Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The amendment would change the middle target year in the Bill from 2013 to 2015. We cannot accept that, because the effect would be to make it harder to meet the legal obligations under the Landfill Directive, as the target years in the Bill would not be in line with those in the directive. The three target years for the directive, including the full four-year derogation, are 2010, 2013 and 2020, and we do not have the flexibility to move the middle year to 2015.

We accept that the targets are challenging. That is why we have the Waste Strategy 2000 and the Bill and why the Strategy Unit has reported on meeting the targets. But they remain, and we cannot unilaterally alter them.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am not surprised at the Minister's response—she has her brief. I must confess that if I were in her position, I should be constrained

18 Dec 2002 : Column GC109

by exactly the same background and I should have to give precisely the same reply. Although I am not satisfied, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 136 to 138 not moved.]

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 [Other definitions]:

Lord Dixon-Smith had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 139:

    Page 15, line 21, leave out from beginning to "regulations" and insert "Environment Agency subject to"

The noble Lord said: If my memory is correct, during our discussion in Committee yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said in response to another point that the Environment Agency would be the monitoring agency for England. If that is so, I do not need to move this amendment. If the Minister would assure me that my memory is not at fault, I should be delighted.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: For the record, that is exactly the case. In fact, the amendment would make the Environment Agency the appropriate monitoring authority in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. If he were to move the amendment, the noble Lord would join other noble Lords who have got into trouble for imposition on the devolved countries.

[Amendment No. 139 not moved.]

Clause 23 agreed to.

Clause 24 [Activities to which Chapter 1 does not apply]:

[Amendment No. 140 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 141:

    After Clause 24, insert the following new clause—

(1) Commencing in the financial year 2006–07, the whole of the portion of landfill tax above 15 per tonne in each year will be disbursed to the allocating authority for each area.
(2) The allocating authority for each area will apply the disbursement received under subsection (1) to—
(a) research into ways of reducing the amount of all waste going to landfill,
(b) capital projects designed to treat biodegradable municipal waste to prevent it from going to landfill,
(c) capital projects designed to treat biodegradable waste to reduce the amount going to landfill, and
(d) schemes designed to benefit the local community where waste treatment projects are sited.
(3) The allocating authority for each area shall ensure that capital projects for treating biodegradable municipal waste are—
(a) sited within the boundaries of the location controlled by each waste disposal authority that is applying for funding, and
(b) supplied with waste mainly collected within the boundaries of the locality controlled by the relevant waste disposal authority."

The noble Lord said: Here, we step into slightly more difficult territory. We are really in the business of hypothecating the use of the landfill tax escalator. Once again, I must assume that the noble Baroness will

18 Dec 2002 : Column GC110

be somewhat negative in her response, for all sorts of good reasons. We have heard on numerous occasions that if we are to have specific taxes placed on this area, where we know that there are huge potential investment liabilities if we are to meet both the directive and the needs of society at large, we need the money to be retained within the business so that it can be put to other use there.

The amendment proposes that the product of the landfill tax escalator—not the landfill tax but the escalator—should be devoted to four purposes:

    "(a) research into ways of reducing the amount of waste going to landfill,

    (b) capital projects designed to treat biodegradable municipal waste to prevent it from going to landfill,

    (c) capital projects designed to treat biodegradable waste to reduce the amount going to landfill, and

    (d) schemes designed to benefit the local community where waste treatment projects are sited".

I do not need to read out the whole amendment. Those purposes are well worth while. I am sure that, in replying, the Minister will sympathise with our ambition even if she has to be negative, but it is an area where more than sympathy is required. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for tabling the amendment because it raises several significant issues that the Government will address during the coming months following the recent Pre-Budget Report and Statement given in another place. That report made clear that there is a strong case for increasing the tax rate for active waste significantly in future years to provide incentives for the development of alternatives to landfill and to reduce the volume of waste disposed of that way.

The Government therefore announced that we shall consult on a revenue-neutral proposal to increase the landfill tax escalator to 3 per tonne in 2005–06 and to increase the rate of tax by at least 3 per tonne in future years on the way to a medium to long-term rate of 35 per tonne. The Government intend to introduce the increases in a way that is revenue-neutral to business as a whole. We announced that we will consult with stakeholders on options for the package, including the recycling of revenue, before making our decisions. A ministerial group will be set up to co-ordinate activity in that area across Government that will report to Parliament in the Budget next year.

To support the amendment and the new clause would cut across one consultative process already announced by the Government and the results of another that has already concluded, and would require all extra tax take arising from an increase in the rate for active waste above 15 to go to local projects and local councils, so the business sector, which would also be paying significantly more tax, would receive no further help to minimise its waste.

18 Dec 2002 : Column GC111

I therefore regret that the Government cannot accept the amendment, but I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will be interested in my reply.

Lord Dixon-Smith: The Minister has been helpful by setting out the position. However, there is always a problem with revenue-neutral proposals. Revenue-neutral proposals for business do not necessarily help the waste disposal business to get funding for the investment that it requires, which the amendment may well have provided.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer may well be right in trying to produce revenue-neutral proposals for business, but at the same time, if he does so and businesses are either let off other taxes or whatever, so that they are not adversely affected, he will still have the residual problem of finding the funding—huge amounts of capital funding will be required by the waste disposal sector—to meet the targets. We are talking about one system against another.

I accept what the Minister has said for now. She gave the explanation that I expected, if not the one that I desired. We shall study it, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 142 to 146 not moved.]

7 p.m.

Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 147:

    Page 16, line 28, insert—

"( ) Where a waste disposal authority is liable to a penalty under this Chapter and that liability is a result of an action or actions or a failure to take action on the part of a waste collection authority within the area of the waste disposal authority, the allocating authority may levy all or part of the penalty on the waste collection authority."

The noble Lord said: This is yet another amendment that returns us to the interesting question of potential problems under the Bill in two-tier local authority areas in England. The amendment would allow the allocating authorities to levy penalties on district councils—the collecting authorities in effect—if they were satisfied that the failure to comply with the requirements of the Bill, to meet the targets and the quotas, was the result of the collecting authorities and not the waste disposal authority.

I do not wish to say anything more about that. Previously in Committee we have discussed the interesting matter of the inter-relationship of collecting and disposal authorities in those areas. The noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, gave some clear commitments that the Government were looking at those problems, and that during the progress of the Bill they expected to be able to report what their thoughts were on resolving difficulties.

18 Dec 2002 : Column GC112

On that basis, I do not wish to move the amendment as the matter of two-tier authorities has been discussed sufficiently, but the Minister may be desperate to reply, so I shall move the amendment for her benefit. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page