§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Viscount Ullswater
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.—(Viscount Ullswater.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The CHAIRMAN OF COMMIIIEES in the Chair.]
§ [Amendment No. 263 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]
§ Lord Lewis of Newnham moved Amendment No. 264:
Before Clause 75, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Air Quality
§ Air quality management
§ —(1) With a view to establishing air quality standards in Great Britain and improving air quality, the Secretaries of State shall as soon as possible—
- (a) prepare a statement ("the strategy") containing their objectives for improving air quality in Great Britain; and
- (b) issue guidance to every local air quality management authority on methods which may be used to achieve these objectives.
§ (2) In this section the term "local air quality management authority" ("the authority") means a district council, a metropolitan district council, a London borough council or a unitary authority; and in Scotland, a Scottish district council or a Scottish islands council.
§ (3) The Secretaries of State may from time to time modify the strategy.
§ (4) The Environment Agency or, in Scotland, SEPA, shall—
- (a) advise the Secretaries of State on matters relating to subsection (1) above; and
- (b) advise the Secretaries of State on criteria for the establishment of air quality management areas, namely those areas where air quality standards are likely to be exceeded.
§ (5) It shall be the duty of every local air quality management authority, having regard to guidance issued by the Secretaries of State—
- (a) to prepare a review of air quality within its boundaries;
- (b) to designate air quality management areas within its boundaries;
- (c) to prepare a local air quality management plan which shall include a statement of the authority's methods for attaining the objectives specified in subsection (1) (a) above;
- (d) to undertake a further review of air quality every two years, and from time to time to modify the local air quality management plan in the light of further review and guidance; and
- (e) to consult with every bordering authority in the preparation of its review and plan, and any subsequent modifications.")
§ The noble Lord said: In submitting this amendment, I am very conscious of the fact that this environmental Bill covers so many aspects of environmental problems. But it is interesting to note that it says very little about air pollution. I find that rather surprising, when one considers the high level of public concern that exists over health problems and air pollution. I refer primarily of course to the many respiratory ailments that are associated with pollution. Also, it is fair to say that the current measurements to protect and improve air quality are fragmentary. For example, industrial pollution is controlled by HMIP and by local authorities. Pollution from transportation comes under four ministries: the Department of Transport; Environment; Trade and Industry; and the Home Office. Agriculture, which is one of the major causes of the pollution problems that we face in this country, is controlled by a code of practice from MAFF. Finally, domestic emissions are under the control of local authorities.
§ Although many changes have occurred in air pollution control over the past two decades, internationally agreed guidelines are routinely being exceeded. Emissions from road transport have increased. That is reflected in the very detailed survey that was carried out by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and also much of the documentation that has come from the National Society for Clean Air. I note with considerable interest that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, is dealing with some of the problems that are associated with traffic pollution. I should like to say how delighted I am to see these particular amendments coming forward. But it is important to emphasise that the amendment with which 313 we are now dealing deals with pollution on a national basis, whereas I believe that of the noble Lord is far more concerned with local authorities.
§ It is important to recognise that over the past four or five years there has built up a consensus view on the conditions for improving air quality, and indeed generally considering air quality management. The Government produced in the past year two very important documents which encapsulate these sentiments. The first was Improving Air Quality, and the most recent, Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge, was published within the past two weeks. It can be seen that the Government are moving forward very much in this particular direction.
§ However, it is important to recognise that if the aims to be attained are as set out in these particular documents, particularly in relation to the timescales that are projected, then there is an immediate need for legislation. This Bill provides a very good opportunity for such legislation.
§ I believe that there is now a consensus view on the strategy for air quality management. The first important aspect is to establish air quality standards. That has now been done for quite a large number of potential pollutants, and it is interesting also to note that in Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge the list has been extended. I congratulate the Government on that particular move.
§ This should then allow for a general air quality review to take place, which should give us a very clear understanding of the distribution of air pollution problems throughout the country.
§ Three important aspects must be considered. The first is monitoring and sampling. The second is the standardisation of data, particularly any computerisation of data, so that that is compatible across the country as a whole. The third is the interpretation of data.
§ I recently attended a conference sponsored by the National Society for Clean Air, where there was a grouping of various interested parties in air pollution control and monitoring. This involved industry, government, local authorities and various other interested groupings, including universities. One of the features that came through loud and clear was that, first, a considerable amount of interest and effort is being expended on these particular problems. However, although the data are there, very often they are not compatible. Very often one runs into problems over sampling. I was particularly impressed by the Meteorological Office, which has done very extensive surveys and has shown how critical sampling can be in giving the correct data. I believe that this is merely a matter of addressing the protocol that is involved in approaching this problem. That is not insoluble. But it Is tremendously important to appreciate that if we do not get this right, all that we will end up with is a lot of data which are rather meaningless.
§ In order to accomplish that, this amendment makes the following general proposals. The Secretary of State would be responsible for setting up the air quality standards. The determination of the strategic approach would then be up to air quality management. It would provide guidance particularly on the techniques to be 314 used locally to characterise air quality. We believe that in all these matters the Secretaries of State should have regard to advice from the environmental agencies which are now being set up in the Bill.
§ It is equally important that local authorities should be responsible for the review of air quality and the establishment of air quality management areas. We believe that it is of major importance that the involvement of local authorities should be statutory to ensure a uniform and co-ordinated coverage of monitoring and data assessment.
§ An important consequence of this type of approach is that it would allow for what I call an effects-based approach to the setting of air quality standards rather than relying on fixed emission limits and giving a flexibility to take account of the receiving capacity of the local environment, as applies to water. It is an approach that has been applied extremely successfully to the control over water and it avoids the air not being able to deal with what are reasonable approaches to emissions from various local authorities or industry as a whole. I beg to move.
§ Lord Nathan
In supporting this amendment, I point out that the main theme of the Government, particularly in relation to Part I of the Bill, has been an emphasis on sustainable development. Therefore, in that context it came as a surprise to find no adequate reference in the Bill to problems relating to air pollution. They are there by implication in relation to HMIP, whose responsibilities are confined to exceptionally difficult industrial emissions.
As the noble Lord, Lord Lewis, said, there has been increasing concern among the public generally on health grounds, particularly perhaps in relation to asthma. It is said that one in seven children now suffer from asthma. It is quite generally thought that some air pollution is responsible for that trouble. It seems to me, and others, that provision in the Bill relating to air pollution is of the first importance.
That view is clearly shared by the Government. On the second day of the Committee stage of the Bill the Government issued their paper relating to their policy on air pollution. It was, if I may say so, an excellent paper. I believe that this amendment, though drafted and published before that document was issued, is closely in line with the Government's policy, as disclosed in that paper.
The amendment lays the foundations for effective air pollution control, which would ensure that investment is related to risks to health, amenity and conservation; that air quality is protected and improved at least cost by a balance between national and local measures; that local measures are focused on point, mobile and diffuse sources related to the locality and cost-effectiveness of pollution abatement; and that pollution control is carried out at the level appropriate to the task.
Subsection (5) of the new clause places a statutory duty on local authorities, as local air quality management authorities, to prepare local air quality management plans and to revise them periodically to keep them up to date. Using central guidance, they will identify the most cost-effective and socially acceptable 315 package of measures to achieve nationally agreed air quality standards in their locality. It is important that the duty to prepare plans should be statutory, otherwise the current position of air pollution monitoring, to which the noble Lord, Lord Lewis, referred, will recur: patchy coverage with poor co-ordination and often a waste of resources.
I emphasise a number of points. First, with regard to the designation of air quality management areas, it is in these areas that the most active control measures will be taken. Concentrating effort where the air quality standards are, or are likely to be, exceeded saves cost and effort. The long experience of local authorities in air pollution control and the expertise of the environmental health officers give the assurance that they will be able to do the job.
Consultation and co-operation with neighbouring authorities are routine. But the southern England radiation monitoring network, covering West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, is worth mentioning as an example of co-ordinated operation involving common standards, co-ordinated at Southampton University, of monitoring by sample—for instance, seaweed and growing crops, shellfish and air quality. The local authority radiation monitoring control committee was established in that context. So there is nothing unusual in foreseeing co-operation between local authorities in the context of air pollution control, as proposed in the amendment.
The Government expressed their intention to achieve air quality targets by the year 2005 in the document to which I referred. That means that the wheels must be put in motion now. I believe that the Government must take this legislative opportunity. They cannot afford to wait for another.
Finally, I must refer to money. However cost-effective and efficient the arrangements, inevitably they will involve expenditure. Local authorities must be funded adequately by express provision for the purpose. I hope that the Government will give an assurance that that will be done.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
I support the amendments tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Lewis and Lord Nathan. I also support, in the following group, the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin. This is the one legislative opportunity that we have to put into effect the Government's proposals on air quality. It is opportune that their document was produced during the passage of the Bill. It is an occasion for them to seize the opportunity to amend the legislation, if we ourselves do not achieve that today.
The Government are to be commended for proposing the establishment of a framework of national standards which focus on the main pollutants that concern us. They do not go far enough in dealing with the problem of car emissions, which nowadays is the major pollutant. It used to be the burning of coal fires and so on and the clean air Acts dealt with that. We need now to adopt a 316 strategic approach to managing air quality based on setting clear national standards, as was said by the mover of the amendment.
Also, it is essential that air quality considerations are integrated with planning, transport and other agencies. One of the omissions in the Government's plans is the provision of a good quality public transport system, so that people are less tempted—as we all are—to use their cars to get to work.
The amendments are supported by the local authority associations. They see very little that is controversial in them and much that is commendable. They also accept that air pollution does not respect local authority boundaries and that each authority should face a duty to act as an air quality management authority. Therefore, it is vital that the new scheme has nationwide coverage and it is not left to local authorities to implement on a piecemeal basis.
As I said, the key weakness of the Government's proposals is in the area of transport. We need to address that issue. Most of the 20 recommendations in the Government's report are of a research, planning or policy nature. Apart from the promise of more testing for London taxi exhausts and the possible addition of a new statutory measure covering exhaust fumes, there are very few new policies or commitments. Therefore, the Government's paper does not go far enough. We need legislation at this stage. We should seize this golden opportunity to legislate today and take action, as in the following group of amendments, against excessive emissions from vehicles. We should also be conscious that motor vehicles contribute to the greenhouse effect. That may be discounted by some experts; nevertheless it is clear that we are pumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the upper atmosphere.
We enthusiastically support these amendments and those in the following group.
§ Lord Renton
Any proposal to reduce air pollution deserves serious consideration. I have lived with this subject for 40 years, since I had the responsibility of helping to pilot the first of the clean air Acts through another place. Pollution arises from three causes—industrial, domestic and vehicles—and I will say a quick word about each of them. In the last century attempts were made to control industrial pollution, but they were very unsuccessful through lack of enforcement. They are still not perfect. As to domestic pollution, the Clean Air Act was very effective in dealing with that. It was a good Right-wing effort. The late Lord Duncan-Sandys piloted the Bill through. He introduced it as Minister of Transport with the help of his Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Enoch Powell, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power, your humble servant.
§ Lord Allen of Abbeydale
I should like to make a very small point. I believe it was the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, not the Ministry of Transport.
§ Lord Renton
Did I say the Ministry of Transport? I am sorry. The noble Lord is quite right, it was the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. It was a slip of the tongue, for which I apologise.
317 That Act, I am glad to say, has been pretty effective. The reduction in the use of coal—bituminous coal especially—for domestic heating has been one of the principal causes of the improvement.
The main trouble now is the pollution caused by vehicles—that is, motor vehicles and mechanical vehicles of all kinds. That is why the amendments which are to follow will require even more serious consideration than this one. As to this amendment, what worries me is that it would overlap with existing arrangements for monitoring and enforcement, and the cost would be quite considerable. Therefore, with deep respect to the noble Lords who have moved and supported the amendment, I somewhat doubt whether it is really necessary. I will be interested to hear what my noble friend has to say about it.
§ Lord Moran
I should like to express my strong support for the amendment. We all know about the serious problems of air pollution in London and other cities, but air pollution affects not only towns but is also a significant problem in the countryside. In 1994 the expert panel on air quality standards, reporting on ozone, pointed out that in 1990 the standard was exceeded on 56 days—a considerable number—and that that applied to many parts of the countryside.
As to monitoring, I strongly support my noble friend Lord Lewis. The quality and extent of monitoring at present are none too good. The United Nations, under its environmental programme, reported recently on air pollution in the mega-cities of the world and expressed concern about the quality of monitoring in London. Monitoring should be standard and comprehensive throughout the United Kingdom and, above all, related to where the problem is most acute. It is no good monitoring the level of air pollution in London from the top of buildings; it should be done at what I would call pushchair height.
Let me make a brief point about public information. Last October the Transport Committee in another place, in its sixth report on transport-related air pollution in London, recommended that where air quality falls to levels which have potential health implications, bulletins should be issued to the public. That is important and I hope that the Government will pay attention to it. It is important that when pollution is bad the public should be informed by means of radio, television and the press.
Finally, I ask the Government what is happening about the admirable recent 18th report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. There seem to be a lot of plans and strategies but not, so far, very much action. For example, nobody is stopping the cars coming down the Cromwell Road. So far, plans to control traffic in order to reduce air pollution seem to be missing.
§ Viscount Ullswater
I have listened with great interest to what noble Lords have said on this important topic. The debate is timely. Let me make clear immediately how much the Government welcome the initiative of the noble Lords, Lord Lewis and Lord Nathan. The Government propose to build on it in taking forward their strategy for maintaining and improving air quality.
318 The Committee will be aware that, following publication last March of the discussion paper Improving Air Quality, the Government published on 19th January Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge, a framework of strategic policies for maintaining and improving air quality. It represents a major step. Rapid progress has been made and the Government are determined to maintain that progress. We have proposed a new national air quality strategy, based on clear standards and targets, a system of local air quality management to underpin it, and an action programme of some 20 measures for improving transport emissions. I can now confirm that it is the Government's intention that relevant provision be made in the Bill now before us.
The Government will therefore bring forward their own proposals at a later stage. Since it is likely that for reasons of timing and procedure they will come forward in another place, I should like to take the opportunity this afternoon to set out clearly the Government's intentions.
Legislative provision will be made, first, for establishing the national strategic plan for maintaining and improving air quality. The duty to establish the strategy should, as noble Lords propose, reside with the Secretaries of State. Key elements should indeed include setting clear national standards for air quality and reduction targets for important pollutants, with timetables for achieving them. The strategy will not be an end-point. It will be a framework against which the Government test relevant policies for industry, transport and other matters in future. It will also be the framework for the new system of local air quality management proposed by the Government. It will be revised and adapted in the light of new evidence and better techniques.
The new system of local air quality management will be focused particularly on areas at risk. But the Government intend also to see that air quality considerations are better integrated with local planning, transport and other policies throughout the country. The Government have therefore proposed that all local authorities should have a duty to review air quality periodically.
The Government agree that local authorities will need detailed advice in order to carry out their new functions properly. As with the national strategy, advice for local authorities and their own plans must evolve and adapt over time. The Government would expect that most matters could be dealt with by guidance, as proposed by noble Lords in the amendment. But, as we have seen in long experience of the operation of smoke control areas, and of more general controls on black smoke, it may sometimes be necessary to state details in regulations.
