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Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I rise briefly to support the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield. The performance of district councils varies very widely according to their political persuasion and factors such as their adoption some years ago of wheelie bins, which has increased enormously the amount of waste that they have to deal with. They now find themselves in great difficulty in withdrawing something which people have appreciated. However, a waste disposal authority has to have some safeguard against a collection authority that, for reasons of economy or just out of sheer political will, decides not to adhere to the forecasts.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, the problem is that much of the country is covered by two-tier authorities and faces real difficulties if some of the collecting authorities do not sufficiently rapidly comply with the requirements of the Bill. It would be difficult if the waste disposal authority were to be penalised in such a situation without being able to do something about it.

The amendment of my noble friend Lord Hanningfield goes a long way towards putting the matter right and should be given serious consideration. I know that the Minister is familiar with the problem and I hope that he will give a sympathetic response, even if he does not say yes.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I would like to draw the attention of the House to Amendment No. 66, which has been grouped with the amendment under discussion. The amendment is designed to tackle the problem by allowing the penalty to be levied on offending districts by the allocating authority—the devolved administration or the Department of the Environment in England—and not by the waste disposal authority, as we might have been misunderstood to have said in Committee. We believe that neither solution is ideal, but the Government must explain clearly how the problem will be sorted out, because this is a matter of great importance, as the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, has already pointed out.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as I indicated in Grand Committee, I have some understanding of the problem that these amendments are designed to address. Clearly, the main responsibility imposed by the Bill, which deals with waste disposal, must rest with the waste disposal authority, and that is why the sanctions are directed primarily at that authority. Nevertheless, I can imagine situations where the achievement of those objectives could be undermined either through malevolence or inadvertently by the actions of one of the districts within the county area in two-tiered parts of the country. However, Amendments Nos. 36, 37 and 41, which are designed to put some of the burden on the waste collection authority, are not appropriate. As they stand, a small failure by one of the constituent

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waste collection authorities could allow the waste disposal authority to avoid the penalty although the main reason for failure lay with that authority.

Incidentally, later clauses require the Government to have a strategy for England for reducing the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill in total. Part of the delivery of such a strategy would be to assist waste disposal authorities and waste collection authorities to work closely together. The recently published Strategy Unit report set out the options on how we might achieve that. The Government are currently considering how to take forward the delivery of the strategy in light of the recommendations from the Strategy Unit. I am not in a position today to establish whether that would require legislative form as an alternative to the approaches of Amendments Nos. 36, 37 and 41. The approach in those amendments would not be an appropriate solution to the problem.

Amendment No. 66, as the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, said, would deal with the problem in a slightly different way and does not suffer from the same disadvantages. However, other disadvantages are implicit in it. Effectively, it gives the allocation authority and therefore the central administration a quite detailed role in monitoring relations between the county and district authorities. That could be a problem in itself. If there was always the long-stop of appealing to the central authority, that could also reduce the incentive for the district and county to work together to achieve the required outcomes.

As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, said, I undertook in Grand Committee to consider the matter further, and we are doing so. In a sense, it runs up against other principles—those of trying to reduce the number of strategies required and the degree of central interference in local authority management. However, we are trying to find a solution. As with the earlier group of amendments, I am not in a position to say whether we can produce it in time for Third Reading but we are working on it. I ask noble Lords—and the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, in particular—to give me some scope in this regard to establish whether we can come up with a solution that I can commend to the House at Third Reading. If not, we shall at a later stage return to this debate and to the various solutions proposed in this group of amendments. In the meantime, I hope that noble Lords will take account of at least some of my comments.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. If the Bill is to work, a solution must be found to this problem. The Minister appeared to suggest that it was a fairly small problem. Geographically, most of England is two-tiered in terms of land mass. Most of this waste is therefore being deposited in that area. Whatever happens to regional government, it will probably be some years before there is regional government, even in the North East or North West, where there may be two tiers. For many years, we shall have to make this legislation work.

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We welcome legislation involving Waste Not, Want Not to help us to minimise waste and to help the Government to take some initiatives. However, we understand that that is some time away. We are rushing through this legislation because we need it. This will happen and we desperately need to find an answer to the two-tier problem. As I said, we have a consortium in Essex that is working well. Districts, particularly small ones, have particular problems. Unless we have some ammunition to help us in that regard, the whole Bill will be difficult to implement.

I accept what the Minister says. I shall ask the Local Government Association also to examine the matter. We may be able to come up with a helpful suggestion in the near future; I am not sure when Third Reading will be. People need to put their minds to this. If the Bill is enacted as currently drafted, it will be flawed. I thank the Minister for his comments and I am pleased that he is considering the issue. I shall certainly look at it again. We may make suggestions before Third Reading so that we can find a solution. Otherwise, the legislation will be very difficult to implement. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 37 not moved.]

6.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 38:

    Page 7, line 12, at end insert—

"(3A) If—
(a) a waste disposal authority is liable under subsection (2) to a penalty in respect of a scheme year that is not a target year,
(b) that scheme year ("the penalty year") is later than the first target year, and
(c) the total amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent in the penalty year to landfills in pursuance of arrangements made by waste disposal authorities in the United Kingdom exceeds the amount specified under section 1(1)(a) for the last target year before the penalty year,
the authority is also liable to a supplementary penalty."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 64 and 65.

These amendments will insert new subsection (3A) into Clause 8 and make consequential amendments to Clause 25. The amendment to Clause 8 extends the circumstances in which a waste disposal authority would be liable for a supplementary penalty. We have concluded that that is necessary because on further consideration there were circumstances in the current Bill where a waste disposal authority would be responsible for the UK as a whole to be fined without any way of levying supplementary penalties.

Supplementary penalties are intended to enable at least a proportion of any fines imposed on the UK by the European Court of Justice for failure to comply with a directive to be passed on to the individual waste disposal authorities that are responsible for such breaches.

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Once a target year under the landfill directive has passed, there is a continuing obligation on the UK not to exceed the targets under the directive for that target year. The UK could be fined if, for example, it exceeded the 1910 target—I apologise, I am only a century out of date. The fine could be imposed if it exceeded the 2010 target in 2011. The amendment would ensure that the waste disposal authority would be liable for a supplementary penalty in all circumstances, including that one. However, Clause 8 as currently drafted permits a supplementary penalty to be imposed only in a target year. That would omit the circumstances I have just described.

The new subsection also provides for a waste disposal authority to be liable for a supplementary penalty in scheme years between target years if it is liable to a penalty under Clause 8(2) and the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill in the United Kingdom in that scheme year exceeds the amount specified under Clause 1(1)(a). That is a sensible precaution, which would enable any European-imposed fines to be shared by those who are responsible for our failure to meet the targets. I beg to move.

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