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Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, similar amendments were tabled at Committee stage, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said. I am glad of the opportunity to debate them now because the amendments raise important issues which are fundamental to the Bill. I therefore welcome the chance to explain to the House why we are giving the agency responsibility for waste regulation.

Amendment No. 14 is the principal amendment in this group and would remove waste regulation from the list of functions to be transferred to the agency under Clause 2. I shall address Amendment No. 14, as I believe the noble Baroness intended that I should.

Waste regulation is an integral part of the concept behind the environment agency and we cannot agree to its omission. We believe that it would be impossible to move to a more coherent and integrated approach to environmental protection —a multi-media agency—if waste regulation remains with local government.

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The Government are not alone in believing that the transfer of waste regulation to the agency is necessary. The waste regulation profession in general, as well as the waste industry, and industry at large, see merit in the principle of an integrated approach to environmental protection. The Select Committee on the Environment in another place has recommended that waste regulation should become the responsibility of a single national body. Environmental regulation is an increasingly complex field and the continued delivery of waste regulation by local authorities would limit the use and development of vital expertise.

I appreciate that the concerns expressed about the proposed transfer of waste regulation to the agency spring from fears that the agency will be insufficiently accountable at a local level. As I have said before, the Government intend that it should be responsible and responsive to individuals' concerns; we do not accept that accountability can be achieved only through control by local authorities.

We have made clear through the objectives set out in the agency's draft management statement, and through the provision in this Bill for the setting up of regional environment protection advisory committees, that we attach great importance to the agency building effective and responsive relationships with local communities and local authorities. The regional committees will represent those with a significant interest in the way the environment agency carries out its functions. They will have an important role in ensuring that a wide range of local opinion feeds into the agency and its operations on the ground.

It has been suggested that under the agency there would be no scope for consideration of the concerns of local people regarding the potential impact on local amenity and possible pollution from a proposed waste management facility. This conviction is puzzling. The local planning authorities will continue to determine whether and where waste facilities are sited. They will be able to include appropriate conditions relating to local amenity in any relevant planning permission. The agency's consideration of any waste management licence application, and decisions on appropriate conditions to be set in such a licence, must comply with the same waste management licensing regulations and statutory guidance as the decisions of local waste regulation authorities at present. Existing waste regulation staff who transfer to the agency will bring with them their local knowledge and will be able to apply this to the consideration of licence applications, and to their proper and effective regulation.

I hope that I have been able to convince the noble Baroness, the noble Lord, Lord Williams, and your Lordships, of the merits and desirability of giving responsibility for waste regulation to the new agencies, and I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, one reaction must be that it would not be necessary to set up the liaison

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arrangements which the Minister advocates if the steps of separation and removal did not take effect in the first place.

I am not surprised at the Minister's response. However, his comments about the widespread support for the proposals from the industry surprise me. I quoted from the Waste Management Forum. I do not suggest that every last word stated by an umbrella body is analysed to every dot and comma by its members. However, perhaps I may put on record the membership of that forum according to its letterhead: the Confederation of British Industry; the Department of the Environment (I do not suggest that in this instance it will agree with this point); the Environmental Council; the Health and Safety Executive; HMIP; the Institute of Waste Management; the Institution of Civil Engineers; the Institution of Environmental Health Officers; the Institution of Water and Environmental Management; the Institution of Mechanical Engineers; the Road Haulage Association; the Royal Town Planning Institute; the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; and the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association. The Institute of Waste Management has specifically written to me and, I believe, to other noble Lords urging that the regulatory function remains separate from any operational role. It states that experience of separating the regulation and disposal functions within the waste management industry has had a positive effect in raising standards. It is that philosophy which it applies in commenting on the provisions of the Bill.

Again I shall consider what the Minister said. However, in seeking leave to withdraw the amendment, I express a fairly considerable degree of disappointment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 15 not moved.]

Clause 3 [Transfer of property, rights and liabilities to the Agency]:

[Amendments Nos. 16 to 18 not moved.]

