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Sir Robert Smith: Does the Minister accept, however, that the package is in no way region-neutral? The charge will be levied in areas containing quarries, but the money will not necessarily go back to those communities.

Mr. Timms: Certainly, the levy will not be neutral for particular communities, but it will be neutral nationally. It has been suggested that this is a revenue-raising measure; I simply wanted to point out that it is, in fact, revenue-neutral.

The points about Northern Ireland raised by the hon. Member for East Londonderry will be dealt with in a later debate, but I will say now that I was pleased to hear from him that the incidence of fuel smuggling across the land border had fallen. Hon. Members will want to raise other points about Northern Ireland when we reach the relevant part of the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman suggested that other countries were not proceeding with levies of this kind. That is not the case: there are already aggregates levies in France--one of the countries that he mentioned--Sweden and Denmark. I understand that the Netherlands is proceeding with the proposals that it has drawn up.

My hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Levitt) has taken a close interest in the matter. As he said, we have discussed it in a lively way on a number of occasions. Recent research published by DETR indicates that there is significant scope for additional use of recycled aggregates. The figures show that about 22.7 million tonnes of recycled aggregates are being used a year and that another 12.7 million tonnes have potential for recycling, so over half as much again is available. There is therefore a good deal of mileage in improving the price attractiveness of recycling in the way that the levy does. The figures that I have referred to do not include the use of china clay spoil, to which the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome referred, so there is a lot of scope there.

The amendment seeks in effect to delay implementation of the levy to allow development of a rebate scheme under which persons responsible for subjecting aggregate to commercial exploitation who undertake environmental protection measures would benefit from a rebated rate of aggregates levy. That is rather narrower than a number of the points that the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome made. The proposal is that the amount of the rebate would be proportionate to the extent of the environmental improvement measures.

We indicated in the Budget that we were attracted in principle to applying a lower rate of levy to aggregate extracted from quarries with the lowest environmental costs--so-called "green quarries." However, in discussing that matter with the industry, I have always made it clear that developing such a scheme would not be straightforward. It certainly cannot be put in place before the implementation of the levy next year. There are a number of difficulties to be overcome. There will be practical difficulties in relation to assessing compliance, defining environmental performance, the treatment of imports, EU state aid rules and UK competition policy.

We will continue to explore how we can overcome those difficulties, but it will take some time. In any case, the actual terms of a legislative clause cannot be

23 Apr 2001 : Column 61

determined at this stage. I am not quite sure what a "scheme of rebates" linked to "environmental protection measures" means. It was not spelled out in the hon. Gentleman's speech, but something along those lines might be one way to do it. There may be other ways, too. For example, for it to be effective, we would need to ensure that any reduced rate scheme benefited quarries with the lowest actual environmental costs. It may be that those are linked directly to location: a quarry that is well managed, but located in a densely populated area or an area of outstanding natural beauty may still have a greater impact on the environment than one that creates a lot of dust and noise, but is located in a remote, sparsely populated area. Those are all issues of which we need to take account.

The amendment could not be implemented as it stands. It would require at the very least a significant delay in the implementation of the levy. We have had a lengthy period of preparation for the levy and I would not support a delay at this stage. I therefore hope that hon. Members will not support the amendment.

A number of hon. Members have queried the benefits of the aggregates levy. I disagree with them. There are clear environmental benefits from the introduction of the levy. I am glad that others support that view. For example, last month, the Wildlife and Countryside Link wrote to me as the liaison body for a coalition of organisations and with the support of the Council for the National Parks and the Council for the Protection of Rural England. It expressed its strong support for the Government's proposed aggregates levy:

I agree.

Mr. David Heath: The hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Levitt) made a convincing speech, used all the right arguments and then came out with completely the wrong conclusion. The Minister used neither the right arguments nor reached the right conclusions. He totally failed to convince and I must ask the Committee's opinion on the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 149, Noes 268.

Division No. 186
[6.15 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Clappison, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McCrea, Dr William
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Sir Robert Smith and
Mr. Bob Russell.


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hanson, David
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Organ, Mrs Diana
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Rt Hon Tom
Pike, Peter L
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Mike Hall and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.

Question accordingly negatived.

23 Apr 2001 : Column 64

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