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I have an answer to a point made by the noble Baroness which I hope will be helpful. I am keen to get as much information on the record as I can in Committee as that will help us on Report. One pilot is the area of one waste collection authority but there are two types of relevant authority structure. In the two-tier structure comprising the districts and counties, the district is the waste collection authority. The unitary authorities are the waste collection and disposal authorities but one pilot is the area of a waste collection authority, or part of it. As regards the relationship between the two, particularly in the two-tier structure, we would expect a waste collection authority coming forward as a pilot to be able to demonstrate an excellent working relationship with its disposal authority. That relationship will underpin the success or failure of the pilot.

Baroness Byford: I understand what the Minister has clarified for me and I am grateful for that. However, it still did not quite answer my question—although he did earlier—as to the fact that the Bill constrains the possibility of two wider areas getting together, which might enhance a pilot. Before the Bill finally leaves us, I sow a seed in the Government’s mind that it might be advisable for an area to be considered over the border, if you like. You could get greater savings if two came together than if one were considered in one area. However, as I say, I understand and accept the point he clarified and I am grateful for that.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I too am grateful to the Minister for explaining that it was not necessarily possible to give me an absolute answer. I am reassured by the fact that he is determined to make this process practical and transparent. We can ask nothing more of the Government at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 183Z:

The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 183ZD and 183ZE in the group. They are about the reports that will come back to Parliament on the pilot schemes that have taken place, assuming that they get that far. The first amendment is to establish that there will be a report back to Parliament on schemes that are halted half way or at some stage during their procedure for whatever reason, stating that:

so that if a scheme is set up and is run for a period of time but does not run its course, there will still be a report back to Parliament. The argument is that we want reports back on failures as well as successes.

The other two amendments in the group take us back to Clause 53 and out of Schedule 5 at last. It is a question of how the reports to Parliament will work, and the two amendments tackle what should be in the reports. In Clause 53 the Government suggest that the reports should contain a description of the scheme, a comparison of schemes and how they differ from each other and,

That wording should be substantially expanded so that the report to Parliament covers the important factors. Amendment No. 183ZD reads,

The Minister may say that that is going to happen anyway. If he gives me that assurance, that is better than nothing, but it would be better in my view if it were in the Bill. In Amendment No. 183ZE, I suggest that there should be information about the way in which the scheme is operated, namely,

There may be other things that are necessary to report as well but those are the ones that seem obvious to me.

There is concern about what is going to happen once the Bill is passed and pilots take place, because once the reports come back it is all in the hands of the Government. We are not talking about another five or 50 pilots. We are talking about a rollout with which the Government hope that they will cover 62 per cent of the country, according to the statistics. That is a

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big issue. There is concern that the parliamentary scrutiny and decision-making at that stage will not be as deep and effective as it could be. It will be by affirmative instruments. We will be able to debate them; we will not be able to amend them. The number of times that affirmative instruments are kicked out is rightly not often. I propose that it be clearly written, either in these words or in words that the Government prefer, that the report back to Parliament should be clear in analysing how the projects have worked and what success they have had in these areas, and perhaps others, so that if the report is debated—I understand that it will be laid before Parliament and not debated automatically—we will have more information. I beg to move.

9.45 pm

Lord Rooker: I do not want to comment on the levels of scrutiny between the two Houses because it varies. There are pluses and minuses in both, but I can think of no other issue that will be gone through in more detail by the elected Members of the House of Commons than the collection of waste by local authorities from their constituents’ homes. There is no doubt whatever about the issue being properly scrutinised, if it becomes the policy, at a street-by-street, postcode-by-postcode level. We would not do that in this House because we are not elected and we represent no one but ourselves. The other place will have that information. I am not saying that we should not do it, but I reassure the Committee that no rollout will be done without full parliamentary scrutiny.

We want Parliament to be involved at every stage of the process in developing our policy on waste reduction schemes. That is why the Secretary of State should report back to Parliament on how each of the schemes has fared, including any schemes that are later revoked, giving reasons why they have been revoked. We expect that to be rare, but it could happen. The designation process will look carefully at the viability, and we hope that any that cannot last the course would not be designated in the first place, but I am not saying that everything is perfect and that we will get everything right. We have that facility for reporting back. Clause 53 sets out what must be included in the report as a minimum. It was never intended as a comprehensive list. In practice, there are likely to be many other areas, as well as those suggested in the amendment, that we would wish to cover. We do not think that primary legislation is the right place to list every detail of the report but we are keen to discuss its formation with Parliament, the public and local authorities. We want an evidence-based evaluation of the pilots. The lessons from the pilots have to be pretty powerful to inform the decision on whether the power should be made more generally available.

