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Lord Dixon-Smith: I am encouraged by what the Minister has said.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I apologise for not rising to my feet sooner. What the Minister has said about the Government's intentions about announcing the allocations for England is reassuring. However, it is highly unsatisfactory that we should be faced with legislation drawn up in this rather brutal, uncompromising way because of the necessity of taking account of what will happen with the devolved administrations. Surely, it would be possible for the draftsmen to deal in this clause with what will happen in England. What will DEFRA do about this? If it is not possible to write it into the Bill, is the noble Lord prepared to give an undertaking that what he has told the Committee this afternoon about the notice that the department will give will be available for all to see in regulations? Whether it is up to the end of the whole scheme or whether, as my noble friend suggested, it is two or three years ahead is a detail on which I am not competent to express a view. However, I find it extremely unsatisfactory that we are apparently faced with a statutory provision that simply says it has to be done before, with no indication as to how that will be carried out. The Minister may be advised to go further than he has done and say that this must now be spelt out, if not on the face of the Bill, then at least in the regulations that will be made under the Bill.

Lord Whitty: The provisions for delivering this will be in regulations. I cannot undertake to provide the regulations during the course of the proceedings on the Bill. Apart from anything else, we would need to consult widely over a reasonable period on the regulations. However, the issue will be included in regulations. My point is that we need some equivalence between the English authorities, under the Secretary of State, and the other authorities. We must allow those other authorities, under the devolution settlement, their ability to adopt different ways of meeting the UK targets than those adopted in England. There is a UK obligation and it is incumbent on the UK Parliament to legislate for means whereby it is met, but there is some devolving of the responsibilities for the means of reaching those targets. That means I need to keep some flexibility in the legislation for the devolved administrations to operate differently from England.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I expect the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reforms had some interesting comments in this area, and I entirely agree

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with my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding. This will probably be the subject of another report in another debate in the House at some point. I am slightly encouraged by what the Minister has said in response to this group of amendments, which I shall study. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

5.15 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 10:

    Page 3, line 45, at end insert—

"( ) In performing the duty under subsection (1), an allocating authority must specify the location of landfills to be used by each waste disposal authority and the maximum quantity that may be deposited in each landfill."

The noble Lord said: Here we have a large group of probing amendments. These clauses appear to make it possible for disposal authorities to borrow against their future allocations in order to deal with a problem that they have in the immediate present, if they are not able to purchase their way out of trouble under the trading scheme, not to put too fine a point on it. That would be rather like selling your birthright for a mess of pottage, because the local authority would have no certainty that they could trade up by buying allocation if the surplus they required to dispose of were to persist into the future. We are a little in the position of the European Central Bank trying to propose limits on budget deficits for nation states. I am not sure that the Bill as drafted is wise. That is why we have proposed this group of amendments, which we think will provide a more controllable situation for the future. Exactly how is the use of forward allowances supposed to work? It seems to create a problem greater than the one it is trying to solve. I beg to move.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I am relieved to hear my noble friend say that this is a probing amendment. As I read Amendment No. 10 and some of the others grouped with it, it seems that my noble friend is asking that the authority should not only make an allocation to each local authority for what it may do, but tell it how to do it. I would find that difficult to support. If this amendment is no more than a peg to hang questions on, I shall be interested to hear the answers. If my noble friend were to decide at a later stage in the Bill to take it to a Division, I would not be able to support it. I may have misunderstood the situation, but my noble friend seems be seeking to grant the Government powers to do all sorts of things that I most assuredly do not believe they should have.

Lord Greaves: I hesitate to intervene in some of the arguments, but I rise to support the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding. I was mystified by this group of amendments, partly because there seem to be at least three different issues involved, so I could not understand why they were all grouped together. Secondly, I was mystified by the introduction of them by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, because he seemed to be speaking to Amendment No. 49 and not to the rest of the amendments in the group.

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I had to keep pinching myself and saying, we are discussing the group that starts with Amendment No. 10. The third reason I am mystified is that he seemed to be proposing a system for operating the scheme that owes more to the old command economies of Eastern Europe than to the market economy to which, under New Labour, we are now all wedded.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: Not all of us.

Lord Greaves: I was speaking ironically. I speak first of all to Amendment No. 49, to which the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, was speaking. It seems to be a probing amendment to find out more from the Government about how the trading of allowances between different authorities might work, how the use of allowances by a particular authority from an earlier or later year might work and how they might be saved up for later years. That seems to me what Amendment No. 49 is about and it is what the noble Lord was talking about. It will be interesting to hear more about that from the Government, because it underlines the essence of the Bill and is behind many of the discussions we will be having on other amendments.

Amendment No. 74 is a curious amendment aimed at strategy. I wondered why it was in this group. It says:

    "reducing the distance travelled by vehicles transporting biodegradable municipal waste to landfill in order that by 2010 no journey is longer than 40 miles and by 2020 no journey is longer than 25 miles".

On the face of it, that appears to be a laudable aim.

However, it is not clear why those particular distances have been laid down, given the geography of the country and the difficulties, as the noble Lord and his colleagues have set out, that many councils have in finding landfill sites in which to deposit their waste. Clearly, this is a desirable aim but it is not clear how the noble Lord intends that it should be brought about or by what mechanisms. It would be useful to have such a debate and it would be interesting to know what the Government have to say about that. It is clearly desirable to do that if it can be achieved.

The rest of the amendments concern imposing detailed control over landfill sites and the deposit of waste at such sites, apparently by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will tell waste disposal authorities exactly to which sites they have to take their waste and to limit the size of them. The amendments will impose duties on landfill operators not to take more biodegradable municipal waste than is laid down by the Secretary of State or by the appropriate authorities in the devolved administrations. They will set out penalties for landfill site operators as well as for waste disposal authorities if they contravene those duties and set up a system for monitoring the process.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, I find this proposal extraordinary. If we believe in the traditional delivery of services through local authorities, I would not want to see that kind of detailed central control over the county councils and unitary authorities in disposing of landfill. That appears to be inappropriate if we are to move towards a more market-based solution.

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I do not know whether these amendments were tabled by a person or persons in the Conservative Party and so the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, was lumbered with them which is why he did not speak to them in great detail. However, like the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, I would say that if the Conservatives want to push this command-control philosophy, we shall not support them in the Lobbies.

Lord Glentoran: That is a sound way of acquiring a denial from the Government on the matter. On the commercial side I would sincerely hope, if I were the chief executive of Cleanaway, that no government or local authority would tell me where I was to put the waste that I had collected. I would like to have that confirmed.

Lord Whitty: Like other noble Lords, I am slightly bemused by this. The amendment as proposed suggests maximum bureaucracy on the private sector with maximum inflexibility on local authorities. I know well that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, normally argues the exact opposite. Therefore, I cannot accept Amendment No. 10 or the other elements of the command economy to which the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, refers.

The noble Lord helpfully redefined the real intention of this group of amendments as being Amendment No. 49. In the guise of a definition, that prevents borrowing allowances from future years. That would again limit the flexibility available in the scheme so that it will, in effect—as dealt with in a later amendment—limit trading to the allocations in the current year. That would be a severe restriction on the flexibility of meeting the targets. Therefore, none of this group of amendments is soundly based, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, never intended that they should have the effect that they appear to have.

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