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Lord Whitty: The noble Lords, Lord Greaves and Lord Dixon-Smith, have now elucidated the objective of the amendments: it is primarily to deal with fly-tipping. I am not sure that this is the appropriate way to deal with fly-tipping. Later, the Committee will discuss Amendment No. 86, and I recognise a lot of what both noble Lords have said about the problem of fly-tipping. But we are here dealing with the tracing of municipal waste. Although some municipal waste may, regrettably, end up in fly-tipping, the bulk of fly-tippingas the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, impliedcomes from commercial or private sources, which are much more difficult to deal with.
The amendment may contribute towards controlling the problem, but it would not deal with the main problem of fly-tipping. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, that it is important that we monitor what is happening to all sorts of materialnot simply biodegradable municipal waste but all waste, whether or not it is going to landfill. Whether we need to monitor everything is another matter. Surveys are carried out to produce the wider picture; local authority efforts at improving recycling and composting performance continue to be upgraded, and that requires monitoring aspects. However, this way of amending the Bill is not the appropriate way to put that effort onto a more systematic basis and statutory footing.
Indeed, in order to change the behaviour of local authorities in dealing with their waste, it would seem to us better to reshape the best value indicators for waste authorities. The indicators for each coming year are clear and transparent and are subject to public consultation. They can enable the creation of statutory targets, should we so wishlike the current targets for recycling and compostingand the returns made by the authorities will judge their performance against that target, rather than simply monitoring the information. That information would then be available for auditorsboth the district auditor and the Audit Commission.
The amendments would require the complete separation of biodegradable waste. However desirable separation is, biodegradable waste does not usually come in separate waste streams; it is usually mixed with other materials. So a statutory requirement to track all municipal biodegradable waste could of itself present significant difficulties and resource implications for local authorities. We should not simply write that into the statute book, as would the amendment, without considering those implications. There may be a better way to ensure that local authorities meet the objectives, which we all share. For those reasons I resist the amendment.
Lord Greaves: I am grateful to the Minister for that reply and interested by his comments on how he believes that he can better tackle the problem in future. We shall read what he has to say in Hansard with great interest, as usual. Meanwhile I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 10 [Scheme regulations]:
Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 54:
The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment. Clause 10(2) contains a number of paragraphs that start with a general "make provision" but then go on to make provision about specific items. Paragraph (c) caused me some difficulty because I do not understand the terminology. It states:
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I support the amendment in the interests of plain English. It means something far clearer than the words in the Bill and comes to the point, which is a desirable effect.
Lord Whitty: I am of course always in favour of plain Englishand rarely achieve it. I am not sure that the amendment would provide what the noble Lord seeks. At present, the Bill is an attempt to make clear that regulations make provision for what amounts to the utilisation, rather than including a definition of utilisation. That may be seen as somewhat obscure. The power is included to allow an allocating authority to determine whether utilisation of an allowance occurs until the end of the yearwhen the allowance occurs and allowances are reconciled with the waste sent to landfillor whether utilisation occurs piecemeal, as and when waste is sent to landfill; and, if later, as soon as the allowances are acquired to cover waste already sent to landfill. So there are three different situations, all of which this reference attempts to cover. However, we shall define utilisation. I take the points made and I shall take the amendment away to consider whether the clarity of the English can be tidied up.
Lord Dixon-Smith: I am extremely grateful to the Minister for his reply. When I heard him read from his sheet that described what the provision actually did I thought that we were adding chaos to confusion. The Bill should be sufficiently clear and precise in its meaning that even an idiot such as me can understand it. I am grateful to the Minister for his reassurance that he will look at the wording at this point to see whether it could be improved. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Skelmersdale): Before I call Amendment No. 55 I have to tell the Committee that if it is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 56 or 57 because of pre-emption.
Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 55:
The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 55 is a slightly different problem. Again, this paragraph is not particularly clear. The reason we thought it best perhaps to leave it out comes back to the question of definitions. This is a probing amendment to find out what lies behind the provision. The problem in this case is not quite so flagrant as in the previous amendment. In this paragraph, we are into the business of,
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: This is quite a tricky one. I have a written a note that says, "paragraph reads like gobbledegook". However, it is important to quantify amounts of waste and I am worried that if the whole paragraph is removed an important aspect of the Bill will not appear. There is a case for rewriting this paragraph with the essentials in it, but perhaps not in the way that is presented, which is quite difficult to understand. It is desirable that anyone who is acting on the objectives of the Bill can understand precisely what it encapsulates.
Lord Whitty: As I understand it, these two amendments are options. The first option in Amendment No. 55 would delete the whole of paragraph (e). As the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, has said, that would remove the requirement to provide evidence on the amounts of waste sent to landfills. Therefore, we would be in difficulty in meeting the targets, or at least having a robust evidence base to see whether we had met them.
There is an apparent problem of understanding the reference to "waste of any description", which Amendment No. 56 would remove. I am informed that the "amounts of waste" reference relates to waste as defined in the Bill from the framework directive, whereas allowing also for other waste to be monitored and evidence provided means that there will be some waste on which we would want evidence, which would be outside the terms of the directive. That is why the provision is included. Some explanation of the reasons for that will be needed, but we must include a provision that allows us to require evidence of how we dispose of waste other than that which is defined in the directive. We would need some provision. Again, we could always look at the language, but the intent will need to be on the face of the Bill.
Lord Dixon-Smith: I always understood the need for the intention to be on the face of the Bill. That is why I prefaced my words with the fact that this was a probing amendment seeking information. I am now even more confused because apparently we have three types of waste: biodegradable waste; waste of any description; and, of course, a vast quantity of inert waste which also goes to landfill but which, if I understood the Minister's words correctly, is not to be recorded.
We need to consider this matter a little more carefully. It is essential to have information on what is happening because the capacity of any landfill site is finite. Up to a point, one can say when it is full but it always useful to know exactly. Certainly, historically, it is important to know what has been placed in the site. Ultimately, there is also the question of its future use. If the intention is not only to keep records of biodegradable waste but to deal with all other waste
I have probably said enough. From what he said, the Minister realises there may be a problem. If he will nod his head strongly, I shall be happy to withdraw the amendment.
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