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20 Mar 2003 : Column 1125—continued

Mr. Bradshaw: No; the Secretary of State for International Development made her position clear in the statement that she issued on Monday. To be fair to her—and I hope that hon. Members will be—the situation changed after the interview that she gave to the BBC. The President of France said that he would veto any ultimatum given to the Iraqi regime, agreement was reached on the administration of a post-Saddam Iraq, which is something that my right hon. Friend takes very seriously, and—even more importantly—the road map was published for a middle east peace process. People should be allowed to change their minds in the light of events. That is the sign of a mature democracy and hon. Members on both sides of the House should welcome it.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): May I welcome the Deputy Leader's assurance that the Home Secretary will come to the House to make a statement on homeland security? I urge that that should happen as soon as possible at the start of next week. The statement should take account of all the measures that have been taken—or should have been taken—by the relevant Departments. They include, in particular, the Department for Education and Skills, the Department of Health and the Department for Transport.

Mr. Bradshaw: I am afraid that I cannot guarantee that such a statement will be possible early next week, as other Ministers may need to make more pressing statements. However, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has issued today a comprehensive written statement on the subject. I notice that Home Office questions will be held on Monday, so perhaps the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members interested in the subject will be in the Chamber to put questions to my right hon. Friend and his colleagues then.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I thought that it might interest the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) to know that, with regard to the earlier request from the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow), there is a debate scheduled for next week on prostate cancer. That may be one of the most remarkable cases ever of instant gratification.

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Points of Order

2.41 pm

Mr. William Cash (Stone): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I received today Mr. Speaker's reply in respect of the publication of the legal basis for the war with Iraq. The Deputy Prime Minister made another statement, from which two connected matters arise. One of those matters was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis), the shadow Deputy Prime Minister, and the other by my hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois). Both points clearly fit with the advice that I received today from Mr. Speaker, which is based on the contents of page 359 of "Erskine May".

Another procedural matter, however, arises in connection with the role of the Attorney-General, who is not a Member of this House. It has to do with whether he intends to take out an injunction to restrain the anticipated breach of the law as set out in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. If the Attorney-General wished, he could make a statement on the matter in another place, with the Solicitor-General concurring in this House. Do you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, think that that procedure should be followed, as has happened before?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): The matter has certainly been aired today. I think that the advice already given to the hon. Gentleman is that, if the Attorney-General gives advice to the Government, it is at the Government's discretion as to whether that advice is shared more widely.

Mr. Roy Beggs (East Antrim): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Although it was remiss of me not to welcome the acting Leader of the House to his place today, will he take this opportunity to correct something that arose because he was incorrectly prompted? I assure him that I have spoken with the full authority of my party on every occasion the issue of having the Northern Ireland Grand Committee meet in Northern Ireland has come up.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has made his point. It is not a matter on which the Chair can rule, but the Minister will have heard what has been said.

Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will have noted that the Carriage Gates entrance to the House of Commons has been closed for a number of hours, owing to the demonstration outside. That is a clear breach of the Sessional Orders, which the House passes at the beginning of each Session. I appreciate that the police and security officers have a difficult job, but demonstrations will clearly take place for many weeks and months, as the war continues in Iraq. It is essential that right of access be maintained. Will you and Mr. Speaker gain assurances from the police that the Sessional Orders will be maintained?

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Am I right to interpret the Sessional Orders as a means of

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guaranteeing the liberties of Parliament? Associated with those liberties would be the liberties of the people—which include the right to free demonstration without the intervention and interference of some misguided right hon. and hon. Members.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: In relation to the latter point, the maintenance of public order is a matter that should concern everyone. Mr. Speaker takes it very seriously, and I understand that there is contact at the present time between the Serjeant at Arms and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. However, I have received information since I have been in the Chair that the Carriage Gates are now open again. Therefore the tag currently running on the monitors may not be up to date, any more than its original spelling was correct.

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Orders of the Day

Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords]

Order for Second Reading read.

2.45 pm

The Minister for the Environment (Mr. Michael Meacher): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill combines action on two key environmental objectives—climate change reduction, and the need to move to a more sustainable management of our waste. There are strong links between the two challenges, as the poor use of resources which leads to ever increasing amounts of waste, and the poor management of that waste, all increase the production of greenhouse gases.

The Bill approaches these challenges through the use of economic instruments. It will stimulate reductions in the emission of pollutants and make us less reliant on landfill, in the most economically efficient way. It will support the world's very first economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme through a system of statutory penalties. It will also set up a landfill allowance trading scheme—probably the first scheme of this type to address waste in Europe, and possibly the first in the world.

These are large claims for a Bill of only 38 clauses, and I am sure that many hon. Members would like to have before them a Bill that covered all aspects of climate change and waste management. However, this Bill is only part of what the Government are doing, and will be doing. To tackle greenhouse gases, the UK published its climate change programme in 2000. That programme set out a far-reaching strategy for reducing emissions across all sectors of the economy and for adapting to the effects of climate change that are happening already.

For waste, our starting point is Waste Strategy 2000, which tackles the management of all waste streams. For the municipal waste stream, our starting point is the strategy unit report entitled "Waste Not, Want Not", to which we will be responding very shortly. I would be the first to say that the Bill is only part of a much bigger picture, but it is an important and innovative part.

The Bill allows trading to be used to meet environmental goals. For landfill, local authorities will receive landfill allowances, which represent the maximum amount of biodegradable municipal waste that they may landfill. Those allowances will reduce year on year.

Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton): I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for allowing me to intervene on his opening remarks. I appreciate the opportunity. On the question of allowances and payments to local authorities—especially the disposal authorities—will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that all the costs involved will be met? Local authorities will encounter extra problems with the collection and recycling of waste, and disposal will also be an important part of their work. Will he ensure that council tax payers will face no extra costs as a result of this business?

Mr. Meacher: My hon. Friend raises an important point. When it was raised in another place, the

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Government responded by moving a right of direction for disposal authorities to give to collection authorities. That will ensure that the form of delivery of what is collected will be in a manner agreeable to the disposal authorities, so as to maximise the opportunities for recycling. We think that that will resolve the problem. Equally, we have been in touch with the Local Government Association, and we remain willing to listen to what the local authorities say to us. The answer is that there should be no extra cost.

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