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The Earl of Cranbrook: My Lords, it is convenient to have most of one's speech given by someone else, especially when that someone else is as authoritative as my noble friend Lord Crickhowell. I intervened at an earlier stage on an amendment tabled by my noble friend the Minister. In fact I used the example to ask a question: if it is now—under his amendment, to which we agreed—the principal aim of the agency to achieve sustainable development, with all the corollaries that exist in the amendment, will that have the result of ensuring that the agency achieves the active conservation achieved by the NRA in conjunction with English Nature? That was the reason I brought forward elements that, as my noble friend the Minister said, were more appropriate to a debate on this amendment. But that is the critical question.

If sustainability feeds through in that way, we may be covered. Sustainability consists of a proper balance of regulation and economic measures. That is the essence of what we are trying to achieve, whatever we call it. I am not worried about the definition because I understand perfectly what it means. There must be a regulatory basis. I am convinced, as my noble friend Lord Crickhowell said, that the special ecosystem and the levels of purity and quality of water required in order to sustain the conservation values of those waters need to be applied by regulation and cannot be achieved by economic measures. That is why I brought forward my figures and examples. Your Lordships have heard them before and I have no need to repeat them.

8.45 p.m.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 36 and 40 seek to delete Clause 7(1) (b) and include the agency's pollution control functions in subsection (1) (a), meaning that the agency would be under a duty to further conservation in respect of all its functions. Amendment No. 48 is consequential on those.

The Government have considered carefully the conservation role of the agency. We are sure that it is right that it should have proper regard for the needs of

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conservation in discharging all its functions, and the Bill seeks to ensure that. We have already rehearsed the arguments on this duty on a number of occasions. As I have said before, the NRA's existing duty is not unqualified and must be adapted to the broader functions of the agency. To further conservation in every case would be inconsistent with the agency's role in issuing environmental licences. And I do not believe that the changes to the duty in relation to water discharge consents will in practice damage the interests of conservation, all of which I indicated at Committee stage.

The proposed provisions will give the agency all the powers it needs to protect the interests of nature conservation, and in certain respects it might be able to go further than would have been possible had its water discharge function continued to be subject to a provision along the lines of Section 16 of the Water Resources Act 1991. I think that the provisions in this Bill will be at least as effective as the current duty in the context of the agency's pollution control functions; I recently provided a lengthy explanation of how they might work in practice in a very detailed letter to my noble friends Lord Crickhowell and Lord Cranbrook which I understand my noble friend Lord Cranbrook and English Nature have made widely available to interested Peers.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Moran, that the environmental NGOs have underestimated and misunderstood the effect and significance of the duty to have regard to the interests of conservation in what is now Clause 7(1) (b). That will apply to the agency's functions under the Alkali Etc Works Regulation Act 1906, Part I of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Part I of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, and so forth, listed under Clause 5(5). It was right for the noble Lord to point out that those functions are now listed in the Bill.

In formulating or considering any proposals relating to its functions under each of these enactments, the agency will have a duty under Clause 7(1) (b) to have regard to the desirability of conserving and enhancing natural beauty and the conservation of flora, fauna and geological or physiographical features of special interest. I believe that the extension of this duty in its more specific form across the whole of the agency's pollution control functions represents an important extension of its ability to take proper account of conservation in discharging its functions, while at the same time avoiding ambiguities and inconsistencies in the way that conservation is taken into account.

My noble friend Lord Cranbrook returned to the consideration of how Clauses 4 and 7 met together. What we sought to do in Clause 4 was to identify the principal aim of the agency, whereas in Clause 7 we are looking to the duties of the agency. I believe that there is a distinction between the two. The distinction is sometimes blurred. We are careful to express what the duty of the agency is, but the aim of the agency must be qualified in guidance by Clause 4.

Amendments Nos. 37 and 51 are perhaps seeking to address the point I have made before, in that it would not be possible for the agency to further conservation while issuing authorisations under IPC. These

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amendments seek to limit the definition of "pollution control functions" to mean only the functions transferred from HMIP. The noble Baroness is thus making a very odd distinction between the pollution control functions of HMIP, on the one hand, and those of NRA and the waste regulation authorities, on the other. I cannot accept that there should be such a distinction between the conservation duties relating to the control of pollution of air, land or water. Such an approach is completely inconsistent with the Government's integrated approach to pollution control.

Amendment No. 38 would have the effect of removing the requirement from the agency of ensuring that its duty to further conservation under Clause 7(1) (a) is consistent with its duties in respect of sustainable development and other objectives under Clause 4. We have already discussed at length both the aim of achieving sustainable development and the guidance which will be provided to the agency in connection with this aim. Conservation is one part of sustainable development, but it is not the only factor to be considered. It is essential to recognise that at the end of the day the agency's core purposes are environmental protection and water management. The agency's conservation duty must logically be subject to the guidance on sustainable development and other aims.

Sustainable development is government policy. It is a policy of governments around the world and it takes proper account of the importance of conservation in balance with other relevant factors. That is in line with our approach to Clause 7 as a whole. With that explanation, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Norrie: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I am also grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, the noble Lord, Lord Moran, and my noble friend Lord Crickhowell for their contributions. It is a very complex issue. I and the organisations which have supported the amendments will be reading Hansard very carefully tomorrow morning before we decide whether we shall want to do anything at the next stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 37 to 41 not moved.]

