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Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) (No. 2) Order 1999

7.25 p.m.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 24th November be approved [2nd Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) (No.2) Order 1999 provides for the transfer of two regulation-making powers from a Minister of the Crown to Scottish Executive Ministers. Earlier this year both Houses approved a Private Member's Bill tabled first in another place by the honourable Member James Clappison and then, in this House, by the noble Lord, Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, with able support from the noble Baroness, Lady Wharton, and other noble Lords from all Benches. Understandably, none of them is in his place tonight. However, I believe that it is appropriate to congratulate all of them on a very worthwhile and worthy piece of legislation.

The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999, which primarily aims to improve the welfare of dogs at licensed breeding establishments, received Royal Assent on 30th June and will come into effect on 30th December 1999. This is a valuable animal welfare measure which received all-party support in its passage through both Houses. It may be helpful if I briefly remind noble Lords of its main provisions. The Act introduces additional requirements for the licensing and inspection of dog-breeding and rearing businesses. It makes it a condition of the licence that bitches are not mated if they are less than one year old, that they do not give birth to more than six litters of pups each and that pups are not born before the end of a period of 12 months from when the bitch last gave birth.

The Act also requires the licence holder to keep accurate breeding records in a form prescribed by regulations which must be made available on inspection. It provides for more severe penalties for breaches of the legislation. It restricts the places where puppies can be sold to licensed premises or pet shops, and it requires dogs sold by licensed breeding establishments to licensed rearing establishments or pet shops to wear identification tags or badges containing information, in addition to where they were born, as is specified in regulations.

Two of the provisions that I have mentioned involve conferring regulation-making powers on the Secretary of State to be exercised by statutory instrument. These relate to the breeding records which must be kept and made available for inspection by the licensed breeder and the information, in addition to the place where the dog was born, that must be shown on the identification tag or badge of certain dogs sold by such establishments.

These regulations are currently subject to negative resolution procedure in the UK Parliament. However, in terms of the Scotland Act 1998 matters relating to

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dogs and their welfare fall within the devolved competence of the Scottish Parliament. It should, therefore, be for the Scottish Executive Ministers to make the regulations relating to Scotland, subject to the scrutiny of the Scottish Parliament. Such powers contained in enactments made before the Scotland Act have already been passed to the Scottish Executive Ministers by the transfer arrangements contained in that Act. However, the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act was enacted after the Scotland Act but did not provide Scottish Executive Ministers with the necessary powers.

Subject to approval, the draft Order in Council will address that anomaly by transferring the regulation-making powers to the Scottish Executive Ministers. The draft order does not transfer any additional legislative powers to the Scottish Parliament; it merely transfers regulatory powers to Scottish Executive Ministers for a subject that Parliament has already agreed should fall within the competence of Scottish Executive Ministers and the Scottish Parliament. On that basis, I hope that noble Lords will feel able to support the order.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 24th November be approved [2nd Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale.)

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her clear explanation of the order. I congratulate also my noble friend Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior--unfortunately he is not in his place--and my honourable friend in another place on steering the measure through both Houses of Parliament. We support the order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 1999

7.30 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 25th November be approved [2nd Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Whitty.

Your Lordships have before you today changes that the Government propose to make to packing regulations. These changes complete the review of the regulations, although we are keeping under review the recovery and recycling targets for 2001 so that we can assess what these should be in the light of returns for 1999.

The regulations set target levels of recovery and recycling of packaging waste designed to help the UK to meet the mandatory targets in the EC directive on

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packaging and packaging waste--that is 50 per cent recovery, 25 per cent recycling--to be met by 2001. The Government want to see as simple a regulatory system as is compatible with delivering the directive targets, but this system must also be fair and equitable and place a minimum burden on business. We therefore want to avoid introducing unnecessary regulation provisions and take whatever decisions are necessary to create a system which will be capable of delivering the UK targets.

The changes under discussion today stem from a review of the regulations and their operation carried out by the Advisory Committee on Packaging. They have been consulted on extensively and reflect the wishes of business. They are intended to simplify and improve the original regulations and ensure that they are as equitable as possible.

Most of the changes reflect specific requests from business as well as seeking to ensure that the packaging regime is as equitable as possible. A strong deregulatory theme runs through these proposals: that is, the removal of wholesaler obligation, of the data forming the regulations to allow greater flexibility and more detailed guidance and of the special competition scrutiny regime for compliance schemes; and the exclusion from the regulations of approximately 9,000 businesses as a result of the proposed change in the turnover threshold from £1 million to £2 million in the year 2000.

The increased agency registration fee in 2000 is designed to ensure that the problem of free riding is addressed. In addition, businesses with a turnover of over £5 million will be required to provide a compliance plan to the Environment Agency or SEPA in Scotland showing that they have a convincing plan for discharging their legal obligations. It is also proposed that the agencies should publish their monitoring programmes and have greater power to monitor possible free riders.

We are proposing to reduce the percentage activity obligation used by converters to calculate their recovery and recycling obligations and increase by one point each the obligation of packfillers and sellers. We believe that the proposals before the House will ensure maximum recycling, provide a fair and equitable system which minimises the burden on businesses and simplify the regulations. We believe that this framework should provide the greatest chance that the UK can meet its mandatory directive targets in 2001.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 25th November be approved [2nd Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, we welcome the regulations and the placing of more responsibility on producers to move further towards recycling and waste minimisation. There seems to be a move from landfill to incinerators rather than improved waste minimisation. Therefore in general we welcome the regulations and the exemption of smaller businesses from too onerous a burden.

9 Dec 1999 : Column 1457

We have one concern as regards the infrastructure in place to help businesses fulfil that requirement. I have some experience of the infrastructure required to implement higher household waste recycling targets. We are concerned that the infrastructure might not be in place in industry to implement such increased targets. With that reservation, we welcome the regulations.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I can assure the noble Baroness. I apologise. Did the noble Earl wish to speak?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. I was simply going to congratulate the noble Baroness on explaining the order. It is a complex area. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, is right to ask a number of important questions. I shall be interested to hear the answers.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the only specific question following from the knowledgeable comments of the noble Baroness related to the concern to ensure that the infrastructure is in place. I can assure her that we shall continue to work closely with industry and with local government to ensure that our targets which are mandatory can be met.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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