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Lord Norton of Louth: The Minister has made clear that in drawing up the guidance the Secretary of State will consult widely and, indeed, is doing so. Given that, is there any reason why the requirement to consult widely should not itself be incorporated in Clause 177?

Baroness Blackstone: I have already made it clear that this consultation is taking place. I would have thought that that is now on the record and am not clear why we need to amend Clause 177. However, if the noble Lord wants to table an amendment, we can, of course, consider it.

Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for her response and I thank all Members of the Committee who have taken part in this relatively brief debate, given its importance. It is connected with the hour and also the fact that throughout Second Reading and in Committee noble Lords have made clear their deep concerns about Clause 177. I am grateful to the Minister for accepting those concerns and responding accordingly.

We are grateful that in the light of what we have said the Minister seeks to find genuine opportunities for scrutiny. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Select Committee has recommended that a mechanism be put in place for debate in both Houses. I am also grateful to the Minister for saying that we might see an early draft of the guidance in January. I thought that we already had one in the framework. Noble Lords on the Bench opposite are shaking their heads, so perhaps we can look forward to something new and different in 2003.

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As my noble friend Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville said, we shall sleepwalk into trouble if we do not continue to press our concerns with regard to the need for more clarity in the Bill. The Minister expressed concern that if our Amendment No. 91 were accepted the Secretary of State would have to come to Parliament every three years. That is a good idea—I believe that Secretaries of State should come to Parliament more often. It is typical of this Government, who prefer to treat Parliament as something of an irritant.

There are regulations in other parts of the Bill. I do not mind that the Minister attempts to tease me. I am not teased, because we seek to have more clarity. We believe that certain issues go to the heart of the legislation and that it would be sensible for them to be subject to regulation, which could be properly debated and amended by this House and another place on a three-yearly basis. That is entirely flexible and meets many of the concerns that Members of the Committee have raised previously and today.

I shall not detain the Committee longer, except to say that detailed preparation is of course required in relation to the drafting of the Bill and the guidance notes. However, it has been two and a half years since the publication of the White Paper and I am afraid that we are rightly becoming somewhat impatient on behalf of all interested parties to the Bill. We wait with bated breath to see the new guidance in draft form in January and to hear—

Baroness Blackstone: I would not want the noble Baroness to be misled. I said that there is a programme of work in January but I did not specify the precise time when we would be able to bring the draft guidance forward. I said that we would be able to do so at some point during the various stages of the Bill in this House.

Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for clarifying that point. Perhaps I may be so bold as to indicate that I speak with the collective voice of the Chamber when I say that we shall not be content for the Bill to leave this House unless we have had sight of and an opportunity to debate the guidance. We are grateful that so much preparation is taking place and we hope to have the opportunity to review it before it leaves this Chamber.

There will be another opportunity for another place to scrutinise it, but let us respond to what the Select Committee has recommended and what noble Lords have requested; that is, a genuine opportunity for scrutiny. We would like to see that in this House and we therefore wait to see what the Minister will bring forward in terms of opportunity for scrutiny. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past ten o'clock.

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Official Report of the Grand Committee on the

Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [HL]

(First Day) Tuesday, 17th December 2002.

The Committee met at half-past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff): Before I put the Question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee stage. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all noble Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. The one difference is that the House has agreed that there shall be no Divisions in the Grand Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. The Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung and will resume after 10 minutes.

Title postponed.

Clause 1 [Target years]:

Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 1:

    Page 1, line 14, at end insert—

"(1A) The Secretary of State must by regulations specify the maximum amount of weight of end of life electrical and electronic equipment and end of life vehicles to be sent to landfills from each of—
(a) the United Kingdom,
(b) England,
(c) Scotland,
(d) Wales, and
(e) Northern Ireland."

The noble Lord said: I apologise if my voice disappears at any stage during the proceedings but I have been fighting off the flu or a cold for the best part of a fortnight, and no doubt I shall succumb finally when Christmas arrives. Meanwhile we have the interest of the Committee stage of the Waste and Emissions Trading Bill.

Amendment No. 1 has been tabled to ask the Government certain fundamental questions. I shall listen with interest to the Minister's reply. The amendment would put on the face of the Bill other

17 Dec 2002 : Column GC2

aspects of various regulations and directives involved with waste and waste disposal, in addition to the provisions relating to the Landfill Directive which make up Part 1 of the Bill as it stands. In particular, it would put on the face of the Bill the requirement on the Secretary of State to specify by regulations the maximum amount of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment and end-of-life vehicles to be sent to landfills in each of the different parts of the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom as a whole.

These relate to the WEEE Directive and the End of Life Vehicles Directive, both of which are being introduced into United Kingdom legislation separately and the requirements are being legislated for here independently and separately from this.

The first question is why the Government are taking this approach to this legislation. Why are they taking a bits and pieces approach to new waste disposal and collection legislation? Why are we not getting overall legislation? Why are we not getting a Bill that connects together these different European directives and, no doubt, others which are in the pipeline?

The second major question which this raises is: why is the concept of the trading of allowances for waste disposal the right way to go so far as concerns biodegradable municipal waste? I apologise at this stage if Members of the Committee do not like my pronunciation of the word "municipal" but that is how they pronounce it in my part of the world and that is what I shall continue to say. Why is biodegradable municipal waste an appropriate area for the whole concept of trading of allowances, trading of surpluses and buying in of allowances by authorities which do not have sufficient funds to cope with their needs? Why is it simply biodegradable municipal waste where this is appropriate? Why is it not appropriate for other areas?

It is hoped and intended that a high proportion of the waste arising from waste electronic and electrical equipment and end-of-life vehicles will be recycled and that it will not have to be put to landfill or disposed of as waste in other ways. That is true. However, a large residual amount will still be left, although not as large an amount as is the case at present. Why is the concept right in one case and not in these two cases? At this stage, we should be interested to hear the Government's response to those two fundamental questions. That is why we tabled the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I open with two or three irrelevancies. First, it is a pleasure to face the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, once again, and I am sorry that he is not able to be with us tomorrow.

I rise formally to support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Greaves. The Bill is very narrowly drawn. If the Minister is minded to reply that the Bill is a pilot for what they intend to do with all waste, it might begin to make a little sense. Biodegradable domestic waste accounts for approximately only 30 per cent of total waste. It is a specific area and is susceptible to specific treatments, whereas many other wastes require different treatment. It would have been

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better to have arrived at a strategy for waste and then to break it down into smaller parts, of which this is but one.

I have some sympathy with the Government because they are committed to a deadline which has been arrived at elsewhere and that always creates pressure on the system. I acknowledge that one has to start somewhere, but I cannot help but feel that it is a little less than fortunate that we are beginning on such a narrow base.

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