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Sue Doughty: Perhaps I can help my hon. Friend on that point. The measures are based on the European directive, which would penalise the UK as a whole, so the legislation has to deal with that fact. Where a European directive applies to the whole of the United Kingdom, we need a mechanism so that the problem can be divided up between the various UK nations. That is why we drew up our proposals as we did, but it would be up to the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament to make such representations as they can. The matter was considered in the Standing Committee, as we were concerned about the devolved aspects of the Bill.
New clause 8 would minimise arisings from nuclear waste. We have not really touched on that subject during the passage of the Bill, but it is a serious environmental issue that relates to the waste stream. I do not entirely understand why successive Governments treat nuclear waste as something other than waste. I realise that it has to be dealt with differently, but why is it subject to separate consideration and not included in the waste strategy? It should not be put to one side; it can be dealt with under waste minimisation programmes and we should have a strategy for doing so.
I do not want to take up too much time on this matter, but a waste strategy that fails to recognise the doubling of nuclear wastewith all the implications of thatcan hardly be complete. I encourage the Government to find a way of including nuclear waste in their strategy.
That should not be a DTI-DEFRA issue. I do not want a situation to arise in which the Department of Trade and Industry lets the nuclear industry off the hook, as it may do in relation to the nuclear liabilities Bill, and then asks DEFRA to clear up the mess. I am trying to help DEFRA by encouraging the Minister and his colleagues to be rather more vocal about the nuclear industry than they sometimes are.
Mr. Wiggin: The hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) made an extremely good and accurate speech about the state of the Government's approach to waste. I thoroughly agree with him and if he puts the new clause to a vote I shall support him in the Lobby. Similarly, I hope that he will support me when I move new clauses 9 and 13.
The Bill treats landfill in complete isolation, whereas we need a comprehensive approach to waste policy. The waste electrical and electronic equipment and the packaging directive must be incorporated in the Bill. We need a strategy to reach those targets. The Government have missed the opportunity of using the Bill to connect the targets in a single, co-ordinated strategy.
The WEEE directive applies to the European concept of producer responsibility, whereby the producer or supplier must carry the cost of the overall environmental impact of the product when it becomes waste, through recycling and recovery rather than landfill disposal of all electronic and electrical equipment. Targets are required for collection and recovery to be met by the end of 2005, and a strategy to meet those targets is vital. The WEEE directive was published on 13 February and the UK now has 18 months to transpose it into national law. It states that systems for separate collection of waste must be set up, and it places obligations on producers and consumers, but not on local authorities.
In 199798, the packaging waste directive was implemented in the UK, obliging Britain to increase the recovery and recycling of packaging materials. The Government's packaging recovery target for 2001 was 52 per cent. However, needless to say, it was not met and still only 48 per cent. of packaging is recycled. The European Commission proposes higher targets of 60 to 85 per cent. for recycling and recovery in 2006 to 2008. To meet its targets and avoid heavy fines, the UK must recover an extra 1.2 million to 2.7 million tonnes of packaging from the municipal waste stream. A great increase in separate household waste collections could aid the recovery of packaging if households were focused on it. We need a proper national strategy to reach that target, and new clauses 9 to 16 seek to achieve such a strategy. I recognise that the Government will not wish to accept those new clauses, but if we are to avoid enormous fines, we need a proper co-ordinated policy.
The hon. Member for Lewes told the House that official Liberal Democrat policy is to have zero waste. I recognise the benefit of zero waste. Waste involves resources, and it is a shame that landfill is the Government's preferred choice, followed by incineration. The hon. Gentleman said that achieving zero waste could take 10 or 20 years and that it may never happen. Perhaps he will tell us what is his party's policy on that time scale during the afternoon.
Norman Baker: It so happens that I have with me the Liberal Democrat policy motion, which was accepted at the Liberal Democrat conference, and I can formally tell the House that the conference agreed that there should be a target of zero for all municipal waste by 2020; 60 per cent. by 2010; and 70 per cent. by 2015.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Sayeed) talked about supermarkets and the volume of waste packaging generated by people who shop. That is another excellent point and another very important reason why the packaging waste directive needs to be included in the Bill.
