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Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that explanation. It behoves us to read the details in Hansard and to consider them. I understand his point about the devolved administrations. As a Welsh Member of the House of Lords I am obviously concerned about that relationship. I therefore beg leave withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 49 not moved.]

Clause 15 [Registers: public access]:

Lord Livsey of Talgarth moved Amendment No. 50:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 50, which relates to amendments on the Freedom of Information Bill and comes from Committee stage, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 51, which is new and seeks to cover points made by Ministers in Committee.

Clause 15 refers to registers of information kept about the operation of the scheme for biodegradable municipal waste. It states that regulations may be made to allow the public to inspect and obtain copies of the register. We believe strongly that that provision should be mandatory. I shall listen to what the Minister has to say in relation to the Government's comments on previous amendments.

In Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, said that the provision could not be made mandatory because the register might contain sensitive commercial information. In our view that point should already be covered by the wording in Clause 15,

    "as is of a description specified by the regulations".

The noble Baroness said:

    "We believe that all relevant information should be in the public domain, except for sensitive financial details, pricing and trading details".—[Official Report, 18/12/02; col. GC82.]

Amendment No. 51 uses her exact words. If that is what the Government believe—and we sincerely think they do—perhaps it should be put on the face of the Bill. If not, we wish to know why.

We feel strongly about this matter, but I shall await the explanation from the noble Baroness. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, we have discussed this matter with the devolved administrations. Their intention, as is ours with regard to England, will be to consult on being as open as possible. Neither we nor the devolved administrations would wish to change the current provisions in the Bill in case the consultation exercise identifies a legitimate reason for withholding certain types of commercial information. We would not want to see the success of the scheme undermined.

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Therefore, that remains an issue for each devolved administration and one on which there will be consultation. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, and the House that no information will be withheld from the public domain without good reason. I hope that, with that assurance, he feels able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I welcome the Minister's statement and thank the noble Baroness for the spirit in which she made it. I believe that she has just made a sincere statement. We hope that the public will have access to this information as widely as possible within the constraints she mentioned. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 51 not moved.]

Clause 16 [Strategy for England]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 52:

    Page 11, line 9, at end insert—

"( ) The strategy must include measures to ensure that the development, alteration or advertisement of industrial or commercial products does not result in an increase of biodegradable waste."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we are in the business once again of trying to improve the psychological pressure on everyone to reduce the amount of waste that they create. Unfortunately, we seem to create increasing waste difficulties, if I can put the matter that way.

A simple example is when I buy stamps. I do not buy one sheet of paper, I buy two. I buy a sheet of stamps. They are slapped on a non-sticky backing page and instead of licking a stamp and putting it on the envelope I have to tear it out with considerable care. When I have torn all the stamps out I have two things left. I have a neat trellis framework and a backing page, which both go in the bin.

Nowadays one's credit card account always comes as two pages. Even if one has only one transaction in a month, one gets one page with the transaction on and another with the tear-off bit at the bottom with which one pays. It should be possible to use one page.

A third example is that of building societies. Instead of having pass books, which worked satisfactorily for years and years—one took one's pass book along and got it written up once a month—they insist on sending every customer a computer printout. These may be small matters. Individually they are small. But the fact is that they increase the volume of waste of which we have to dispose. Some of it can be recycled. One hopes that it would all go to recycling, but the probability that it will all go for recycling is unlikely in the near future.

So we thought it important to put on to the face of the Bill that the strategy should include measures to ensure that the development, alteration or advertisement of industrial or commercial products should not result in an increase in biodegradable waste.

I sometimes think that the way that we work in this House increases the amount of biodegradable waste because we generate a huge amount of paper. But there

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is a serious point here. Society has gone convenience and packaging crazy. It has its good aspects and one should not deny them, but it has a problem. One has to look only at one's Sunday newspapers and the stuff that comes with them—and in particular there is the junk mail which goes straight into the wastepaper basket—to see that there should be scope for a considerable reduction. It would be greatly to our convenience if that were the case. I hope that the Government in their strategy can find some way of exerting pressure to try to persuade some people to bring this desirable end about. I beg to move.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, we strongly support the amendment. We wish to see a decrease in the amount of waste. We feel that these amendments seek strongly to achieve that objective.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I, too, support these amendments. I will not go through all the arguments which I went through at Second Reading, many of which have been repeated by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. It is absolutely essential that the Government take this matter very seriously. They must not impose penalties on householders—because that is where it will end—where the householder is not the culprit. I say once again that we should deal with the problem at source rather than at the finish.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I agree with almost every word that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has said, including his stricture on this House for producing far too much paper one way and another. The amendments are unnecessary because the strategies that the noble Lord is looking for are already a legal requirement.

For England, Section 44A of the Environmental Protection Act requires the Secretary of State to prepare a strategy on the recovery and disposal of waste. That covers the prevention or reduction of waste—minimisation—and its harmfulness. There are similar duties in relation to the devolved administrations. So, although the noble Lord's objectives are desirable, they are already in law and the Government have taken significant steps, particularly in relation to the response to the Strategy Unit report, in order to see that they are strengthened and carried out. So I accept his objectives, but the measures are already there.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am delighted and immensely reassured to hear that the measures are already there. I need say only that, in my experience, they have not yet had any effect. With that unhappy thought, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 53:

    Page 11, line 29, at end insert—

"( ) Where subsection (1) is satisfied by policies set out in a statement under section 44A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (c. 43) (national waste strategy), if the statement was

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prepared before the coming into force of that subsection it does not matter that the policies were not formulated for the purposes of that subsection."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 53, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 55 and 58. They clarify when the requirements of Clauses 16, 17 and 19 will be satisfied. That is already provided for in Wales at the request of the Welsh authorities and further advice suggests that this express provision may cast doubt on the situation in the other administrations.

Clause 16 requires the Secretary of State to have a strategy for reducing both the amount of biodegradable municipal waste from England that goes in the landfills and the amount of biodegradable waste from outside England that goes to landfills in England. Clause 16(4) requires the Secretary of State to consult prior to formulating policy. There are similar arrangements for the devolved administrations. Those are in addition to the duties under Section 44A of the Environmental Protection Act.

Amendment No. 53 would insert an additional subsection which is similar to the provision for Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are also formulating policies in relation to their own legislative process. These amendments will ensure that time and resources are not wasted on re-consulting on documents which meet the requirements for landfill strategies under Clauses 16 to 19 and have already received significant consultation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

7.30 p.m.

Clause 17 [Strategy for Scotland]:

[Amendment No. 54 not moved.]

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