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Lord Crickhowell: I wish to make two brief points. First, I note the remarks of my noble friend about the possibility that employees who come from from HMIP and are therefore in the Civil Service pension scheme might in some circumstance be kept out of the local authority pension arrangements which apply to the other employees. I hope, however, that the Government will consider the issue with great care before taking such a decision. In pension matters, as in other employment matters, the need to bring staff together with common terms of employment should have a high priority. Considerable difficulties would confront the authority if it operated two separate pension schemes of that kind. I only comment by way of caution at the moment and hope that the Government will consider the matter.

The other point is that understandably—and I in no way criticise him for it—my noble friend said in answer to a number of points that the Government were considering this and that and would take decisions about them later. He made that comment in particular about the closed fund and its relationship to the other funds.

As someone who, for my sins, has the responsibility of chairing the pensions committee which looks after the funds at present, I am in close touch with the representatives of the employees who sit on the pensions committee. There is some anxiety among pensioners about the future and I therefore express the hope that the Government will come to their conclusions and clearly state them before the Bill is passed. There would be considerable anxiety among employees if the matter were left uncertain and in the air until after the agency came into existence and was dependent upon decisions taken by Ministers at that time.

What I hope will happen is that at some later stage in the passage of the Bill the Government will come back to this House, or another place, and make clear their intentions.

Viscount Ullswater: Perhaps I may quickly reply. I have carefully noted what my noble friend said and it is important to come to a conclusion about the future of the closed funds. I also take into account the operation

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of the two parallel pension schemes running at the same time. We need to ensure that we make the right decision as to whether to offer only one pension scheme.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am grateful in general to the noble Viscount for his long response. These are matters of extreme anxiety to employees and staff of the various organisations which will be gathered together in the agency. I hope that I shall not be impertinent if I say to the Minister that I was not the originator of the amendments, they come from trade unions involved who are interested in what the noble Viscount says. I believe that they will wish to study carefully what he said this evening.

I join the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, in saying that the trade unions involved will wish to have a definitive response by the time the Bill receives its Royal Assent, or before, so that they know where they stand. Having expressed my gratitude to the noble Viscount for his full and comprehensive reply to the amendments, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 13A.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 13B to 15 not moved.]

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 114, line 33, at end insert:

("Responsibility for enforcement

6A.—(1) The Secretary of State shall make regulations enabling responsibility for enforcing any of the relevant statutory provisions to be to such extent as may be determined under the regulations,—
(a) transferred from the Agency to local authorities or from local authorities to the Agency, or
(b) assigned to the Agency or to local authorities for the purpose of removing any uncertainty as to what are by virtue of this subsection their respective responsibilities for the enforcement of those provisions;
and any regulations made in pursuance of this paragraph shall include provision for securing that any transfer or assignment effected under the regulations is brought to the notice of persons affected by it.
(2) It shall be the duty of every local authority
(a) to make adequate arrangements for the enforcement within their area of the relevant statutory provisions to the extent that they are by any of those provisions or by regulations under sub-paragraph (1) above made responsible for their enforcement; and
(b) to perform the duty imposed on them by sub-paragraph (1) above and any other functions conferred on them by any of the relevant statutory provisions in accordance with such guidance as the Agency may give them.").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment I wish also to speak to Amendments Nos. 21 and 69A. At this stage they are intended as probing amendments in that our view is that the environment agency should be a strategic agency, setting standards and monitoring performance. However, it should perhaps not be involved too much in the hands-on provision of waste disposal. Therefore, the waste regulation authorities should continue in existence, including the London Waste Regulation Authority. If the agency is too much involved in the implementation of environmental issues

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at local level it will make life extremely difficult for it. We therefore think that there should be some differentiation between the role of the agency as a standard setter and a monitor of performance, and the local authorities, which should continue to be responsible for waste disposal at the local level.

Clearly, local authorities must continue to have a role in relation to waste regulation. It would be impossible for the agency to carry out all the functions that are currently performed at the local level. The public will continue to bring their concerns to the door of local authorities, and the authorities will continue to have specific residual responsibilities, particularly in respect of such matters as fly-tipping.

Therefore there is a case for a mechanism that will allow local authorities to assume the role of the agency in certain limited circumstances. These amendments attempt to give those powers by delegation from the agency to local authorities. This is not in any sense to assert local authorities as the prime movers in this situation but as agents, effectively, of the agency.

Amendment No. 21 also seeks to transfer powers, as in Amendment No. 16, in a sense from the agency to local authorities. But Amendment No. 21 would transfer powers under the Environmental Protection Act from the Secretary of State to the agency. Amendment No. 69A would similarly transfer provisions to the agency in respect of pollution control.

These amendments attempt to tidy up the overall framework for environmental protection by laying out those matters which we believe should be appropriately dealt with at the centre and those which are more appropriately dealt with on a local basis within an overall strategic framework. That is the purpose of the amendments. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: I wonder whether I might—if I use the expression "seek clarification", that may not be quite right. The next group of amendments, beginning with Amendment No. 16, deals with the waste regulation authorities. I should like to establish whether it would be for the convenience of the Committee to deal with all points relating to that matter together. Some important matters were raised in relation to Amendment No. 16, but I did not anticipate dealing with the waste regulation authorities under that amendment. Perhaps I might ask whether the noble Baroness spoke at the same time to Amendment No. 17 and so on.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon: No, I have not spoken to those amendments. This one relates to enforcement, as we understood it. We saw the next amendment as clearly being closely related but it has to do with present pollution control mechanisms. Although the two are closely related, we saw this amendment as referring to specific statutory enforcements. Is that a useful clarification?

Baroness Hamwee: I am obliged to the noble Baroness. We had some difficulty earlier today in sorting out where it would be convenient to deal with certain points. I apologise to her for my confusion.

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My noble friend Lord McNair will speak to other amendments in this list, but perhaps I may say that I support the comments that were just made about the need to separate the role of advice and regulation and that of enforcement.

One of the comments that is made, particularly in the area of waste regulation, relates to the danger of those who are regulated and who pay licence fees and so on effectively being those who pay the piper and therefore call a particular tune. There is confusion as to whom the agencies will be responsible in effect. They will perhaps be a little affected themselves by the confusion in roles.

Local authorities have a distinct role in enforcement which it is important to relate directly to their roles of responsibility and accountability to their local communities. I have had some difficulty in sorting out in my mind quite to what extent the agencies should involve a direct accountability through the route of local authorities. I see a danger of the Government saying, "You have all or a large part of the representation. You have a role to play as local authorities and local representatives and we shall refuse to carry the can".

There is a difficult problem with the confusion of accountability—how much the agency is an arm of central government and how much it is an independent organisation which is able to blow the whistle on central government when central government are not getting things right. The Committee will appreciate my confusion as I have expressed my view in such an inarticulate fashion. But I support the noble Baroness in drawing attention to the different functions.

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