Amendment No. 183Z would require the Secretary of State to report back to Parliament even on a pilot that had been revoked, but Clause 53 already requires that. Amendment No. 183ZD would require the Secretary of State’s report to include information about,

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To provide a full and useful evaluation, it is likely that we would wish to include other details, for example, background information about the nature of the pilot areas. We note with interest the importance that noble Lords attach to these details, and appreciate that they represent sensible areas for the report to cover, but we do not think that listing such areas of interest is suitable for primary legislation. However, they should form part of the wider debate to take on board for evaluation.

Amendment No. 183ZE would establish various criteria for assessing the success of the pilot schemes, which are listed in proposed sub-paragraphs (i) to (v). We agree that it will be important to define success criteria and to publish them in advance of the pilot starting. However, we note again with interest the areas flagged by noble Lords as part of the discussion. We may end up with similar criteria to those suggested. It is important to draft the criteria in collaboration with the local authorities and other stakeholders. I do not want to say during the discussions, “By the way, we have decided this at the centre”. We shall be having discussions, which is the only reason we would agree with Amendment No. 183ZE, with which we are on board in principle.

Lord Greaves: At this time of night I am fairly satisfied with those answers. They are as good as I had hoped for and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 183ZZA and 183ZZB not moved.]

Schedule 5 agreed to.

Clause 52 [Waste reduction provisions: piloting]:

[Amendments Nos. 183ZA to 183ZB not moved.]

Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 183ZC:

The noble Lord said: I think that my brain is slowing down at this time of night.

Amendment No. 183ZC is about the length of the period that the five pilots should run for. It suggests that the five—or whatever number of pilots that the Government in the end decide to run—should run at the same period for the purposes of reasonable comparison. That is a fairly simple point; it seems common sense to have them running at the same time for the same length of time to make reasonable comparisons.

I also want to ask the Minister about the timescale for the pilots. How long is it expected that each pilot will last? Is it possible that there will be a different length of time, even if this amendment were not agreed to? Are we talking about two years, three years or five years? How long is this new system expected to take before the behaviour change that everybody is talking about will come about? Is it possible that some of them might be open ended—that they might start for two years with the possibility of extending for another year, if that was thought to be the sensible thing to do? I beg to move.

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Both of these amendments concern issues that we feel the Government have not properly covered in the Bill, although I accept that the Minister has tried to cover some of these areas of interest in the answers in the previous debates. At this stage our main concern is to bring our concerns to the attention of the Minister.

Amendment No. 183ZEA is a probing amendment that is intended to establish the precise cumulative effects of Clauses 52, 53 and 54. Clause 52 starts with a waste collection authority proposing a waste reduction scheme. Clause 52(2) states:

This has been interpreted in the Minister’s letter of 14 January, which states:

However, I am still uncertain whether this will mean that each authority will be able to pilot a number of schemes, or whether they will be limited to one each. Will there be a time limit imposed after which no further pilots will be allowed? The Explanatory Memorandum does not provide an answer to this point and I would be grateful for further clarification from the Minister.

Clause 53 requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on operations in each pilot area. Clause 54 also allows the Secretary of State to apply the waste reduction provisions generally if he is not minded to alter them. This seems to imply that a scheme could be rolled out nationally without him having to seek approval from Parliament. He will have to use the affirmative procedure only if he wishes to amend a scheme. Perhaps the Minister might correct me if I am wrong in that analysis.

Clause 54 allows the Secretary of State to take action after he has reported to Parliament,

Does this mean that the other pilots may still be running but he does not have to wait for their outcomes? If so, might that result in the choice of a scheme that could shortly be proved to have been bettered by another? The overall picture is of a system that allows the Secretary of State to impose a waste collection scheme nationally after it has been trialled in a limited area or an area that is not necessarily representative of the country as a whole. I am not suggesting that that is the purpose of the clause, but it may be the consequence if the trialling is not cleverly done. Moreover, no time limit is imposed on the duration of the piloting phase, either for each waste reduction scheme or for the whole phase of pilot schemes. Could the latter still be running many years from now, for example?

