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Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 298B:

Page 82, line 3, at end insert ("; and in its application in relation to the power conferred by virtue of subsection (3A) above, subsection (5) below shall have effect as if—
(a) any reference to an increase in the re-use, recovery or recycling of products or materials were a reference to the sustaining of at least a minimum level of re-use, recovery or recycling of the products or materials in question, and
(b) any reference to the production of environmental or economic benefits included a reference to the sustaining of at least a minimum level of any such existing benefits, and any reference in this section or section 77 below to securing or achieving any such benefits shall accordingly include a reference to sustaining at least a minimum level of any such existing benefits.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 299 to 299B not moved.]

Lord Wade of Chorlton moved Amendment No. 300:

Page 82, line 6, after ("recovery") insert ("(including energy recovery)").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 301 and 306. After that I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 303A, 303C and 303D, which are grouped with this amendment but actually concern a different matter.

The purpose of these amendments is to draw attention again to the importance of waste in relation to energy. When we were debating the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, it was said that this is now becoming a very important aspect of waste disposal. It has the added advantage of utilising the energy which is produced from getting rid of waste. It does not make sense to suggest that recycling is one thing and energy recovery another. The operating plants very often do both; they both recycle and produce energy from the recovered waste.

The amendments seek to put on the face of the Bill the importance of energy recovery as a specific use of waste disposal. They would also ensure that that particular activity is taken into account in all energy matters. I am aware that the Government have taken very great steps to encourage the industry. In the past they put it at the top of the list, or at least alongside everything else. However, just recently they seem to have lost the initiative on the subject. It is right and proper that they should give the industry full significance because it is undoubtedly a technology which will grow and improve. It can play an extremely important part in the handling of waste in this country. I hope that my noble friend will be able to support these amendments.

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Amendments Nos. 303A, 303C and 303D relate to a different matter. They deal with the question of how the Government will handle packaging waste and give responsibility to the various sectors of the industry. When this matter was first raised the Government asked the industries producing packaging waste to consider ways in which the waste might be dealt with. If the Government agreed with the suggestions, they would then introduce legislation to enforce them.

As a result, the industries considered the matter with some very senior members of various companies. They produced a plan which established an organisation which, in the interim stage, is called V-RAG. This interim body accepts central responsibility. In the event that legislation is agreed, it would establish a body called Valpac which would then bring together all the sectors of the industry. It would be a multi-point system which would deal fairly with the costs of handling packaging waste.

The Government suggest in this Bill that they would prefer to place full responsibility for packaging waste on one part of the packaging chain—that is to say, the packer-filler part. The industry's view was that that would be most impractical. It could be extremely unfair to small and new companies and it could cause difficulties in obtaining a coherent view on how to deal with it. That goes completely against the advice which the industry gave the Government and on which it spent a great deal of time.

The purpose of this amendment is to take out that part of the Bill which states that the Government will review and make their decision in the light of the opportunity to place full responsibility solely on one part of the industry. By taking that part out of the Bill it would leave the matter open for the industry to come forward with its own solution.

Amendments Nos. 303C and 303D seek to define "re-use", "recovery" and "recycling". At the moment those words are referred to but they are not defined, whereas other parts of the packaging chain are. These amendments seek to define them in accordance with the definitions recently adopted by the European Union packaging and packaging waste directives. I hope that the Government can give me some encouraging words on these amendments. I beg to move.

The Earl of Onslow: I intervene very briefly in this debate. Where I live there was recently an application to build a plant which would generate electricity from burning tyres. That is something that should be encouraged. As is often the case where the incineration of waste is concerned, there was very considerable local objection. Planning consent was not given. I am not sure whether NIMBY is the correct word, but we have to get over the objection of some people who would theoretically like to see energy recovered from waste but who would object to the process. That is a problem which has to be addressed. I raise this matter because it seems germane to the discussion which my noble friend Lord Wade has introduced.

Baroness Nicol: I wish to speak particularly to Amendment No. 303A. I must first repeat the declaration of interest which I made at Second Reading.

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I was involved with the packaging industry last year in a small investigation, but it is not briefing me on this subject. My main interest tonight is as vice-chairman of the all-party retail group. Small retailers are very concerned about the inclusion of the three lines which we seek to delete.

I am very grateful to the Minister for his comprehensive Written Answer to the question I raised at Second Reading; namely, as to where in the packaging chain responsibility shall be placed. I understand his argument that a single-point scheme would be easier to administer and monitor, but he must also have regard to the importance of a scheme which is seen to be even-handed. It is important that each link in the chain should take some responsibility for the end result. If any progress is to be made with new technology or techniques to minimise packaging and to improve recycling percentages—which is the Government's aim—we need the involvement of all concerned from the producer to the end disposer. I hope that administrative convenience, which seems to be the Government's main argument, will not be allowed to override other considerations. I am very pleased to support this amendment.

Lord Mottistone: I speak very briefly to both parts of this matter. As regards producing energy from the recovery of waste, we have a plant on the Isle of Wight which experienced similar difficulties to those to which my noble friend Lord Onslow referred. The plant is now in operation and producing electricity. It also produces heating for schools and other county council-owned property. But the plant does not work as efficiently as it should because we went into the system too quickly and copied what I believe they have in East Sussex. It would have been better if we had waited until the plant had been better proved. It does not cause trouble. It is alongside a factory which produces your Lordships' Christmas cards. From time to time the people working there grumble about the smell from the waste disposal plant.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: Merry Christmas!

Lord Mottistone: It is very important for our island to have the facility because relatively we have less space in which to dispose of our waste than the mainland. That is why we must have this plant, but we went too fast in introducing it. I support my noble friend's Amendment No. 300 and the principle behind his earlier amendments.

I now turn to Amendment No. 303A. I cannot add to what has been said by previous speakers. My noble friend the Minister, when introducing Clause 76, told us in general terms what he was doing and he answered a question on 2nd February which was going in a certain direction. However, it is fair to say that the industry is not happy that the Government intend to accept the recommendations of their own producer group which advised on this subject.

It would be reassuring if my noble friend the Minister would give us an undertaking that he will not produce a system or regulations which penalise a particular part of the industry concerned with packaging and do not

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spread the load, as has been said by other speakers. I hope that he will be able to reassure us on those points, because his lengthy Written Answer did not; it frightened us more. Therefore, we rather like Amendment No. 303A.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I have added my name to some of the amendments. Perhaps I may say with regard to the amendment relating to energy that the problem with some of the plant that generates energy from waste is that it tends to have the effect of creating more waste in order to have enough fuel for the plant. That is the argument put by some of the environmental interests which say that it is a way of disposing of the waste but that it also has the effect of promoting the generation of more waste to ensure that the process can continue.

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