The Government will be looking for constructive participation from local government, industry and others in developing both legislation and subsequent guidance. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Lewis, will be happy to know that we shall be involving the National Society for Clean Air and any other bodies that noble Lords may wish to suggest in that. Issues to be covered include techniques for assessing air quality and its effects, 319 criteria for identifying air quality management areas, and methods for managing air quality in these and other localities including, I am sure, sampling and monitoring.
There is also the question of the powers of local authorities. While it is the Government's view that many of the actions to be taken locally are already in the hands of local authorities, their use may need to be made more explicit. Furthermore, the Government do not rule out the possibility that some special powers may need to be available within air quality management areas rather as they already are within smoke control areas. In accordance with the precedent of smoke control areas, the Secretaries of State should be able, following consultation, to bring forward regulations concerning the functions of local authorities within air quality management areas.
It should be clear from what I have said that I am in agreement with the spirit of much of the noble Lord's amendment. As I have explained, the Government intend to bring forward their own provisions which will cover the issues which Amendment No. 264 identifies as important, extended in the ways in which I have indicated. With that assurance to the Committee, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Lord Nathan
Perhaps I may make two points. First, I wish to emphasise the point which other noble Lords have made regarding the existence of air pollution outside the centres of great cities and in particular the impact of agricultural activity on air pollution. I am thinking of nitrogen, let alone methane. Those are matters of considerable concern. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is the department concerned in this area. The Minister might care to take that into account.
The other point to which I would refer is the vexed and disagreeable subject of money. It would be helpful if the noble Viscount could say something about his proposals in that regard. He accepts—and I am appreciative of it—the main burden of the points made in the amendment, although his colleagues will bring forward amendments of their own. That is fine. But I think it would be a mistake to think that an effective system of air pollution control and management will arise without the injection of some money from some source.
§ Viscount Ullswater
Perhaps I may respond briefly to those two points. I indicated that this would be a national strategy with national standards for air quality and reduction targets for the important pollutants. I hope that that will give the noble Lord some assurance on the first point.
On the second point, for the core functions of reviewing air quality and taking into account more fully land use and transport planning, the costs are unlikely to be significant. For the most part, it will be a matter of doing differently things which most relevant local authorities already do. Nevertheless, the Government have indicated that local authorities will be able to bid 320 for resources where necessary. We anticipate that that matter will be covered when the proposals come forward in another place and we are in touch with local authorities.
§ Lord Lewis of Newnham
I thank the Minister for his clear exposition of what is an important case. He has covered all the points that we would wish to make. We will look with great interest at the report when it comes forward. Perhaps I may take this opportunity to thank the noble Lords, Lord Nathan and Lord Beaumont, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, for helping me with. this proposal. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding moved Amendment No. 264A:
Before Clause 75, insert the following new clause:
§ Emissions from stationary vehicles
§ .—(1) Save as provided in subsection (2) below, the person in charge of a motor vehicle shall, when the vehicle is stationary on a road, stop the action of any machinery attached to or forming part of the vehicle so far as may be necessary for the prevention of the emission of smoke, fumes or vapour.
§ (2) The provisions of subsection (1) do not apply—
- (a) when the vehicle is stationary owing to the necessities of traffic;
- (b) so as to prevent the examination or working of the machinery where the examination is necessitated by any failure or derangement of the machinery or where the machinery is required to be worked for a purpose other than driving the vehicle; or
- (c) in respect of a vehicle propelled by gas produced in plant carried on the vehicle, to such plant.
§ (3) If the person in charge of a stationary vehicle on the road does not stop the action of a vehicle in accordance with subsection (1) above, an authorised officer of the local authority in which the road is situated may serve a notice on him requiring him to pay a penalty charge to the local authority.
§ (4) The person in charge of a vehicle served with a notice under subsection (3) above shall have the right of appeal against the service of the notice to the local authority in the first instance and thereafter, to an adjudicator appointed by the local authority.
§ (5) The amount of the penalty charge payable under subsection (3) above shall be set at a level which would allow the local authority to recover the reasonable costs of the enforcement of the provisions of this section.")
§ The noble Lord said: With this amendment we are taking Amendments Nos. 264B and 264C. I gained the impression from the previous debate that there is already a good deal of support in all parts of the Committee for this group of amendments. Perhaps I may say at the outset how very much I welcome the comprehensive statement which my noble friend has just made about the Government's legislative intentions in this regard. The speed with which the Government have moved on the matter—after all, it was only on 19th January that the document was published—is very much to be commended.
With this group of amendments we move from the general to the particular. As everyone has said, it is a very important particular. The amendments aim to give local authorities new powers to deal effectively with certain vehicle and other emissions which contravene the relevant provisions of the construction and use 321 regulations. There is a history behind the amendments. It has long been apparent that a significant part of the atmospheric pollution in our country comes from a relatively small minority of badly maintained vehicles, which not only puff black smoke but produce completely burnt hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants. Those puff into the street, with all the consequences that have been described.
§ When a vehicle comes up for its annual MOT test these things are tested and if the vehicle is found to be wanting the certificate is withheld until matters are put right. But that means that a car or lorry may go on polluting the streets for many months before the law catches up with it. At present the powers to deal with this menace are non-existent, very defective or incompletely enforced.
So last year the two London local authority groups—the London Boroughs Association and the Association of London Authorities—gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee of another place in which they said that they were proposing legislation in a Private Bill which was intended to deal with the problem. It was put forward by the London Borough of Westminster but it has the support of all the other London boroughs. In its report the Select Committee said:
We also recommend that the Government should give favourable consideration to a possible proposal from the Association of London Authorities and the London Boroughs Association for private legislation to give local authorities in the capital the power to carry out emissions checks on vehicles and to serve the driver, where necessary, with an enforcement notice requiring remedial action to be taken. Such a system could be financed through a fixed penalty charge".
Since then there has been a great deal of consultation between the local authorities, the Department of Transport, my noble friend's department and the Home Office—the police may well be involved—and last month when the Government's publication on air quality was printed it was seen that the Government committed themselves. The report said:
the Government welcomes the LBA initiative in bringing forward proposals in the London Local Authorities Bill to extend kerbside emissions testing powers to London local authorities. The proposals may present an opportunity to increase the level of roadside emissions testing in London, supplementing testing already carried out by the Vehicle Inspectorate, and may provide a blueprint for future initiatives elsewhere in the country".
§ It will be recognised that hitherto this had been seen as being confined to London. It was the Government who recognised that there might well be wider application for the powers.
§ The Private Bill was presented in this House at the end of last year and it has begun its somewhat slow and uncertain progress through Parliament. One remembers that the 1991 Bill, which was introduced in this House, has still made no progress. Private legislation has its perils. Part II of that Bill contains eight clauses and four schedules setting out the proposed powers. A Petition has been presented against that Private Bill on behalf of a number of motoring and other organisations. Two main points are made in the Petition. The first point is that, if there is going to be legislation, it should be made national. The second point is that a Bill should not 322 provide power for a local authority official to stop vehicles and that such power should be confined to the police. I will not elaborate on that.
§ These three amendments provide national powers of the kind that have already been commended by the Government in the White Paper on air quality. As your Lordships will see, they contain no powers for local authority officials to stop vehicles in the street. So the two main points of the Petition against the Private Bill seem to have been met. There are others—and I have no doubt that they will be argued—but I am hoping that the main opposition to the provision will not extend to the new clauses.
§ What do the new clauses do? Perhaps I may take them in reverse order as that makes more logical sense. Amendment No. 264C gives the power to test to see whether vehicles are complying with the relevant regulations. If a vehicle is in breach, there is a penalty charge and the driver is given eight weeks to get the defect put right. The clause contains a right of appeal. A very important point is that the penalties which were suggested by the committee in another place are set at a level to cover costs. It is not intended to be a revenue-raising measure, but merely to cover the costs of the new operation. As is appropriate, there is provision for a code of practice.
§ Amendment No. 264B extends to on-street nuisances powers which are already available off-street. If there is a concrete mixer or an air compressor which is chuntering away on a building site and emitting smoke and other pollutants, the local authority can stop it. The power is not available if the contractor keeps it in the street. That is absurd. This amendment is intended to deal with that.
§ Amendment No. 264A is an interesting one and I am sure that Members of the Committee will have a good deal of sympathy with it. It is designed to stop people sitting in their vehicles in the street, often for hours at a time, with the engines running. Sometimes large buses and huge lorries have their engines running for no better purpose other than that the driver wants to keep warm in the cab. There must be less polluting ways of keeping drivers warm. One may suggest a woolly hat and an overcoat. One of my honourable friends in another place got into dreadful trouble suggesting that. We have all seen engines running, and that is nonsense. It is quite wrong to have an engine left running for a long period with nothing being done about it.
§ These are in the nature of probing amendments. I am not so rash as to believe that we have got matters right. My noble friend has already said that the Government will be introducing legislation in another place to implement many of the provisions of the policy document on air quality. I hope that he will be able to give the Committee an assurance this afternoon that they will legislate to confer the necessary powers on local authorities in order to save what at the moment are the perils and vagaries of a piece of local legislation which would apply to London only. The London authorities are to be congratulated on their initiative. It would be very much better if these provisions can be incorporated in the Bill and applied nationally.323
§ I hope that I am pushing at an open door on this issue and that the Government will carry through the words which I quoted a few moments ago from the policy document Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge into effective legislation. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Onslow
I was under the impression that it was already an offence to drive a vehicle which had smoke coming from its exhaust. I say that because I have a rather elderly horsebox which was stopped the other day by the police. It was pulled over to the side of the road and the police said that the vehicle was emitting too much smoke. The vehicle was driven straight to a testing station and it was found not to be emitting too much smoke. There is already the power to take that step.
I do not believe that anyone is denying this perfectly reasonable and sensible course. As regards the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, that people should not use diesel fuel belonging to somebody else just to keep their feet warm, I believe that everybody has an immense amount of sympathy with that. I believe that it is also an offence to leave a motor vehicle with the engine running without the driver being present. If those two factors are correct, is it really necessary to add yet another offence to the legislation? I ask that in a spirit of friendly inquiry, and that is all.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Lord Finsberg
I support my noble friend and make two additional points. I should like to see the penalties made stronger. I should like to see the power introduced for confiscation for second or third offences. We know that there are fleets of vehicles which are badly maintained and it almost pays the owners to pay the fines and to get away with it. At some stage I should like to see confiscation powers included.
On the question of keeping one's feet warm, one of the two biggest offenders in London are the buses of London Transport. One can go to the bus terminus at the side of John Lewis in Oxford Street and see buses with engines running with the drivers sitting in the cabs. That is done alongside a notice put up by London Transport telling staff to turn off their engines, but no one bothers to do it. The second biggest offenders are the tourist coaches waiting for their hordes of very valuable tourists. The drivers like to keep warm. I believe that an occasional warning from police who happily pass by may be worth trying.
§ Baroness David
Will the noble Lord's new clause cover cars left with their engines running in your Lordships' car park?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I rise briefly to support the spirit of the amendments moved by my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding. I declare an interest in that I am a member of the Public Policy Committee of the RAC which is one of the organisations to which my noble friend referred. It has petitioned against the London Local Authorities Bill, currently before your Lordships' House, for the reasons which my noble friend expressed.
324 I am glad to say that in his amendments my noble friend has managed to get round some of the problems which we see contained in that Bill.
There is no doubt that my noble friend has touched on a couple of important issues. The RAC has always been very much in favour of cutting down on vehicles which make dirty emissions. It is a fact that only 10 per cent. of badly tuned vehicles account for over half the bad emissions. The few vehicles which do that give all motorists a bad name.
The issues are quite complicated. We need national measures to ensure that vehicle emission standards are properly and fairly enforced, in particular in our cities. That is why these amendments are, as I say, preferable to the approach contained in the London Local Authorities Bill. We must be sure of course that new legislation is indeed needed, as my noble friend Lord Onslow has said. The problem is not simply the lack of money to enforce laws which are already in force.
The construction and use regulations already provide the necessary legal framework and sanctions for tackling polluting vehicles. The real problem of course is that resources cannot be made available on a sufficient scale to tackle the problem at street level. Given that that is the case, should we not be trying to find ways to fund enforcement of the existing regulations rather than starting all over again? Moreover, it must surely be right that the penalties in this field should be the same as those which apply under the construction and use regulations which is not the case with these amendments.
There is a fundamental issue to which my noble friend Lord Jenkin has referred; namely, the power to stop vehicles on the public highway in order to test them. At present the power can only be exercised for traffic matters by a police officer in uniform under Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1968. That situation must be maintained for obvious reasons relating to personal safety and security. Clearly, there is widespread anxiety among the public about the possibility of any change in the law in that respect. I believe that the existing position needs to be made absolutely clear. I know that my noble friend's amendment does not refer to this matter, but the London Local Authorities Bill does. In replying to the amendment, I hope that my noble friend will say that the situation must be maintained—that is to say, that a police officer is the only person who can stop a vehicle.
The requirement should also be that the training of testers referred to in the amendment must also be as good as that required for the testers of the Department of Transport from the Vehicle Inspectorate. We must not have two standards in this matter.
My noble friend's Amendment No. 264A refers to emissions from stationary vehicles, and my noble friend Lord Finsberg has referred to that. The problem seems to be concerned with stationary coaches and buses. One sees them in this area. I wonder whether the amendment is drawn tightly enough for that. It says in subsection (2) (b),or where the machinery is required to be worked for a purpose other than driving the vehicle".325 I hope that that will not allow drivers to leave vehicle engines running solely for the purpose of using the heater. If so, that would drive a coach and horses through the purpose of the amendment and that I would not want to see. However, it seems that the amendment as drafted would require people to drive straight off after having started the car. That is a very dangerous thing to do on a cold and frosty morning when the windscreen is covered with snow and ice. The car must be allowed to get warm enough in order to heat the heater to get the windscreen clear. I wish to see the amendment put in such a way that that can happen otherwise there would be important safety implications.
However, in conclusion, I reaffirm the view that the aims of the amendment are entirely right. What we now need, as my noble friend has said, is the Government to bring these provisions into effect.
§ Lord Tope
I support the amendments. As the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, said, they come from the latest London Local Authorities Bill. I suppose that I should declare my interest as I currently chair the policy and finance committee of the London Boroughs Association which is among those promoting that Bill. The noble Lord explained his amendments well and fully, and I am grateful to him for doing so. I shall not repeat his comments. He referred to the London Local Authorities Bill. The Committee will know better than I what a long and tortuous process that is. I am aware that our No. 2 Bill, which Vas introduced in 1991, received its Third Reading in this place only this week.
The problem in London and other urban and rural areas, as I believe we are all agreed, requires more urgent action than to wait for the long and tortuous process of getting a Private Bill through Parliament. In London, 90 per cent. of the pollution from vehicle emissions comes from only 10 per cent. of vehicles. That would suggest that this is a problem which could be tackled effectively if effective enforcement powers existed. The amendments aim to give local authorities the power to carry out testing. The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, suggested that such powers exist already; they do, but only the police and the Department of Transport Vehicle Inspectorate can do the testing. That can obviously happen on a limited scale only and, because the offences are criminal, the fines then go to the Treasury. We need a more urgent and effective way of tackling this problem on a wider scale.
