Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Waddington: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for the courteous way in which she has replied to the amendment. I am grateful also for her comments and criticisms of our scheme for a statutory commission, which I am sure will come in handy when it comes to drafting an appropriate amendment on Report.

The noble Baroness did not get very far in addressing the principles behind these amendments. She did not begin to explain why there should not be a statutory commission responsible for all appointments, carrying out the very policy that has been propounded by the Government.

At the beginning of her remarks, the noble Baroness said that the Government recognise that this is a very complicated area. I respectfully agree. It is complicated enough for the noble Baroness to go away and think again. It is complicated enough in view of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Shore, for her to think again about the whole matter. I am confident that she will, and that she will pay regard to the views of her noble friend Lord Shore. I shall certainly return to this matter on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carter: I beg to move that the House do now resume. In moving this Motion, I suggest that the Committee stage does not begin again before 9.15 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Northern Ireland (Location of Victims' Remains) Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

13 May 1999 : Column 1374

Pollution Prevention and Control Bill [H.L.]

8.15 p.m.

Report received.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty) moved Amendment No. 1:

Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The purpose of section 1 is to enable provision to be made for or in connection with--
(a) implementing Council Directive 96/61/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control;
(b) regulating, otherwise than in pursuance of that Directive, activities which are capable of causing any environmental pollution;
(c) otherwise preventing or controlling emissions capable of causing any such pollution.
(2) In this Act--
"activities" means activities of any nature, whether--
(a) industrial or commercial or other activities, or
(b) carried on on particular premises or otherwise,
and includes (with or without other activities) the depositing, keeping or disposal of any substance;
"environmental pollution" means pollution of the air, water or land which may give rise to any harm; and for the purposes of this definition (but without prejudice to its generality)--
(a) "pollution" includes pollution caused by noise, heat or vibrations or any other kind of release of energy, and
(b) "air" includes air within buildings and air within other natural or man-made structures above or below ground.
(3) In the definition of "environmental pollution" in subsection (2), "harm" means--
(a) harm to the health of human beings or other living organisms;
(b) harm to the quality of the environment, including--
(i) harm to the quality of the environment taken as a whole,
(ii) harm to the quality of the air, water or land, and
(iii) other impairment of, or interference with, the ecological systems of which any living organisms form part;
(c) offence to the senses of human beings;
(d) damage to property; or
(e) impairment of, or interference with, amenities or other legitimate uses of the environment (expressions used in this paragraph having the same meaning as in Council Directive 96/61/EC).")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 3 and 11, which are closely related.

Noble Lords who have followed the progress of this Bill will know that it has changed somewhat during the course of its consideration in this House. During earlier stages of its passage, serious constitutional doubts were raised about its nature and drafting, not least by the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation. The committee made a number of

13 May 1999 : Column 1375

suggestions for limiting the scope of the Bill and safeguarding parliamentary security and control. I therefore tabled a series of amendments which were agreed in Committee to meet those recommendations and which have, by general consent, clearly improved the Bill. They more than meet the specific concerns of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee.

Nevertheless, we had a fairly lengthy debate in Committee about whether further changes were necessary to improve the clarity and purpose of the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, tabled an amendment for which a number of noble Lords expressed support. He also proposed an amendment to the Long Title, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, favoured that approach. I am happy to inform the House that I propose to move on both fronts in accordance with the wishes of noble Lords in that debate.

In the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, conceded that his own amendment for a purpose clause might not be sufficiently well drafted. He asked if there were perhaps some other way of shuffling the drafting of the Bill. That is, in practice, what I have done. Amendment No. 1 effectively accepts the Bill's purpose and will make that purpose clear from the start rather than moving direct to regulatory powers--with which the noble Lord said that he a psychological problem. Amendment No. 1 fully meets the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, on that occasion and that of other noble Lords.

I am pleased to say also that, having taken legal advice, as I was not sure at that stage whether we could move in this direction, I am also able to amend the Long Title. That is dealt with in Amendment No. 11. So we have both changed the Title and introduced a new purpose clause.

I hope the House will agree that these amendments, along with those that we made in Committee, leave the Bill in a much clearer, more properly defined state, and have set in the Bill a proper degree of parliamentary control over the issues that it addresses. I hope that noble Lords will also agree that the constitutional doubts raised at earlier stages have now been met.

There was never any disagreement, certainly among the major parties, on the substance of the Bill. We all wanted to see a co-ordinated system of pollution control in this country reflecting both European standards and British practice. I contend that that is what we now have. The purpose clause in Amendment No. 1 and the related amendments are important in achieving the aims of noble Lords at previous stages. I beg to move.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, perhaps I may put a couple of questions to the noble Lord the Minister so we can get the answers confirmed at this stage of the proceedings. I ask him to confirm that this Bill is before us only because of EC Directive 96/61. In other words, if that directive had not been issued, would this Bill be with us? I come to my second question, which is perhaps supplementary to the first. Can the noble Lord tell us whether there was anything wrong with the

13 May 1999 : Column 1376

Environmental Protection Act 1990? Were we dissatisfied with that in any way? Was it not working? Has it been improved by importing this directive as proposed into British law?

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I begin by explaining why my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding is not able to be with us. He had a cataract operation today and it was not possible for him to alter that appointment. He is very sorry not to be here. I hope that the House will understand if we return to my noble friend's amendment at Third Reading. I should also explain why my noble friend Lord Renton is not able to attend. When we agreed to hold this particular stage of the Bill at this hour of the night, he was due to attend a legal dinner that he was unable to unload because of his very senior position within the legal profession. Consequently, he too is unable to be with us.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, in his capacity as a Minister for persuading his colleagues to bring forward these amendments. We have been pressing for them very hard for a long time. I hope that the noble Lord will not find it too depressing if I say that nothing will make this into a good Bill, but that what he proposes tonight certainly makes it a better Bill and is therefore to be wholly commended. The provisions answer a good many of the points raised by ourselves and Members on other sides of the House.

As to Amendment No. 11, delighted as I am to see it, I hope that the Minister has not fallen foul of his advice to us during recommitment. He said then that his advice was that once a Bill has been produced, its Long Title could not be changed unless other amendments so required. My only concern is that in agreeing that the Long Title should be amended, he does not imply that we have completely lost our capacity to amend the Bill further at Third Reading, should it be determined that that is necessary. However, it is perfectly possible that if we do that, it will not create the need further to amend the Long Title. I hope that what I say is not a hostage to fortune.

I welcome these amendments. They are what we have pressed for consistently during the passage of the Bill both in Committee and now on Report. A good deal of the credit for that must go to the Minister for persuading the Government of the merits of the case. I am delighted to see these amendments before the House tonight.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page