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The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I well understand the sentiment behind Amendment No. 7 in the name of

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my noble friend Lord Pearson and the reassurances that he seeks. As I explained at Report on 2nd March at col. 1696 of the Official Report, we do not believe that an additional safeguard of this nature is required for SEPA. The power to purchase land compulsorily has the potential to be a powerful tool in the hands of a nature conservation body such as Scottish Natural Heritage —SNH. The purchase of land is not a normal means of preventing or controlling pollution—as can be demonstrated by the fact that river purification boards have never exercised the compulsory purchase powers which they have had for over 40 years.

I can therefore assure my noble friend that SEPA's general and environmental duties relate only to its functions. Similarly, guidance under Clause 29 will be issued with respect to the aims and objectives which SEPA should pursue in the performance of its functions. The functions of SEPA are set out in Clause 21 and are augmented by further provisions in the Bill, such as its function in relation to drainage works in Clause 24.

I should stress that the compulsory purchase powers are for the purpose of SEPA's statutory functions alone. My noble friend asked whether they might be used in pursuit of integrated catchment management. I believe that my noble friend missed the Committee stage when we discussed integrated catchment management. The point is that it is unlikely that in Scotland integrated catchment management will be a primary purpose for the agency because of the very different situation in regard to water in Scotland. I stress to my noble friend that there is no question whatever of SEPA being able to purchase land under Clause 25 on behalf of a third party.

I hope that I have been able to reassure my noble friend that there is no need for the additional safeguard which is proposed by his amendment. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State will authorise SEPA to exercise its compulsory purchase powers only as a last resort. On that basis, I invite my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I do not think that it would be appropriate to waste the time of the House by dividing on the issue, especially as I am somewhat reassured by what my noble friend said. I shall, of course, read it carefully in Hansard, together with the assurances which have been given by my noble friends on the Front Bench at earlier stages. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 29 [Guidance on sustainable development and other aims and objectives]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 8:


Page 25, line 45, at end insert:
("(4) The power to give guidance to SEPA under this section shall be exercisable only after consultation with SEPA and such other bodies or persons as the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to consult in relation to the guidance in question.
(5) A draft of any guidance proposed to be given under this section shall be laid before each House of Parliament and the guidance shall not be given until after the period of 40 days beginning with the day on which the draft was so laid or, if the draft is laid on different days, the later of the two days.

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(6) If, within the period mentioned in subsection (5) above, either House resolves that the guidance, the draft of which was laid before it, should not be given, the Secretary of State shall not give that guidance.
(7) In reckoning any period of 40 days for the purposes of subsection (5) or (6) above, no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.
(8) The Secretary of State shall arrange for any guidance given under this section to be published in such manner as he considers appropriate.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment follows from the assurance I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, during the first day of the Report stage on 2nd March at col. 1689 of the Official Report.

The amendment requires my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to consult SEPA and other appropriate bodies and persons on the terms of the guidance, and to publish that guidance. Both provisions parallel changes to Clause 4 in relation to the environment agency for England and Wales made at Report stage. Those issues were of concern to the House and the Government have acknowledged them by bringing forward this amendment.

The amendment also makes the guidance subject to negative resolution. The lack of proper parliamentary scrutiny was another important matter which your Lordships thought should be addressed. The Minister has already spoken to Amendment No. 4 which makes provision for the negative resolution procedure for guidance under Clause 4. We believe that this would also be appropriate for SEPA. I beg to move.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, in welcoming the amendment I ask my noble friend to confirm, in order to save time, when an order may eventually be laid before Parliament, that,


    "such other bodies ... as the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to consult",

will, when appropriate, include occupiers and owners of land and the bodies which speak for them.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I can confirm that.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 30 [General environmental and recreational duties]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 9:


Page 26, line 8, leave out ("and").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 would place a further balancing duty on SEPA. They are the result of our consideration of the amendment to Clause 7 by my noble friend Lord Wade at Report stage in relation to the environment agency for England and Wales. In formulating it, we have also taken into account the amendments tabled at Report stage by the noble Earl, Lord Kintore, and my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

The amendment would require SEPA and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to have regard to the economic and social needs of any areas of Scotland and to have particular regard to such needs of rural areas. It is right that that emphasis be placed on rural areas, given their special needs.

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The amendment reflects such an approach. It is not identical to the duty on the English and Welsh agency, but we believe that it is a vital balance and it is our duty to introduce it. I beg to move.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, once again I welcome the amendment. It is an improvement on the English amendment. Will my noble friend again confirm that SEPA will take into account the interests of owners and occupiers of the rural land to which the amendment specifically refers, when appropriate?

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, once again I can confirm the answer that my noble friend seeks. I also confirm that the way in which the amendment is worded means that,


    "any area or description of area",

describes areas such as rural areas, suburban areas and so on; "any area" refers to specific areas which could, for example, include Rannoch Moor.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 10:


Page 26, line 11, at end insert ("; and
(d) to have regard to the social and economic needs of any area or description of area of Scotland and, in particular, to such needs of rural areas.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 32 [General duties with respect to water]:

The Earl of Dundonald moved Amendment No. 11:


Page 27, line 23, leave out ("in accordance with any directions under section 38 below").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I wish to move Amendment No. 11, which is in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, and myself. The amendment would remove the present emphasis placed on ministerial directions in connection with SEPA's duties with respect to the cleanliness of waters and the conservation of water resources. During the passage of the Bill the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, expressed anxiety that, as drafted, Clause 32(1) would involve my right honourable friend the Secretary of State meddling in the day-to-day operations of the agency. I know that that is not the Government's intention, but the clause as drafted at the very least sends out contrary signals. I believe that it requires the removal of the reference to directions under Clause 38. I beg to move.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, Amendment No. 11, moved by my noble friend Lord Dundonald and spoken to at length at an earlier stage of the Bill by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, would remove the specific reference to ministerial directions in Clause 32 of the Bill.

I explained in Committee on Thursday 26th January (at col. 1211 of the Official Report) that we intended the reference to directions under Clause 38 to be a safety net in the event that the specific duties in Clause 32(1) with respect to water led to an unreasonable emphasis on the work of SEPA in relation to water at the expense of its other regulatory responsibilities for air and land.

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I do, however, understand the fears that have been expressed about undue interference by the Secretary of State—even if no real evidence has been advanced to support them. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State does not intend to meddle in the day-to-day operations of the agency. There is no reason why his relationship with SEPA should be any more interventionist than his relationship with other non-departmental public bodies that are accountable to him.

I am sure that the noble Lord will agree that Scottish Natural Heritage has been able to map out an independent path. There is no reason why SEPA would not be able to do the same. In recognition of our intention to leave day-to-day operational matters to SEPA, the Government are happy to accept the amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, assiduously explained to the House. If necessary, we will seek to use the corporate planning mechanism to ensure that the work of the agency strikes a proper balance between the environmental media requiring protection.


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