Lord Howie of Troon moved Amendment No. 42:

Page 8, line 38, after ("buildings,") insert ("structures,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise with a mixture of gratitude and shame to move this amendment and to speak to one or two other amendments standing in my name. I say "gratitude" because the Minister has tabled some amendments which respond to arguments which I posed at the Committee stage of the Bill and which I shall gratefully accept and will most thankfully support. I think that he followed the precedent of the British Waterways Act which I mentioned at Second Reading; but I may be wrong there. I know how difficult it is to move Whitehall, and I am extremely glad that the Minister has moved as far as he has. This is where my shame comes in. Despite my gratitude for the movement he has made, I am asking him now to move a little

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further in response to the arguments which I have already made and will now make again. That is why I have tabled Amendments Nos. 42, 46, 50, 77, 80 and 82.

I know that this is a sideshow in a Bill which is very vast and wideranging but it is a sideshow which is of importance to a substantial profession in our country. My amendments deal with the proposition that buildings include structures. In fact, they do not. The Institution of Structural Engineers, which is an important professional organisation, when it is speaking of its profession, describes it as,

    "designing and making buildings, bridges, frameworks and other similar structures".

As noble Lords will notice, those who know about these matters distinguish between buildings and structures of many other kinds. I wonder why the law cannot do the same thing. Why cannot the law make the same distinctions as those who know about it do? For example, we talk of the building and construction industry. In our daily parlance we distinguish between building and construction. The building industry builds buildings. The construction industry for the major part constructs structures. Buildings and structures are not the same. There is no reason why they should apparently be the same in some definition in the law.

I remind the House of the Anderton lift to which I referred at the Committee stage. Its function is to lift a ship from one part of a canal at a low level to another part of the same canal at a higher level. The feature of the Anderton lift is that it moves. If it moves, it might be a vehicle or it might be a machine. It is certainly a structure. But I cannot for the life of me see how it can be a building. One of the characteristics of buildings is that they do not as a rule move; or on such occasions when they do move we become alarmed. A building does not move. Structures, however, might well move. So how on earth can a structure be a building? I know that the law is sometimes described as an ass, and I should not like to underline that. But it comes fairly close to it on this occasion. The same is true of a tunnel. How can a tunnel be a building, whether it is a tunnel on a canal or a tunnel on a railway line? How can a lock on a canal be a building? How can the lockgates be a building? The thing is absurd. How can the Forth Bridge be a building? None of them is a building. They are all structures. They are separate things. All I am saying is that we should separate buildings from structures and delete that part of the Bill which says that buildings include structures. There is no logic in this.

I see from their happy smiling faces that I have convinced the Ministers on the Front Bench, though I dare say that they will have to convince their masters in some way. But I have them in my sights. I know this. I know it from the letters they have written to me. The noble Viscount wrote to me very politely in January and explained that my demand then for a reference to engineering structures would have left out other structures. He may have been right but I could not think of any other structures that could have been left out, although I did think of Cleopatra's Needle. I do not think that is what he meant. But I could not think what he meant. So I turned away from that. Then he sent

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me another letter which took a different line. Perhaps Whitehall thought that that line was not too fruitful. It said that Whitehall,

    "desired to avoid changing provisions from existing legislation except to the extent that this is strictly necessary".

One thing which has struck me during my 17 years in this House is that we keep changing existing legislation. I am certain that when we do that it is absolutely necessary at all times. But I do not believe that that is a very strong argument.

I know the Minister will realise that I do not intend to press these amendments. I want him to do something which is quite simple; namely, to consider what I have said not only tonight, but on the several occasions during the past seven or eight years when I have pursued these minor arguments. I ask him to consider those arguments with the same sympathy as he considered the arguments at Committee stage. I ask him to do the same as he did then and to return at Third Reading with a very simple amendment with which I agree. I ask him merely to put beside the word "building" the word "structure". If he does that we shall have solved the philosophical dilemma which seems to be dividing us. I know that that would make him happy and I can assure the noble Viscount that it would make me happy. He will have given substantial psychological benefit to the entire engineering profession. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 42, 46 and 50 spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, seek to include "structure" in addition to the terms "building, site or object" in Clauses 7(1) (c) and (2) (b), and to delete the definition at the end of Clause 7 which states that the term "building" includes the term "structure" for the purposes of the environment agency's conservation and recreation duties. Amendments Nos. 80, 81 and 82 would amend Clause 30, for SEPA, in the same way.

The noble Lord spoke about these amendments in respect of engineering structures so eloquently at Committee stage that both I and my noble friend Lord Lindsay agreed to consider the issue further. It is for this reason that I have tabled Amendments Nos. 43, 47, 78 and 81. These amendments would ensure that buildings, sites and objects of engineering interest are treated in the same way as those of archaeological, architectural or historic interest under Clauses 7 and 30. The remainder of Lord Howie's amendments are not necessary as Clause 7(7) makes it perfectly clear that in this context, "building" includes "structure".

I have listened to the noble Lord this evening. We were persuaded at Committee stage that the issues raised by the noble Lord were valid concerns and therefore we propose that the word "engineering" should be included in Clause 7(1) (c) and subsection (2) (b) in respect of the environment agency and in Clause 30 in respect of SEPA.

We have met the substance of the noble Lord's concerns and as today is, I understand, the noble Lord's birthday, perhaps that is a sufficient present for him. In

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view of that, I hope that he will not seek to press his amendment which I truthfully believe in these circumstances is covered by the words of the Bill.

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