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Lord Whitty: There is something in what the noble Baroness has said. We believe it is right that the mayor should have a view on other waste streams and how they are dealt with. There are many lessons of good practice. In the earlier provisions dealing with the environment report, the Bill provides for the inclusion of information on all waste, including the kinds of waste to which the noble Baroness referred. That is where the leadership, the education and the best practice roles arise.

The municipal waste strategy deals with the area where the mayor--either directly or more generally--has powers relating to the public sector but where the local authorities effectively have the control. We want the strategy to be a vehicle for real and concrete change. It should therefore contain policies that the mayor can deliver and which are capable of being implemented in the main by the local authorities, if necessary through powers of direction.

There are no mayoral powers of direction over the private sector. There would be little value in developing a strategy of action for the management of waste generated by the private sector, especially if it contained

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measures that it was not prepared to accept and which would be unenforceable. The municipal waste management strategy relates to an area where there is ultimately a mayoral power of direction but which is primarily a local authority responsibility. The other areas are of course important and will be covered within the environment report and what flows from it. With that explanation I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: We accept that the Bill as drafted does not give the mayor powers of direction in respect of non-municipal waste, as it is defined. But in these days of partnerships--often very productive partnerships--is it right to stop the mayor including in a strategy proposals as to how other types of waste might be dealt with? There might be advantages in dealing with municipal and other waste in the same way--or, at least, in relating the issues which arise one to the other. To preclude the mayor from extending a strategy simply because he cannot enforce it seems to me--I am sorry for the pun--to be a wasted opportunity.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: The Minister's response to what we have said rather proves the point I was trying to make: the emphasis on municipal waste, as my noble friend has just said, rather limits the mayor's power to take a leadership role in this area.

Let us take, for example, the dangerous waste that emanates from hospitals. That can be disposed of in a number of different ways. A mayor may be able to encourage hospitals to deal with their waste in groups and possibly persuade them to dispose of it on their own sites, or on sites of hospitals in less crowded parts of London, in a way which is specifically directed at the disposal of that dangerous waste.

Of course the mayor could not force hospitals to do that; however, a direction to hospitals, a leadership or partnership approach, might well result in a satisfactory method of disposing of dangerous waste. The same could be said, for example, about the minimisation and disposal of the cardboard packaging which surrounds so much of what we buy and in particular what is delivered to large companies. I know of quite small authorities which have already started in a small way encouraging local businesses not to dispose of their waste into the waste stream but to sell it directly to those who recycle or re-use such waste. That has come about as a result of the leadership role taken by those authorities. I see no reason why the mayor should not be encouraged to take that kind of role in relation to London. However, for the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 451C not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 451D to 451M had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 451N:

Page 151, line 30, at end insert--
("( ) such non-governmental organisations as the Mayor considers appropriate,")

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 451P and 451Q.

Amendment No. 451N would require the mayor to consult NGOs when preparing or revising the waste strategy. I shall not re-run at length the arguments I gave as to why the mayor should consult on the environmental strategy. But some of them are equally pertinent here.

There may be difficult issues that the may or may not wish to confront. I give merely one example of an area where volumes and volumes of waste--I do not have the exact figures--are produced every year. I refer to the area of disposable nappies. Few organisations have done more to raise that issue than has the Women's Environmental Network, and few organisations other than that one have come up with alternatives acceptable to mothers with small babies. That is the kind of organisation that the mayor should be required to consult.

Amendment No. 451P is a fairly obvious proposal. It requires that the mayor should consult not merely disposal authorities but waste collection authorities in Greater London when preparing or revising the strategy. That seems to me self-evident and I should not need to explain it at length. However, if it is not and the Minister does not agree with me, I shall return to the matter.