The purpose of the amendments is to give local authorities powers to initiate a self-financing scheme by introducing penalty charges—I hesitate to say this—similar to those introduced recently for parking. It would enable such pollution control to be brought forward on a self-financing basis. That is the important difference.
Reference has been made to the proposals in the London Local Authorities Bill to give local authorities the power to stop vehicles. I am aware of the opposition from the RAC, the Freight Transport Association, and so forth. As I believe the phrase goes, these proposals are eminently negotiable. They are deliberately not part of the amendments. We are much more interested in 326 seeing an effective scheme in operation in London, and indeed nationwide, than we are in acquiring powers to make ourselves even more unpopular with motorists.
As I say, I support the amendments and thank the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, for moving them so well today. I look forward, when the Minister replies, to hearing his assurance that we are pushing at an open door, and that, although the amendments may not yet be drafted perfectly and every point may not yet have been covered, they will be by the end of the Bill's passage through this place.
Buses have been mentioned and reference has been made to drivers needing to keep warm. I declare another personal interest: my local bus garage happens to be in the ward that I represent on my local council. This has been a considerable problem for me and, more importantly, for my constituents for many years. If we achieve nothing else today, I shall be grateful to put an end to those complaints.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
I rise only to ask my noble friend the Minister to confirm what I believe he said on an earlier amendment: that it is the Government's firm intention to introduce into the Bill provisions to have effective control in these matters. However, I understand that they will not in fact be introduced until the Bill goes to another place. If, as I am sure is the feeling of the Committee at the moment, we are not to press these amendments, we want to know that the Government are firmly committed to legislating on this subject in the Bill, even though it be in another place.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
I have listened with great interest to all that has been said. Like other Members of the Committee, I have sympathy with the purpose of the amendments. Vehicle emissions are a nuisance. The cry that seems to be coming out is the usual one, "and something must be done".
My noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding tabled the amendments, with which I see a number of problems. I should be most reluctant to provide any legislation which would mean the setting up of yet another army of officials—uniformed, I expect—on our streets. It is already confusing with parking wardens, private security services and so forth. As my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara so eloquently said, the responsibility for stopping vehicles has been, and should remain, with the police authorities. Whether a vehicle which is taken off the road by those authorities and taken to a testing station should have the test carried out by a sub-contractor is another matter.
My noble friend Lord Finsberg talked about confiscation. In so far as concerns commercial vehicles, the traffic commissioners have all the authority and power that they need to remove such vehicles from the road, and, as he knows, to close down a business merely by removing the licence. It is a great disappointment to me that greater evidence is not available to us to demonstrate that the traffic commissioners are doing their job in that area. With regard to taxi cabs, there is the hackney carriage licence inspection, when any defects can result in the licence being withheld. That provision already exists.
327 Other Members of the Committee have spoken about the MoT on the vehicle's third anniversary. There is the power to keep the vehicle off the road if the emission test which is incorporated in the MoT is not satisfactory. We might bring that test a little earlier, and bring it into the second year and not after the third anniversary. There is ample evidence to show (again, I am sure that my noble friend Lord Brabazon mentioned this) that a significant proportion of the 23 million motor cars on the road are the gross polluters. He said 10 per cent.; I would have said 20 per cent. or 25 per cent., but whether it is 10 per cent. or 20 per cent., it is a significant number.
Rather than have the blanket cover which my noble friend Lord Jenkin proposes in this series of amendments, we should use more effectively the construction and use regulations which are already available; the enforcement should be better targeted; and resources for the enforcement should be made available, because without adequate enforcement the existing law is disregarded. That is not something we should condone.
I hope that when my noble friend answers—I am sure that he will acknowledge the problem—he will undertake to have a much wider review of some of the technical and practical difficulties that arise in overcoming this problem.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Lord Desai
In speaking to the amendment, I must first declare a non-interest in that I do not own or drive a car. If the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, is correct in saying that only a small percentage of cars causes a large percentage of the pollution, we should address that problem. It is clear that the existing regulations do not tackle it. It is not right to say that we should have better enforcement. We must increase the incentives to discourage people from owning cars which emit a great deal of pollution. Unless the incentives are changed, pollution will continue. I do not know how one should increase the cost of owning polluting cars; but perhaps as cars become older, the owners should pay more road tax. That will be much more effective and targeted than a blanket provision which will catch the drivers of all kinds of cars.
§ Viscount Ullswater
The amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Jenkin aim to tackle certain aspects of traffic pollution. We are all well aware that traffic is now the major source of pollution in our town centres. I therefore sympathise with those aims. Indeed, the fact that the Government's strategic proposals were developed jointly by my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the Secretary of State for Transport, reflects the importance that the Government as a whole attach to tackling this sector. The proposals include a separate action plan for transport.
My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked about the amendments which we intend to bring forward. As I indicated in speaking to the previous amendment, we 328 shall bring them forward in another place. Due to the rapidity with which we have moved since the publication of Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge on 19th January, it is difficult to have amendments ready to introduce in this House. I hope that I shall be able to persuade my noble friend that these amendments are not the most suitable to bring forward either in this House or in another place—
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
I was not suggesting that they were suitable. I was asking whether the Government were giving a firm undertaking to introduce legislation on this subject in this Bill in another place.
§ Viscount Ullswater
As I indicated, the proposals include a separate action plan for transport. As the Government's air quality strategy develops, we shall consider how to develop them further both strategically and at the detailed level of implementation.
Amendment No. 264A sounds very attractive. It purports to deal with motorists who leave their engines running unnecessarily. I very much sympathise with the sentiment expressed by many Members but I am not sure that this amendment is the answer. A similar offence already exists. Regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 already requires that drivers should take appropriate action to prevent unnecessary noise by switching off their engines when stationary. In practice, the offence is very difficult to prosecute and very difficult to prove.
I have to say that proving unnecessary emissions would be likely to be even more difficult than proving unnecessary noise. Creating a new offence along the lines proposed would seem therefore to serve no effective purpose. It may be far better to concentrate further on making motorists alert to the consequences of leaving engines running unnecessarily.
Amendment No. 264B aims to extend the statutory nuisance controls in Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to include such things as emissions from mobile tarmac plant. The Government believe that there are already sufficient powers available to the police, vehicle inspectors and others to control these emissions. I believe that deals with the problem of my noble friend Lord Onslow's horse box. These include the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and a variety of provisions under health and safety legislation.
In turning to my noble friend's Amendment No. 264C, we come to an additional opportunity to remove polluting vehicles from the road—a matter to which we attach the greatest importance. A similar proposal has been made in connection with the Sixth London Local Authorities Bill, as amplified by the noble Lord, Lord Tope. My right honourable friends the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Secretary of State for Transport have made clear that the Government are keen to consider the approach of giving powers to local authorities. As the Secretary of State has indicated, the Government recognise that this is the sort of power that might be appropriate for local authorities in exercising their proposed functions under the air quality strategy. However, there are technical problems associated with the proposal. In particular, I must say to my noble 329 friends Lord Brabazon and Lord Lucas that the idea that enforcement in this area should be given to bodies other than the police and the vehicle inspectorate is one which, while it merits consideration, also needs close examination.
The Government believe that the proposal should be considered at more length. The Government are ready to do that, in conjunction with the wider proposals on air quality which we shall be bringing forward in another place. But Members of the Committee will understand that in view of the particular difficulties that we see in this case, I can al this stage give no assurances as to the outcome of that consideration. I hope that on the basis of what I have said, my noble friend will agree to withdraw his amendments.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
I am grateful for the considerable volume of support that the amendments have attracted in Committee. As we are trying to work to the new Rippon rules, I shall not attempt to comment on all the points that were made. The Committee will wish to move on to the next amendments.
My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked a strictly pertinent question to which I was hoping to hear a more committed reply. I believe that in so far as these matters can be made effective in legislation, the Committee wishes them to be legislated for in this Bill. We do not wish to be fobbed off with the reply, "It will need a great deal more talking and thinking about". Everyone knows that it will be years before another Bill is introduced.
The existing powers are not sufficient. One has only to walk down the road to see that. Perhaps I may say to my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth that it is not merely a matter of resources. I hope that the police will do more to combat real crime rather than stopping vehicles puffing out smoke. Policemen are expensive, rare and valuable commodities. The local authorities should have the power to act because they must respond to public pressures. The noble Lord, Lord Tope, illustrated that by referring to the bus depot in his constituency.
The amendment introduces a new self-financing scheme which will be enforced by local authorities. They have every incentive to do that without being distracted from other more immediate topics, such as fighting crime. The present system does not work. Perhaps I may remind my noble friend Lord Ullswater that his department has given a warm welcome to the London Bill. If it is right in London and the Government are going to support the Bill, why not support these new clauses?
I shall not press the matter to a Division. However, I wish to leave my noble friend in no doubt that the Committee wishes to see this matter legislated for in this Bill. We hope that the Government will bring forward their proposals in another place, together with the rest of the package. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.330
§ [Amendments Nos. 264B and 264C not moved.]
§ Clause 75 [National waste strategy]:
§ Lord Marlesford moved Amendment No. 265:
§ Page 78, line 5, at end insert:
§ ("National resource management strategy: England and Wales.
- (1) The Secretary of State shall prepare a statement ("the resource management strategy") containing policies for the conservation of minerals, energy, water, land and soil resources.
- (2) The resource management strategy shall include a statement of the Secretary of State's policies for—
- (a) reducing the demand for the resources addressed by the strategy;
- (b) encouraging the more efficient use of these resources;
- (c) substituting renewable resources for non-renewable resources where there is a net environmental benefit by so doing,
- (d) enhancing the environmental value of those resources; and
- (e) minimising the environmental impact of extracting, exploiting or developing those resources.
- (3) In preparing the resource management strategy or any modification of it the Secretary of State shall consult bodies or persons representative of local government, environmental, business and community interests.
- (4) The Secretary of State shall establish appropriate bodies within Government, where such bodies do not already exist, including a Soil Conservation Unit and a Minerals Efficiency Office, to assist in the implementation of this strategy.").
§ The noble Lord said: Previous amendments related to the detail of the Bill; but my amendment is, in a sense, much more strategic. It suggests that this admirable Bill contains an important gap. That is the requirement or need to produce a strategy for national resource management.
§ Over recent years there have been a number of extremely valuable environmental White Papers and in 1994 we had the Government's sustainable development strategy. We have also a whole range of guidance produced on what should happen in relation to different issues. I believe that there is a gap between those macro White Papers and environmental sustainable development strategies and the need for something much more specific which relates to the conservation and management of key resources of minerals, energy, water, land and so on.
§ At present I fear that to some extent, at least, the Government's policies and, indeed, policy planning guidance notes and mineral planning guidance notes are based far too much on a philosophy of predicting demand and providing for that demand. Very often it is simply not possible to provide that demand without considerable environmental damage.
§ This is very much a probing amendment. I do not suggest that the wording of the amendment is right. I merely ask the Government to seek to strengthen and deepen their own Bill by giving the Secretary of State a requirement to produce a strategy. I do not specify how often that should be done. That strategy should include key measures such as, for example, reducing the demand for such land resources by re-using vacant urban land rather than developing greenfield sites. The amount of rural land still being lost is considerable. Members of 331 the Committee may not realise that since 1945 an area of land greater than the size of Greater London—Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire—has been "urbanised", which is a suitably horrible word. Currently we are losing rural land to development at the rate of 27,000 acres per year. Therefore, it is a very real problem.
§ We need a strategy to deal with that, which the Government should provide in the Bill. That would then be the benchmark for the administration of the planning rules, for the consideration of development and for guidelines which the Government issue on detailed matters which arise.
§ Perhaps I may refer to a few examples. Let us consider minerals and the need for aggregates. It cannot be right to say that, because the need for aggregates is so great, it should be permissible to produce those by quarrying as and where the developers wish to do so. For example, in general I do not believe that it is right to allow quarrying for aggregates in national parks. However, it may be right if the developers are seeking to use a particular stone that is found only in a national park to clothe buildings to be erected in that national park and give a vernacular attraction to those buildings. In that case it may be reasonable to say that the stone must come from the national park. But in general, even though the cost of providing aggregates may be higher in order to meet our environmental objectives, that cost must be met. That often means that the most obvious site for quarrying will not always be appropriate. Unless there is such a strategy, we shall not have the right developments in the right places.
§ With regard to water, we need effective measures to control leakage and manage demand for water resources. The National Rivers Authority has estimated that the demand for water may increase by some 25 per cent. by the year 2021. That may produce intolerable burdens on existing underground water reserves and already much damage has been done by over-abstraction rather than conservation of water. That is an area in which a specific strategy is needed. Energy is another area in which such a strategy is needed.
§ I wish to make the general point that there is a gap in the Bill and my amendment seeks to close it by providing, for the first time, a management strategy for those crucial resources which, if they are not properly managed, may result in really serious damage being done to the environment of this country; and that is totally contrary to the purposes of this admirable Bill. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
I support the amendment moved so eloquently by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. Last week the Government published a discussion draft on waste strategy for England and Wales which quite clearly should be a very small part of a much wider statement on national resource management. To deal merely with waste is not sufficient. We should not be using so much of them in the first place. Therefore, there is a clear need for a much broader approach to the management of our limited natural resources.
332 The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, has covered the major points in relation to the irreparable loss to our national parks and other beautiful places caused by quarrying. We dealt with mineral abstraction a few days ago, without much success in view of the response from the Government. But there is widespread anxiety about the blight which quarries create on landscapes and in relation to the totally irreparable, irreplaceable loss caused by using precious stone for placing underneath motorways. Therefore, I support the amendment.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
I hope that the Committee will approach the amendment with a certain degree of caution. At first sight it has the look of a motherhood and apple pie amendment in the sense that it aims to do good. Quite clearly, the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, is to do good. There is no doubt that the resource management for which he asks is aimed at doing good. But the amendment does not appear to me to meet that aim.
It is obviously good to encourage the more efficient use of those resources. That is clear. It is also clearly good to minimise the environmental impact of extracting such resources. That is clearly good. However, the amendment asks the Secretary of State to reduce the demand for those resources. That is quite a different matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, referred to minerals and aggregates. The Committee will know of my affection for concrete. The noble Lord asks that the extraction of aggregate for concrete, whether used for roads or buildings, should be controlled. That is sensible. But controlling extraction is very different from reducing the demand, because the demand for aggregates can be reduced only by reducing the demands on the construction industry. The construction industry has been extremely hard-hit in recent years without having further damage inflicted upon it.
§ Lord Marlesford
I thank the noble Lord for allowing me to intervene. One way in which to reduce the demand for new aggregates is to reuse those which exist and there is great scope for that to be done. If such a measure were included in the strategy, that would give encouragement for that to be done.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
That is true up to a point, but only up to a point. Existing aggregates can be obtained only by knocking things down. In this country we need more building rather than the knocking down of buildings.