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 5, line 25, at end insert ("but only after consultation with the Agency and, in the case of a scheme which was approved by him (with or without modifications), after consultation with the body which submitted the scheme to him for approval.").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 19 I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 64. Amendments Nos. 19 and 64 correct an anomaly in the Bill to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, drew the Committee's attention. They provide for consultation by the relevant Secretary of State before exercising his power to modify a transfer scheme which he has previously made or approved. This reflects provisions already in the Bill covering other circumstances where a scheme may be modified. I thank the noble Baroness for bringing the matter to our attention. I beg to move.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon: My Lords, I wish to express my appreciation to the Minister for moving the amendment.

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On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Guidance on sustainable development and other aims and objectives]:

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 21:

Page 5, line 33, leave out ("give") and insert ("lay before Parliament an order containing").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I think it may be more convenient if we were to save discussion on the amendment until we have heard about the Government's new clause in detail. I shall therefore not move this amendment.

[Amendment No. 21 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 22 to 24 not moved.]

Lord Wade of Chorlton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 25:

Page 5, line 40, at end insert (", and must include guidance on energy conservation and on systems for producing energy which contribute to the objective of sustainable development").

The noble Lord said: Again, my Lords, I prefer that we should debate the matter after new Clause 4 has been considered. I shall therefore not move this amendment.

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 not moved.]

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 28:

Leave out Clause 4 and insert the following new clause:

General aims and objectives of the Agency

(" .—(1) It shall be the principal aim of the Agency (subject to and in accordance with the provisions of this Act or any other enactment and taking into account any likely costs) in discharging its functions so to protect or enhance the environment, taken as a whole, as to make the contribution towards attaining the objective of achieving sustainable development mentioned in subsection (3) below.
(2) The Ministers shall from time to time give guidance to the Agency with respect to objectives which they consider it appropriate for the Agency to pursue in the discharge of its functions.
(3) The guidance given under subsection (2) above must include guidance with respect to the contribution which, having regard to the Agency's responsibilities and resources, the Ministers consider it appropriate for the Agency to make, by the discharge of its functions, towards attaining the objective of achieving sustainable development.
(4) In discharging its functions, the Agency shall have regard to guidance given under this section.
(5) The power to give guidance to the Agency under this section shall only be exercisable after consultation with the Agency and such other bodies or persons as the Ministers consider it appropriate to consult in relation to the guidance in question.
(6) The Ministers shall arrange for any guidance given under this section to be published in such manner as they consider appropriate.").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, with this amendment I wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 96, 100 and 124. I am grateful to noble Lords for not moving their amendments to Clause 4 so that we may have a proper debate and for giving me the opportunity to open for the Government.

Amendment No. 28 seeks to meet the desire expressed by a number of noble Lords in Committee for a strategic purpose for the agency to be included on the face of the Bill. It incorporates within Clause 4 a new

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principal aim designed to make clear that the agency is to discharge its functions so to protect or enhance the environment, taken as a whole, as to make its contribution towards achieving sustainable development. In so doing it is to take account of likely costs, both financial and to the environment. The principal aim is not to overrule the specific purpose of the various enactments under which the agency operates.

During the debate in Committee a number of noble Lords also stressed the need for consultation prior to the issuing of guidance under this clause and for publication of such guidance, not merely at the outset but for any subsequent guidance. Amendment No. 28 incorporates provisions to require such consultation and publication.

Amendment No. 100 is consequential to the revised clause. Clause 37 as originally drafted excluded consideration of costs and benefits in relation to an aim since the aims were to arise through statutory guidance, in the drawing up of which Ministers would themselves have taken account of costs and benefits. Now that the principal aim is to be on the face of the Bill and is to be subject to the requirements of any enactment, that exclusion is no longer appropriate.

Amendment No. 124 seeks to ensure that the reference to costs in the new Clause 4 and elsewhere in Part I includes costs to any person and to the environment. Taken together with Amendment No. 96, it also makes clear that, as I stressed in Committee, references to both costs and benefits in Clause 37 are to be interpreted broadly to include environmental costs. I beg to move.

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