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Local Government Reorganisation

Mr. Elletson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what funds he plans to make available to authorities that have been or are to be reorganised on 1 April 1995, 1996, 1997 or 1998 for reorganisation costs incurred by them in 1997-98; and if he will make a statement. [10336]

Mr. Curry: On 10 October, I invited authorities that have or are to be reorganised on or before 1 April 1998 to submit estimates of the amount of expenditure they expect to incur on transitional costs of reorganisation in 1997-98. On the basis, inter alia, of the information provided by the authorities, I have decided the maximum amounts to allocate towards such costs in 1997-98. I have given priority to authorities to be reorganised in 1997 and 1998. The majority of authorities to be reorganised in 1998 asked for allocations in respect of redundancy to be deferred until the mid-year review in October 1997. Accordingly, the allocations listed for authorities reorganising in 1998 are not intended to cover redundancy costs.

Maximum amounts: £000 rounded

1996 reorganisations
Hartlepool Borough Council1,200
Redcar and Cleveland Council900
Middlesbrough Borough Council1,300
Stockton on Tees Borough Council800
Bristol City Council900
North Somerset Council800
Bath and North East Somerset Council900
South Gloucestershire Council1,000
Kingston upon Hull Council700
East Riding of Yorkshire Council2,500
North Lincolnshire Council700
North East Lincolnshire Council700
York City Council800
1997 reorganisations
Bedfordshire County Council700
Luton Borough Council3,300
Milton Keynes Borough Council2,200
Derbyshire County Council900
Derby City Council2,600
Dorset County Council400
Bournemouth Borough Council2,700
Poole Borough Council2,600
Durham County Council400
Darlington Borough Council1,660
East Sussex County Council1,700
Brighton and Hove Council4,000
Hampshire County Council1,400
Portsmouth City Council2,600
Southampton City Council2,700
Leicestershire County Council800
Leicester City Council3,100
Rutland District Council1,260
Staffordshire County Council500
Stoke-on-Trent City Council2,400
Wiltshire County Council80
Thamesdown Borough Council800
1998 reorganisations
Berkshire County Council1,100
Bracknell Forest Borough Council2,100
Newbury District Council2,400
Reading Borough Council2,700
Slough Borough Council1,900
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead2,200
Wokingham District Council2,900
Hereford and Worcester County Council300
Hereford City Council100
Leominster District Council150
Malvern Hills District Council200
South Herefordshire District Council50
Devon County Council1,000
Plymouth City Council2,600
Torbay Borough Council3,000
Essex County Council500
Southend on Sea Borough Council2,100
Thurrock Borough Council2,400
Nottinghamshire County Council400
Nottingham City Council2,700
Cheshire County Council500
Halton Borough Council2,200
Warrington Borough Council3,000
Shropshire County Council300
The Wrekin District Council2,400
Kent County Council1,000
Gillingham Borough Council200
Rochester City Council400
Cambridgeshire County Council400
Peterborough City Council2,900
Lancashire County Council800
Blackburn Borough Council2,700
Blackpool Borough Council2,700

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 613

The Isle of Wight and Buckinghamshire county council did not submit bids. Initial allocations will be made to the new shadow authorities of Herefordshire, Worcester, East Malvern and Tenbury, and Rochester and Gillingham shortly after they are established in May 1997.

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 614

Housing Allocations

Mr. Sykes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to make regulations exempting further classes of people from the allocation provisions in part VI of the Housing Act 1996; and if he will make a statement. [10337]

Mr. Curry: The Government are committed to ensuring that the new allocations provisions in part VI of the 1996 Act do not compromise the present arrangements under which many local authorities accept a limited number of referrals from welfare agencies and hostels for homeless people. I have reflected carefully on whether it is necessary to make regulations in order to allow such arrangements to continue, and have concluded that it is not. There is sufficient flexibility inherent in part VI to allow local authorities to maintain such arrangements within the new allocation schemes they will be establishing, and I am issuing guidance to this effect.

