L. Whitelaw, V.
Soames, L. Windlesham, L.
Somers, L. Wynford, L.
Southborough, L. Young, B.
Stockton, E.
Airedale, L. Gallacher, L.
Alport, L. Galpern, L.
Amherst, E. Gifford, L.
Ardwick, L. Gladwyn, L.
Attlee, E. Glenconner, L.
Avebury, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Aylestone, L. Gregson, L. [Teller.]
Bancroft, L. Grey, E.
Banks, L. Hampden, V.
Barnett, L. Hampton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hankey, L.
Bernstein, L. Hanworth, V.
Beswick, L. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Birk, B. Hatch of Lusby, L.
Birkett, L. Hayter, L.
Blyton, L. Henniker, L.
Boothby, L. Hooson, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Bottomley, L. Hunt, L.
Briginshaw, L. Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Broadbridge, L. Ilchester, E.
Brockway, L. Ingleby, V.
Bruce of Donington, L. Irving of Dartford, L.
Buckmaster, V. Jacobson, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Jacques, L.
Caradon, L. Jeger, B.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Chitnis, L. John-Mackie, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Kagan, L.
Collison, L. Kaldor, L.
Cranbrook, E. [Teller.] Kearton, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Kennet, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Kilbracken, L.
David, B. Kilmarnock, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Kirkhill, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Kissin, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Lawrence, L.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Leatherland, L.
Listowel, E.
Denington, B. Lloyd of Hampstead, L.
Diamond, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lockwood, B.
Edmund-Davies, L. Longford, E.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Ennals, L. McCarthy, L.
Esher, V. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Evans of Claughton, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. McNair, L.
Ezra, L. Mais, L.
Falkender, B. Mar, C.
Falkland, V. Masham of Ilton, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Mayhew, L.
Fitt, L. Melchett, L.
Flowers, L. Milford, L.
Foot, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Gaitskell, B. Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L. Serota, B.
Molson, L. Shackleton, L.
Monkswell, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Monson, L. Shepherd, L.
Morris of Kenwood, L. Shinwell, L.
Mountevans, L. Simon, V.
Mulley, L. Stallard, L.
Nicol, B. Stamp, L.
Northfield, L. Stedman, B.
Ogmore, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
O'Neill of the Maine, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Oram, L. Stone, L.
Paget of Northampton, L. Strabolgi, L.
Parry, L. Strauss, L.
Peart, L. Tanlaw, L.
Pitt of Hampstead, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Thurlow, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Tordoff, L.
Prys-Davies, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Rathcreedan, L. Walston, L.
Reilly, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Rhodes, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B. White, B.
Rochester, L. Wigoder, L.
Ross of Marnock, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Russell of Liverpool, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Sainsbury, L.
Salmon, L. Winterbottom, L.
Seear, B. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Seebohm, L.

Resolved in the negative, and clause disagreed to accordingly.

6.1 p.m.

Lord Elton

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.