Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Brake: I speak in favour of the amendments that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) and I drafted. Obviously, I am disappointed that, in response to the question posed by the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Green), the Minister has not accepted the full-blown amendment, but I consider it a partial victory that the Government have taken on board some elements of that amendment. That will widen the scope of the available information about emissions, to include, as the amendment suggests, "energy consumption" and "efficiency". At a time when we are discussing climate change and the reduction of carbon dioxide, it is most important that we know those figures.

14 Jul 1999 : Column 429

The amendment will help to identify waste and its destination. The Government are--or should be--pushing hard to reduce the amount of waste that is generated, and to reuse or recycle waste where possible. The information will be helpful in that respect. The information is needed and it will be used. I hoped that the amendment would receive the support of Members on both sides of the House, but that appears not to be the case. I shall support the amendment.

Mr. Gray: I share the concern expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Green) about some of the implications of the amendments. They fulfil some of the primary requirements of all new Labour measures--to be centralising, to collect information and to be bureaucratic. They go a long way towards providing information that statisticians and the Office for National Statistics may find useful in some future analysis. However, they will not do much to help reduce pollution in the United Kingdom, which is, presumably, the main purpose of the Bill.

There is no upside, but the amendments seem to have some potential downsides. We are talking about quite small businesses, as I pointed out in my earlier intervention, which may be relatively unsophisticated. Some of the pig farmers and chicken farmers in my constituency will be affected by the Bill; they will face significant bureaucratic problems in making available to the Government every piece of information relating to what they have done with the products of their farms. I will not give a graphic account of those products on this occasion. As a result of the Bill, farmers, who may be on their uppers, will already be faced with some bureaucratic interference. The amendments will mean that they have to undertake more paperwork for no particular reason.

We have just debated new clause 1, which tries to put right the anomaly that 12 per cent. of all sites that should have been licensed have not been licensed. The pointwas made that the measure will affect relatively unsophisticated businesses, which--through no fault of their own--have apparently failed to license their site, or have failed to renew their licence. We are now discussing the establishment of a new, bureaucratic and centralised regime that will require those same businesses to produce complicated information for no purpose, apart from satisfying the curiosity of the Office for National Statistics.

There is no upside, but potentially a large downside to the amendments. In that context, I am concerned about the possible costs. Accountants and bureaucrats of all sorts will be involved. People will have to be employed--perhaps lawyers. There will be costs involved in the production of the information. More important, it is worrying that if businesses fail to provide--through some slip, or through overwork, or lack of sophistication--the information that is demanded of them, there might be penalties. What will those penalties be? In years to come, my constituents may find that, if they fail--through no fault of their own--to comply with the requirements of the Bill, they will be taken to court and penalised. That may cost them significant amounts. Unless the Minister can explain the measures more clearly than he did in his introductory remarks--which I found rather difficult to follow--it seems that they will result in considerable costs for my constituents.

14 Jul 1999 : Column 430

The amendments will achieve very little. I hope that the Minister will be able to advise the House of the purpose of the amendments and of the safeguards for small businesses--especially the chicken and pig farmers in my constituency who may be affected.

5 pm

Mr. Meale: I shall respond to hon. Members' queries, the first of which came from the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Green), who is leading the debate for the Opposition. He asked why we are introducing a detailed amendment at this late stage. The Bill has always allowed for the extension of the pollution inventory. The amendments respond to specific points made by hon. Members in Committee and cover information about energy and waste.

The hon. Gentleman implied that the pollution inventory simply piles extra burdens on businesses. We are discussing cases in which owners of businesses say to their neighbours, "In the interests of my business, I shall have to put this substance into your home." I accept that, to a certain extent, we tolerate that practice as the price of living and working together as a community. However, it is clearly unacceptable for the same business owners to say that it is too much of an effort for them to be courteous enough even to explain what the substance is. The pollution inventory is a fair and proper initiative which should be introduced.

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal): I am striving to understand the Minister. I agree with him in principle, so I am not being antagonistic, but if the pollution inventory is so important, why did not the Government originally include it in the Bill? I have come late to the debate, and I apologise to the House for that. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] Well, when the Government table such an amendment this late in the proceedings, many hon. Members who are concerned that they should understand it have to go to a great deal of trouble to be present. Will the Minister explain why the pollution inventory is being included in the Bill so late in the proceedings if it is as important as he says?

Mr. Meale: It is very simple. We have responded to hon. Members from both sides of the House who urged us, in Committee, to take that action. We listened, we learned and we adopted that proposal.

I turn now to the accusation that the benefits do not justify the costs. Information about energy use could be of great benefit. For example, it could bring best practice to the fore and promote the spread of energy efficiency measures, which would cut costs for businesses and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, more information about quantities and patterns of waste disposal can only help our efforts to minimise waste, thereby saving money and improving our environment.

Any proposal to use the powers would proceed only in the light of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and full consultation with industry and, of course, other interested groups. As I said earlier, we shall proceed with the expansion of the inventory at a sensible pace.

Mr. Green: With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall speak again. I am impelled to do so by the Minister's non-explanation for the amendments. He

14 Jul 1999 : Column 431

said simultaneously that they are tremendously important and will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and have various other effects, which Conservative Members think desirable, and that a cost-benefit analysis will happen at some unspecified time in the future.

It is not appropriate for Ministers to come to the House with legislation and say vaguely that it will be helpful to business, increase the provision of information and benefit the environment, and then to say casually, "At some time in the future, we shall try to gather the facts that may or may not back up the assertions that we have just made."

Ministers are doing things in completely the wrong order. Not only are the amendments being introduced at a peculiarly late stage in our considerations of the Bill, but Ministers have had several weeks since the Committee proceedings to respond to the suggestions made to them, and they appear not to have gone to the trouble of gathering any facts to back up the sop that they giving to the Liberal Democrats and Labour Back Benchers.

The explanation for the amendments is inadequate, and I invite the House to vote against them.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 335, Noes 132.

Division No. 239
[5.4 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Austin, John
Ballard, Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon
(Dunfermline E)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbett, Robin
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Oaten, Mark
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wallace, James
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Welsh, Andrew
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Mike Hall and
Jane Kennedy.


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Baldry, Tony
Beresford, Sir Paul
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ruffley, David
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mrs. Jacqui Lait and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Question accordingly agreed to.

14 Jul 1999 : Column 434

Amendment made: No. 2, in page 7, line 41, at end insert--

Next Section

IndexHome Page