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Paddy Tipping (Sherwood): I am of course grateful for the Minister's comments. He made a point earlier about variable charging and his desire to make progress. One of the ways to make progress is to have pilots. Will he reinforce his efforts to look at experimentation in this area? No one wants a full scheme at present, but there is a need to play around with some of these issues.

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Mr. Morley: That is a sensible suggestion. When dealing with a new approach, it makes sense to pilot it in several areas, to gain experience and establish what are the advantages and disadvantages. Those are among the issues that we are currently discussing with the Local Government Association. As I said, it is a complex issue, and we need to consider a range of issues, but we are talking those through, and I will certainly take seriously the pilot area approach.

Mr. Wiggin: I am grateful for the comments of the hon. Member for Sherwood (Paddy Tipping) who, like me, sits on the Select Committee. In addition to variable charging, will the Minister consider incentives, because I believe that 90 per cent. of people in this country would recycle voluntarily if they were given the opportunity?

Mr. Morley: That is a possibility. My local authority, under the brown bin scheme, which involves composting by the local council—I live in one of the villages that does not benefit from the scheme, so I do not know whether it still goes on—used to give every household that took part in the scheme a bag of compost, which it could use on the garden or do with as it liked. I accept that that is a small incentive, but it is an incentive nevertheless, and it makes people feel that they are part of something meaningful and useful, and I like that idea. A range of incentives is possible, and I do not rule out that kind of approach.

Mr. Wiggin: The Minister will appreciate that a bag of compost is not necessarily the sort of incentive that sends out the clearest signal about what exactly he wants to achieve.

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman may be surprised about how much enjoyment some people can get from a bag of compost in relation to their pastimes, so I would not rule out that incentive.

We are taking forward the waste resources action programme, which involves promoting waste minimisation and the recommendation of the Prime Minister's strategy unit to consider developing proposals for indicators for local authorities that incorporate success in reducing waste volumes. That will include consideration of the case for setting quantitative targets for waste reduction. The second phase of the 1994 packaging waste directive review will also look at re-use, minimisation and producer responsibility, and I intend to be fully engaged in that process. As a first step, I have already asked the Government's Advisory Committee on Packaging to provide me with advice on the issue to feed into the work of DEFRA, and it is already looking at ways of achieving more minimisation and reuse of packaging. The idea that the whole Government strategy hinges on this one Bill alone is therefore entirely untrue.

It is all very well for the hon. Member for Lewes to talk about zero waste and targets, but those must be delivered. I will watch with interest what Liberal Democrat authorities do in relation to those targets, but a clear strategy is necessary, which involves making decisions, not copping out on incinerators by talking about a moratorium and refusing to give a straight answer as to whether there is a role for them. The whole range of issues must be addressed, and there must be a

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hierarchy, which I do not believe is upside down. I accept that we have not got the hierarchy right in relation to the percentage of waste streams that we want, but we are addressing those issues. We have strategies in place, which we are pursuing, and I hope that I have addressed that point.

3.15 pm

In relation to new clause 8, the hon. Gentleman invites us to develop a strategy for, among other things,

Again, all those policies are currently being put in place. We are currently putting in place the nuclear waste committee and the various strategies that we would apply, such as new strategies in relation to minimising liquid radioactive waste, which I believe have great potential. Those issues need to be addressed differently. The way that the hon. Gentleman was speaking—I am sure that he did not mean to present it in this way—it sounded as though the local council would send a bin lorry round to Sellafield to pick up today's nuclear waste and take it away for composting and recycling. Dealing with those issues is a bit more complicated than that. In that respect, a separate strategy is required, which we are putting in place.

This Government's policy has always been to minimise arisings of radioactive waste. The hon. Gentleman will be aware, however, that a number of power stations are coming to the end of their working life. Those have to be decommissioned, and as a result, there will be an increase in radioactive waste, which is inevitable. Robust strategies will be necessary to deal with that.

Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield): I am grateful for the answer that the Minister has just given. What he is saying to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) is that if we go full speed ahead and close our nuclear power plants, what will occur is not minimisation of waste but maximisation of waste. I know that my hon. Friend is aware of UN talks that are going on at the moment, whereby we will try to have a worldwide approach to this enormous problem. For instance, he is aware that only two places on the planet are geographically safe to store nuclear waste underground—Australia and parts of Africa. The reality is that until we have a worldwide strategy, not only in relation to storage but in relation to transportation, we should be very careful about how we handle this whole issue.

Mr. Morley: I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. The UK is recognised as one of the world leaders in relation to the expertise that we have in nuclear waste handling, but I acknowledge that it is a global issue, which we need to address. In fact, in September 2001, my Department and the devolved Administrations published a consultation document entitled "Managing Radioactive Waste Safely", which was about developing a policy for managing solid radioactive waste in the United Kingdom, and we are currently in the process of appointing the new committee that I

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mentioned on management of such waste. In July 2002, my Department published a UK strategy for radioactive discharges, which set out proposals for reducing radioactive discharges to the marine environment in the period to 2020. That strategy is in compliance with targets agreed at a ministerial meeting of the OSPAR commission in 1998, which we also addressed this year. We are therefore approaching the issue in relation to best available techniques, we are taking seriously our commitments in international bodies such as OSPAR, and we are addressing the targets that we set ourselves.

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston): The new clauses relate to strategies for the composite parts of the UK. What discussions has the Minister had already, if any, with Ministers in the Scottish Parliament, and what was their attitude to this aspect of the Bill?

Mr. Morley: Regular discussions take place between my Department and the devolved Administrations, at ministerial level and at official levels, and facilities at Sellafield serve the whole of the UK, as my hon. Friend will be aware. Nevertheless, there are power stations in each of the devolved areas, which have considerable interest and involvement in the formulation of those strategies.

New clauses 9 to 16 are all concerned with the implementation of EU waste management directives. Again, this Bill is not necessary to implement such strategies as the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive. We are already making progress on that. As with all directives, the UK is required by European law to implement it. The purpose of the directive is to prevent waste electrical and electronic equipment and encourage the re-use and recycling of such waste. It includes a requirement for member states to ensure that producers set up systems to provide for the recovery of WEEE. The requirement in the new clauses for separate regulations is therefore not necessary—it is already being done.

New clauses 13 to 16 deal with packaging and the packaging waste directive. I am pleased to inform the House that the new clauses are unnecessary because the requirements of packaging directive 94/62/EC have already been transposed into UK law, mostly through the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997. We are getting on with implementation and making progress toward meeting the targets.

Mr. Wiggin: If we are not reaching the targets set by the directive, will the Minister explain whether people are breaking the law or whether the system must be reinforced by amendment to the Bill?

Mr. Morley: There are separate issues relating to the potential penalties that apply within the directive that was implemented. However, we are making especially good progress on waste from packaging. Since 1998, which is when the obligations took effect, recycling of packaging waste increased from 27 per cent. to 44 per cent. in 2002. The figure is now beyond that. When the higher recycling targets in the next directive are put in place, I expect that there will be even greater reductions in waste.

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I apologise for my somewhat lengthy explanation, but the idea that the Government's waste strategy is restricted only to the Bill is not fair, justified or correct. I have outlined to the House that a whole range of policies, strategies and work schemes are in place. We are making good progress on domestic, commercial and packaging waste and we intend to do more. I appreciate hon. Members' comments, understand their concerns and share their desire for progress. We are committed to continuing to make progress, so I hope that the House will reject the new clause.

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