Amendment No. 451Q requires the mayor to consult not merely on the disposal of waste but also on its handling and transportation. When we consider the amount of waste that is shifted around the city and the fact that one waste company alone shifts 600,000 tonnes a year by river, thereby saving some 400 lorry movements a day, we can begin to see the scale of the involvement as regards handling and transportation issues. These matters should be included alongside disposal, as they can play a major role. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: So far as concerns waste collection authorities, under Clause 34 the list of statutory consultees for all the mayor's strategies, including this one, includes the London boroughs, which are the collection authorities. As regards the rest, again we are in a situation where I wish to give the mayor discretion and the noble Baroness wishes to prescribe. I do not know whether we want to go over those arguments again. The more one prescribes certain bodies, the more one excludes other bodies. Again, I should prefer to leave it to the mayor's discretion.

11 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I hear what the Minister says, and once again I am struck by my inability to find new ways of saying that I will withdraw the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 451P and 451Q not moved.]

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[Amendments Nos. 451 to 451X had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

On Question, Whether Clause 283 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Dixon-Smith : In moving that Clause 283 shall not stand part of the Bill, for the convenience of the Committee I should like to couple with it Clauses 284 to 289. The amendments are a series of probing amendments, which I do not really expect the noble Lord to accept. However, I find myself wondering why we inserted into the Bill the suggestion of handing the mayor the problem of handling London's waste disposal when in fact he has nothing to do with it. He will have nothing to do with collection or disposal. The Environment Agency regulates quality control of the business and the Secretary of State has overall control. The only reason I can see is that it might just pull the Secretary of State's irons out of the fire in that it might save him from having to take a number of difficult decisions which he might hope that the mayor would take on his behalf.

There is yet another problem. It is that the Bill has no timescale for the mayor to produce an effective strategy. By the time he is likely to do it, given the generous timescale being given in regard to other things, the crisis over the disposal of London's waste will have come and gone, because it will have to have been dealt with before any strategy is required to appear. I have not found a timescale on the face of the Bill.

This is what I would call a general shot across the bows. I would accept that there is some validity in what is proposed in the Bill if in fact the mayor was going to be given some responsibility for the provision of facilities for the disposal of London's waste, or some such power. But he has nothing. All he has to do is to write a plan, and I do not think that is likely to achieve anything. We have heard enough about the problem of London's waste and I will not talk more about that problem at this stage.

I think there is a case to answer as to why these clauses are included, and I look forward to what the noble Lord the Minister has to say. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, says that this is a shot across the bows and he has coupled with his Motion a number of subsequent clauses relating to waste. Of course it is true that direct powers of the GLA with regard to waste are not there, but the powers of direction are there. We said in the White Paper that we had considered the option of making the GLA the disposal authority for the whole of London, but that we considered that to be unnecessary and likely to involve a massive duplication of bureaucracy. It would require the GLA to become involved in areas which, by and large, are being dealt with adequately by the local boroughs within London. Nevertheless, there are some very serious pan-London issues involved here which affect areas beyond London, including the Royal County of Essex. So there are some very serious strategic issues involved here which, with the re-creation of a strategic authority, it is sensible for the GLA to undertake.

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It is important that, in relation to the collection, recovery, minimisation, disposal and transportation of waste--all the issues that the Committee has debated for the past hour or so--the GLA has a coherent strategy. It may well be that by better co-ordinating the boroughs and, if necessary, using a degree of direction in so doing, there will be a more integrated approach to waste disposal across London. In any case, as part of the general environmental obligations on the GLA it is necessary that, in conjunction with the other public authorities involved, waste disposal is seen as a major arm of the delivery of a better environmental quality of life within London, of which municipal waste disposal is a very important aspect.

Clearly, there is a national waste strategy into which all of this must fit and to which, in many ways, the Greater London waste strategy will make a major contribution. The fact that the GLA is not itself a waste disposal authority may perhaps make it easier for it to provide strategic direction. Were it to be bogged down in the detailed logistics of individual waste disposal operations, as the London boroughs inevitably are, the commitment to the strategic approach would be that much less.

Therefore, I hope the noble Lord agrees that a strategy for waste disposal is in the best interests of London and that the necessity for the GLA to co-operate with the London boroughs and neighbouring authorities around Greater London is an important responsibility. I hope that the noble Lord will allow this clause to stand part and not press his opposition tonight.

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