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Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5:

Page 1, line 5, leave out from ("make") to ("provision") in line 11
Page 1, line 12, at end insert--
("(2A) The powers of the Secretary of State under subsection (1) shall be exercisable--
(a) for or in connection with regulating activities which are capable of causing any environmental pollution; or
(b) otherwise for or in connection with the prevention or control of emissions capable of causing any such pollution.")
Page 1, line 13, leave out ("(1)") and insert ("(2A)")

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to these amendments. I beg to move Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5 en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 1, line 19, after ("land") insert ("which may give rise to any harm")

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 6, I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 7 which also stands in my name. When we debated this Bill in February, noble Lords considered that the definition of "environmental pollution" in that draft was inadequate and as such added inappropriately to the width of the regulation-making powers. I promised to reflect on that debate. These amendments address that issue. With my amendment, Clause 1(3) of the Bill will include a definition of pollution which goes no wider than the definition in the directive and in Section 1 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This is as far as the concept can be defined while still allowing for the effective operation of the regulatory regime. To go narrower than the directive definition would mean that we could not properly implement the directive, leaving the UK open to possible infraction proceedings. To go narrower than the 1990 Act definition would mean a weakening of our existing controls, which is not intended.

Amendment No. 8, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, would remove from the definition the concept of harm to human health or to the health of other living organisms. I do not think that that is appropriate. This is part of the definition of "pollution". It forms part of the definition in the directive and it appears in current UK legislation. In some ways it is perhaps the most

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important consideration which the regulator takes into account when setting conditions on the operator of an installation. Without it, the regulator would be left to control those emissions which damaged buildings or offended the senses but not those which caused illness or disease. I referred earlier to the letter received from the noble Lord, Lord De Ramsey, who was also alarmed by the implications of this amendment and who said that it would be contrary to long-standing elements of UK environmental policy.

The health implications of pollution are fundamental to the regime we are trying to put into place by the legislation. I therefore hope that the noble Lord will not proceed with his amendment. I believe that my amendments meet the concerns expressed in the earlier February debate. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I like the definition in Amendment No. 7. However, there are one or two questions I should like to ask about it. While I have been campaigning for the Scottish Parliament--perhaps in the future we will refer to that as "yet another place"--it has been drawn to my attention that in Clackmannanshire, Kinross and West Fife there is a problem with public health because of the spreading of partially treated sewage sludge, which has concerned many people in that area. Will the Bill regulate the spreading and/or ejection of partially treated sewage sludge on agricultural land? The main concern is public health, particularly when the spreading occurs on more than one occasion per year. The risks of air pollution affecting health and of leachates reaching the water supply are substantial and need to be controlled. Will Amendment No. 7 deal with the issue of the use of agricultural land for the disposal of partially treated sewage sludge?

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am sorry if I appear to be a little confused. I am not sure whether we are talking to the Minister's Amendment No. 7 or to my Amendment No. 8, which I have not yet moved and to which the Minister has apparently already replied. However, in this relaxed and progressive mood, perhaps I should say why I tabled the amendment. It was for partly philosophical and partly practical reasons--and mainly because I wanted to hear what the Minister had to say on the matter.

My philosophical reason relates to the question of harm to "other living organisms". Harm to other living organisms can mean many things. It implies that in the state of nature other living organisms are not trying to harm themselves. I am afraid that that is patent nonsense. My experience of nature is very clear: it is feast or famine. In the state of nature, everything struggles for domination. The fact that domination may be self-defeating is neither here nor there. It is the state of affairs. Plants do it against plants; animals against animals; animals against plants, and so on. In the state of nature, "harm" is a natural condition. That is the philosophical objection.

My practical objection is slightly different. We are talking about the possibility of making regulations about industrial processes. My practical concern is that this could conceivably be used against specific agricultural operations in general practice which always involve harm to something, be they only weeds, insects or

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whatever. It could conceivably be used in such a way as to make the United Kingdom's agriculture uncompetitive in Europe and elsewhere. I may be reassured that that would never happen in the light of the Minister's reply--I do not know--but I hope that he will accept that the point I am raising is a serious one. I hope that he might expand slightly on what he said. I accept that these words have been used in the past, but that does not necessarily mean that they are either wholly appropriate or wholly correct.

The Duke of Montrose: In a similar vein to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, I am concerned about the proposed paragraph (c) in Amendment No. 7 regarding "offence to the senses". The Minister may be able to tell me where the phrase has been used before, but an "offence to the senses" might include an offence to sight, sound, smell or touch. One can think of various things which would offend people. It seems to me that one could draw up a law to deal with matters which damage such organs in human beings, but such matters are already covered in legislation. I have read the European directive but I can find nothing relating to this context. It seems to me that the amendment exceeds the purposes of the European directive. I am worried, as is the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, that this might put our production processes, both industrial and farming, at a disadvantage.

Baroness Hamwee: Surely other members of the European Union will be in the same position as we are if this definition faithfully replicates the provisions of the directive. I had understood it to mean that, if the definition is included, the Secretary of State will be able to make regulations to deal with "harm" as defined. No doubt we will have to go through a process of working out whether that "harm" is one which requires regulation.

Lord Dixon-Smith: Does the noble Baroness accept that up until now this country has been somewhat resistant to the idea of harmonisation of matters European? We have not yet pulled it into this specific area, but I suspect that this nation of ours will be as resistant to harmonisation in this area as we would be in others where the matter has generally been raised.

Baroness Hamwee: I thought that the noble Lord was concerned that we might be ahead of the game on this issue rather than trying to pull the other member states onside.

Lord Whitty: The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is correct in saying that much has been made of the Bill. It is essentially an enabling Bill. It does not prescribe what the interventions would be; it defines what falls under both activities and under "environmental pollution". I understand the concerns of agriculture and other industries, hence the implications in sub-paragraph (iii) and paragraph (c) of my Amendment No. 7. Both wordings were in the 1990 Act and, as far as I am aware, there have been no problems of interpretation in the regulations brought forward under that Act. No doubt the

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interests of the agricultural industry and others will be taken into account in the drafting of the various regulations.

As to the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, the regulations will again enable the Secretary of State to bring forward regulations to deal with the problem of sludge. They will not necessarily prescribe that he should so do. It may be that "yet another place" will address the matter in a Scottish context at some future date. There are already some water-related regulations which apply to that area. The amendment would allow further such regulations to be made. With that clarification, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will not move his amendment and that the Committee will accept my amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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