Another part of the amendment that seems to have gone slightly awry is that which refers to the idea that renewable resources should be substituted for non-renewable resources when there is a net environmental benefit for so doing. That is good up to a point; but, again, only up to a point. There are two benefits to be derived from the use of resources of whatever kind. I recall that that point was made during Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Wade of Chorlton, in a splendid speech. The environmental and the cost benefit have to be considered. There is no point 333 in saying that it must be a policy of the Secretary of State that the environmental benefit should overrule the additional cost of using one material against another. That is far too detailed. a point to put in such an amendment which is meant to achieve general good.
While I support the noble Lord's underlying intentions, for the reasons that I have expressed, I believe that his amendment is faulty. For example, I do not understand what the noble Lord means when he refers to,enhancing the environmental value of those resources".I cannot support the amendment in its present form.
§ The Earl of Onslow
I should like to support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Marlesford as regards one particular point. I refer to the reuse of aggregate and hard core. I have a hole in the ground which was dug by my forebear a long time ago as a chalk pit. People became most excited about it because it was a disused quarry which they rather liked. In fact, I obtained planning permission to fill it in with grade 1 hard core. Most of the latter comprised lumps of concrete and road scrapings. All of that can be used if it is subjected to a certain industrial process.
However, the industrial process of smashing up concrete is incredibly noisy and rather expensive. Across the road from my hole in the ground is someone else's hole in the ground. Someone applied for planning permission to put a concrete breaking plant into that hole. Everyone in the local community was up in arms objecting to that environmentally sensible process because it would be noisy and smoky. Therefore, as a consequence, the stuff is clumped quietly in another hole in the ground and not used, while another hole, a fifth hole—and I am running out of holes—has to be dug to make up the concrete. I did not intend to intervene until my noble friend made his last comment. I believe that what I have said is apposite and germane to the matter under discussion.
§ Lord Wade of Chorlton
I should like to express my support for the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon. Although I understand the reason for my noble friend bringing forward such an amendment, I believe that the matter needs to be treated with considerable caution. Experience has shown us that central planning of the use of resources is about the most inefficient way of dealing with them that can possibly be decided upon. The resources that we have in this country and how we use them will change. My noble friend referred to the fact that land is being destroyed. Land is being used in a different way and in a way that, at present, is of greater benefit to the majority of the people. Surely that is something that ever ebbs and flows.
Therefore, although I understand the point that my noble friend is trying to make, I believe that we have to consider what is right for the nation and not necessarily what might suit our own particular needs. I hope that the Government will treat the amendment with considerable care.
§ Lord Desai
I rise to support the amendment. However, I believe that something additional is 334 required. I like the amendment because it is comprehensive in its coverage of the soil of things that we need to conserve. It is especially important that water conservation should be mentioned. Water will be one of the big problems of the coming century; indeed, that is quite clear from global trends. In fact, water may prove to be much more important than climate quality in the years to come.
Unlike my noble friend Lord Howie—and we seem to be disagreeing more than we normally do—I like the fact that the amendment starts by referring to "reducing the demand". As my noble friend pointed out, there is a clear conflict. Some of those conflicts have so far been implicit. It is rather good that they have now been brought to light.
When we talk about reducing the demand for renewable resources or for other such resources, obviously some people will be affected. Some industries will be affected if the demand is reduced. However, there are two ways of reducing demand: one may reduce it by changing the product mix that one uses or one may change the process by which something is produced. If one changes the process but not the product mix, one might be able to reduce the environmental cost of an activity without actually reducing the economic activity.
While I find the amendment to be very good—unlike the clause which it aims to amend and which runs into two pages—I should have much preferred the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, to spell out in greater detail the economic background. I have in mind the fact that all this ought to be done in the context of a sustainable development strategy so that we do not lose sight of the economic development angle. Obviously, there are very tough problems that have to be faced. At the same time, I should have liked the noble Lord to have spelt out more fully the kinds of things that he would like the Secretary of State to do. As regards what the noble Lord, Lord Wade, said, it need not involve central planning; indeed, it could involve all sorts of incentives, compatible prices and subsidies. That needs to be spelt out more clearly. Something like the noble Lord's amendment will have to be put into environmental policy either implicitly or explicitly. If it is not there, the policy will not make any sense.
§ Viscount Ullswater
I have so often listened to noble Lords sitting on the same Benches as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, criticising the Government for not building more and more houses. They want more and more houses and they say that all that the house builders want is more and more land upon which to build them. My noble friend would indicate that there is plenty of land; for example, there is plenty of land in city centres that can be built upon. But that is not actually sufficient for the number of houses which it is projected will be needed in the next 15 years.
My noble friend Lord Wade said that we need to approach the matter with considerable caution. It is a question of putting land to alternative uses. On the other hand, my noble friend Lord Onslow has a hole at one moment and then, at another moment, he wants to fill it up with something else. That is an alternative use of the same piece of land. He may do so with energy-intensive 335 concrete breakers, for which he would have to obtain planning permission and which would be unfriendly to many people. I believe that the Government need to steer a clear path through the middle of both those respectable ideas. Sometimes I feel that I am straying into a debate of the Flat Earth Society; but then I pinch myself and realise that I am still here.
We are discussing important issues. However, I would like to stress the fact that the Government have them all in hand in the context of taking forward their sustainable development strategy. Therefore, the amendment is unnecessary.
The amendment would require the Secretary of State to produce something called a "resource management strategy", which would be a statement of policies for the conservation of minerals, energy, water, land and soil resources. The Secretary of State would include in it his policies for reducing the demand for those resources and encouraging more efficient use of them, for substituting renewable resources where that would bring a net environmental benefit and for enhancing their environmental value. The amendment would further require him to consult interested parties and to establish appropriate bodies within government where necessary.
The first point that I should like to make is that the different resources referred to are not all of the same kind. If any resource management strategy is needed, it may rest on different grounds for one of the natural resources than for the others. The list includes minerals, as I have mentioned, and also energy resources—such as gas, oil, coal and, conceivably, biomass. Those resources raise wholly different considerations from those on managing our surface waters, or from those on land, which are looked after in the land use planning system. If resource management strategies are needed, they need to be considered separately in their own terms or in the much wider context of the complete sustainable development strategy.
The Government's approach to those problems has already been set out as part of our sustainable development strategy. It looked at the different environmental media and resources, including minerals, fossil fuels, water, land and soil. That strategy pointed to the problems and opportunities that lie ahead and set the framework within which government policy should develop in the different sectors of the economy, including agriculture, minerals extraction, energy supply and development.
To supplement the strategy, the Government have already set out their policies in detail in many of the areas listed in the amendment. I take as an example minerals. Last April we issued Minerals Planning Guidance Note 6 which aims to ensure that the construction industry receives an adequate and steady supply of material at the best balance of environmental, social and economic cost. The Government have also recently published draft guidance on silica sand and peat extraction. Devising a full resource management strategy requires knowledge of the state of the environment. In 1995 the Government intend to set up a new unit within the Central Statistical Office to develop a set of national satellite environmental 336 accounts. These will include estimates of resource depletion, as well as the impacts of pollution and expenditure on environmental protection by sectors of the economy. They will allow impacts of resource depletion to be taken explicitly into account in developing sectoral economic policies.
Your Lordships will realise that all this is a long term goal. The methodology is still being discussed by international experts and no consensus has yet emerged. In the shorter term therefore we are developing indicators of sustainable development to highlight and summarise key trends and the links between economic development and the environment. These will cover resource depletion.
Finally, I must refer to the requirement to set up new bodies within government, though the precise number and functions of such bodies is not specified. I believe that it is wholly inappropriate to seek to specify such arrangements in legislation in this way. Any such bodies would either require their own specific legislation or would fall within Ministers' existing powers to establish new arrangements within government departments. I hope that in the light of what I have said my noble friend will agree to withdraw his amendment.
§ 5 p.m.
§ Lord Marlesford
I thank my noble friend for assuring me that all of the objectives that I hoped would be encompassed in my amendment would arise anyway. All I can say is that I shall have to see whether or not that is the case. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 265A:
§ Page 78, line 6, leave out ("as soon as possible") and insert ("within three months of this Act receiving Royal Assent").
§ The noble Baroness said: I rise to move Amendment No. 265A which to some extent has been overtaken by events in view of the publication by the Government last week of a waste strategy for England and Wales. The amendment sets out a timetable for the production of a national waste strategy. However, the Government's draft document provides an acceptable timetable. We hope that that will appear in the final version of the document when it emerges this summer.
§ Amendment No. 265B in this group covers the avoidance of waste. To some extent, we have already spoken about this. It is important that both waste avoidance and waste minimisation are covered in the strategy, not just waste recovery and disposal. That point is related very much to the discussion we have just had about the need for resource management.
§ Amendment No. 266ZA remains an important one, despite the Government's draft document. It places a duty upon the Secretary of State to maintain the currency of the strategy. Clearly, in the light of unfolding environmental pressures or new discoveries it is important that a national waste strategy is not a static document. Public attitudes to waste management, technical knowledge and public acceptability all vary 337 with time and should be reflected in the strategy. The amendment places a duty on the Secretary of State to update the strategy on a regular basis.
§ Amendment No. 266AA deals with what appears to be an ambiguity in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The new clause as drafted in the Bill can be construed in two different ways: either that the agency will advise the Secretary of State on the production of the strategy or that it will advise him only on policies which are not yet included in the strategy. Both of these are unacceptable as alternatives. Clearly, both should apply in all instances. The amendment attempts to redress that ambiguity.
§ Amendment No. 289A includes a reference to the need for a national strategy on sustainable development. It draws attention to the need for such a strategy in relation to waste management. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Nicol
I should like to take advantage of the existence of this group of amendments, which I support, to ask the Minister how the waste strategy that is to be discussed will be helped by the fact that the Central Statistical Office no longer appears to collect statistics on waste arisings from industry. I understand that the statistics for 1992 included a very large figure—which I am afraid I have not bought with me and have forgotten—for industrial waste arisings. That was greatly reduced in 1993, but the figure did not appear for 1994. I have rather sprung this question on the Minister, but it occurred to me when I listened to the debate. It seems rather odd when one is approaching a strategy to remove the statistical basis of it.
§ Viscount Ullswater
If during the course of my remarks I am able to answer the question posed by the noble Baroness, I will do so. I have been taken a little unawares by it. In dealing with Amendment No. 265A, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 265B, 266, 266ZA, 266AA, 289A and 290 to 294.
I deal first with Amendments Nos. 265B, 289A and 290 to 294. All of these will extend the scope of the waste strategy which the Secretary of State is required to draw up under the new Section 44A which Clause 75 inserts into the Environmental Protection Act 1990. I know from the Second Reading debate that there is widespread support for a national waste strategy, and this support is also reflected outside this House in industry, local government and environmental groups.
Amendment No. 265B would specifically require the strategy to cover waste production as well as waste recovery and disposal as presently provided, while Amendments Nos. 289A and 290 to 294 would each extend the objectives defined in the new Schedule 2A of the 1990 Act, which is inserted by Schedule 11 of this Bill. The additional objectives include ensuring that waste is managed in accordance with the national sustainable development strategy; achieving targets and providing incentives for reuse and recycling; identifying and encouraging markets for recycled products; and stabilising or reducing waste production, especially agrochemical wastes, containers and packaging materials which are hazardous. These are all very laudable objectives which I wholeheartedly support. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, has already mentioned, 338 last Tuesday we issued a draft waste strategy for England and Wales for public consultation. This sets out a framework of policies to achieve sustainable waste management. We have allowed an extended consultation period until 28th April and hope to stimulate a wide debate about our waste management policies, with the intention of finalising the strategy by the summer.
The draft waste strategy is firmly rooted in the principles of the national sustainable development strategy and builds on that by proposing practical steps for future action. It is concerned with the production as well as the recovery and disposal of waste and will achieve all the objectives proposed in these amendments. In particular, the draft strategy proposes a target of stabilising the production of household waste at its present (1995) level. The Government plan to set targets for industrial and commercial waste in due course when sufficient information on these waste streams is available. At the same time, we intend to keep the target for household waste under review with a view to moving as soon as practicable to a target of progressive reduction.
We have also proposed targets for reducing the proportion of controlled waste going to landfill by 10 per cent. over the next 10 years, with a further 10 per cent. reduction in the following 10 years. We already have a target of recycling 25 per cent. of household waste by the year 2000, and have recently set a new target to increase the use of recycled waste materials as aggregates in England from 30 million tonnes per year at present to 55 million tonnes by 2006.
The draft strategy places emphasis on the use of market instruments to promote waste recycling and recovery. Some of these, such as the recycling credits scheme are already in place. Others are proposed, such as the new landfill tax which my right honourable friend the Chancellor announced in his Budget Statement and the producer responsibility initiative for which provision is made later in the Bill. The draft strategy also recognises the need to encourage the growth of new markets for recycled materials.
The priority which we give to waste reduction in the draft strategy applies just as much to the reduction of agrochemical waste and hazardous containers and packaging which is referred to in Amendment No. 294. MAFF and HSE have also issued extensive guidance on the disposal of waste pesticide concentrates, waste packaging and other contaminated materials through the Government's Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Pesticides on Farms and Holdings.
As your Lordships will appreciate, therefore, we have no difficulty in making provision in a waste strategy for the types of policy set out in these amendments. However, the scope of the strategy, and the objectives set out in the new Schedule 2A to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 are those set by the amended EC Framework Directive on Waste for the waste management plans which that directive requires. The waste disposal plans drawn up by waste regulation authorities under Section 50 of the Environmental Protection Act currently satisfy in part the directive's requirements for plans. In future, that element of the implementation of the directive will 339 need to be met by the waste strategies drawn up by the Secretary of State and SEPA. It is unnecessary, and indeed it would be undesirable, to extend the scope of the strategies and their objectives beyond those required by the directive. Indeed, it can be argued that all the proposed amendments are already covered by the scope and objectives of the strategies in Clause 75 and Schedule 11.
I hope that I have convinced the Committee that the Government are firmly committed to the policy of sustainable waste management by reducing waste production and increasing the levels of reuse and recycling, and that it is unnecessary to extend the scope and objectives of the strategies beyond those which are required by EC law.
Amendment No. 265A would require the Secretary of State to issue a national waste strategy within three months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. Such a requirement would be neither practical nor sensible. As the Bill makes clear, the preparation of a strategy would require considerable prior work by the environment agency, including the carrying out of a survey of waste. Such a survey alone would take the best part of a year. Time would then have to be allowed for other preparation, including consultation, an aspect in which the Committee has rightly shown considerable interest.
Amendment No. 266 is concerned with the area covered by a strategy in England and Wales. I have to point out that the amendment would have no material effect on the meaning of these provisions. The issues which need to be covered in a waste strategy are generally common to both Wales and England, and our approach to waste management policy in each country is the same. The Government therefore believe that a single waste strategy covering the whole of England and Wales is the most effective means of presenting their policies. However, circumstances may change, and the Bill accordingly makes provision in new Section 44A(2) (b) for the preparation of separate statements for different areas of England and Wales. If it appeared appropriate at the time, one of those could relate to the whole of Wales.
