Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page



MOTIONS AND AMENDMENTS TO BE MOVED ON CONSIDERATION OF COMMONS AMENDMENTS
[References are to Bill (85) as first printed for the Commons.]
COMMONS AMENDMENT
1Clause 1, page 1, line 12, after first 'Agency' insert 'or, in Welsh, Asiantaeth yr Amgylchedd'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. Perhaps I may also speak to Amendments Nos. 309, 325, 333 and 334. Amendment No. 1 is tabled by the Government in response to that tabled at Report stage by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. It confers a Welsh name on the agency which it can use as it judges appropriate. I am sure that that would meet with the approval of the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, were he here as I see that he is not. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


COMMONS AMENDMENT
2Clause 3, page 5, line 31, leave out subsection (8).

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2. At the same time it may be convenient if we consider Amendments Nos. 12, 13, 24, 25, 161, 192, 193, 202, 210, 239, 240, 241, 243, 268, 274, 275, 291, 292, 294, 298, 299, 308, 311 and 326. This group comprises a number of minor and technical amendments. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No.2.—(Earl Ferrers.)

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon: My Lords, this is indeed a long list of technical amendments, but there is one in particular which I wish to bring to the attention of the House and to ask the Minister to explain in slightly greater detail. I refer to Amendment No. 13, which appears to give very wide-ranging and extensive powers to Ministers. It appears to suggest that a Minister may order the agency to do anything he chooses


That is an extraordinarily wide power and grants to a Minister, who may find some obscure and irrelevant piece of legislation unrelated to the agency's functions, the power to direct the agency to act on it.

In this arena we are back to the problem of the agency not being given an overriding, overarching purpose which would confine the actions which a Minister might wish to take under this particular measure. We had long debates at earlier stages of the Bill that the agency is given no specific purpose in existing at all. Indeed, its purpose, as laid down by the Bill, is to carry out the

11 Jul 1995 : Column 1475

functions transferred or assigned to it under the Bill. We have spent many hours arguing that it should have some specific role to protect or enhance the environment. It is this defect in the Bill—the fact that the agency has no specific function—which makes the extension of this particular section so odd. As far as I can see, it enables a Minister to require the agency to do almost anything. I should be grateful if the Minister could enlighten us as to why Ministers need this extraordinarily wide-ranging power to direct the agency and whether there are any restraints or confinements on what a Minister may do under this section, as it has been suggested it should be amended.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I do not believe that there is anything too much for the noble Baroness to be unduly concerned about. Amendment No. 13 says that the new agencies are to comply with directions given to them by Ministers. It removes any doubt that that is so. Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 were tabled because the European Commission has questioned the absence of a similar provision in Section 5(5) of the Water Resources Act 1991 and indicated that it would seek to challenge directions which are made without that sort of provision. We are confident of having an answer to such a challenge. We thought however that it would be a waste of time and money to try to fight such a case in the European Court of Justice. Part of the reason for the amended Clause 38 is to have available the means to implement European Community obligations by direction and to ensure that this provision satisfies the requirements of European Community law. Therefore, we consider that it is appropriate to put in those provisions in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


COMMONS AMENDMENT
3Clause 5, page 7, line 14, leave out 'section 161' and insert 'sections 161 to 161C'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3. I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 171, 177, 179, 251, 252, 253, 257, 259, 287, 288 and 293.

During our Committee and Report stages my noble friend Lord Crickhowell moved amendments for the introduction of an anti-pollution notice procedure into the powers available to the environment agency under the Water Resources Act. Amendment No. 287, which stems from these proposals, enhances the powers of the agency to prevent water pollution and to ensure that clean-up works are carried out where such pollution has occurred. The NRA already has a power under Section 161 of the Water Resources Act 1991 to carry out anti-pollution works itself and then seek to recover costs from a polluter or a potential polluter.

Amendment No. 287 introduces new Sections 161A, 161B and 161C to the 1991 Act. Section 161A will enable the agency to serve a notice which will require a polluter or a potential polluter to carry out anti-pollution works. We envisage that this power will be of particular value in preventing pollution incidents from occurring. The notice, which is called a "works" notice, will be

11 Jul 1995 : Column 1476

served after consultation and will set out the actions which must be carried out and the date for their completion.

The remainder of the amendments in this group are consequential and there are those which provide analogous powers to the Scottish environment protection agency.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3.—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


COMMONS AMENDMENTS
4Clause 6, page 8, line 28, leave out 'and'.
5Page 8, line 36, at end insert 'and
(c) in the case of sections 31 to 34 and 36(2) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 as applied by section 39(1B) of that Act, so much of the catchment area of the River Esk as is situated in Scotland,'.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 4 and 5. With these amendments I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 162, 223 to 228, 313 to 315 and 322. These amendments are for two purposes. First, they strengthen fisheries enforcement in the River Esk. Secondly, they introduce new requirements regarding the fitting of screens at fish farms.

The first set of amendments, Nos. 4, 5 and part of No. 227, relate to fisheries enforcement on the River Esk. Although the NRA is responsible for managing and enforcing fisheries throughout the whole of the River Esk, in Scotland it does not have the power to carry out its duty effectively. These amendments will enable the new environment agency's water bailiffs to pursue individuals suspected of fisheries offences committed on the River Esk or its tributaries to be apprehended throughout the entire catchment of the River Esk, including that part which lies in Scotland. At the moment their authority is restricted to the river with its banks and tributary streams in Scotland, whereas they apply throughout the whole of the English part of the catchment. The amendments will mean that poachers in the Scottish part of the catchment will no longer have a better chance of escape and enforcement will be improved throughout the river system. If it proves necessary for a bailiff to search property in Scotland, he will need a search warrant from the sheriff or from a Scottish JP in the same way as a Scottish water bailiff does.

I now turn to the amendments relating to screens. During our Committee and Report stages the noble Lord, Lord Moran, tabled amendments which would, in effect, require gratings to be fitted to fish farm intakes in order to protect wild fish. The Government agreed to consider that proposal and, if appropriate, to bring forward amendments in another place. That is the effect of the remaining amendments in this group. They have two main purposes—to prevent salmon and migratory trout from becoming trapped in fish farm intakes and outfalls and to prevent farmed fish from escaping into the wild. This latter point reflects a particular concern expressed by my noble friend Lord Mills.

11 Jul 1995 : Column 1477

Amendment No. 223 will replace Section 14 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. This section currently requires certain water and canal undertakings and mills to fit gratings—the design of which must be approved by Ministers—to water intakes and outfalls in rivers. The new provision extends the requirement to fit gratings (now referred to as "screens") to fish farms and provides that these must be capable of preventing the ingress of wild fish and the escape of farmed fish. It also removes the requirement for ministerial approval. Instead, more general requirements similar to those enshrined in recent Scottish legislation will apply to the placing and nature of screens and will allow for the use of devices other than gratings to prevent the passage of fish.

Amendment No. 224 replaces references to "gratings" in Section 15 of the 1975 Act with the term "screens" to bring it into line with Section 14. Amendments Nos. 225, 226, part of 227, 228, 313 to 315 and 322 make consequential amendments to Schedules 12, 19 and 20 to the Bill. Amendment No. 162 makes a minor technical amendment to Clause 88—which introduces Schedule 12—to bring the wording into line with the heading of that schedule.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 4 and 5.—(The Earl of Lindsay.)


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page