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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2, at end insert "but do propose the following amendment in lieu of the words so left out of the Bill—

2AClause 2, Insert the following new Clause—

"Compatibility with EC Directive

(1) Wherever applicable, all provisions of this Act shall be implemented in such a way as to comply with and contribute to the requirements of the EC Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC).

    (2) The Secretary of State and the Assembly shall prepare and publish targets, together with a timetable by which each shall be achieved, for Articles 5 and 8 of the EC Water Framework Directive.

    (3) The targets and timetable shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and the Assembly within one year after the Directive has been transposed.""

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the Minister says that there is a usual way to transpose directives. I agree. Does he also accept that the UK has an astoundingly poor record in transposing environmental directives? It is so bad that the UK came bottom of the league in Europe in the European Commission's Fourth Annual Survey on the Implementation and Enforcement of Community Environmental Law. That is enough proof of why the old method of transposing directives is simply not good enough. In my view, that alone would be good enough reason to use primary legislation.

There is astounding agreement between all sides involved with anything to do with water. The water industry—that is the companies themselves, the environmental NGOs and academics—and everyone I have spoken to about the Bill have one thing in common: they are all angry, disappointed and disbelieving that the Government could have put this legislation through without as much as a reference to the Water Framework Directive. After all, this will be the biggest change in our water management, certainly in living memory. They are worried for very good reason. Without the backing of primary legislation, the Water Framework Directive has been downgraded in importance. It is likely to be implemented in a non-cost effective way and without the urgency needed.

To be effective, the implementation really needs to mesh with planning and spatial planning functions, for example—hence my reference to Article 5. Article 5 is concerned with the type of measures that will be needed in the planning process to enable the Water Framework Directive to be properly implemented.

It is very difficult to see how the framework's objective of reducing, for example, diffuse pollution will possibly be achieved unless those changes are given the kind of urgency and planning that is needed. If the Government do not achieve the timescale, which my amendment also requires them at least to set out, it will cost us all in infraction proceedings.

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More importantly, perhaps, the Minister will remember that the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, spoke exceedingly well in Grand Committee of the costs to industry—not only the costs of all the lost opportunities that innovation will bring in having industries that seek to clean up pollution. They are opportunities to be grasped and not to be taken at the last minute.

Article 8 is about monitoring surface and groundwater status. That work will tell us what needs to be done and where, and how difficult it is likely to be. Again, there is no use in leaving that until the last possible moment.

I hear the Minister's remarks that there is plenty of time and that people are fully seized and prepared to put the Water Framework Directive into action in the timescale. However, since the Bill left this House, when the Minister asserted that that would happen, I have spoken to all sorts of people, from local authorities throughout the country, those concerned with development control issues, developing local plans, spatial planning and transport, who are unaware of the demands that the Water Framework Directive will make, if they are aware of it at all. It is an extremely serious situation. If, at least, the provisions were included in primary legislation, the Government would have made a statement that it was important. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2, at end insert Amendment No. 2A in lieu of the words so left out of the Bill.—(Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer.)

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I support the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer. Throughout the proceedings we have run a duet, supported by other noble Lords around the House, who are unfortunately absent, on the need to include in the Bill the Water Framework Directive responsibilities. It is a timely occasion, as there will not be a water Bill for many years to come. I wish to add to the noble Baroness's comments.

In his letter on the Water Framework Directive, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said:

    "Clause 2 of the Bill simply provides an enabling power to implement aspects of the Water Framework Directive—it does not transpose the Directive. An enabling power already exists in the European Communities Act. Formal transposition of the Directive must be achieved by 22 December this year".

The letter was originally sent on 12th September. It continued:

    "The Government published a consultation paper in August with proposed draft transposing regulations. Our consultation period runs until October".

I ask the Minister whether that consultation has finished; what has happened to it since then; and will the aims be achieved by 22nd December, bearing in mind that it is now 13th November? The noble Lord said:

    "You will remember from the exchanges during the Bill's passage through the Lords that the Government firmly believes that there is no need to depart from the longstanding practice".

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He has referred to that today. He adds:

    "The amendment to leave out clause 2 reflects this".

The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, has said that the changes are major and will affect us whether we are individual users or business users, in whatever capacity. Can the Minister assure us that everything that has come from Europe has been transposed using the European Communities Act? Are other important things being dealt with differently, or is just this Bill involved?

The Government's reply to the Water Framework Directive, which was printed on 4th June 2003, underlines the importance of what the noble Baroness is trying to do. Chapter 1, paragraph 1, states:

    "The Water Framework Directive offers the potential of enormous environmental and social benefits, but at the same time it will dramatically affect the ways in which farming, industries and others conduct their activities. Therefore the first—and perhaps over-riding—conclusion of our inquiry is that the Directive needs much greater public promotion".

That is the exact issue on which the noble Baroness has just touched. At chapter 10, on page 11, it clearly states:

    "The Government should now clarify the timetable for completion of the strategic review of diffuse pollution from agriculture".

It continues:

    "We trust that the review will consult as widely as possible about the scale of the problem, and the strategies and resources needed to bring this most intractable of pollution sources under control".

Most importantly, it states:

    "Given the likely impact that dealing with diffuse pollution will have on the agriculture industry we recommend that the review assess carefully the financial implications of the Directive for the agricultural industry to ensure that costs of implementation for this sector are proportionate in respect of its present ability to pay".

I cannot help but reinforce that point. It is hugely important.

I now turn to page 13, chapter 15, which deals with administration and the directive. It states:

    "The Directive requires legal effect to be given to the Directive by December 2003".

It is now 13th November, so when and how?

Page 15, paragraph 20, on integration and powers, states:

    "We strongly recommend that the Government begin now to develop the arrangements, agreements and protocols which will be needed to ensure that the river basin management plans drawn up by the Environment Agency as competent authority carry sufficient force—and to ensure that the Agency is required to take into account the views of others in drawing up the management plans".

There are many other examples that I could cite, but those are the particular ones to which I wish to refer tonight.

The Minister should be in no doubt that there is extreme concern, not only on the part of noble Lords on these Benches and others in the House, but also in the wider domain outside. The Government need to explain more fully why they think that the measure will

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not be necessary and, even more importantly, how they will achieve their own objectives. I would be grateful if the Minister would answer those questions.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the first answer to the question asked by the noble Baroness, which, in a sense, is the key answer, is that the vast majority of European regulation is implemented under the European Communities Act 1972. It is very rare that we use primary legislation. In this particular respect, we have been through three periods of consultation on all aspects of the Water Framework Directive. The consultees, the stakeholders, the industry, the consumers, and those representing environmental concerns were all involved in that process.

The noble Baroness rightly referred to the time-scale. The Government intend to bring forward regulations following that consultation—which finished in October—next month. That is the normal process. A whole range of people have been engaged in that process. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, says that nobody understands it, but I cannot accept that. All those people have been involved. Indeed, they would expect to be involved in that degree of consultation over proposed regulation on an extremely complex and—I agree—vitally important piece of European regulation.

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