Amendment No. 266ZA would require the Secretary of State to review the strategy annually besides modifying it from time to time. The production of such a strategy is a major undertaking. Annual review would be inappropriate for many of the targets it will contain, which will need an implementation period of longer than one year—in some cases considerably longer. Moreover, annual review would sit uncomfortably with the timescale required for a national waste survey.
Finally, Amendment No. 266AA seeks to ensure that any direction from the Secretary of State to the agency regarding modifications of the strategy should require it to advise him on policies which have already been included in the strategy. There is no need for the amendment. Any direction requiring the agency to advise on the policies to be included in a modified version of the strategy could require it to report on the advisability of retaining the existing policies. Indeed, that would be the natural starting point for any review and development of the strategy.
340 We are sympathetic to the motives behind the amendments, but I hope that I have persuaded the Committee that in the circumstances they are unnecessary.
In answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, the draft waste strategy document accepts the need for more information being made available and collected. Therefore, an information-gathering unit is being set up within the department in order to advise the Secretary of State. I hope, therefore, that the noble Baroness and other Members of the Committee who have put down amendments will feel able to withdraw their amendments.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Baroness David
I am sorry to come in after the Minister has spoken, but I have now found my briefing for Amendments Nos. 290 to 292 and I should like to make a point about saving our peatlands.
Opportunities to develop soil improvers and growing media from organic waste are not being fully exploited. The Wildlife Trusts, together with other leading conservation, archaeological and geological organisations, have been working for over five years to safeguard peatlands. The UK produces sufficient organic waste material to completely replace peat in horticulture, landscaping and gardening. If peat were to be replaced, peat bogs would be saved from further damaging exploitation and could be rehabilitated. Ninety seven per cent. of lowland bogs in England and Wales and 90 per cent. of those in Scotland have been destroyed or damaged.
The opportunity could be taken to export technology into Europe and reduce current peat imports. Forty per cent. of peat used is imported, mostly from Ireland, where 94 per cent. of raised bogs have already been destroyed or damaged.
In August 1994 The Wildlife Trusts published Growing Wiser: Case Studies on the Successful Use of Peat-free Products and held a major conference on that theme. The use of alternatives is becoming more common, but many professional growers are likely to remain reluctant to switch from peat until greater incentives are available. Incentives to discourage disposal of organic waste should stimulate more research into reuse of materials and improve the current cost differential (peat is very cheap to buy, unfortunately).
I conclude by saying that peat bogs have been identified as priority habitats under the EC habitats and species directive. The point of Amendments Nos. 290 to 292 is to encourage the use of waste to replace the use of peat, which we wish to save.
§ Viscount Ullswater
The noble Baroness raises an important point. It is a matter about which we are very concerned. Perhaps I did not indicate that in the waste strategy we are looking for further use of the composting of waste. That will be developed as the national strategy for waste is considered. This is an area 341 where suitable reuse of waste can be introduced, which would slow down the extraction of peat about which the noble Baroness is concerned.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
I thank the Minister for an on the whole encouraging reply, which we shall consider carefully before Report stage. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 265B to 266ZA not moved.]
§ Lord Wade of Chorltonmoved Amendment No. 266A:
§ Page 78, line 34, leave out ("or") and insert ("and").
§ The noble Lord said: I rise to move Amendment No. 266A and to speak to Amendment No. 266B.
§ As has already been mentioned, Clause 75 places a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare a national waste strategy. Such a strategy will clearly depend for its success upon the support of the industry. The waste industry is already an extremely important one in this country. We need to be able to develop a strategy which encourages it to move to the areas which the strategy decides. There is no reference in the Bill to the fact that the industry has to be consulted. Amendment No. 266A puts a duty on the Secretary of State to consult the industry as well as local authorities.
§ Amendment No. 266B puts a duty on the agency, should it be directed by the Secretary of State to make a survey, to consult industry. These are important matters. I am sure the Government agree that such provisions will be essential to make a strategy work effectively. I hope that the Government will feel able to support the amendments. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
I speak to Amendment No. 266AB which is grouped with Amendment No. 266A. It encourages consultation with interested people other than the planning authorities. A wide range of people need to be consulted regarding the development of waste strategies. As drafted, the Bill relates only to planning authorities whereas the amendment includes industry, the public sector, individual households and consumers. That is important if we are to develop an effective national strategy.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
I support the amendment standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Wade of Chorlton. My mind goes back to some years ago when in another place we debated the infamous selective employment tax. It became perfectly clear that the view of Whitehall was that people concerned with the handling of waste and the production of recycled materials were to be put into the category relating to the less desirable parts of the economy which had to pay SET. They were not regarded as part of manufacturing industry.
It is to be hoped that that culture in Whitehall has begun to change. People realise that the reclamation industry is not only enormously important in environmental terms but also in economic terms. I have had the privilege on more than one occasion of chairing conferences run by industry, in particular the waste industry. I have never failed to be impressed not only 342 by the existing high degree of commitment but also the expertise in what is now a highly technical and sophisticated industry.
I hope that officials in Whitehall will recognise that consultation with those industries is every bit as important as it has been with some of the more traditional manufacturing service industries in the past. I support the amendment.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
I speak to Amendments Nos. 267 and 268, in my name, which are grouped with the amendment, and I wish to comment on Amendment No. 266B.
I believe that my noble friends and I are absolutely at one. The difficulty is that Amendment No. 266B adds the words "and industry". However, my noble friends referred to "the industry". "The industry" is the waste management industry. However, the words "and industry" are not specific. That is why I have put down the two amendments which draw the matter more narrowly and focus on the issue.
The industry is pleased about the draft strategy. When we have a strategy in place investment planning can go forward with obvious benefit. Since the industry has an important part to play in the making and maintenance of strategy it believes that it should have rights at the consultation table.
I pray in aid, so to speak, some words of the Minister on 31st January, when we discussed the waste management industry and closed landfill sites. At col. 1432 of the Official Report, he stated:In singling out closed landfills for a more tailored approach, we are reflecting the special emphasis given to such sites in much of Europe. We are also reflecting the concern expressed by Parliament during the passage of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which led to provision of a special remediation regime for closed landfill sites, under Section 61. The section has not, in the event, been implemented, and the provisions of Clause 54 will replace it".The imperative here is that since the Government recognise that closed landfill, therefore the waste management industry, has to be subject to a special regime in Clause 54 it seems only reasonable that it should be represented in its own right in the consultations on the forming and maintenance of the strategy. That is the only purpose of the two amendments to which I speak.
§ Lord Mottistone
I support Amendments Nos. 266A and 266B which stand also in my name.
The amendments are meant to apply to all of industry. The new Section 44A(5) contained in Clause 75 provides that the Secretary of State must choose whether he consults local government or industry. That seems to narrow the position for the Secretary of State. In most situations to which the provisions refer he will wish to consult both. The provision seems unnecessarily restrictive.
On Amendment No. 266B the problem is whether the provision relates to industry or local planning authorities. Again, industry will have a view about the conduct of a survey or an investigation by the environment agency. The industries concerned must 343 have a strong view. Local planning authorities, left on their own to advise on that point, might well be over-theoretical.
It is important that the knowledge and experience of industry should be available in both areas covered by the amendments. The Government have moved towards listening to industry. We shall tackle the subject further in the next group of amendments to which I have put my name. The Government need to make quite certain that industry is always consulted. Industry has the real knowledge of what is involved with waste disposal.
§ Baroness Nicol
I wish to support the amendment of my noble friend Lady Hilton and that of the noble Lord, Lord Wade of Chorlton.
Unless the Government consult both local authorities and industry their strategy is unlikely to succeed because they need not only the expertise to which the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, referred, but also the co-operation of industry and local authorities.
I cannot quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. I believe that to mention one industry specifically is not a satisfactory solution. Other industries may be concerned in the strategy. I prefer to leave a general description. However, I support the amendments.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Viscount Ullswater
Amendment No. 266A seeks to amend subsection (5) (b) of the new Section 44A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which is inserted by Clause 75. The provision requires the Secretary of State to consult representatives of local government and of industry in preparing a waste strategy. The amendment would require the Secretary of State to consult persons or bodies, each of whom was representative of both industry and local government. I suspect that there are few such bodies. It is our policy that when a strategy is being prepared, there should be consultation with representatives of local government and of industry. I am advised that that is what the provision requires. However, we shall look again at the wording of the provision to see whether it might be expressed more clearly. I hope with that assurance my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment because I believe that we are at one on the matter.
The remaining amendments in the group all deal with the requirement for the agency and SEPA to consult local planning authorities before carrying out a waste survey and to make the survey findings available. Amendment No. 266AB would require the agency also to consult other relevant authorities. I understand what the noble Baroness is worried about, but I believe that her anxiety is unnecessary. A local planning authority is defined by subsection (9) of the new Section 44A as having the same meaning as in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. That includes all principal councils in England and Wales, as well as certain other authorities such as the national park authorities and urban development corporations.
Amendment No. 266B would require the agency to consult industry before carrying out a waste survey. Amendments Nos. 267 and 288 would require both the 344 agency and SEPA to consult representatives of the interests of the waste industry in the same circumstances. Amendments Nos. 268 and 289 would require the agencies to make the survey findings available to the waste industry.
We are not referring here to consultation on the strategy itself. The Bill provides for consultation by the Secretary of State or SEPA with industry in preparing their strategies. I am sure that that gives industry—including the waste industry—a sufficient opportunity to make its views known. I believe that my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth was worried about that point. The legislation gives the opportunity to the industry to make its views known on the preparation of the waste strategy.
The reason for providing a statutory duty to consult planning authorities in relation to a survey is their requirement for data on waste to enable them to draw up their development plan policies for waste. It is essential that the survey is carried out in a way which will enable disaggregation of results to a local level. For the same reason, it is essential that planning authorities receive the results of a survey. My noble friend Lord Mottistone indicated that he felt that the industry required the information as well; but I do not believe that industry is in that position. There is therefore no need for a statutory requirement to consult it on the way in which the survey is carried out. I hope with that explanation the noble Lord, Lord Wade, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Wade of Chorlton
I am grateful to my noble friend for those comments. I am not quite in agreement with his remarks on what my noble friend Lord Mottistone said. There are plenty of opportunities for the industry to make its contribution. I am grateful to the Minister for saying that he will ensure that the first part of the provision which is referred to in Amendment No. 266A is better explained. I feel that it is necessary to make it clear that the Government intend to consult industry on the matter. Perhaps my noble friend will also reconsider Amendment No. 266B. I take this opportunity to thank my noble friends and the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, for supporting the amendment and beg leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 266AA to 268 not moved.]
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 269:
§ Page 80, line 1, leave out ("SEPA") and insert ("The Secretary of State").
§ The noble Lord said: Perhaps I may speak to Amendment No. 269 and the consequential Amendments Nos. 270, 272, 274 to 278, 280 to 285 and Amendment No. 287. They are all probing amendments. I wish to find out why the arrangements for the preparation of a national waste strategy in Scotland are to be different from those which prevail in England and Wales.
§ I regret that we are to have two separate agencies, although I appreciate that their remits are slightly different. However, since we are to have two agencies, it is important that they operate within the same policy 345 framework and to the same standards so that there is a consistency of approach throughout the United Kingdom. The amendments therefore seek to bring the Scottish provisions into line with those which relate to England and Wales so that the ultimate responsibility for the preparation of the Scottish strategy rests with the Secretary of State rather than SEPA.
§ The strategy will, after all, set out environmental policies and targets which are necessary to meet the Government's international as well as their domestic obligations. The ultimate responsibility for its content must therefore rest with the Government and Ministers and not with the agency.
§ At Second Reading the Minister stated (at col. 1462 on 15th December 1994) that central policy decisions are a matter for government, while the agency is essentially a pollution protection and water management body. Perhaps my noble friend who is to respond will explain why the division of responsibility is not to be reflected in the Scottish provisions of Clause 75.
§ There is some anxiety in the industry that, were the regimes to be greatly different, offering incentives to do business in one part of the United Kingdom rather than another, it could distort the management of waste. It is therefore necessary to have a universal strategy and that is the purpose of the amendments. I beg to move.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I wish to speak to some of the other amendments in the group: Amendments Nos. 269A, 271, 273, 279 and 286. I start with Amendment No. 269A which proposes on page 80 at line 1 to insert after the word "prepare" the phrase:following consultation with local authorities".The argument behind that is to ensure that the local authorities, which will largely have the responsibility for collecting the bulk of the waste, should be given the opportunity to make some input of advice on the structure. It is important that those responsible for the waste disposal functions should have an input into the policies in relation to the recovery and disposal of waste in Scotland.
Amendment No. 271 is important because members of the public should know about the national waste strategy and that they are able to inspect, free of charge, the contents of that strategy. Consumers will play a central role in the process of a national waste strategy and, in addition, as local taxpayers they have a stake in the decisions taken which influence the contents of the strategy.
Much of the debate so far has stressed the fact that the public are becoming very aware of waste management. Therefore those members of the public who are sufficiently interested should be able to inspect the strategy that is suggested for the disposal of waste.
Amendment No. 273 would alert members of the public—it will of course be those who are interested—to any major modification that is made to the strategy. As I have said, they should be able to inspect any such modifications free of charge. As was accepted with an 346 earlier amendment, they should have the right to see the general strategy at the very beginning. I believe that the noble Lord wishes to intervene.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
In discussing Amendment No. 273, I wonder whether the noble Lord can help me in understanding who is to pay for this information. The amendment states that it should be made available free of charge. But of course somebody has to pay for it.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I did not envisage that glossy booklets should be issued. I envisaged a department in each local authority where the information was available and where the public could go to see it. That is a perfectly reasonable amendment.
Amendment No. 286 seeks to lay down that the strategy, in order to be successful, should encourage appropriate consumer behaviour. This involvement of the consumer may even help to get rid of some of the debris that we see in the streets if people become conscious of the fact that it is part of their city or their town.
However, changing consumer behaviour is a lengthy and complex process. Care should be taken to ensure that proper attention is given to involving the public before the strategy is finalised. I shall move these amendments as we come to them.
§ 5.45 p.m.
The Earl of Balfour
Within this basket of amendments being moved by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove and my noble friend Lord Lucas to the proposed new Section 44B of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which applies to Scotland only in Clause 75, is my Amendment No. 287A, which aims to leave out "planning" and insect "local".
The reason behind the amendment is to include the whole basket of functions carried out by a local authority and not just a single "department of planning". The noble Earl, Lord Kintore, and I feel that the very important environmental health department should at least be included. Perhaps I may give the Committee one example. In previous legislation, two years ago, it was stated that caravan sites should be a "district planning function". I said at that time that there was also the question of site licences dealing with the provision of clean water, and toilet and sewerage facilities, which were in no way connected with planning. That was an environmental health function. I therefore: wished to replace the word "planning" with the word "council"; i.e., making it a district council function. However, that amendment was defective, just as, I am afraid, this amendment is also defective. I had at that time to move a complete long sentence to cover that matter at the next stage of that Bill.
