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Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: I have great sympathy for the problems that the Minister has outlined. Perhaps the real solution will be customer resistance; customers will gradually begin to feel that it

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is important that goods should be packaged attractively but not excessively. That is the attitude that we are beginning to reach.

I thank the Minister for the effort he has taken and the explanation he has given. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 296 and 296A not moved.]

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 296B:

Page 81, line 31, leave out ("recovery or recycling of") and insert ("recycling or recovery of energy from").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 296B, standing in the name of my noble friend Lady Hilton, to insert the words as on the Marshalled List. It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak to Amendments Nos. 299B and 309.

These amendments are probing in nature. As drafted, the Bill makes no specific reference to energy recovery from waste as one of the reclamation options. We are not clear about the Government's stance on whether energy from waste is to be treated in the same way as other recycling options, and we would welcome the Government's view on this.

The report produced by the Producer Responsibility Group on Packaging Waste indicated that energy from waste could play a significant part in meeting the overall recovery targets. But the report also implied that achieving the necessary infrastructure—namely the building of incinerators—would be not only costly but fraught with planning problems and likely to attract local hostility.

As I say, these amendments are probing. Even in the draft waste strategy as we have it, the question of energy recovery from waste seems to us to be somewhat fudged where it is grouped together with the recovery of materials and compost. I hope the Minister will tell us whether the Government wish to make any sort of separation. I beg to move.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: One of the problems is that the Government are moving very fast on these subjects. We have already referred to the air quality paper published in January, and we now have the waste strategy paper published only a few days ago. Those of us sitting on the Committee on Sustainable Development find that we receive a great deal of evidence and before we have reported or begun to consider the details of our report events have moved forward.

We have had some interesting evidence pointing both ways on where energy recovery from waste should come in the hierarchy. There are those who put the argument to us that it is extremely inefficient and should come near the bottom of the hierarchy. Others have pointed to examples such as the Edmonton power plant and have said that energy recovery from waste has been well established for a long time and should be encouraged. This is an interesting subject and it may be that the Government may wish to wait for the Special Select Committee before deciding how to respond to the probing amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Williams.

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Lord Wade of Chorlton: I support the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Williams. The energy recovery from waste industry is extremely efficient and the opportunities for enlarging it are enormous. It seems to me that the Government have been influenced by some groups who are, probably for the wrong reasons, against it. That has an influence on certain planning applications and can cause considerable difficulties. There is an enormous opportunity to develop the whole technology. However, one cannot develop it unless one has something to develop. In other words, someone has to start building these facilities and using them.

Dioxins have been referred to by some groups. Evidence has shown that the amount of dioxins in the air after the use of the waste to energy establishments is not as as great as in the air that we breath. Some of us have visited plants where the air coming out is a good deal cleaner than the air in the street. The development of this technology is moving at an enormous pace. It is right for the Government to review it and to place it in a more important position in the hierarchy.

Viscount Ullswater: Amendments Nos. 296B and 299B seek to define the term "recovery" as representing energy recovery. I should, however, make clear that by "recovery" we do not solely mean energy recovery but may intend processes such as composting, to which the noble Lord, Lord Williams referred. We shall come later to Amendment No. 300, in the name of my noble friend Lord Wade. I should not like to consider that amendment in advance. Having said that I shall take that approach, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

The purpose of Amendment No. 309, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, is that the public should have the right to inspect registers of exemption schemes free of charge. It is indeed our intention that that should be so. The agencies will be required to maintain a number of public registers under existing legislation and in each case the statute in question requires the register to be available for inspection free of charge. I would not wish to detain the Committee by listing all of these but I give as an example the IPC register, kept under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and the pollution registers kept under the Water Resources Act 1991.

Clause 77(1) sets out examples of the matters with respect to which provision may be made by regulations. Paragraph (s) refers to the imposition of a duty to maintain a register in respect of exemption schemes and make that register available for inspection by the public. I can confirm that it is our intention that, in accordance with the precedents to which I have referred, the regulations under this clause will require inspection to be available free of charge. With that reassurance I hope that the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw the amendment.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am grateful to the noble Viscount. We have had a certain amount of trouble with the groupings. I was expecting my amendment to be grouped with Amendment No. 300, in the name of the

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noble Lord, Lord Wade of Chorlton. Given that the noble Viscount will respond truly to my amendment when he comes to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, I am happy to ask leave to withdraw Amendment No. 296B.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 297 to 298ZA not moved.]

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment 298A:

Page 81, line 46, at end insert:
("(3A) The powers conferred by subsection (1) above shall also be exercisable, in a case falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (3) above, for the purpose of sustaining at least a minimum level of (rather than promoting or securing an increase in) re-use, recovery or recycling of products or materials.").

The noble Viscount said: In moving this Amendment I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 298B, 306ZA, 307A to 307D, 309ZA, 309ZB and 309ZC.

I shall deal with each of the amendments in turn. Amendments Nos. 298A and 298B will allow regulations to set more flexible targets for reuse, recovery or recycling, which in turn will allow us to meet in full potential European and international commitments. Amendment No. 306ZA will allow more than one target to be set for reuse, recovery and recycling for a given waste stream. Amendment No. 307A will provide for the withdrawal of approval for an exemption scheme. Amendments Nos. 307B and 307D will allow exemption schemes to be registered subject to conditions and make provision for appeals against such conditions.

Amendment No. 307C will allow us to disapply or modify the provisions of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976. Schemes may well contain provisions which would make them registrable under the Act. It would not be desirable for schemes which are considered necessary to achieve the environmental or economic benefits we want to see to be taken before the restrictive practices court. Instead, the effects of schemes on competition will be assessed by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry before they are approved and on a continuing basis to prevent approved schemes from behaving in an unnecessarily anti-competitive manner.

Amendment No. 309ZA will allow a designated person to require information in respect of schemes in order that the effect of schemes on competition can be properly assessed. Amendment No. 309ZB will broaden the definition of "operator" in relation to exemption schemes. Amendment No. 309ZC clarifies the enforcement powers in relation to the Secretary of State's right to give directions. I beg to move.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I have one question arising out of what my noble friend has just said. With regard to Amendment No. 307C, which concerns the Restrictive Trade Practices Act exemptions, he said that it will be the Secretary of State who will carry out the continuing monitoring to see that the agreement is not being run in an anti-competitive way. Why is it suggested that that

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should be a function of the Secretary of State and not of the Office of Fair Trading, which is the body one would normally expect to carry out such a function?

Viscount Ullswater: Indeed, I did say that it would be the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. I shall have to make inquiries about that. Perhaps I may write to my noble friend and place a copy of the letter in the Library.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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