Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, made clear, these new clauses are similar to the ones included in the London Local Authorities Bill in the last Session which were eventually withdrawn by the sponsors.

We all agree that fly-tipping is a serious problem. In fact, I challenge the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, when he said that it is not as much of a problem in rural areas. In some places it is equally serious in both. We do not believe that these particular provisions add anything extra to local authorities' powers to help them to alleviate the problem.

Under Section 51 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, waste disposal authorities have a duty to provide specified places for residents to deposit their

3 Feb 2003 : Column 72

household waste. There are already stringent powers in place to prevent the illegal disposal of waste. Both the local authority and the Environment Agency already have the power to prosecute offenders. In the event of conviction, a defendant can be subject to severe penalties including an unlimited fine or imprisonment for up to five years. The local authority and the agency also have the power to remove fly-tipped waste and to recover the costs incurred from those responsible.

However, we are considering further changes to legislation to tackle fly-tipping as part of the anti-social behaviour legislation and in the consultation paper Living Places—Powers, Rights and Responsibilities. We agree that it is a serious issue but, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, predicted, we do not believe that it is within the scope of this Bill or that it is appropriate to tackle this issue now. We hope that the response to the consultation paper to which I have referred will lead to further action being taken, should that be deemed necessary.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply, particularly for the additional information which she has given that perhaps something might be brought forward in the anti-social behaviour legislation which would help in this area. I always thought that this is a subject which should be tackled and it now appears that it might be, albeit in some other legislation. We await that with interest. The only problem is that inevitably we shall be too late with the new provisions to do anything about the present situation and legislation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 44 not moved.]

Clause 9 [Monitoring authorities]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 45:

    Page 7, line 30, at end insert—

"( ) monitor how much biodegradable waste is sent to landfills in pursuance of arrangements made other than by waste disposal authorities in the area;"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Bill lays down that a responsible allocating authority must have a strategy for reducing the amount of biodegradable waste that goes to landfill. Unless I have missed something, there is nowhere in the Bill anything which relates to monitoring or controlling non-municipal biodegradable waste. The Bill seems to assume that all such waste is municipal. I doubt very much whether that is so; and if it is not so, we need to think about it.

With differential landfill charges, with inert material charged at 2 per tonne and biodegradable waste currently at 13 per tonne and rising, very often there is a temptation for people to add a part of biodegradable waste to inert waste. That is a separate and serious problem which needs to be covered.

Another aspect, particularly with regard to small traders, is that they give employees black bin-liners filled with waste to be taken home and disposed of as domestic waste for which no charge is payable, rather than for it to be disposed of as industrial waste. There

3 Feb 2003 : Column 73

is a question of definition within this Bill which is not adequately covered. If the Minister can give an assurance that all biodegradable waste is municipal waste and that nobody other than municipal authorities has the right to dispose of it, I shall be happy to withdraw the amendment. I can think of non-municipal organisations which produce quite a lot of biodegradable waste. The Army is one. If they can take the waste direct to a tip, we have a problem. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has identified that there are other sources of biodegradable waste. They are not covered by the Bill, but they are by this strategy. I should like to write to the noble Lord to set out the detail of how it will apply.

This legislation deals with municipal biodegradable waste. We are aware that the Environment Agency currently does not monitor all biodegradable waste going to every landfill in England and Wales. It would be an impractical task to do so, even for solid municipal waste, for which there are more data than for any other broad waste stream. It would still be impossible and extremely costly. However, I shall write to the noble Lord on the detail of how this will be achieved within the strategy as opposed to within the Bill regarding the municipal stream. I hope that he will withdraw the amendment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister's helpful response. We were concerned that there was a possibility for leakage. It is nice to know that that is being considered and I await her reply with interest. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 [Scheme regulations]:

Lord Hanningfield had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 46:

    Page 8, line 24, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment was related to my earlier amendments. In view of the Minister's statement on the problems of two-tier authorities I shall not pursue it today, but I may return to it.

[Amendment No. 46 not moved.]

Clause 12 [Powers in relation to landfill operators]:

[Amendment No. 47 not moved.]

Clause 13 [Disclosure of information by monitoring and allocating authorities]:

Lord Livsey of Talgarth moved Amendment No. 48:

    Page 10, line 4, leave out "may" and insert "shall"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am moving the amendment for my noble friend Lord Greaves, who, as I explained earlier, is unwell. I shall speak also to Amendment No. 49. These Liberal Democrat amendments originate from Committee stage. They relate to the sharing of monitoring information about municipal biodegradable waste between monitoring and allocating authorities and between themselves.

3 Feb 2003 : Column 74

The Government say that this will be allowed. We believe that that is not strong enough and that there should be mandatory provision. It is not a major issue but it needs sorting out. In Committee a debate took place between the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, and the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, about whether the word "may" sometimes means "shall". Our amendments address that question, specifying in the legislation that such sharing shall take place; that there will be no choice about it; and that it must happen. It should be compulsory.

We believe it is necessary to make such provision because the debate in Committee was unclear—in fact, it could be inferred that trading will not be allowed to take place in some areas. We believe that the use of "shall" would be better. Monitoring authorities will be monitoring just about everything in the scheme, which can be seen in Clause 9.

We would be extremely grateful in the light of what was said previously for a definitive explanation; otherwise we are likely to return to it at Third Reading. I beg to move.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the information referred to in this part of the Bill may be disclosed between allocating authorities or between allocating authorities and monitoring authorities; that is, between the administrations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland or, for example, between them and the Environment Agency in England and Wales.

By seeking to change "may" to "shall", the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, is uncharacteristically trampling over the devolution settlement. A decision will be required by each of the allocating authorities to engage in trading. The regulations governing that trading will be a matter for them. If the regulations permit cross-border trading between, say, England and Wales, it will be necessary to have an exchange of information between the monitoring authorities for each country.

However, before regulations were made permitting cross-border trading there would have to be an agreement between my department and the National Assembly for Wales. They would need to make provision for an exchange of information. In those circumstances, we would be allowed to exchange that information.

If no such agreement was reached or the Welsh authority did not go in for either a trading scheme in its entirety or a cross-border element within that trading scheme, it would be wrong for the Bill to specify that it should disclose to us its information, or vice versa.

Existing concordats between ourselves and the devolved administrations will allow us to act in conjunction as far as possible, but an additional provision making it a duty to disclose in circumstances where we do not know whether all the authorities will go for a trading scheme and what kind of scheme it would be is a step too far. It would not observe the

3 Feb 2003 : Column 75

proprieties in our relationship with the devolved administrations. I hope that noble Lord will not pursue the amendment.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page