I ask my noble friend the Minister to bear in mind that the public analyst comes within the environmental health department. That department visits such places as abattoirs, food preparation factories, etc. It also takes samples of water, sewage, etc.
I cannot agree with the amendments that are proposed by my noble friend Lord Lucas. SEPA must be given a chance on its own to get on with its job and not be too 347 much under the thumb of the Secretary of State. SEPA will not work well if it is forever looking over its shoulder to see whether or not the Secretary of State approves.
I also point out to my noble friend that the functions of the river purification boards that were established in 1951 are very different in many ways from those of the National Rivers Authority in England. The environmental protection provisions of Scotland were based to a very great extent on the old Burgh Police Act 1897. That has now been repealed but in this respect our civil law is rather different in the two countries.
On the amendment that will be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, I have some sympathy. But I hope that what the noble Lord proposes is not too onerous or expensive.
The Earl of Lindsay
The first series of amendments in this group, which are proposed by my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth, would require my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to prepare a strategy containing his policies in relation to the recovery and disposal of waste in Scotland. As drafted, the Bill will place his duty on SEPA.
Unlike the Department of the Environment, the Scottish Office will not have the appropriate staff available to it to prepare a waste strategy for Scotland. SEPA, on the other hand, will be well placed to undertake that task, as it would be staffed in part by those expert staff who previously prepared plans for their local authorities. Placing the duty on SEPA therefore means that the strategy could be prepared both effectively and efficiently.
However, I can assure the Committee that, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will have powers to influence the development of a strategy by SEPA, I do not expect its content to be materially different from on which might otherwise have been prepared by him. I can go on to assure my noble friend that the Secretary of State will ultimately remain responsible for waste management policy in Scotland, which is properly a matter for him. I envisage that SEPA will wish to ensure that due regard is paid to the strategy for England and Wales, so that where possible there will be a common framework across Great Britain.
The purpose behind government Amendment No. 286A is to confer on the Secretary of State a slightly wider power of direction over SEPA in recognition of the Scottish agency's different role.
Amendment No. 269A, which was spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, seeks to ensure that local authorities are consulted as part of SEPA's preparation of the waste strategy. I recognise the important role which local authorities will have in relation to the strategy. But the consultation is already provided for in the new Section 44B(4) (b) of the Environmental Protection Act inserted by Clause 75. I do not believe therefore that this amendment is required.
The noble Lord also spoke to Amendments Nos. 271 and 273, which would require SEPA's waste strategy, and any modifications to it, to be publicised and made available, free of charge, for public inspection. Again, I 348 have much sympathy with these amendments. SEPA cannot implement its waste strategy on its own. Other bodies, both public and private have crucial parts to play. And as a pre-requisite to their involvement, they will require to have access to the strategy.
The strategy will of course be subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 1992, and access to it is assured. But as I have said, given that such access is required in order to implement the strategy, I envisage that SEPA will want to make sure that it is available to those with an interest in it. As the noble Lord said, public interest in waste matters is increasing fast. Therefore, given that access will be available in any event, I suggest that Amendments Nos. 271 and 273 are unnecessary.
The noble Lord also spoke to Amendment No. 279, which would add a specific reference to representatives of the interests of consumers to the list of persons to be consulted as part of the preparation or modification to the waste strategy. It has not been our intention to include an exhaustive list of persons with an interest in the strategy. That is why, at the end of the list of consultees, there is a reference to "other bodies" that SEPA considers appropriate.
As drafted, the list refers specifically to industry and local authorities. That is not to say that others do not have an interest. I certainly acknowledge that consumer behaviour is an important factor in the successful implementation of a waste strategy. I do not believe that the role of consumers is diminished by accepting that their interest is not as great as industry's and local authorities'. The interests of consumers will, where appropriate, be picked up by reference to "other bodies".
Amendment No. 286 was also spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. It would restrict the extent of matters in respect of which the Secretary of State may direct SEPA to carry out surveys and investigations for the purpose of preparing its waste strategy. It would mean that he may only direct on the steps which will be required in terms of information, publicity and education to encourage responsible consumer behaviour compatible with any aims set out in the strategy.
I appreciate that publicity, education and promoting awareness of the waste issues covered by the strategy would be desirable; but the range of matters on which the noble Lord's amendment would allow the Secretary of State to direct SEPA is too restrictive. I believe that it would be more appropriate to give the Secretary of State general powers to direct SEPA to carry out surveys or investigations. Those powers could be used to direct SEPA in the manner sought by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, though I must say that I am not convinced that SEPA would be the most appropriate body to undertake such work, given its primary role as a regulator.
My noble friend Lord Balfour spoke to Amendment No. 287A. This amendment would mean that, where SEPA had been given a direction by the Secretary of State to carry out a survey or investigation, it would first have to consult bodies or persons representative of "local" (rather than "planning") authorities before undertaking that work.
349 As the Committee will be aware, after local government reorganisation in Scotland, all local authorities in Scotland will become planning authorities. The use of either term will therefore be construed in practice to mean the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA). I can confirm to the noble Lord that, although CoSLA would be consulted in its capacity as a representative of planning authorities, there is nothing to stop it responding for its wider interests, covering, for example, its responsibilities for environmental health, which my noble friend mentioned specifically, or its responsibilities for waste disposal. However, I feel that there is value in relying on the term "planning" authority as an indicator of the primary purpose of CoSLA's involvement.
I hope that what I have said will reassure noble Lords. I invite them to withdraw the amendments.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Lindsay for his full response to that series of amendments in my name. I am sorry that the Scottish Office do not have the necessary expertise and would have to rely on SEPA. Since my noble friend assures me, first, that the strategy will not be materially different from that which will obtain in the rest of the UK, and, secondly, that the ultimate responsibility will lie with the Secretary of State whose responsibility is to Parliament, I am happy to withdraw my amendments in this case.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 269A to 286 not moved.]
§ The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 286A:
§ Page 80, line 37, leave out ("upon which the Secretary of State wishes to be informed") and insert ("which the Secretary of State considers appropriate").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 287 to 289 not moved.]
§ Clause 75, as amended, agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 289A to 294 not moved.]
§ Schedule 11 agreed to.
§ Clause 76 [Producer responsibility: general]:
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 295:
§ Page 81, line 30, after ("of") insert ("achieving waste minimisation at source, and of").
§ The noble Lord said: This group of amendments, includes Amendments Nos. 295, 296, 296A, 299, 299A, 302 and 304, some of which are in my name and others in the name of other noble Lords. The amendments all deal in one way or another with the goal that we all wish to reach; namely, the achievement of waste minimisation at source. That is a great modern problem which involves the packaging industry. I do not wish to seem to be against the packaging industry. It does a good job and sometimes the packaging may entice people to buy what they de not want. But sometimes it is overdone and there is too much packaging. We all have experience of that.350
§ The recovery and recycling of waste are important functions in a sustainable approach to waste management. The first step is to reduce the amount of waste that can enter the waste stream in the first place. As I said, that means the reduction of excess packaging.
§ More than any other component it is an aspect of the producer's responsibility and is within the producer's control. Consumers can choose to reuse or recycle material, but they have very little choice in rejecting excess packaging. They just have to get rid of it somehow. Frequently there is no way to recycle it. Producers can promote recycling but consumers may continue to dispose of mixed waste to landfill. Therefore, waste minimisation should b a included in this part of the Bill.
§ We hope that, as we become more sophisticated about the whole question of waste, the packaging industry will co-operate much more than it perhaps does now with the manufacturers of the goods to be packaged. These amendments, in whatever form the Minister would ultimately wish to put them, would be of great help in that way. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hamwee
I briefly support the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. The choice of words in my amendment is slightly different; it speaks in terms of:securing a decrease in the use of products or materials".That may be slightly different from "achieving waste minimisation at source", but it all goes to the same end.
Perhaps I may add the frustration of consumers, who sometimes cannot access products for consumption without fighting their way through layers and layers of what I regard as quite unnecessary packaging. I once took up that matter with a manufacturer of soft fruit sweets. They were in a package which was quite difficult to get into in the first place; but then every sweet inside the packet was wrapped in its own individual package. Apart from anything else, that made it almost impossible to drive along the motorway while trying to keep one's throat clear. The response that I received, perhaps understandably, was that that was what the consumer required.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
I should like to take issue with the noble Baroness. I totally support the concept of waste minimisation. Indeed, in the hierarchy of waste management, it quite rightly comes first.
Her amendment requires not only waste minimisation but seeks to secure a decrease in the use of waste. I am not sure that the noble Baroness could have thought the matter through.
Furthermore, she is being somewhat unfair to industry about this matter. There has been in existence for a number of years a very valuable body which goes under the name of INCPEN (The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment). It contains many of the leading industrial companies in the country, whose objectives are to lead a rational debate on packaging and environmental issues and to encourage environmentally responsible industrial practices. We have all suffered from the fate described by the noble Baroness of having to fight one's way through packaging, but I believe that 351 that is becoming less common. Indeed, industries are discovering that they can package their goods more economically with fewer layers, perhaps using different materials, and so reduce the amount. To put into this clause the obligation to secure a decrease could lead to some very undesirable results. The overall use of materials is inevitably determined by the overall level of economic activity—and that determines the use of the materials, including the packaging, which has to go into the goods.
The advice that the industry council gives is that if Amendment No. 296 were included in the Bill:The effect would be anti-growth, anti-competitive and anti-employment and would take no account of the level of demand".I hope I am not taking a point that is out of order, but the president of this valuable body, INCPEN, is my good friend Sir Peter Parker—a notable member of the party of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I do not say that he necessarily supports every single word of the briefings it gives to Members of the Committee, but we might be wise not to accept that amendment. I hope that my noble friend will resist the noble Baroness's blandishments and not support the amendment.
§ Baroness Hamwee
At the risk of extending the debate for 30 seconds, may I say that I am not against growth; that is not what the amendment is aimed at. It is aimed at securing a decrease in the packaging per unit, not in the number of units produced.
§ 6 p.m.
§ Viscount Ullswater
Clauses 76 to 78 concern the policy area of producer responsibility for waste. It might assist your Lordships if, before we begin to consider the more detailed amendments, I say a few words about this relatively new initiative.
Producer responsibility is an instrument which seeks to encourage those who are responsible for placing goods on the market to assume an increased share of the responsibility for dealing with the waste which arises from these products. In other words, it seeks to increase the environmental awareness of producers by placing some of the costs of waste disposal onto those who produce products. It gives as much scope as possible for a market-based response.
The initiative has generally operated by means of a challenge from government to key industries. Our general approach has been to seek to offer the maximum scope to industry to organise itself to respond to the challenge. In this way, our objectives will be achieved in the most cost-effective manner.
There are seven separate waste streams involved in the first tranche of the initiative and the most prominent of these is the packaging chain—namely, those companies involved in manufacturing and using packaging. The general response from industry has been very encouraging. In the background to our discussions on packaging waste has been the EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste, which was adopted, with UK support, in December.
352 In November, the former Producer Responsibility Group finalised its report on increasing the level of recovery and recycling of packaging waste. Key among its recommendations was that government should introduce legislation to eliminate the potential problem of "free-riders", namely those companies which might seek to gain a competitive advantage by refusing to accept their share of the responsibility to act.
In bringing forward these clauses, we are responding to that request, and propose to put in place a mechanism which will allow us to legislate in respect of any waste stream, where this proves necessary and appropriate. In-this way, we can assure that the policy area is capable of further development and that we can incorporate additional waste streams, if appropriate. With this in mind, our aim is to introduce the minimum legislative structure which is consistent with effective enforcement, in support of the objective of more sustainable waste management practices.
The general purpose of these amendments is to extend the proposed powers to promote or secure an increase in reuse, recovery or recycling, which already feature in Clauses 76 and 77, by adding a power to regulate to achieve waste minimisation at source. I have a good deal of sympathy with the intentions of the noble Lords in putting forward these amendments. As my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding has indicated, waste minimisation comes at the top of the so-called "waste hierarchy" which we have articulated in our draft waste strategy for England and Wales published on 31st January. We are consulting in this draft on ways in which waste minimisation can be promoted and encouraged, and will wish to consider further in government what we should do to aid that process.
The clauses before us today, however, are concerned with the activities of reuse, recovery and recycling, where there is more experience to draw on and for which hard targets can more easily be set. It is intended that the regulations which will stem from these clauses will set and enforce these specific targets. We can envisage how industry might respond in a cost-effective way to meet these targets.
It is more difficult to set such targets for waste minimisation and therefore more difficult to see what form the regulations might take. Essentially, in setting targets here, we risk involving ourselves in a misplaced comparison between what would have happened in the absence of legislation aimed at producing waste minimisation, and what did in fact occur. It would not be cost-effective to impose, by statutory means, a blanket target for waste reduction on all companies in a particular sector. These clauses were drafted to impose the lightest regulatory burden possible on industry and my concern is not to increase this necessary burden. For all the sympathy that I have with the principle of waste minimisation, I need to reflect hard on the extent to which this mechanism is appropriate. Having said that, I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I have great sympathy for the problems that the Minister has outlined. Perhaps the real solution will be customer resistance; customers will gradually begin to feel that it 353 is important that goods should be packaged attractively but not excessively. That is the attitude that we are beginning to reach.
I thank the Minister for the effort he has taken and the explanation he has given. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 296 and 296A not moved.]
§ Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 296B:
§ Page 81, line 31, leave out ("recovery or recycling of") and insert ("recycling or recovery of energy from").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 296B, standing in the name of my noble friend Lady Hilton, to insert the words as on the Marshalled List. It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak to Amendments Nos. 299B and 309.
§ These amendments are probing in nature. As drafted, the Bill makes no specific reference to energy recovery from waste as one of the reclamation options. We are not clear about the Government's stance on whether energy from waste is to be treated in the same way as other recycling options, and we would welcome the Government's view on this.
§ The report produced by the Producer Responsibility Group on Packaging Waste indicated that energy from waste could play a significant part in meeting the overall recovery targets. But the report also implied that achieving the necessary infrastructure—namely the building of incinerators—would be not only costly but fraught with planning problems and likely to attract local hostility.
§ As I say, these amendments are probing. Even in the draft waste strategy as we have it, the question of energy recovery from waste seems to us to be somewhat fudged where it is grouped together with the recovery of materials and compost. I hope the Minister will tell us whether the Government wish to make any sort of separation. I beg to move.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
One of the problems is that the Government are moving very fast on these subjects. We have already referred to the air quality paper published in January, and we now have the waste strategy paper published only a few days ago. Those of us sitting on the Committee on Sustainable Development find that we receive a great deal of evidence and before we have reported or begun to consider the details of our report events have moved forward.
We have had some interesting evidence pointing both ways on where energy recovery from waste should come in the hierarchy. There are those who put the argument to us that it is extremely inefficient and should come near the bottom of the hierarchy. Others have pointed to examples such as the Edmonton power plant and have said that energy recovery from waste has been well established for a long time and should be encouraged. This is an interesting subject and it may be that the Government may wish to wait for the Special Select Committee before deciding how to respond lo the probing amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Williams.
