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In the waste hierarchy, waste minimisation and recycling are higher than energy from waste. Not to create it in the first place is certainly higher in the Bill. In this respect, we focus on waste minimisation and recycling at the top of the hierarchy. As to the point that the noble Lord made about 20 per cent of the waste going to China, recycling is good for the environment wherever it takes place, as long as it is recycled and undertaken in an environmentally sound manner.

I am well aware, from television, films and briefings, that that has not always been the case. It is illegal to export waste from this country for dumping, but all exports for recycling are subject to EC and UK controls in order to protect human health and the environment. People are sent out as inspectors to areas where the waste goes to recycling, not as a jolly, but to see that the environment is being protected as well as human health and that we are not causing problems.

That has added advantages. Waste may go to economies that can use this waste—I know that is not a good word—for recycling on a more massive scale than we can do economically. That is not easy in a small country, where economies of scale apply. Where recycling can be done in growing economies such as China and India, they can reduce their reliance on natural resources in the first place, on a much greater scale than we could here. That would be of much greater benefit to the environment, so there is a win-win situation there—as long as the recycling is carried out in an environmentally friendly fashion.

I have said that this is only a principled debate on Clause 51, as the noble Lord said. I apologise that it is not the full-blown exercise that was originally forecast, but I do not think it is trivial. This is relevant to the Bill. There is a connection between what we are trying to do on climate change and waste reduction, minimisation and recycling. This is a contribution. If this is done by piloting, it is much more likely to win public acceptance in the medium and long term, than if it were done overnight through a system imposed by Whitehall.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the noble Lord responds, can I ask the Minister a couple of things? I am very pleased with his response to this short debate and agree that we need flexibility. The pilot areas are referred to as “areas”. Could an area be the whole of a county, or are just one or two areas linked up? Will one specific local authority do the piloting? In some cases, a greater scale would bring greater rewards than having a smaller pilot.

My second question is about the exporting of our waste to be recycled. In principle I do not have any problem with that, but is there an equivalent carbon footprint to be taken into account when that sort of

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waste is moved? Clearly, if we are creating more pollution as a result of it, that should raise a question mark.

My final point is more personal to me. Within rural areas, collection of waste of any sort—as the Minister knows so well—costs more. Therefore, I do hope that one of the areas chosen for the pilots would include a rural area.

Lord Rooker: I thought that I had covered the first point of the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, but probably not adequately. It will be up to the five local authorities to come forward with proposed pilots for areas in their boundaries. It may or may not be the whole local authority area. It will be entirely up to the local authority to decide whether it wants to participate in a pilot and to choose the part of its area that it is responsible for; that could be less than its full boundaries—it is entirely up to it—and we will assess the benefits of that. To that extent the answer is going to be left to local authorities. It would make sense for the pilot schemes to have a range, from the census point of view—local authorities may talk to each other and the Local Government Association will play a big role in this—so that the pilots are meaningful. They are a forerunner of national policy so it does not make sense to have them all run in the same kind of area. There will be flexibility.

That makes my point on the third question about the rural aspect of the issue. There are clearly massive differences between what would happen in the City of Westminster and in a rural area. The collection is different, disposal is different, the means of separating the household waste is different and the kind of schemes that one would put together are different, but that is up to the local authority and we do not want to prejudge that.

The noble Baroness’s point about transport is interesting. That would be covered when we get round to looking at the shipping aspect of the carbon footprint in offsetting the net benefits of taking the goods out of the country to be recycled; we hope that that will not be a matter for this Bill.

Lord Dearing: In welcoming the pilots, I have one question for the Minister—in one sentence. Will he satisfy himself that the administrative costs of the pilots are taken into account so that we know what those are?

Lord Rooker: The noble Lord is absolutely right to raise the issue, which comes up in one of the amendments. We want local authorities to come forward with pilots that are revenue neutral for the tax payer, which is important. Obviously there will an admin cost for setting up the scheme—work has to be done there—but local authorities can find savings by doing it within their overall budget. We hope they will come forward with the economics of specific schemes to address those issues. We have a tiny sum set aside in Defra, not to fund local authorities but to assist in oiling and certainly—maybe—for the evaluation. Evaluation of the schemes is important. But we must not let the issue of administrative red tape and burdens be such that it nullifies the schemes. There has to be a net benefit to society.

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Lord Greaves: I thank noble Lords who took part in this brief general debate and the Minister for his comments. I was desperately trying to avoid saying at any stage in the debate that this is all a load of rubbish but the Minister pre-empted me, or half pre-empted me. But I will try to avoid saying it again. I will also try to avoid touching further on some of the issues that have been raised as they will be discussed in later amendments. I have one or two questions. All the stuff that has been produced about schemes in other parts of the world has not convinced me that those are more than a series of local individual schemes that work in some places. Where have schemes such as this one been tried but failed? Those are not in the list and are not being discussed, for obvious reasons. Those schemes stopped when they failed and they are no longer taking place. There may not be any such scheme. Perhaps every charging scheme ever introduced on the basis of the amount of waste thrown away has been successful. I wonder about that. I am not at all convinced by the information I have been given so far, including the stuff from the Defra website—which, as I said, is very useful.

