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Mr. Allen: My right hon. Friend has hit four of the five points that were of concern to many colleagues in my

22 Oct 2001 : Column 126

little round robin. To achieve the score of 10 out of 10, will he also deal with the question raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) and for Enfield, North (Joan Ryan) about the removal of hazardous and obstructing vehicles and getting the definition right from the Home Office? If he does not have that information with him—I fully understand why that may be the case—will he undertake to write to me and to my hon. Friends about what the Home Office can do in that respect?

Mr. Meacher: I will. Burned-out vehicles are dangerous to children as they often contain noxious substances, as well as being an eyesore. Prompt action is needed to get these vehicles off the street immediately. The local police and the local authority must work together to achieve that. I understand that the arrangements in place in Stevenage borough council have been quite effective in this respect, and that the local police have a good record. I am keen to see more examples of such co-operation as it benefits all the parties involved. I will give a fuller answer to my hon. Friend's question in consultation with the Home Office.

I was trying to achieve five out of five, if not 10 out of 10, by referring to end-of-life vehicles which are an important part of the equation. The end-of-life vehicles directive's aim is to reduce and prevent waste produced from old vehicles. The directive is not about abandoned vehicles except in the sense that they often tend to be end-of-life vehicles. The directive introduces certain provisions which will require all end-of-life vehicles to be taken back and treated by authorised treatment facilities. The directive also requires producers to pay for all or a significant part of the cost of free takeback and treatment of an end-of-life vehicle from 2007 for vehicles made before 2002, and from 2002 for vehicles made from that date. That should reduce costs and ease the current burden of abandoned vehicles incurred by local authorities.

The directive also allows member states to fund free takeback and treatment between 2002 and 2007 at their discretion. That means that from 2007 the implementation of the directive should mean that local authorities should not have to pay for the takeback—

Barbara Follett: I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way in the last seconds of his reply. Might he consider giving councils money under that takeback provision for European member countries?

Mr. Meacher: Obviously, that is an option. Under the European Union directive, that is at the discretion of member states. This is ultimately a matter for the Treasury, but the important point is that within a reasonably short time scale, local authorities, as a result of the operation of the directive itself, will be removed from the burden of the costs, which are considerable and growing.

Question put and agreed to.

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