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Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, we are moving deeper into the difficult area of penalties. Elsewhere in the Bill, we dealt with the problem of the Minister having flexibility to decide how to deal with penalties: to remit them, delay them and so on. We are now having to act to increase them and to deal with the post-target-year situation in which the country has to pay a fine. The Government are right to this extent: the Government are not a waste disposal authority. I should think they are jolly glad they are not. They could none the less be penalised and they want to push the penalty on to those who caused the problem.

If we are dealing with a situation in which the Minister has the power to decide whether or not the penalty should apply, the Minister will once again have to act as judge in his own case in order to recover moneys that the Government must pay on. I do have too much difficulty in deciding which way the Chancellor of the Exchequer would advise a Minister to decide such a matter, whatever the merits of the case. We are in a very complicated area. I hear what the Minister said and I note that the penalty that is in question in this regard relates only to exceeding the amount specified for the past target year. The Minister mentioned 1910—I am making the mistake that he made; I am getting my century wrong. He mentioned the 2010 target year and the possibility of a penalty being levied in 2011. I assume that if we get to 2015, the penalty would still relate to the 2010 target. Hopefully by then that situation would not arise, but if the penalty related to the graph that we spoke about earlier, I believe that there would be a problem. Perhaps the Minister would clarify that matter.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, we believe that this amendment is worthy of support in that it tightens up the system, builds on the target year and locks on

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to trading, transfers and so on. Clearly, this is important if the legislation is to be effective. If we want to see a reduction, there must be a means of applying methods to achieve that. We support the amendment.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, unless I have misunderstood the matter and misunderstood what the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said, the situation is that if the Government—in other words, Britain—failed to meet the criteria under the directive the Commission could impose a fine, although the Government could appeal against that fine to the court. So far as I can see, we have now reached a situation in which the Government can be fined an unknown and unlimited amount by the European Commission or by the European Court of Justice and they are now seeking to push that penalty on to the people whom they believe have committed the offence.

We are getting into a convoluted state in which one authority can levy a fine on the Government. The local authorities did not go to Europe and agree to the directive; the Government agreed to the directive and therefore presumably they agreed that the Government could be fined. The Government did not say, "That is all right, the local authorities will pay that fine". As I understand the situation—these matters are complicated and perhaps I have misunderstood—they agreed to the directive in the full knowledge that, if the Government did not meet the targets, the Government could be fined. The local authorities did not agree to that. The local authorities had nothing to do with it. Having agreed to a directive under which a fine could apply, the Government are seeking to transfer that fine to the local authorities, which, as we have already discussed, are pretty strapped for cash. They would find it extremely difficult to meet a fine, particularly if it were a heavy one. Perhaps the Minister could comment on that.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I can comment on that. It raises central issues of principle in regard to the way in which we implement EU law. The local authority in the frame would have breached UK law in relation to what would be prescribed under the provisions of the Bill. The fact that part of that led to an EU fine would mean that the local authority was already in breach of what are essentially UK allocations under this legislation. Although I understand the principal argument that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is making, the breach arises primarily as a result of a breach of UK law, albeit in fulfilment of the obligations under the directive.

The Commission fine would be up to a maximum of 180 million a year, which is a pretty hefty amount. Were such a fine to be imposed as a result of particular waste disposal authorities' failure to meet their UK targets, it would be reasonable for the Government to pass on the cost of that fine, in whole or in part, to those waste disposal authorities.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, did the Minister say "180 million"? That is an enormous fine that could be passed on to local authorities. I know a

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fair amount about European Union matters, but I had no idea that a fine of 180 million could be levied in breach of this directive. It is unthinkable; it is outrageous; and it is particularly outrageous for the local authorities that would have to bear it.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, that is the maximum fine. The degree to which we failed to fulfil the targets would inform the level of fine. The Commission, the Council of Ministers and the court have a jurisdiction in this matter—a jurisdiction that I know that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, does not accept and, in so far as he has to accept it, he resents it. Nevertheless, that is a fact of life. Therefore, having imposed targets on local authorities in accordance with Acts passed through Parliament, it is not unreasonable for the Government to pass on to the local authority responsible for the failure to meet the targets that led to a penalty on the Government all or some of the cost . We can debate the wider issues another time.

In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, the Commission, and if necessary the court, can impose only fines relating to failure to meet the target at the scheme date. Therefore, failure to meet the 2010 target will continue to be the relevant criterion until we reach the next scheme date. The intervening target—I refer to the algebraic formula that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, dislikes—would not be subject to intervention from the Commission or a fine from the Commission. That would have to relate to the years for which the European legislation specified the target and would therefore be valid until the next one.