Packaging Waste Regulations

Mr. David Martin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has considered the responses to the consultation paper he issued in July on the Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations; and if he will make a statement. [10475]

Mr. Gummer: Together with my colleagues, the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales, I published proposals in July which aim to secure an effective business-led approach to meeting the environmental goal of a more sustainable approach to packaging waste. This followed a lengthy process of consultation with a wide range of business sectors and is based on the industry agreement on the shared approach achieved on 15 December 1995.

The system we propose is based on four guiding principles:

We have had a wide range of responses to the consultation paper including 100 from trade associations representing 53,000 member businesses and a further 348 from individual businesses and other interested organisations. Most respondents endorsed the overall framework and the basic provisions which flow from the 15 December agreement. However, the responses did raise specific concerns on issues such as the timetable, the level of interim targets, the cut-off threshold for small businesses, the wholesaler obligation and the scope and nature of exemptions. I have considered these and have sought the views of Sir Peter Parker and the Advisory Committee on Packaging and I am grateful to have their further comments which will be published separately.

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 615

I therefore intend to make the following modifications to the draft regulations which will be subject to parliamentary debate.

To allow businesses sufficient time to assess the implications of the regulations for them and the merits of joining a collective business scheme such as VALPAK, I propose to delay the first requirement for registration and provision of data until the summer of 1997 and I will make a further announcement shortly. The date for the renewal of registration and the provision of data will, from 1998 onwards, be 1 April.

A further concern raised related to the proposed interim targets for recovery and recycling which could place an unnecessarily high burden on some businesses and particularly on those who handle materials which are harder to recover. Many felt that a slower build-up to the full directive targets in 2001 targets would be more realistic. I therefore propose to revise the interim targets on individual businesses as follows:

Minimum recycling target for each materialOverall recovery targetRecovery of UK packaging waste

(6) Of which a minimum of 26 per cent. must be recycling.

These targets will enable the UK to meet the recycling and recovery targets set out in the EC directive on packaging and packaging waste, 94/62 EC.

I have also taken account of the representations that some sectors of industry will have greater difficulty in adapting to the proposed obligations than others, particularly in the case of small firms. I also consider that the most effective means of introducing the new system will be to take a staged approach starting with the largest businesses. I therefore propose to adopt a phased approach in relation to the following aspects:

I am confident that a phased approach will allow these sectors additional time to prepare and work up methods for meeting recycling and recovery objectives in a form which meets their needs.

I have considered also issues raised by those who handle packaging which is or is associated with special or hazardous waste. Where packaging is likely to become special waste, producers will not need to include it when calculating their recovery and recycling obligations, but they will need to provide data and indicate the steps taken to promote or increase its recovery. This amendment should assist those producers that handle packaging whose hazardous or contaminated nature require special disposal arrangements.

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 616

I also propose to place an obligation on production of reusable packaging but to exempt it when it is reused. Other more detailed changes will be set out in the published regulations.

I also recognise that for many businesses a major concern is not the recycling and recovery effort itself but the means of gathering data. Some businesses already have good data systems while many trade associations and the Industry Council on Packaging and the Environment are already working to develop sector guides and assistance with definitions and other guidance. I intend to support this work and to make available, to help to start the system, a very simple ready reckoner which businesses can use to meet the initial requirement for a best estimate expressed in tonnes per annum.

The environment agencies that will monitor and enforce the regulations will charge a fee to individual businesses and collective schemes to cover the costs of their functions. In the light of consultation, and taking account of the changes listed I propose to set the fee for individual businesses at £750 per annum and to offer schemes a rebate of up to 87 per cent. of this according to the size of their membership.

The advisory committee is continuing its work on implementation of the system and is currently considering matters relating to evidence of compliance and recent representations it has received on the issue of equitable participation in household waste recovery. It is also preparing for its review of the system as a whole. On these and other issues, it will publish its findings as appropriate and I am fully committed to supporting its continuing role.

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