Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 210 - 219)




  210. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Could I ask Dr Keddie to introduce your colleagues?
  (Dr Keddie) Thank you, Chairman. First of all, I am the Director for the Environment and Innovation Services in the Department of Trade and Industry. On my right is Sarah Chambers, who is Director of Vehicles in DTI. And on my far right is Mark Downs, who is the Director of Recycling Policy in the Environment Directorate in DTI; and on my left is Sheila McKinley, who is Head of Producer Responsibility in DEFRA.

  211. Maybe you could start by giving us some background to the consultation paper itself. We realise that the Directive became law on 18 September last year; why did it take so long to produce the consultation paper then, it was not something that was wholly unexpected?
  (Dr Keddie) No; but it is also a very complex Directive, which I am sure you and other members of the Committee have picked up from the submissions and the discussions earlier today. It is also breaking new ground, in many ways, in terms of the way we deal with environmental objectives and how these relate back to business of all sorts. And, initially, which we did, we wanted to have initial discussions with the various sectors of business affected by it, which obviously took some time, and then by the time we had reached that stage Ministers decided that it would be better, in fact, not to consult until after the election, the delay in the election then added to the delay. So there was a combination of trying to get a better picture of the sort of Directive we were dealing with and its potential implications, and delays due to the election.

  212. So you were having discussions with industry, with interested parties, prior to the publication of the paper, and now you would hope that it would be a fairly short, we are talking about the beginning of November as the final date for submission, then you will be considering the submissions again. What is your target date, or is that too dangerous a question to ask?
  (Dr Keddie) First of all, on discussions with industry, we were actually discussing with industry during the negotiations on the Directive as well, so we did not wait until the Directive was formally approved. In terms of timing and implementation, we are still shooting for the date in the Directive; that will be difficult and it is challenging, not impossible, that is what we are shooting for, that is our intention.

  213. So six months from now you would hope to have the ducks in line?
  (Dr Keddie) We would hope so, yes.

Sir Robert Smith

  214. Following on from that sort of history of the long build-up to where we are today, the consultation paper you have got does not consider how take-back and treatment costs should be financed. Just bearing in mind the long history, why have the DTI still not come up with any conclusions over how take-back and treatment costs should be financed?
  (Dr Keddie) That, again, comes back to there are a number of options. You mean in terms of how this is all financed?

  215. Yes?
  (Dr Keddie) Certainly between the period 2000 and 2007, that really comes back to Ministers are still considering the alternatives themselves, and we were not in a position to include that explicitly in the consultation document, simply because, again, of the complexity of it and the various ways the Directive could actually work in practice. There are again a number of options there.

  216. So Ministers are still considering that?
  (Dr Keddie) Yes, that is a political decision.

  217. Just on one detail of costs though; in the earlier evidence, it was alluded to about part of the costs being the policing costs for the Environment Agency, for DVLA, and a point was made by one of the witnesses there that there is a long history of those costs being recovered from those that are being policed. Is it the sort of DTI thinking that these costs would be recovered from the industry, or would these be extra costs on those Agencies?
  (Dr Keddie) You mean the actual policing costs, through the Environment Agency, and so on. I may have to give you more detail later, on that, and Sheila McKinley may want to make a comment there; but that is part of the Environment Agency's overall responsibilities, in discussion with Government, and particularly DEFRA. For some of their operations, they are at liberty to charge for the advice they give and for the guidance they give to businesses.

  218. And the DVLA side?
  (Dr Keddie) The DVLA side, I am assuming they pick up their own costs on that. I cannot see how the sort of scale of costs we are talking about here for DVLA could find their way back to businesses, but the details of that we still have to discuss with the DVLA, and so on.

  219. One final question, because, in a sense, costs benefit if there are economies of scale, or some kind of uniformity, and at the time this paper was produced there were still discussions with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over how they were planning to go forward; have there been any more developments in terms of co-ordinating the Directive?
  (Dr Keddie) We are in constant discussion with the devolved administrations, but there is nothing to add to what we have actually said in the consultation document at this point in time, because the next stage with the devolved administrations will be to discuss with them the responses to the consultation document, including the comments from your own Committee.

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