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Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for indicating that, in reference to yesterday's debate, this is some kind of subsidiarity in relation to the national waste strategy and local planning authorities. He has clearly pointed out that the installations and suitable sites are regarded as planning matters.

I shall study what he said. I am grateful to him in particular for noting that there may be further guidance from the Secretaries of State on this matter. For those reasons, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman (Lord Strabolgi): My Lords, I must inform the House that, if Amendment No. 229 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 230.

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 229:


Page 78, line 30, leave out from ("State") to ("may") in line 37 and insert:
("(a) shall consult the Environment Agency,
(b) shall consult—
(i) such bodies or persons appearing to him to be representative of the interests of local government, and
(ii) such bodies or persons appearing to him to be representative of the interests of industry,
as he may consider appropriate, and
(c)") .

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 229, 231 and 233, which are tabled in my name, respond to concerns expressed by noble Lords during Committee—in particular my noble friends Lord Wade and Lord Lucas and, among others, Lord Mottistone—about the need to consult industry on the national waste strategies and on the waste surveys carried out by the agencies. We accept that industry should have an opportunity to make known its views on the scope and conduct of the survey and on the content of the strategy in advance of any decisions on these matters. These amendments will ensure that such consultation takes place. I beg to move.

Lord Wade of Chorlton: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for tabling these amendments in response to our discussions in Committee. They make redundant my two amendments and I am sure that my noble friend's amendments are more efficient than mine. I support them.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I am grateful that my noble friend has indicated his assent to my amendments, thereby indicating that he will not move his amendments.

9 Mar 1995 : Column 457

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 230 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman (Lord Strabolgi): My Lords, I must inform the House that, if Amendment No. 231 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 232.

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 231:


Page 79, line 28, leave out from ("consult") to ("it") in line 30 and insert:
("(i) such bodies or persons appearing to it to be representative of local planning authorities, and
(ii) such bodies or persons appearing to it to be representative of the interests of industry,
as").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 232 not moved.]

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 233:


Page 81, line 7, leave out from ("consult") to ("it") in line 8 and insert:
("(i) such bodies or persons appearing to it to be representative of planning authorities, and
(ii) such bodies or persons appearing to it to be representative of the interests of industry,
as").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 76 [Producer responsibility: general]:

Lord Wade of Chorlton moved Amendment No. 234:


Page 82, line 40, after ("but") insert (", other than in respect of packaging waste,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment follows on from the discussion that we had in Committee about a multipoint or a single point scheme for the disposal of packaging waste. The purpose of the amendment is to refer only to packaging waste. The amendment that I tabled in Committee sought to delete a whole sentence from the Bill but my noble friend pointed out that there were a number of waste streams and it would be appropriate for some to be dealt with in one way and some in another.

Amendment No. 234 seeks to ensure that the Government will not place a single point system on the handling of packaging waste. The Producer Responsibility Group, which the Secretary of State asked to report on the matter, came forward with a detailed report. It acknowledged that the responsibility for packaging is shared between all parts of the packaging chain; that is packaging manufacture, packer/filler, distribution and retailing. We must ensure that the individual requirements of those various sections of the chain are adequately met and ensure the satisfaction of the final consumer. We must remember that the final consumer is probably completely unaware of the complex nature of the supply chain and the various parts of the packaging and the materials involved. The PRG concluded in its report that its proposals could achieve a recovery level of 58 per cent. of packaging waste by the year 2000, which was in line with the Government's requirements.

The packaging and associated recycling industries are extremely complex. No single element should be organised or controlled in isolation. I speak on behalf

9 Mar 1995 : Column 458

of all sectors of the packaging industry and they have indicated to me their anxiety about this matter. They believe very strongly that the legal obligation should be placed on the whole packaging chain and not just on a specific part of it; in other words, it should be a multi-point obligation.

There is reason to believe that at this stage officials favour a single-point option because they feel that such a system would be easier to police and would be easier to control by government. But the industry believes very strongly that such a solution would create more problems than it would solve. The system would be extremely unfair. If that system were used, it is extremely unlikely that the requirements and targets would be met. The industry believes strongly that no single part of the chain has the ability to deliver what the Government seek, when one considers the responsibilities in relation to the delivery aspect and, importantly, the recycling aspects of the industry.

I must emphasise that every stage of the chain is involved with the handling of packaging and packaging materials which are passed down the distribution chain. But that also generates further waste for which each part of the chain has further responsibility. I cannot emphasise too strongly that whatever is achieved can be achieved only with the industry co-operating fully with the scheme. At the end of the day it is the packaging industry and all the different parts of it which can deliver what the Government want. The industry has considered all aspects of the matter in great detail and it is strongly of the view that only through a multi-point scheme can there be any possibility of achieving what the Government want.

The first of the packaging proposals was put into effect in Germany and German industry decided upon a single-point system, which the Government now appear to favour. It would be fair to point out that industry costs are running at between 6 billion and 8 billion deutschmarks per annum; that is something in the order of £3 billion to £4 billion. That is far higher than anybody ever expected. The situation is so complicated that there are now reckoned to be some 320 plants in Germany, many of which have to separate the various packaging materials by hand. That is why the costs are so high.

I hope that the Government will make some very encouraging remarks on this matter. The industry eagerly awaits a positive response and hopes that the Government will support its strong view that the multi-point scheme will be most effective in delivering what the Government want and what we all want from this legislation. I beg to move.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Nicol: My Lords, I support the views of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, on the packaging industry but I do not believe that it would be a very good idea to single out the packaging industry and leave other waste streams to be dealt with perhaps by a single-point scheme.

There are many other waste streams to be considered. The British Retail Consortium is extremely anxious that if we make a definite commitment, we should remember

9 Mar 1995 : Column 459

those other streams; for example, newspapers, batteries, electronic goods, tyres and motor vehicles. In all those cases, it would be extremely difficult for the industry concerned if a single-point scheme were introduced. Putting an express power of that kind into the Bill now would seem to indicate that the Government are not taking very seriously the consultation process which they have promised on this issue.

Therefore, although I am extremely sympathetic towards the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, I should not wish to see a specific commitment made at this stage unless we are assured that genuine consultations will take place at the same time with the rest of the industry.

Lord Moran: My Lords, I spoke on this subject in Committee and I support what the noble Lord, Lord Wade, said. The arguments for a multi-point scheme are overwhelming, and I shall not repeat what I said at an earlier stage.

I have a good deal of sympathy for the view expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol. It is important that other waste streams, which at the moment are being considered by other producer responsibility groups, should be borne in mind. I too was briefed by the British Retail Consortium and I am impressed when it says that:


    "There seems no evidence to suggest that a single-point responsibility would be effective or fair for these goods".

It seems to me that a single-point responsibility is not satisfactory for the packaging industry. It is extremely important to be fair and to pay attention to the many firms concerned, all of which seem unanimous in their view that a fair system must apply to each stage along the chain and not to one single point simply for the sake of convenience.


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