Lord Dixon-Smith: I have just two further questions, to which I am sure the Minister will have the answer. We will almost certainly find from the pilots that things will work in one area in one way and equally well in another area in a different way, which means that we may want to finish up with two or three different systems across the country. Will that be, as I hope it will, what I would call an allowable result? My second question relates to the fact that a pilot implies a scheme that runs for a limited period, after which

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you sit down and assess the results. Let us say that a local authority has a successful scheme that is running extremely well and it wants to keep the scheme going. Will the fact that the scheme is a trial mean that at the end of the trial period the authority has to dismantle it, even though it is a success, while the Government sit down and measure the degree of triumph that the authority is enjoying?

Lord Rooker: In the case put by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, I hope that the answer will be no. My caveat is that, if the pilot in that example covered only part of the local authority area, you would not envisage it going on for ever, however successful it was, because then you would have two tiers in that area. The pilot would have to close so that there could be a rollout. I cannot go beyond that.

The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, picks up a good point. We have never said this, but it is not the case that the reports and evaluations of all five pilots have to be in before a decision is made. However, I want to make it absolutely clear that, although the trigger mechanism is not necessarily with Parliament once the legislation is in force, the Secretary of State has to come back to Parliament to report on at least one of the pilots before any rollout can take place. This cannot be done just by getting the Bill on the statute book, going away, chatting to the local authorities and rolling out the five pilots without coming back to Parliament. Before any action is taken on a rollout, at least one of the pilots has to be reported on to Parliament. That is an extreme case, but once we have the results from three or four of the pilots we may have found a way forward. I do not know—this is not my day job—whether we are envisaging the same thing all over the country; I suspect not, because things are not the same now.

The amendment is about the pilots all running at the same time regardless of what the individual local authorities want. We need flexibility for local government. In practice, some authorities may want to run the pilot on a council tax year and some may want to run it on a calendar year. Others—this is the example that I have here—may want to introduce a new service in their area, such as a food waste collection service, and will think, “We can link this with the pilot, as it is a change of circumstance overall”. The timing of the start of the pilots must be up to the local authorities, albeit within reason—if there are five good ones that tick all the boxes, we would go ahead without waiting for the sixth one where the local authority said that it wanted to do it at another date. That is the reality there; that is why flexibility is needed on the timing of the pilots. It would not be practical or sensible to have them all starting and finishing on the same date.

We would not envisage a pilot running for less than a year. Whether it is the calendar year or the council tax year, I do not know. That is up to local authorities. You would want to go through the annual—the seasonal—cycle. I suspect that waste collection has a seasonal cycle to it, like a lot of other things, for reasons that we can all understand. So it would probably be for not less than a year, but I cannot say that it

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would be for not more than so many years. We want local government to come to us for that. However, the pilots will not be open-ended. Clause 52(3) states that they will be limited by the designation, but the designation will be as a result of local government coming in with an idea for a pilot in the first place. Once the period is over, the powers will cease to exist for the authority and we would not be able to extend it.

In practice, we would want to wait for the best evidence for a rollout, so we are likely to wait for reports on more than one pilot, but I agree that, the way that the Bill is drafted at present, it allows it after one. We may want to come back to that issue. The noble Lord asked whether there is a cut-off point after which no pilots can run. The answer is no, because we are in the hands of the local authorities. It will be up to them to come forward with schemes that run for the amount of time they think fits their circumstances, but they will have to have an end date, which prevents there being an unnecessary length of time. Those are quite legitimate questions, but I am simply not in a position to answer. All that I can say is that the nature of the flexibility that local authorities may require is covered in the Bill. We will have had to take cognisance of that when they come forward with their business plans and their waste collection plans.

10 pm

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am very grateful to the Minister for the way in which he has been going through the amendments. I understand the need for flexibility; after all, pilot schemes will be different, let us hope, so they will be arranged in different ways. The underlying concern lies more with the parliamentary scrutiny that may be available to examine the schemes at a parliamentary level. It is clear that the Secretary of State will be evaluating them from the Government's point of view, but Parliament, too, has a clear role in evaluating the virtues of the schemes and in establishing a proper dialogue with the Government on the issues.

Will the Minister consider before Report whether the Government may present amendments to make it clear that that is the Government's intention?

Lord Rooker: I go well beyond what I have written in front of me here, because I am not happy with the situation and, as we are in Committee, we have plenty of chances to look at the Bill. I will just go through part of my Q&A brief, because it meets that point. I hope that I will come up with a solution. As I said, we need to evaluate at least one of the pilots before there is any rollout. That is the evaluation of that particular pilot, of course. That is not necessarily the green light to go for rollout. In a way, the way that the Bill is drafted, the green light is not required. That is where I am a little unhappy about the way in which I have been asked the question.

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