I have to welcome the fact that the Government are piloting this—not the particular scheme but the principle of piloting things with local authorities. So many things are dumped on local authorities. They do it whether they like it or not and just have to make the best of it. The concept of piloting is a good one and I hope it spreads within Defra, the DCLG and other government departments. We will see. The Minister apologises for the fact that it is not a full-blown scheme. If it was a full-blown scheme, I would want to divide the Committee on it every 10 minutes. This is not the kind of thing you can impose without piloting at all. To that extent, I welcome it.

The Minister said that householders have an important part to play. Of course they do; their part is crucial. However, that is not the point at issue. The point at issue is whether the best way of getting householders to play their part is to impose financial penalties and to hand out financial benefits or whether it is to provide a good collection service that will encourage people to use it. All the evidence is that, where good recycling services are provided, the proportion of stuff that goes to recycling goes up and up. That is what has happened when local authorities have done this over the past few years. Local authorities now have a whole mix of different schemes in different areas. If all the best schemes from the all the areas could be carried out everywhere, we might achieve more than the Government will through their proposals.

6.30 pm

On the question of which councils are involved, I am afraid that Joan Ruddock let the cat out of the bag when she said that the department was talking to 18 councils. If she has mentioned the figure 18, 18 names must exist. It is those 18 names that we are asking for but which no one will provide. That is not satisfactory. I accept that there may well be preliminary discussions, almost certainly with council officers. One wonders how many councillors on those 18 councils know that the discussions are taking place and what they think about them if they know. Who

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knows? We do not know where these councils are and we cannot find out. I cannot find a council that is enthusiastic about doing this, although perhaps other noble Lords know of some and we will learn of them later.

The Minister said that formal application processes would be developed. That introduces the question of timetables. Will this happen after the Bill has completed all its stages and becomes law, when it goes to the Commons or at some other stage? It would be interesting to know that.

Finally, the Minister did not answer my questions about the savings for households, particularly the national saving of £94 million. That is a specific sum, but we do not know how it was arrived at and what proportion of householders in England would have to take part to achieve such a saving. If the Minister has that information now, it would be helpful to have it; if he has not, perhaps he will find it and let us know.

Lord Rooker: I apologise for that. I will see whether I can get that information on the £94 million; it was not immediately to hand.

As I said, the local authorities that are in discussions at the moment will not necessarily be the ones that come forward with a pilot proposal, so there is no benefit to any of them. Let us not forget that we consulted fully on this. It is not as though the issue turned up in the Bill by accident. A full consultation on a scheme from Defra was launched last summer and ran over the summer period. It was much commented on in the media, although not all those comments were based on the facts.

Modelling done in Defra showed that savings of £94 million could be available to England if around 62 per cent of households were covered by a waste incentive scheme. The figure of £94 million came from modelling.

Apparently, my colleague Joan Ruddock mentioned authorities that had made inquiries for information. This was at a Select Committee hearing on 7 December. I think that she mentioned the figure 14, not 18, but I will not argue about that, as the issue is still the same and we are not going to publish any names.

There will be informal guidance in the spring, followed by a formal arrangement. At the moment, local authorities have no power to charge. We want to incentivise householders. We want them to see that there is money to be gained by doing this; we are not coming in and saying, “You’ve got to pay for this”. However, local authorities have no powers under existing legislation to do that. The chances of their treasurers and legal people allowing them to present schemes to the Government before the Bill gets Royal Assent are fairly non-existent, but we are planning for a fairly early Royal Assent, subject to consideration of the remaining stages in this place and the other place.

Clause 51 agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Waste reduction schemes]:

Lord Taylor of Holbeach moved Amendment No. 183BB:

“( ) to produce less commercial, industrial or service waste,”

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The noble Lord said: I am sure that we are all sustained by the Minister’s optimism, as we have been throughout our consideration of the Bill. I start by congratulating him and the Government on the announcement of the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, as the chairman of the Committee on Climate Change. I speak for the Opposition and, I am sure, for the whole House in acknowledging the fact that a significant, distinguished and experienced person now has this important role. It is very good news for the Bill.

I say at the outset that we welcome the inclusion of the subject of waste in the Bill and the idea of piloting. The amendment is designed to address the area of waste—or, as it is now often referred to, strategic resource materials—that the schedule fails to identify. I say “strategic resource materials” as I think that the time will soon come when what we think of as waste and as a liability will be seen as a resource of value. My noble friend Lord Crickhowell identified many issues in this regard. Our amendment would broaden the scope of the waste reduction provisions to include industrial, commercial and service industry waste, particularly as those sectors inevitably produce much waste that is not greatly different from domestic waste. I acknowledge the progress that has been made by business and government in recognising the importance of commercial waste recycling. However, it is a remarkable deficit that there is no specific mention of commercial and industrial waste in the Bill.

