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Marine Environment

3. Paddy Tipping (Sherwood) (Lab): What recent representations she has received on the need for legislation to protect the marine environment. [207845]

The Minister for the Environment and Agri-environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): There is widespread support for new legislation to manage and protect the marine environment better. This is why we have announced in the DEFRA five-year strategy that we will introduce a marine Bill to deliver our vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.

Paddy Tipping: That is good news. This is a complicated area where there are conflicts. Is not the best way forward to produce a draft Bill soon, so that all the interests have an opportunity to comment on it and we get decent, thoughtful legislation?

Mr. Morley: I am a strong supporter of the draft Bill process. It makes for good legislation. As my hon. Friend says, this is a complicated area, which is why we have taken the decision to introduce a marine Bill. As part of that, we need to consult across Government, because various Departments, agencies and interests are involved in marine management. We want to rationalise it and move towards a much stronger ecosystem-based approach.

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal) (Con): Does the Minister agree that such a marine Bill would operate in the context of the particular threat to the sea of climate change? Why, then, are the Government threatening to sue the European Union for trying to put a cap on the runaway emissions from British industry?

Mr. Morley: The European Union pressed the Government to produce at a very early stage draft proposals arising from our calculations relating to the emissions trading scheme. Those calculations have been refined by Department of Trade and Industry modelling. It was always made clear to the EU that our proposals were in draft, were not complete and would be amended. According to our legal advice, the EU is under an obligation to consider amendments, but it has refused to do so. That is why we have taken legal advice.

Mr. David Kidney (Stafford) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend accept my support for a draft Bill as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Paddy Tipping)? How would new legislation be enforced and how would it relate to EU-wide activity on marine conservation?

Mr. Morley: There are both EU directives and laws and national laws on marine management. One of the proposals that we will consider is whether a role exists for a marine agency to streamline fisheries management and a range of other management issues in the marine environment.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury) (Con): I do not detect enough urgency. The Government have discussed the issue for some years; they have seen private Members'
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Bills being talked out; and they are now discussing another five-year think. The matter is urgent, and the scientific, environmental and spatial planning cases for a marine Bill are overwhelming. We must address the issue with greater urgency than the Minister has suggested today.

Mr. Morley: Let me clarify one point: the proposal is within our five-year strategy, but that does not mean a five-year process. We want to move forward as quickly as possible, bearing in mind that we must go through a full consultation, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is, like the Government, committed to that principle. He knows, too, that a Conservative Back Bencher introduced a private Member's Bill, which the Government backed and which Conservative Members in the other place destroyed.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) (Lab): Can we clarify the record? Opposition Front Benchers say that that private Member's Bill was talked out, but, quite disgracefully, maverick Tory peers, not the Government, talked it out.

Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend, who has been interested in the issue for a long time and who has a distinguished record, is right. The talking out of the private Member's Bill was linked to vested interests that felt that a marine Bill would stifle their commercial objectives. The idea behind a marine Bill is to balance commercial operations in the sea such as oil, gas, renewables, ports and dredging with proper, sound, sustainable environmental management.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

4. Dr. John Pugh (Southport) (LD): What discussions the Department has had with companies producing electrical and electronic equipment on the need to reduce waste arising from such equipment. [207846]

The Minister for the Environment and Agri-environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): The Government have consulted extensively with stakeholders, including producers, throughout negotiation and planning for implementation of the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive.

Dr. Pugh: Does the Minister agree that the marketing strategies, maintenance policies and planned obsolescence used by key players in the industry are compounding the problem of electronic waste? We face an increasing waste mountain of perfectly functional VHS recorders, analogue TV and radio receivers, computers, and DVD players that play but will not record.

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman makes a reasonable point. Part of the problem is that technology moves on, but I sympathise with his point. One of the advantages of the new WEEE directive is that it is based on producer liability, which providers manufacturers with a powerful incentive to ensure that they build methods of recycling and reuse into their products. That is in their interests, because take-back will be their responsibility in the future.
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Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): When Councillor Julian Whittaker asked Isle of Wight council why it has a warehouse full of redundant electrical equipment, including telephones, computers and photocopiers, he was advised that its possession of those negative value assets was due to the cost not only of dismantling that equipment but of data removal, and that it was impossible to dispose of the equipment for that reason. Will the Minister assure the House that old equipment, as well as equipment that is coming online today, can be disposed of without excessive cost?

Mr. Morley: The recycling of computer equipment is important. Well established organisations and companies take and recycle IT equipment. The hon. Gentleman's point concerns the cost of IT removal. Local authorities raise many issues with me, but that issue is new, and I do not know whether a local issue has occurred. I would not claim to be an IT expert, but I know that there are well established methods of removing data from redundant equipment and storing it and backing it up in archives. Isle of Wight council may wish to take some technical advice on that.

Game Birds

5. Mr. Archie Norman (Tunbridge Wells) (Con): What her policy is on regulation of the game bird industry. [207847]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): We plan to liberalise the game laws to help to boost the game bird industry while continuing to improve hygiene and welfare standards.

Mr. Norman: Will the Minister take this opportunity to acknowledge the real and growing contribution to rural employment that is made by the game bird and shooting industry, which employs more than 26,000 people? In the light of the passing of the Hunting Act 2004, as well as the pro-regulatory views expressed by the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and by animal welfare groups, will he reaffirm the Government's commitment to the principle of self-regulation of the game bird and shooting industry? To what extent has he considered the case for deregulation, particularly of the anachronistic provision for licences to shoot and to sell game?

Mr. Bradshaw: I am happy to give the hon. Gentleman all the assurances that he seeks and to confirm that the Government intend, subject to consultation, to abolish game shooting and dealing licences, which are archaic. That will give a welcome boost to the game shooting industry.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): Does the Minister agree that game birds are a very healthy alternative to factory-produced poultry, and what does he intend to do to improve the marketing of game?

Mr. Bradshaw: Again, I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Game is extremely nutritious and tasty, and contains some of the vital oils that are shared with oily
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fish, which we know to be very good for one's health. The Government already give marketing help to the industry through various grants. We hope that one of the consequences of doing away with some of this archaic legislation—I have to say that that was not dealt with under the Conservative Government—will be a welcome boost to the shooting and game dealing industry, ending the ludicrous fact that game can be sold only for very limited periods of the year.

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