I am warned by my Whip that we may only get one vote on this subject, but all hon. Members can see that the Government have been seriously remiss in not including both those European directives, which they have signed up to and which they will be paying fines for if we do not achieve those targets. I should like to see both directives included in the Bill.
Mr. Sayeed: Last November, the Government's own strategy unit produced a very good report entitled "Waste not, Want not", and one of its central recommendations was that all Government thinking on waste should be coherent and holistic. Instead, we have a Bill that is exactly the opposite. Rather than starting at the front line of the battle and dealing with waste minimisation, we are starting at the rearguard and the final disposal of wastenot particularly holistic and certainly not particularly coherent.
The Bill penalises and affects local authorities in their disposal of waste, but it does not help them to minimise waste at source. It fails to provide incentives for individual citizens to act in a more environmentally friendly manner. The Bill is piecemeal, in direct contravention of what "Waste not, Want not" was all about. That is one of the reasons why it will fail.
I will not rehearse the arguments adduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) about the WEEE directive and the end-of-life vehicle directive, but it is absolutely clear that a Bill that deals with only 30 per cent. of waste misses a very considerable opportunity. The Bill should encompass strategies that deal with the WEEE directive, the packaging waste directive and the end-of-life vehicles directive.
The Bill should also make it clear how local authorities can deal with some of the most pernicious scourges in rural and urban Britain: abandoned cars and fly-tipped waste. The Bill says a lot about penalties on local authorities, but it does not demonstrate, and give clear guidance on, how local authorities can use the law to prosecute and penalise those who cause such antisocial and anti-environmental crime.
This is a bit of a Bill. In Committee, we tried to make it a much better Bill. We tried to shift its emphasis, so that it would do what the Government said that it was meant to do: deal with a waste hierarchy and encourage local authorities to do the most environmentally friendly thing. All it will actually do is penalise local authorities for doing one of the least environmentally friendly things. It is an opportunity missed.
Mr. Morley: I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's last comment at all. Hon. Members have spoken as though the Bill is the be-all and end-all of our waste strategy. It most certainly is not, and I shall come to some of the other issues. There is a range of work streams in progress and enormous acceleration in policy formulation, actions taken, changes in delivery, changes in targets and changes in achievements. Those are all important issues.
I am not going to say that we did not start at a low levelit is absolutely true that we didbut we have doubled the rate of recycling in this country since 1997. That is not enough, and we have to do more. I am very glad to say that we are making progress, and I shall refer to the work streams that we have in progress in a moment. Before I do so, I shall deal head on with the point about the variable charging made by the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker).
There may well be a case for variable charging, and we are considering how it could possibly be applied. We are talking to the Local Government Association about how that could be done. However, there are downsides to variable charging, as the hon. Gentleman will be only too aware, and we must address the possible disadvantages as well because, if we introduce variable charging, we want the policy to be successful. My personal concept of variable charging is not to impose additional charges on people who are already paying for waste disposal through their council tax, but there could be discounts for people who change their behaviour. We have to consider how that could be put in place, but we are interested and we are trying to address the issue.
New clauses 1 to 4 would require the Secretary of State and each of the devolved Administrations to develop a strategy for waste prevention and waste minimisation, but that presumes that that is not being done in England and by the devolved Administrations, who are developing their own strategies. That is right and proper, as it is the principle of the devolved approach. We have to put in place more sustainable waste management arrangements. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that waste is still increasing at about 3 per cent. a yearwe are well aware of thatbut that makes the fact that we have increased recycling and re-use so significantly a greater achievement, although that is no ground for complacency when waste is still increasing.
The growth in municipal waste has slowed to about 2.4 per cent. a year. Again, that is no cause for doing cartwheels down the street. All I am saying is that we are making a bit of progress. We have an awful long way to go, but we are committed to making progress. Waste prevention cuts across a number of disciplines, and there are several Government programmes that I have not mentioned, such as waste minimisation, which is already covered in "Waste Strategy 2000". Incidentally, that waste strategy approach is very different from what is in the Select Committee reports that have been published. I have the utmost regard for both the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the Environmental Audit Committee, which DEFRA takes seriously. If Members look at DEFRA's record, they will find that we try to implement the recommendations that Select Committees make to us, because we respect their views and the detail in their reports.