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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am not able to accept this amendment, although I commend the noble Lord's commitment to those various technologies. I am sure they will play a major part in the mayor's waste strategy, as indeed will the more middle-brow technologies referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, in terms of the recycling processes in Somerset.

There is a slight conceptual problem here. Clearly, waste minimisation has a role in all of the points of the cycle of waste strategy: in waste production, disposal, recycling, transport, and so forth. The mayor's state of the environment report will already contain information about minimisation. However, the strategy is specifically addressed to those matters which are within the specific control of waste collection and waste disposal authorities. If waste minimisation is interpreted literally, those authorities do not have direct control over the production of waste.

Clearly, minimisation is a major part of waste management strategy and lies within the responsibilities of those authorities which deal with the various aspects of waste. As regards encouraging those whose waste they collect to engage in waste minimisation projects, that is a different angle over which the authorities have no, or little, direct control. However, it is also part of the strategy. Were we to write in that provision as a part of the strategy which is separate from the various areas which are specified in the legislation, that would cut across those points in the cycle.

The guidance to which we refer in this clause would cover waste minimisation strategies in all those contexts and would give guidance as to how authorities could go about writing and implementing those strategies. The mayor would certainly be expected to include strategies for waste minimisation, but not as a separate item from the various stages of waste management. Therefore, I hope that the noble Baroness can see the conceptual difference and will not pursue these amendments.

I turn to Amendment No. 544UA. As a former London nationalist, I believe that Essex received a fair amount of rate income from the waste disposal plants and it was a service for which we paid. Nevertheless, I understand what the noble Lord is seeking and there is some logic to his long-term position. However, it is rather unrealistic in the short to medium-term to expect the London waste strategy to be able to achieve total self-reliance in terms of disposal of municipal waste within London. It may be a long-term and ultimate aim, but it is not one which would be achievable in the likely periods of the strategies.

In addition, those authorities, such as Essex, in whose areas it is planned to dispose of London's waste are involved clearly and centrally in the process of consultation. Therefore, they too may have a say in the direction in which we are moving. However, I do not

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believe that it would be sensible to place on the face of the Bill what generally would be seen by many people as an unrealistic objective in the foreseeable timetable. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will not pursue the matter.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, the Minister is right: I have great difficulty in understanding the conceptual difference between waste minimisation being part of a waste strategy and not being a part of it. If there were such a difference, it is unlikely that the Government would have empowered local authorities, through various measures, to be responsible for waste minimisation. I have difficulty in understanding how that legislation fits in with what the Minister now tells us about the mayor's responsibilities.

I shall read again with care what the Minister said in this regard. However, I still fail to understand why the Government refuse to put minimisation on the face of the Bill but are willing to include all other aspects of the waste cycle. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Dixon-Smith had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 544UA:

Page 173, line 35, after ("waste") insert ("which shall include proposals for the disposal of London's waste within London").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I heard what the Minister had to say. I shall consider it carefully. I felt very much like a 22 year-old whose father told him that he had unreasonable ambition. I am sorry that the Minister feels like that about this subject. It seems to me that strategic ambition is worth while.

[Amendment No. 544UA not moved.]

Clause 314 [Directions by the Mayor]:

The Deputy Speaker (Viscount St Davids): My Lords, before calling Amendment No. 544UAA, I should point out to your Lordships that if it is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 544VA.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 544UAA:

Page 175, line 6, leave out from ("direction") to end of line 8.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, tabled a similar amendment in Committee. We agreed to go away and consider whether the second power of direction in this context was needed. We decided on reflection that it was not. Therefore, that is one power of direction for the Secretary of State that we should like to remove from the Bill. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, one down and one zillion to go! I am grateful to the Minister for responding to the point. Of course, I am very happy to have my amendment pre-empted.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 544VA not moved.]

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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 544VAA:

Page 175, line 8, at end insert--
("( ) The Mayor may not give to an authority a direction under subsection (1) above requiring the authority--
(a) to terminate a waste contract before the expiry of the term of the contract; or
(b) to do anything which would result in a breach of any term of a waste contract.
( ) The Mayor may not give to an authority a direction under subsection (1) above requiring the authority to exercise a function in relation to the awarding of a waste contract if--
(a) the authority is required to comply with the public procurement regulations in awarding that contract, and
(b) in compliance with those regulations the authority has sent the second information notice relating to the awarding of that contract to the Official Journal of the European Communities.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 544VAA, I wish to speak also to the other amendments included in this group.

This group of amendments appears to be fairly complicated but in fact deals with one issue. Your Lordships may recall that in Committee I indicated that we would bring forward amendments to clarify the scope of the mayor's power of direction and how that could be made to sit with the contractual nature of local authority waste management. This group of amendments makes it clear that the mayor's power of direction operates at the point at which a new contract is entered into between the local authority and the contracting parties, which will normally be required to go to tender. It does not introduce an overriding power for the mayor to introduce a break clause into contracts and override existing and on-going contracts.

Therefore, the intention is clear. It retains for the mayor a power to intervene when the contract is changed but not to engage in the legal complexity of overriding a contract because it does not comply with the overall strategy. I believe that point applies to all the amendments in this group. I hope noble Lords are able to accept them.

7.30 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes : My Lords, I am concerned about these amendments. It seems that the group of amendments to which the Minister spoke includes these two and perhaps the two which follow, which are to insert new clauses. I have waited for some time to speak. I have been invited to an engagement downstairs, so I do not wish to return too soon after dinner. In that case, perhaps I may be allowed to comment briefly on those amendments.

The Minister stated that this power would operate at the point of contracts being introduced. I am worried by the timing. There is nothing to make clear that negotiations might not have reached a crucial point when the contract was on the point of being let. At that stage the mayor would have the right to intervene. That is worrying.

The public cost involved in waste disposal contracts is enormous. I want to be satisfied that whatever powers the mayor can exercise, he would in some way

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be obliged to have regard to the cost, the practicality and the environmental benefit. I do not believe that such points are adequately covered by this series of amendments. I would appreciate the Minister's comments.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, intervention prior to the contract being awarded would minimise any costs to the local authority concerned. The mayor's ability to intervene would be on the basis that a proposed contract, or proposed terms of contract, would be contrary to the overall strategy for waste management within London as a whole. Without being controversial, if one were to see an authority moving disposal of waste from one form of transport to another, clearly contravening the direction of the strategy, the mayor would need the power to intervene. If, however, the previous contract had been more or less in line with the strategy and the subsequent contract was likely to be the same, it is unlikely that the mayor would wish to redirect the authority.

There are, however, safeguards. All the contracts are subject to public procurement provisions so that intervention cannot take place after the second notice has been published. In any event, before issuing such a direction the mayor would need to consult the authority concerned. There are also safeguards relating to the disclosure of information in what would be commercial contracts or bids for commercial contracts.

We are therefore dealing with a situation where the mayor can see a local authority going outside the general direction which, by and large, London and the authority have been party to in drawing up the overall strategy. These are important powers for the delivery of the strategy. However, I do not believe that they are so wide ranging as to cause the kind of anxieties among local authorities regarding cost, disclosure and commercial partnerships about which the noble Baroness is concerned.

As there were, slightly surprisingly, no other interventions, I commend Amendment No. 544VAA.

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