As my noble friend Lord Cathcart has pointed out, many shops, offices and commercial premises produce waste that currently ends up in landfill. They are banned from putting hazardous waste in normal collection points and many of them are having great difficulty in arranging collection of small, often irregular, quantities. The rest of their refuse is often domestic in nature—paper, cardboard and discarded food—for which they adopt a variety of schemes. Food-contaminated waste is a real headache for businesses to get collected. I know that McDonald’s, although it is not necessarily seen as the hero of the hour on many issues, is extremely sensitive to opinion on this matter and spends a lot of time seeking to deal with this problem. Some businesses pay for council collection and there appears to be considerable scope for waste reduction schemes to include them. Others join together and book a skip from time to time, although certainly much of this waste does not go into recycling. Will the Minister explain why such a large sector of the economy and the community is apparently to be excluded from the important provisions of this schedule? I beg to move.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): I am delighted to respond to this brief debate. My noble friend Lord Rooker has given us quite a comprehensive explanation of the policy objectives for this part of the Bill but, in the spirit of the Committee stage, I hope that I can help further with the noble Lord’s amendment.

The waste provisions are enabling powers allowing local authorities to provide a financial incentive for householders to produce less waste, as we have just heard. We have deliberately limited the scope of the

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schemes to the domestic sector. The commercial, industrial and service sectors already pay for what they throw away through contracts that they have with waste collectors.

That is an existing real financial incentive. Another scheme on top of that would be superfluous. Moreover, local authorities collect waste from relatively few organisations in those sectors. Normally, the organisations use private contractors. So even if those sectors were not already paying, giving local authorities powers to financially incentivise them would have a very marginal effect.

In contrast, almost all householder waste is collected by local authorities and, as we have just heard, household waste makes up nearly a quarter of all waste going to landfill in England. We are continuing to work to reduce waste being produced by other sectors as well. The Waste Strategy 2007 sets out our intention to set a new national target for the reduction of commercial and industrial waste going to landfill. However, it is not appropriate to include them in the householder scheme. The amendment proposes doing just that. So, for the reasons that I have set out, I hope that the noble Lord will consider withdrawing it.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: In high streets where there are a number of houses and flats and a number of small shops all mixed up, one usually sees the waste van at a critical moment on a Friday when everyone is moving about and it is blocking the street completely. There is a mixture of householders and shops on such streets. Are the shops counted as householders? What the noble Baroness said about the disposal of industrial waste does not apply to them.

Lord Avebury: The noble Lord mentioned McDonald's, and I am constrained to say that fast-food establishments create waste that is the responsibility of local authorities. If you look at an area such as where I live in Camberwell, you see the detritus of their products all over the streets and the local authority has an obligation to clean that up. So they are creating an expense for local authorities that they do not reimburse. Any scheme—it may not be under this part of the Bill—that obliges the manufacturers or producers of fast food to pay a contribution to the local authorities in whose areas they operate, so that any expense for the collection of that refuse does not fall on the council tax payer, would be most welcome to everybody—to local authorities and the inhabitants who have to put up with that rubbish.

Baroness Byford: I come back with a rider. I wonder whether before the Bill came into being the Government took into account what I would still class as junk mail. I certainly raised the issue on Second Reading. Many of us as householders regularly get issued with a free this or a free that. Charities appealing for money will send you a free pen, or whatever. I wondered whether that side had been tackled at all or even been given any thought. We try to recycle it, as I am sure many others do, but most of it goes back. What I would call free advertising or promoting goods through the letterbox to the householder is a big industry. Have the Government taken that into account in their deliberations?

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Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: To come back on the junk mail/charity mail point, I know that thinking is going on in another part of government about how to make it easier for individual householders to get themselves off those mailing lists. That is a separate issue and it is hard to do. I accept that more could be done. As a former charity professional, it is very unfortunate that this issue continues to dog the image of charity fundraising. That is not quite for this discussion, but it is taken seriously.

To pick up the point about shops, shops have their waste collected separately and they pay the council or the contractor. We need to be clear that the sort of pilot schemes that we are talking about would be designed to take into account particular localities. A scheme might come forward to address the problems of people living in flats, who may face different issues from those faced by people living on a leafy estate. We very much hope that local authorities will think in very practical terms about the logistics of recycling and waste minimisation as people live their daily lives. That is how we have to make the incentivisation work.

6.45 pm

On the question of McDonald's, and speaking generically about fast-food outlets, we would of course expect such businesses to be paying the business rate. As I understand it, local authorities go to quite some effort to ensure that they pick up the cost of litter collection around their stores. For example, sometimes you see individuals sponsored by those companies going out around the store collecting litter. Sometimes you see special litter bins in the area of the stores. However, the noble Lord highlights an important point. We must expect business to play its part in the same way as we hope that householders will. In the Bill, we are talking about creating provisions for some important pilots. I am not trying to suggest that the questions of the commercial sector are not important; we just do not propose to cover them in these pilot schemes.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The noble Baroness was very fair in what she said. I wanted to suggest that I thought it unfortunate that the Bill did not go further and extend the whole business of waste beyond the purely domestic sector. From what the Minister said in our first debate, it is a considerable achievement to have got this section in at all, so we welcome that. I hope that the Government see waste as a continuum from domestic through commercial to industrial levels. Once one leaves the conventional recycling area, an awful lot of waste that could be recycled is not. There are huge opportunities for improving the percentage of material that is recycled and reducing that which goes into landfill.

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