§ Lord Wade of Chorlton
I support the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Williams. The energy recovery from waste industry is extremely efficient and the opportunities for enlarging it are enormous. It seems to me that the Government have been influenced by some groups who are, probably for the wrong reasons, against it. That has an influence on certain planning applications and can cause considerable difficulties. There is an enormous opportunity to develop the whole technology. However, one cannot develop it unless one has something to develop. In other words, someone has to start building these facilities and using them.
Dioxins have been referred to by some groups. Evidence has shown that the amount of dioxins in the air after the use of the waste to energy establishments is not as as great as in the air that we breath. Some of us have visited plants where the air coming out is a good deal cleaner than the air in the street. The development of this technology is moving at an enormous pace. It is right for the Government to review it and to place it in a more important position in the hierarchy.
§ Viscount Ullswater
Amendments Nos. 296B and 299B seek to define the term "recovery" as representing energy recovery. I should, however, make clear that by "recovery" we do not solely mean energy recovery but may intend processes such as composting, to which the noble Lord, Lord Williams referred. We shall come later to Amendment No. 300, in the name of my noble friend Lord Wade. I should not like to consider that amendment in advance. Having said that I shall take that approach, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
The purpose of Amendment No. 309, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, is that the public should have the right to inspect registers of exemption schemes free of charge. It is indeed our intention that that should be so. The agencies will be required to maintain a number of public registers under existing legislation and in each case the statute in question requires the register to be available for inspection free of charge. I would not wish to detain the Committee by listing all of these but I give as an example the IPC register, kept under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and the pollution registers kept under the Water Resources Act 1991.
Clause 77(1) sets out examples of the matters with respect to which provision may be made by regulations. Paragraph (s) refers to the imposition of a duty to maintain a register in respect of exemption schemes and make that register available for inspection by the public. I can confirm that it is our intention that, in accordance with the precedents to which I have referred, the regulations under this clause will require inspection to be available free of charge. With that reassurance I hope that the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw the amendment.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Williams of Elvel
I am grateful to the noble Viscount. We have had a certain amount of trouble with the groupings. I was expecting my amendment to be grouped with Amendment No. 300, in the name of the 355 noble Lord, Lord Wade of Chorlton. Given that the noble Viscount will respond truly to my amendment when he comes to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, I am happy to ask leave to withdraw Amendment No. 296B.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 297 to 298ZA not moved.]
§ Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment 298A:
Page 81, line 46, at end insert:
("(3A) The powers conferred by subsection (1) above shall also be exercisable, in a case falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (3) above, for the purpose of sustaining at least a minimum level of (rather than promoting or securing an increase in) re-use, recovery or recycling of products or materials.").
§ The noble Viscount said: In moving this Amendment I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 298B, 306ZA, 307A to 307D, 309ZA, 309ZB and 309ZC.
§ I shall deal with each of the amendments in turn. Amendments Nos. 298A and 298B will allow regulations to set more flexible targets for reuse, recovery or recycling, which in turn will allow us to meet in full potential European and international commitments. Amendment No. 306ZA will allow more than one target to be set for reuse, recovery and recycling for a given waste stream. Amendment No. 307A will provide for the withdrawal of approval for an exemption scheme. Amendments Nos. 307B and 307D will allow exemption schemes to be registered subject to conditions and make provision for appeals against such conditions.
§ Amendment No. 307C will allow us to disapply or modify the provisions of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976. Schemes may well contain provisions which would make them registrable under the Act. It would not be desirable for schemes which are considered necessary to achieve the environmental or economic benefits we want to see to be taken before the restrictive practices court. Instead, the effects of schemes on competition will be assessed by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry before they are approved and on a continuing basis to prevent approved schemes from behaving in an unnecessarily anti-competitive manner.
§ Amendment No. 309ZA will allow a designated person to require information in respect of schemes in order that the effect of schemes on competition can be properly assessed. Amendment No. 309ZB will broaden the definition of "operator" in relation to exemption schemes. Amendment No. 309ZC clarifies the enforcement powers in relation to the Secretary of State's right to give directions. I beg to move.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
I have one question arising out of what my noble friend has just said. With regard to Amendment No. 307C, which concerns the Restrictive Trade Practices Act exemptions, he said that it will be the Secretary of State who will carry out the continuing monitoring to see that the agreement is not being run in an anti-competitive way. Why is it suggested that that 356 should be a function of the Secretary of State and not of the Office of Fair Trading, which is the body one would normally expect to carry out such a function?
§ Viscount Ullswater
Indeed, I did say that it would be the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. I shall have to make inquiries about that. Perhaps I may write to my noble friend and place a copy of the letter in the Library.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 298B:
§ Page 82, line 3, at end insert ("; and in its application in relation to the power conferred by virtue of subsection (3A) above, subsection (5) below shall have effect as if—
- (a) any reference to an increase in the re-use, recovery or recycling of products or materials were a reference to the sustaining of at least a minimum level of re-use, recovery or recycling of the products or materials in question, and
- (b) any reference to the production of environmental or economic benefits included a reference to the sustaining of at least a minimum level of any such existing benefits,
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 299 to 299B not moved.]
§ Lord Wade of Chorlton moved Amendment No. 300:
§ Page 82, line 6, after ("recovery") insert ("(including energy recovery)").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 301 and 306. After that I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 303A, 303C and 303D, which are grouped with this amendment but actually concern a different matter.
§ The purpose of these amendments is to draw attention again to the importance of waste in relation to energy. When we were debating the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, it was said that this is now becoming a very important aspect of waste disposal. It has the added advantage of utilising the energy which is produced from getting rid of waste. It does not make sense to suggest that recycling is one thing and energy recovery another. The operating plants very often do both; they both recycle and produce energy from the recovered waste.
§ The amendments seek to put on the face of the Bill the importance of energy recovery as a specific use of waste disposal. They would also ensure that that particular activity is taken into account in all energy matters. I am aware that the Government have taken very great steps to encourage the industry. In the past they put it at the top of the list, or at least alongside everything else. However, just recently they seem to have lost the initiative on the subject. It is right and proper that they should give the industry full significance because it is undoubtedly a technology which will grow and improve. It can play an extremely important part in the handling of waste in this country. I hope that my noble friend will be able to support these amendments.357
§ Amendments Nos. 303A, 303C and 303D relate to a different matter. They deal with the question of how the Government will handle packaging waste and give responsibility to the various sectors of the industry. When this matter was first raised the Government asked the industries producing packaging waste to consider ways in which the waste might be dealt with. If the Government agreed with the suggestions, they would then introduce legislation to enforce them.
§ As a result, the industries considered the matter with some very senior members of various companies. They produced a plan which established an organisation which, in the interim stage, is called V-RAG. This interim body accepts central responsibility. In the event that legislation is agreed, it would establish a body called Valpac which would then bring together all the sectors of the industry. It would be a multi-point system which would deal fairly with the costs of handling packaging waste.
§ The Government suggest in this Bill that they would prefer to place full responsibility for packaging waste on one part of the packaging chain—that is to say, the packer-filler part. The industry's view was that that would be most impractical. It could be extremely unfair to small and new companies and it could cause difficulties in obtaining a coherent view on how to deal with it. That goes completely against the advice which the industry gave the Government and on which it spent a great deal of time.
§ The purpose of this amendment is to take out that part of the Bill which states that the Government will review and make their decision in the light of the opportunity to place full responsibility solely on one part of the industry. By taking that part out of the Bill it would leave the matter open for the industry to come forward with its own solution.
§ Amendments Nos. 303C and 303D seek to define "re-use", "recovery" and "recycling". At the moment those words are referred to but they are not defined, whereas other parts of the packaging chain are. These amendments seek to define them in accordance with the definitions recently adopted by the European Union packaging and packaging waste directives. I hope that the Government can give me some encouraging words on these amendments. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Onslow
I intervene very briefly in this debate. Where I live there was recently an application to build a plant which would generate electricity from burning tyres. That is something that should be encouraged. As is often the case where the incineration of waste is concerned, there was very considerable local objection. Planning consent was not given. I am not sure whether NIMBY is the correct word, but we have to get over the objection of some people who would theoretically like to see energy recovered from waste but who would object to the process. That is a problem which has to be addressed. I raise this matter because it seems germane to the discussion which my noble friend Lord Wade has introduced.
§ Baroness Nicol
I wish to speak particularly to Amendment No. 303A. must first repeat the declaration of interest which I made at Second Reading.
358 I was involved with the packaging industry last year in a small investigation, but it is not briefing me on this subject. My main interest tonight is as vice-chairman of the all-party retail group. Small retailers are very concerned about the inclusion of the three lines which we seek to delete.
I am very grateful to the Minister for his comprehensive Written Answer to the question I raised at Second Reading; namely, as to where in the packaging chain responsibility shall be placed. I understand his argument that a single-point scheme would be easier to administer and monitor, but he must also have regard to the importance of a scheme which is seen to be even-handed. It is important that each link in the chain should take some responsibility for the end result. If any progress is to be made with new technology or techniques to minimise packaging and to improve recycling percentages—which is the Government's aim—we need the involvement of all concerned from the producer to the end disposer. I hope that administrative convenience, which seems to be the Government's main argument, will not be allowed to override other considerations. I am very pleased to support this amendment.
§ Lord Mottistone
I speak very briefly to both parts of this matter. As regards producing energy from the recovery of waste, we have a plant on the Isle of Wight which experienced similar difficulties to those to which my noble friend Lord Onslow referred. The plant is now in operation and producing electricity. It also produces heating for schools and other county council-owned property. But the plant does not work as efficiently as it should because we went into the system too quickly and copied what I believe they have in East Sussex. It would have been better if we had waited until the plant had been better proved. It does not cause trouble. It is alongside a factory which produces your Lordships' Christmas cards. From time to time the people working there grumble about the smell from the waste disposal plant.
§ Lord Mottistone
It is very important for our island to have the facility because relatively we have less space in which to dispose of our waste than the mainland. That is why we must have this plant, but we went too fast in introducing it. I support my noble friend's Amendment No. 300 and the principle behind .his earlier amendments.
I now turn to Amendment No. 303A. I cannot add to what has been said by previous speakers. My noble friend the Minister, when introducing Clause 76, told us in general terms what he was doing and he answered a question on 2nd February which was going in a certain direction. However, it is fair to say that the industry is not happy that the Government intend to accept the recommendations of their own producer group which advised on this subject.
It would be reassuring if my noble friend the Minister would give us an undertaking that he will not produce a system or regulations which penalise a particular part of the industry concerned with packaging and do not 359 spread the load, as has been said by other speakers. I hope that he will be able to reassure us on those points, because his lengthy Written Answer did not; it frightened us more. Therefore, we rather like Amendment No. 303A.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
I have added my name to some of the amendments. Perhaps I may say with regard to the amendment relating to energy that the problem with some of the plant that generates energy from waste is that it tends to have the effect of creating more waste in order to have enough fuel for the plant. That is the argument put by some of the environmental interests which say that it is a way of disposing of the waste but that it also has the effect of promoting the generation of more waste to ensure that the process can continue.
§ Lord Mottistone
Perhaps my noble friend will allow me to intervene. Our plant does not do what he says these people say that it does.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
I did not say that my noble friend's plant did. I was merely reporting what is said by some of the people who question this process. I strongly support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Wade of Chorlton, because the subject requires a great deal of study.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, because she-passed me a copy of my noble friend's long letter about why the Government are looking for single-point enforcement, rather than what I believe is called multi-point enforcement, of the packaging process. I have every sympathy—if I may put it crudely—with civil servants wanting to have one bottom to bite. It is much easier to enforce. If one is a watchdog it is much easier if one has only one person to go for. I understand that. But the fallacy that underlies the Government's approach is that in the commercial chain, which can sometimes be many parties long, the packer/filler, or whoever it is, can impose sufficient conditions down the line to ensure that the objectives of the scheme as a whole are attained. Life is a great deal more complicated than that.
There are few more competitive worlds than, for instance, the food processing, packaging and distribution industry. It is an immensely competitive industry. The Government are expecting too much of one party to that chain to make it effective. A multi-point system may appear on paper to be more difficult to enforce, but, as the noble Baroness said, it at least ensures that pressure is brought upon each stage in the chain. If it is not, there will be no incentive to introduce the new techniques and technologies, to find the new materials that reduce the amount of packaging produced, or the recycling that can be done. I hope that at this early stage of the Bill—we seem to have been going on for a long time and yet it is still only the Committee stage in the first Chamber—my noble friend will have another careful look at this issue.
I know of no industry affected by the PPG proposal that is in favour of a single-point scheme. The Government have the unique distinction of being on 360 their own on that. If that is the only argument and if I were the Minister I should want to look carefully at it. It is dangerous to say that everyone else is out of step.
§ Lord Moran
I should like to say a brief word in support of Amendment No. 303A. I have discussed this subject with the Food and Drink Federation, and I know that it feels strongly that responsibility for recovery and recycling should be shared, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, has argued, among all those in the packaging chain.
I have received a brief from the British Retail Consortium, which I found impressive. It says that the system of applying the control at a single point has been tried in Germany where it led to a 2 per cent. to 3 per cent. increase in retail prices, and that one leading British chainstore operator has estimated that the same system imposed in the UK would increase its operating costs by £40 million. It also describes the French scheme (the eco-emballages scheme) and points out that if one exports a jar of fruit to France four calculations are required: the amount of glass in the jar; paper in the label; metal in the lid; and plastic in the tamper-proof seal. It says that that system is breaking down.
The organisation has also addressed the Government's argument, which is the nub of the matter, that it would be difficult to enforce an arrangement where everyone in the chain was involved. It believes a multi-point obligation can be made enforceable by incorporating any organisation set up by the individual companies to meet the targets. The prosecution can then be brought against that company. That is useful. It is the view of the consortium representing 90 per cent. of retailers in this country. I hope that the Government will take it seriously.
The Earl of Balfour
Within this basket of amendments is the amendment standing in my name and that of the noble Earl, Lord Kintore. Amendment No. 309A is designed to alter the last two words of Clause 78 in that there are references to either Clause 76 or 77. We wish to substitute "those sections" for "that section". I have sympathy with Amendment No. 300 which wishes to have "including energy recovery" inserted, because many years ago the town gas in Hawick was supplemented by the methane gas produced by that town's sewage works.
§ Lord Bridges
I shall speak to Amendment No. 303A. I too have received some briefing from the Food and Drink Federation. My reason for speaking after so many Members of the Committee have spoken on the same matter is that this is a subject of considerable national importance. We are talking about the most efficient way of recycling packaging waste, obtaining as much as we can from it, and turning it into fresh raw material at a reasonable cost.
There has been one horrible example in Europe, which has gone wrong, to which my noble friend Lord Moran has already referred; namely, the German example, over which, as those Members of the Committee who have read the Select Committee's report on the subject, will see, a serious mistake was made. I 361 add my voice to those who have urged the Government to think again about their scheme, because I do not feel that we have quite got to the bottom of the matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Wade, spoke with considerable moderation about what the Government have done. It does not seem to have been a sensible procedure to have invited an important businessman to work out a scheme in September 1993, and then, when it had been worked on for a year, for the Government to say was that it was not what they preferred. The whole progress of the discussion on the European directive should have given the Government sufficient time to come to an a priori judgment if they wished to do so. That has resulted in an unfortunate state of affairs which was not necessary.