With that explanation and the additional explanation that the amendment extends matters in a narrow sense to the post-scheme year compared with what is already in the Bill—noble Lords have not challenged the situation in relation to the scheme year itself, although that may be an oversight by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart; but we have passed that part of the Bill—I hope that noble Lords will accept the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 39 to 42 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 43:

    After Clause 8, insert the following new clause—

"Waste deposited in public open spaces and on highways

(1) A local authority may designate any part of the following land in the area of the local authority as land to which this section applies—
(a) a public off-street car park;
(b) a recreation ground, garden, park or open space under the management or control of a local authority;
(c) a path, pavement or highway which is open to public access, whether or not as of right;
(d) an area of land beside a railway under the ownership or control of a railway undertaking, a station or a station forecourt.

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(2) The local authority may, when designating any land under subsection (1), provide that the designation of the land shall have effect in relation to one or more of the following—
(a) commercial waste;
(b) household waste; or
(c) industrial waste.
(3) Any person who, without the written consent of the local authority, or in breach of any condition subject to which the local authority's consent has been given, places, or causes or permits any other person to place, commercial waste, household waste or industrial waste for collection on land which is subject to a designation under this section relating to that type of waste, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(4) Where the commission by any person of an offence under subsection (3) is due to the direction, act or default of some other person, that other person may be charged with and convicted of the offence by virtue of this subsection whether or not proceedings for the offence are taken against the first-mentioned person.
(5) The conditions of consent referred to in subsection (3) may include conditions as to—
(a) the times during which the waste may be placed for collection or period for which the consent is valid;
(b) the part of the place designated under subsection (1) where the consent is to apply;
(c) the use of means by which waste can be attributed to any particular occupier of premises;
(d) a requirement for a person to produce on demand to an authorised officer of a local authority or to a constable documentary evidence of the consent; and
(e) any other matter that the local authority has reason to believe will reduce the depositing of waste in public open spaces and on paths, pavements or highways without consent.
(6) A local authority may charge such reasonable fee for a consent under this section as they think fit, and in setting the level of such fees shall take into consideration—
(a) any reasonable costs or expected costs incurred or to be incurred in connection with the administration of the provisions of this section;
(b) the cost or expected cost of enforcing the provisions of this section.
(7) A consent under the section may be revoked and the conditions of consent may be altered by notice to the person to whom the consent was given.
(8) A person aggrieved by—
(a) the withholding by the council of consent referred to in subsection (4);
(b) the conditions subject to which the council give such consent; or
(c) the revocation of such consent under subsection (7);
may appeal to a magistrates' court by way of complaint for an order and on such appeal the court may dismiss or allow the appeal or may vary any conditions imposed by the council.
(9) In this section "commercial waste", "household waste" and "industrial waste" have the same meanings as in section 75 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (c. 43).
(10) Any land so designated shall be visited daily, Monday to Friday, by an appropriate collection vehicle."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this group of amendments relates to a point which was raised in Grand Committee and which, I admit, somewhat widens the scope of the Bill. I believe that it would be helpful if something similar could be put into legislation.

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We are all familiar with the problem of a partially developed major site, which has become a casual dumping ground for waste. It might be all kinds of waste. This group of amendments would permit local authorities, using a licensing scheme, to designate particular areas within these sites to try to control this creeping menace. The amendments widen the scope of the Bill because they would permit any type of waste to be deposited within these areas. They provide a licensing scheme, which would be charged on the person owning the land. It is hoped that if something of this kind can be achieved, we can reduce the menace of casual fly-tipping, which in urban areas is even more offensive than it is in rural areas. I believe that it is particularly an urban problem that we are seeking to deal with in this series of amendments.

We believe that they would help. They were lifted from the London Local Authorities Bill. We have tried to change the wording slightly, but I suspect that we shall be told that we still have not got it right and that the amendments are inappropriate in this Bill. The difficulty is that it is almost impossible to find an appropriate slot for something of this kind because everything is too specifically directed in some other way. We thought it worth while raising the matter again in the hope that we might persuade the Minister to give a somewhat more sympathetic hearing and do something before the Bill completes its parliamentary passage. I beg to move.

7 p.m.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, we support these amendments. At first viewing they may seem to be rather prescriptive, but the issue of litter is an enormous problem in the country at present. The situation with regard to illegal dumping is very bad and has deteriorated markedly over the years. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, about the creation of more disposable packaging. We believe that this new clause will assist in improving the situation. Some parts of the country are now looking extremely tawdry. I believe that this amendment will lead not only to a tidying up of litter, but of the law as well. We support this measure as it would certainly discourage the dumping of waste materials where they have no place.

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