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Lord Beaumont of Whitley: At this hour of night—I speak in the sense of what we look forward to—it is sufficient to say that we support the amendment.

The Earl of Balfour: Before my noble friend Lord Lindsay replies, perhaps I may say a word on Amendment No. 181B. It is a government amendment to Clause 31. Perhaps the Committee will also consider Clause 5, which is the mirror clause. Perhaps I may cite briefly from Clause 5. There is reference to the Alkali &c., Works Regulation Act 1906. That has been included in the Scottish provisions. There is reference to the river purification provisions which apply to Scotland. There is also reference to Part I of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which deals with waste on land. Why has Part I of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 not been included in the Scottish provisions of Clause 31? I note from the amendment

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that the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 will appear in both clauses. I do not need to go further. However, I wished to ask that question before my noble friend speaks.

6.45 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay: I begin by speaking to Amendments Nos. 181 and 181B. Once again, I compliment my noble friend Lord Balfour for putting forward his analysis of the way in which the drafting of the Bill may need improvement. Again, I shall ensure that his suggestions are passed on. Perhaps I may draw my noble friend's attention to Clause 31(5) (b) where he may find some relief. I shall certainly provide him with some more prep. to do tonight before he reports tomorrow morning.

These amendments seek to include within the definition of "pollution control powers" and "pollution control functions" for the purposes of Clause 31, references to Part 1A of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, which is inserted by this Bill and deals with abandoned mines, and the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989, which makes provision for the registration of waste carriers.

Equivalent references are already included in the definitions with respect to the Environment Agency for England and Wales at Clause 5(5). I presume that those amendments will be moved in the normal chronological order.

I turn now to the amendments so ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. Amendment No. 175 would put "protecting the environment" on an equal footing with SEPA's purpose to exercise its pollution prevention and control functions. I think that the amendment seeks to make an artificial distinction. What is pollution prevention and control if not protecting the environment?

The term "protecting the environment", of course, goes much wider. That is why we are placing other, more general, environmental duties on the agency. However, I think it would be confusing if we were to weaken SEPA's raison d'être: the effective control of pollution, which is a vital element in protecting the environment at large.

Amendment No. 176 and the consequential Amendment No. 178 would require SEPA to carry out and report on assessments of environmental pollution, without the need for them to be first requested by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

I understand the noble Lord's concern that, as drafted, it might appear that SEPA would be unduly constrained by the current provisions. I can assure him that it is in fact not so. Clause 31(2) places a duty on SEPA to compile information relating to pollution. SEPA's general and incidental functions in Clause 35 would also enable it to do anything which would facilitate or is conducive to the carrying on of its functions. Carrying out assessments of environmental pollution and reporting its findings of its own volition would certainly fall into that category.

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The provision in Clause 31 is merely to clarify the relationship between my right honourable friend and the agency. It gives him a specific power to require SEPA to carry out such assessments and report its findings to him; and I think it is right and proper that he is able to direct the agency in that way.

Amendment No. 177 links SEPA's duty to undertake assessments of environmental pollution with its duty to report on options for preventing or controlling pollution.

I can certainly see that, in some instances, it would be appropriate for such an assessment to be followed up with a report on the options for preventing or controlling such pollution. But I do not think it necessarily follows in all cases. For example, an assessment may show that the level of pollution is below limits requiring any action; or the assessment may be of a very general nature for information purposes only.

I also do not feel that Amendment No. 179 is required. Some reports will, of course, be of interest to Parliament and it is right and proper that when they are my right honourable friend places copies in the Libraries of the House. But I do not believe that that will always be the case.

Amendment No. 180 seeks to define the costs and benefits identified in reports on the options for preventing or controlling pollution in financial and environmental terms. In principle, we share the belief that costs and benefits should not be viewed in narrow economic terms. Yet by seeking to define them more closely the noble Lord may be excluding other important matters such as social costs and benefits.

The present drafting has a wider meaning which already encompasses the matters specified in the amendment. I can assure the Committee that non-financial aspects will not be ignored.

Amendment No. 181 would have two effects: first, to change SEPA's duty to "follow" developments in techniques to prevent or control pollution, so that it would "promote" them; and, secondly, to include a specific reference to "damage to the aquatic environment".

As my noble friend explained in last week's debate on a comparable amendment to the duties on the environment agency, a duty to "follow" developments is not passive. Those developments will underpin SEPA's application of BATNEEC in relation to Part I of the 1990 Act.

Moreover, Clause 35 places SEPA under a duty to conduct research which could cover such developments, where appropriate. On that basis, I do not believe that there would be value in imposing such an undefined promotional role on SEPA. That is more properly a concern of others. Nor do I believe that the further refinement of this duty to highlight the aquatic environment is appropriate or necessary. The whole purpose of SEPA is to move away from regarding the environment in separate segments. We must recognise that the environmental media are often

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interdependent. To highlight one of them would therefore be a step backwards. SEPA is a step forward into a more integrated, inter-disciplinary era.

On that basis, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: Having looked at the amendments, the Government may have realised that one or two matters required greater explanation; and we have had good explanations from the Minister. I am grateful to him for what appears to be unusual flexibility on the part of the Scottish Office. We welcome that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 176 to 181 not moved.]

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 181A:

Page 26, line 43, after ("I") insert (", IA").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 181B:

Page 26, line 45, at end insert:
("( ) the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 181C not moved.]

Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 32 [General duties with respect to water]:

[Amendment Nos. 182 to 185C not moved.]

Clause 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 [Environmental duties as respects Natural Heritage Areas and sites of special interest]:

[Amendments Nos. 186 and 187 not moved.]

Clause 33 agreed to.

Clause 34 [Codes of practice with respect to environmental and recreational duties]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 188:

Page 28, line 33, leave out (" 32(1)") and insert (" 32(2)").

The noble Earl said: This is a drafting amendment which seeks to correct an erroneous cross-reference in the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 189:

Page 28, line 36, at end insert:
("( ) reviewing and revising all existing codes of practice in the light of new authorities and responsibilities within three years of SEPA's establishment").

The noble Lord said: This group of Amendments, Nos. 189, 190 and 191, concerns SEPA. With Amendment No. 189 we feel that SEPA, combined with the new water authorities under the local government reorganisation, will create quite a different grouping. We therefore believe that the existing codes may not be relevant, and they should at least be redrawn, reviewed and rewritten for the new circumstances.

Amendment No. 190 asks that since all the bodies detailed as consultees are quangos, if there is to be any degree of public accountability, the list must include as

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a matter of priority some democratically elected councillors who represent the interests of those affected by the services which SEPA is to provide.

The Minister may already have answered that point on an earlier amendment when he said that there would be a selection from local authorities on SEPA. I await his answer on this point. I should like the three amendments to be considered. I beg to move.

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