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Mr. Speaker: Order. I thank the hon. Gentlemen for raising this point of order. When Members address the House—whether presenting petitions or in any other way—they must take responsibility for the accuracy of their remarks. There is nothing that the Chair can do to help the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch).

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the course of a very busy 24 hours for you, have you had time to reflect on the problems between

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Westminster and the Scottish Parliament on the disposal and dispersal of productions amassed in the Lockerbie trial?

Mr. Speaker: It has been a rather busy day for me. I am still looking into the matter.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I note your guidance to the House about the accuracy of Members' statements to the House. If the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch) had been in the Chamber when my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) presented his petition, would it not have been possible for the hon. Gentleman to have put the matter right then?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is trying to draw me into the argument.

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As you know, there is considerable concern in the House about the situation in the middle east, particularly as, once again today, the Israeli Cabinet has turned down the request for a United Nations mission to go to Jenin. The Americans hold all the cards in this case and unless they play those cards, they will be considered to be complicit in covering up what happened in Jenin. Have you, Mr. Speaker, received any indication that a Minister will come to the House—either today or later this week—to update us on the latest situation so that we know what Her Majesty's Government are doing to press the case for the UN to be allowed access?

Mr. Speaker: I have no information on that matter.

Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch) and I would have been in the Chamber when the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) presented his petition if he had done what he promised and told us when he was going to present it—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is always welcome in the Chamber, whether the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) is presenting a petition or not.

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3.38 pm

Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford): I beg to move,

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that the Bill is much simpler than its long title. I introduced what became the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989, and this Bill is a piece of unfinished business. I produced my first Bill because of the appalling situation that I encountered on the perimeter of the Silwood housing estate in my constituency. Some 10,000 tonnes of waste had been illegally dumped—much of it spoil from the docklands redevelopment—creating not just blight and hazards but an environment of dust, dirt and litter.

My Act and the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which followed it, gave a new impetus to apprehending fly-tippers and to cleaning up the results of their criminal activities. Inevitably, as environmental standards rose and public concern increased, waste regulation authorities struggled to keep pace. Regulating waste and tackling environmental crime are high priorities for the Environment Agency, which has done much to deal with both problems over the past decade. However, in respect of fly-tipping, experience now suggests that there would be considerable benefit if local authorities could exercise some of the powers currently available to the Environment Agency; that is the purpose of my Bill.

Fly-tipping is defined as

My Bill applies to individuals or companies with a duty of care to see that people who carry waste commercially are registered and do not dispose of it illegally. Waste production in the United Kingdom is now estimated at 428 million tonnes per annum—up from 400 million tonnes in 1989. Within that overall total, in England and Wales, 30 million tonnes are municipal waste; 25 million tonnes are commercial waste; 50 million tonnes are industrial waste; and 72 million tonnes are demolition and construction waste.

Obviously, the scope for fly-tipping is enormous, but no precise national figures are available for the volume of waste fly-tipped or removed. The Environment Agency estimates that removing fly-tipped waste costs it £500,000 per annum. By contrast, a recent Local Government Association survey of fly-tipping provided evidence that the estimated cost of clean-ups to English and Welsh local authorities was £25 million per annum. It found that 94 per cent. of the 128 responding authorities had recorded incidents of fly-tipping, with 20 per cent. recording more than 1,000 incidents. Furthermore, 84 per cent. believed that local authorities did not have sufficient powers to deal with fly-tipping, and 97 per cent. supported a change in regulations.

The survey informed the deliberations of the National Flytipping Stakeholders Forum and its recommendations on the way in which local authorities could deal more effectively with fly-tipping. Officers from my council—

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the London borough of Lewisham—are enthusiastic members of the fly-tipping forum, and the work of Kevin Moore, Lewisham's service policy and partnerships manager, in particular, has inspired my ten-minute Bill. Kevin Moore's preoccupation is not with Bob the Builder, but with his criminal counterpart, Frank the Fly-Tipper and his alter-ego John; I stress that those nicknames were chosen by Kevin Moore, not by me. Frank offers builders and householders cheap rates to dispose of bulky waste and rubble. He finds a quiet residential road, industrial site, railway line or roadworks and tips his truck. If caught red-handed, he says that he had to unload to grease his axle or fix the truck. He will claim that the vehicle is not registered in his name; it is owned by John, whose full name and address he does not know. Of course, John does not exist and to ensure that he is not traceable, a false address is given to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. If Frank is stopped by the Environment Agency, of course he will promise to give John the papers to get registered and nothing more will happen.

Kevin Moore wants action. Lewisham has suffered 13,600 fly-tipping incidents in the past year, costing over £500,000 in clean-up operations. That is an enormous burden for a local authority but, more frighteningly, the figure is 50 per cent. up on last year, which was 50 per cent. up on the year before. Whenever a new waste sector is regulated, fly-tipping increases. I dare not mention fridges, but tyres are already a major problem in Waltham Forest, Birmingham and Newcastle. The London boroughs of Lewisham and Newham were the first local authorities to have public service agreements aimed at reducing fly-tipping. They stand ready to pilot the new powers proposed today and are confident that many other local authorities wish to follow them.

My Bill would make explicit provision to give local authorities the power to serve notices requiring waste carriers to produce documents and to extend the offence of failing to comply with such a requirement. It would introduce two further measures—first, to extend the power to carry out roadside checks and, secondly, to provide for the imposition of fixed penalties for the offence of failing to produce authority to transport controlled waste.

The latter is particularly important because in practice, as I mentioned earlier, failure to produce registration documents results in no penalty. The new measure would be a much more effective deterrent to those who take to our streets with their trucks full of illegal waste: they would have to get registered or get fined. The advent of CCTV and the willingness of residents to report fly-tippers mean that local authorities can often identify offending vehicles. They are much better placed than the Environment Agency to stop a fly-tipper in transit or to spot a suspect vehicle on their patch.

Case studies from my borough indicate all too clearly that the stretched resources of the Environment Agency mean that it does not use to the full the powers that the House gave it a decade ago. Fly-tipping remains a major scourge, blighting our landscape and people's lives.

Local authorities are not alone. Increasingly, big landowners such as the National Trust, Railtrack, British Waterways and individual farmers are suffering unsightly and dangerous fly-tipping. Councils are faced with mounting clean-up costs as they seek to meet increasing demand. Last year, Lewisham prosecuted 46 fly-tippers and, using existing powers, served more than 500

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fixed-penalty fines on businesses found directly responsible for minor fly-tipping, but the council is confident that it could do much more if it had new powers.

Frustration is growing. Local authorities are under increasing pressure from the public and, indeed, from central Government. Waste production continues to rise relentlessly as prosperity and consumerism grow. Neglected and dirty streets lead to community apathy and antisocial behaviour. Waste minimisation and recycling are essential to protect the future environment, but we need to take action today. If we do not want to get buried in our own filth, we will have to give councils the means of tackling the criminals who constantly evade the law and blight the environment of so many law-abiding citizens.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Joan Ruddock, Peter Bottomley, Malcolm Bruce, Mr. Gregory Barker, Sue Doughty, Jim Dowd, Ms Julia Drown, Julie Morgan, Mr. Bill O'Brien, Ms Bridget Prentice, Mr. Simon Thomas and Ms Joan Walley.

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