I should like to make one or two other points. First, there is the argument that it would be administratively easier to have a single-point scheme rather than a multi-point scheme. I do not believe that that is the real test. The goal is to collect as much packaging waste as possible and to recycle it properly and efficiently. Industry has suggested how that should be done. The argument of administrative convenience for the department is a secondary consideration.
I have also heard it suggested that some people in Whitehall worry that a multi-point scheme is likely to be non-competitive. I find that argument difficult to understand because I believe that the single-point scheme is more likely to run into difficulty. The argument appears to have been turned on its head.
Every part of the complicated chain between manufacture, wholesaling. distribution and the point of sale needs to be brought into the Act. If the industry has devoted a great deal of time to the matter, has come up with a carefully worked out scheme and has an agency ready to move, I hope that that can be considered seriously.
§ Viscount Ullswater
Amendment No. 300 would clarify that the term ''recovery" includes energy recovery. The term "recovery" is used to encompass any process of value recovery from waste; for example, by incinerating waste to produce electricity. But I have sympathy for the noble Lord's intention to clarify that this does indeed encompass energy recovery.
The Government have indicated that, broadly in line with the views of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, they would like to see a bigger role for waste to energy in future waste management practice. In our consultation paper, A Waste Strategy for England and Wales which was published recently, we made clear that waste to energy remains a key element of our overall strategy. Planning Policy Guidance Note 23 sets out the Government's general policy towards waste management in the field of planning. It highlights the obligations placed on waste management authorities in drawing up waste management plans to have regard to objectives which include encouraging energy recovery.
In the waste strategy, we have identified a number of impediments to the growth in waste to energy and we look forward to receiving views as part of the consultation process on how these might be overcome.
362 Specifically on the noble Lord's amendment, we are at one on the objective and I shall consider carefully whether an amendment is needed.
I am concerned about the effect of Amendments Nos. 301 and 306. It is important that for each waste stream, industry is able to arrange the recovery of value from its waste products or materials in the most efficient way. For some this will mean increased recycling, for others energy recovery. To replace "or" with "and" would remove this option and put re-use, recover and recycling on an equal footing for all waste streams. In the light of the need to be flexible and to achieve the most environmentally beneficial solution for each waste stream, I hope that the noble Lord will not move these amendments.
Amendment No. 303A would delete the short paragraph which clarifies that the obligation to achieve a level of re-use, recycling or recovery can he placed at a single point in the production chain.
I understand the concern of Members of the Committee that the obligation imposed should be a fair one, but I am anxious that we do not close off any of our options at this stage. In considering these clauses, we must be clear that they are not solely to implement the European Community Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste, to which most Members paid a great deal of attention. There are a number of other waste streams which these enabling powers may eventually need to cover and we are in discussion not just with the packaging industry but with these other industries. Therefore, I am keen that while ensuring that we are fair we do not limit our options at this very early stage.
As regards packaging waste, on Thursday 2nd February I replied to a Written Question tabled by my noble friend Lord Gainford. I set out a list of the considerations that we propose to bear in mind in assessing the various options for putting in place a legislative framework. It is our clear responsibility to satisfy ourselves that the proposed course of action meets the objectives and does so in a way that is consistent with broader policy aims and legal constraints. We are continuing our discussions with businesses and other organisations representing all parts of the packaging chain. These discussions are proving to be productive, and certainly all parties acknowledge the complexity and significance of the issues at stake.
At this stage, we have not yet taken a view on how we wish to proceed. However, we shall bring forward a consultation paper as soon as we are able. In the meantime, we ought to preserve our options both in terms of the position for waste streams other than packaging and also for packaging waste. 'This is novel and uncharted territory and it would be wrong to constrain ourselves to a single solution. The choice is not simply between a single point obligation or a multi-point obligation but there are variant; of each and shades in between.
I say to my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding, it is not that we want to be out of step but that we want to make certain that all the steps remain available. I hope that on that basis my noble friend will be able to withdraw his amendment.
363 Amendments Nos. 303C and 303D would add to the Bill the definitions of "recovery", "recycling" and "re-use" contained in the packaging directive. Although these definitions are appropriate for the packaging waste stream they may not be appropriate for other waste streams. Again, I am concerned that at this stage we do not allow these general enabling powers to be coloured solely by our experience on packaging. In view of that, I hope the noble Lord will not move these amendments.
Amendment No. 309A would replace "that section" with "those sections". I have had to look at this a number of times but I have eventually concluded that because of the specific way in which the phrase is drafted the correct term is the original, "that section". Although I have great sympathy with my noble friend in wrestling with these grammatical intricacies, I hope that he will not move his amendment.
§ Baroness Nicol
Being flexible is all very well but surely, even at this stage, it is possible to identify one step that should not be taken in any circumstances because it is so unfair and unlikely to succeed. I do not find the keeping-the-options-open argument very persuasive.
§ Viscount Ullswater
I understand what the noble Baroness is saying but she is identifying perhaps only one single waste stream about which she has some knowledge. "I have indicated that there are seven such streams and it is important to make certain that a single point may not be suitable for one of those streams. Perhaps at present we do not have the scheme that would need a single-point entry. However, in the formulation of primary legislation it would be wrong to cut out that option already.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Wade of Chorlton
I am grateful to the Minister for suggesting that the Government agree with the principle behind Amendment No. 300. I look forward to seeing his proposal on how we can confirm that. I am disappointed that he was not more positive about the waste packaging proposals. Clearly, the support around the Committee was positive as regards a multi-point system as laid down by the packaging industry. However, I accept the point that the option is still open and might be accepted by the Government.
I hope that in view of the support that the proposals have received, the Government will consider it seriously. Perhaps my noble friend will give me the opportunity of discussing the matter with him before the Report stage. I see that he is nodding in agreement, and I shall be pleased to take up the offer. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 301 to 303AA not moved.]
§ Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 303B:
Page 82, line 31, at end insert:
("( ) The Secretary of State shall have a duty to exercise the power to make regulations in the manner which he considers best calculated to prevent the making of false or unsupported environmental claims in relation to any prescribed products, materials or activities.").
§ The noble Baroness said: This amendment and Amendment No. 306A, which is grouped with it, deal with environmental claims in relation to the labelling of goods. I raised that matter on Second Reading. The amendments are quite modest and merely provide for regulations to be laid. They do not seek to set out on the face of the Bill the detail of the regulations which may be made but which I believe would deal with. important matters.
§ On Second Reading I mentioned the description of a pair of socks as being "ozone friendly". That was one of a number of examples of slightly odd claims made on packaging and labelling. I should enjoy reading to the Committee the whole of a report published by the London Borough of Sutton which is led by my noble friend Lord Tope. I shall not do so but I shall give the Committee a few examples to add a little colour to my anxiety about how misleading some of the packaging and labelling can be.
The report gives as an example of a misleading claim the following:
This box is 100 per cent. recyclable and biodegradable, having been made from renewable, sustainable pulp resources. Pizza Hut is working to help the environment. You can too by disposing of this box carefully".
§ No doubt that is so, although one wonders about recycling a box with traces of tomato and cheese attached to the lid. But the claim which is made is misleading and confusing. Four key environmental words are used in the claim—recyclable, biodegradable, renewable and sustainable. They give the impression that the box has no adverse effects whatever on the environment. It suggests that the box is recyclable or biodegradable because the pulp used is sustainable. Of course, that is misleading because a sustainable wood source does not help recyclability or the rate of biodegradation of a product.
The report quotes the labelling for Lenor, a fabric conditioner, as an example of an ambiguous claim:
Lenor has been formulated and made with care for the environment. This care is shown in the careful selection of ingredients and packaging and through the control of manufacturing processes. This bottle is made of polyethylene and the cap is made of polypropylene. These can be disposed of safely in normal waste treatment. Alternatively, the Lenor bottle may be re-used by refilling it with the Lenor refill".
§ That is quite confusing. It means in fact that the bottle can be thrown into the dustbin and eventually it will be buried or incinerated. That is not quite the same as the materials being recyclable.
The report gives an example of a "trivial claim". Although that is the heading in the report, I believe that it is quite serious. The example given is:
This swing tag contains 80 per cent. recycled material".
That was a swing tag which merely gave the details of the umbrella to which it was attached but the unsuspecting purchaser could well have confused the reference on the tag to the umbrella itself. I believe that the environmental benefits of the umbrella were somewhat distorted by that labelling.
§ The examples which I have given may be amusing. My greatest anxiety in relation to raising the issue is that I recall the debates which we had on the Trade Marks Bill when we were all tempted to give examples of coffee jars, and so on, which had confused us. Those examples probably served only to confirm in the minds of the public how remote from everyday life most of your Lordships, including myself, seem to be.
§ The dangerous point is that purchasers, seeing such claims and many more claims, believe that, by buying a product which describes itself extravagantly or quite meaninglessly, they are doing their bit to save the planet when they may be doing very little at all towards that. I beg to move.
§ Lord Williams of Elvel
I support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. This has been a major problem in the United States. I am sure that the noble Viscount is aware that the claims that are made for products which argue that they are environmentally friendly and yet are not have given rise to any number of civil cases in the United States where people have in fact been damaged by products with green labels. They call them green labels in the United States.
I hope very much that the problem will not arise in this country. But I hope also that the Government recognise a problem which may arise. That is why I believe that the amendment moved by the noble Baroness raises an extremely important point to which I hope the Government will feel able to respond if not in this way, at least in some way which will give us confidence.
§ Lord Tope
My noble friend Lady Hamwee referred to the excellent report produced by Sutton Trading Standards, so I shall resist the temptation to quote a few examples from it to the Committee. If your Lordships' appetites are whetted for more information, the full report is available from the trading standards department of the London Borough of Sutton for a very small charge.
More seriously, I wish to support the amendment. It seems to me that one of the most effective influences which ordinary people—if one can call them that—have on their environment is in their purchasing and consumption power. Producers and manufacturers have long since recognised that, and as the environmental consciousness of the public has grown so have the environmental claims made by manufacturers and producers to sell their products.
One danger is that the public are starting to become cynical about such claims and rather than using their purchasing power to effect a change in the environment, they are going cold on it. Therefore, it is time to act and restore the public's faith, so that they know that when environmental claims are made in relation to products they mean what they say and are not, at best, meaningless or, at worst, misleading.
I hope the Minister will be able to indicate that he supports the amendments or that the Government will consider sympathetically the points that we are trying to make.
§ Viscount Ullswater
I hope that I shall be able to reassure the Committee and that the noble Baroness will 366 not press the amendment. The amendment seeks to include in the Bill a requirement to make regulations to prevent false or unsupported environmental claims being made, together with provisions to propose by regulation requirements as to the making of such claims.
Making false environmental claims is already illegal. Those matters fall within the scope of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. The question of whether further protection is needed in that area is being reviewed by the National Consumer Council. Therefore, those matters are already covered under other legislation.
In addition, there is the European Community eco-labelling system which seeks to identify products which are less harmful to the environment than equivalent brands across the whole of their life cycle.
§ Lord Williams of Elvel
Before the noble Viscount moves on to eco-labelling, will he enlighten us as to what the NCC is studying? He says that the re is no need for legislation but if the National Consumer Council recommends that there is need for legislation, will the Government accept that?
§ Viscount Ullswater
I indicated that false environmental claims are already illegal but the question of the need for further protection is being reviewed by the National Consumer Council. I am sure that we shall bring forward further provisions as necessary to make certain that that point is taken on board.
Eco-labelling will provide the consumer with a valid means of identifying products which have been validated against a set of environmental criteria. Therefore, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Baroness Hamwee
I am not entirely sure about eco-labelling. It does not guarantee that a consumer will be purchasing the most environmentally friendly product because not every product available in the range will be submitted to the scheme. Nor, indeed—and this may be the trading standards point—does it prevent producers from continuing to make their own "green" claims even if their products have been submitted for testing and have failed.
I am interested in the fact that the National Consumer Council is considering the matter. I do not expect the Minister to respond this evening, but if there is a need to pursue in legislation matters which the NCC identifies perhaps he would consider a rather different amendment, a permissive amendment, which would at least give the legislative framework for steps to be taken at ministerial level. I accept that I do not often argue in that way; indeed, I tend to argue for primary legislation. However, having established the framework, that would allow Ministers to pursue by regulation any matters that the NCC identifies as requiring such regulation. I do not expect the Minister to reply now if he does not wish to do so.
§ Viscount Ullswater
I believe that I indicated to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, that the Trades Descriptions Act 1968 is the legislation which covers that sort of possibility. Therefore, if false claims are being made 367 which need further specification, it is under the Trades Descriptions Act rather than the legislation now before us that any action considered necessary should be taken.
§ Baroness Hamwee
I understand that fact. However, in a tight parliamentary timetable, I was merely seeking to make a helpful suggestion. I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 303C, 303D and 304 not moved.]
§ Clause 76, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 77 [Producer responsibility: supplementary provisions]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 305 and 306 not moved.]
§ Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 306ZA:
§ Page 83, line 24, at end insert (", whether generally or in any prescribed way").
§ The noble Viscount said: I spoke to the above amendment when moving Amendment No. 298A. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 306A and 307 not moved.]
§ Viscount Ullswater moved Amendments Nos. 307A, 307B, 307C and 307D:
§ Page 83, line 26, leave out ("of exemption schemes") and insert (", or withdrawal of approval, of exemption schemes by the Secretary of State;").
§ Page 83, line 32, after ("schemes,") insert ("the imposition of conditions in connection with such registration, the variation of such conditions,").
Page 83, line 42, at end insert:
("( ) the exclusion or modification of any provision of the Restrictive Trade Practices Acts 1976 and 1977 in relation to exemption schemes or in relation to agreements where at least one of the parties is an operator of an exemption scheme;").
§ Page 84, line 7, after ("registration,") insert ("the imposition of conditions in connection with registration,").
§ The noble Viscount said: I spoke to the above amendments when dealing with Amendment No. 298A. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 308 and 309 not moved.]
§ Viscount Ullswater moved Amendments Nos. 309ZA, 309ZB and 309ZC:
Page 84, line 24, at end insert:
("( ) the conferring on prescribed persons of power to require, for the purposes of or otherwise in connection with competition scrutiny, the provision by any person of any information which he has, or which he may at any future time acquire, relating to any exemption scheme or to any acts or omissions of an operator of such a scheme or of any person dealing with such an operator;").
§ Page 85, line 33, leave out ("a registered") and insert ("an").
§ Page 86, line 6, leave out ("mandamus or, in Scotland,") and insert ("injunction or, in Scotland, by interdict or").368
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 77, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 78 [Producer responsibility: offences]:
§ [Amendment No. 309A not moved.]
§ [Amendment No. 309B had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]
§ Clause 78 agreed to.
The Earl of Lindsay
I beg to move that the House be now resumed. In moving the Motion, perhaps I may suggest that the Committee stage begin again at, or as soon as possible after, five minutes past eight o'clock.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.