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Lord Livsey of Talgarth: We support Amendment No. 28 because that tightens up the situation by removing the words, "or any other". However, we wonder about the purpose of Amendment No. 30, which would knock out allocating authorities and also specific scheme years, which seems to us to defeat some of the Bill's objectives.

I am worried about Amendment No. 31. I totally understand the environmental desirability of the short-distance necessity of going to a landfill site. However, in some parts of the United Kingdom, this situation does not apply at all. I refer, in particular, to Wales, where I come from. There, one county, which is a disposal authority, stretches over a distance equivalent to going from the Severn Bridge to the flyover just down the road here, and it has very few disposal sites within its boundaries. Frankly, what the amendment seeks to achieve would be impractical for that authority because of its sparse population and the small amount of material collected over a very wide area.

Therefore, the amendment would hit very hard in some parts of the country, and in some areas of Scotland that I also know well it would be particularly difficult. I have no doubt that the National Assembly and the Scottish Parliament would both make representations, and they would probably require far more flexibility so far as concerns the amendment. I understand that Amendment No. 32 is a probing amendment and we shall listen to what is said about it.

7 p.m.

Lord Whitty: In different ways, all the amendments are designed to limit trading and to reduce the flexibility that trading might deliver. Therefore, I have objections to all of them, although those objections differ.

Amendment No. 28 would prevent any cross-border trading of allowances. In other words, the Welsh, the Scottish and the English systems would each have to be watertight among themselves. In general, the Bill is designed to bring about a flexible system of trading allowances. Should all authorities introduce a trading scheme, the amendment would deny waste disposal authorities the flexibility to trade across borders. It may well be that the terms of the schemes would differ and that there would be difficulties in trading, but it does not seem sensible to limit that at this stage.

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As was the case earlier, certain misconceptions are repeated in this debate—that is, that we are trading allowances, not waste. Thus, there is no crossover between the fact that one might trade between a Welsh and an English authority or between distant authorities within England and the fact that physically one would be transferring any waste. Therefore, when we come to Amendment No. 31, which deals with miles and distances, as is the case now, it may be more economically attractive for an authority to use a landfill which is further away. The fact that there is a trading system does not alter those economics. While we may all deplore the environmental effects of that, it is not the Bill that puts the authorities into that position.

Amendment No. 32 would remove the power to suspend the transfer of allowances. Apart from confining the issue in terms of time, Amendment No. 30 would also remove the power to make provision as to the originating authority in the scheme year for which allowances could be traded. Obviously both those amendments would not be necessary if Amendment No. 28, or something similar to it, were carried, preventing cross-border trade in the first place.

Our objective here is to promote the maximum degree of flexibility within an overall UK target. Although different allocating authorities—that is, different national governments—may establish different schemes, we do not believe it is sensible to provide a system which, in principle, restricts any exchange, transfer or trading between those authorities.

I repeat that none of what I have said suggests that the trading system will encourage the physical movement of waste throughout the United Kingdom. The trading system does not, of itself, have any impact on that. Because the whole point is to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, it should reduce that. Therefore, for varying reasons, I hope that none of the amendments will be pursued.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. He has thrown a little more light on to what was otherwise a dark place, which is helpful. However, I am not sure that we know enough about how this will work. I suspect that we shall know how it does not work only when someone first goes to gaol for five years because he has found a way to bend the rules. Nevertheless, I am grateful for what has been said and we shall study it, but we may need to return to this matter at a later date. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 29 to 33 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 33A:

    Page 6, line 12, leave out paragraph (f) and insert—

"( ) make provision for all trades to be carried out by direct transfer or sale between waste disposal authorities;"

The noble Lord said: As with everything in the Bill, again, we are somewhat puzzled. From the implications of the Bill, it appears that we shall have

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waste disposal allocation brokers, who presumably will be rather like brokers on the Stock Exchange. They will circularise authorities and try to find people who are in the happy position of doing rather well and having a surplus. They will try to buy that surplus and then go somewhere else and attempt to make a living selling it to someone less fortunate. That is how markets work.

I wonder whether that is an appropriate way to carry on. My experience suggests that the existing local authority networks work extremely well. I suspect that if my noble friend Lord Hanningfield found that his recycling and treatment plants in Essex were working extremely well so that he had surplus quota allocations available, he would have only to whisper it quietly on a dark night to a few colleagues. Then anyone who was unfortunately situated in the country would hear about it very quickly and one would not need the intervention of a broker at all.

The only reason for having a broker is that he is a market maker and may have a better idea of price. However, I cannot believe that my noble friend is so lacking in knowledge of what goes on that he would not realise that, if he had spare quota which someone else wanted, that would be something of value. Knowing his concerns for the council tax payers of Essex, I am absolutely sure that he would sell it for the highest possible price.

I find myself wondering whether we really need to include brokers in the Bill. Amendment No. 33A was tabled in order to remove brokers. Despite everything that has been said to the contrary, because one has to argue in these situations in order to elicit information, the market system has much to commend it but there is no need for a specialist broker.

Shortly we shall come to other amendments which suggest a different route, but my preferred route would be to leave the matter to the existing local government mechanisms. They would deal with it quickly and easily and at minimum cost to the whole system. I beg to move.

Lord Greaves: I have considerable sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has just said. I have a general prejudice against brokers and people such as that. Perhaps the noble Lord does not share that prejudice. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to hear such views expressed by someone such as him. I regard them as being leeches on the back of everyone else who make large amounts of money without doing any real work—just shifting money, stocks and all the rest of it between other people. However, perhaps I am prejudiced about that.

We are not here talking about a market full of people who do not know each other. We are not talking of very many people at all; we are talking of local authorities and of waste disposal authorities, which form a relatively small subset of local authorities. We are talking about council officials who are part of a community. They meet each other; they

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talk to each other; they go to conferences; they are often friends with each other; and they talk to each other on the telephone.

I cannot understand why we need this new breed of waste disposal allowance brokers to enable someone in Lancashire to talk to someone in Essex, or someone in Merton to talk to someone in Kirklees, or wherever it happens to be, about whether they have surplus allowances and whether they want to sell them from one council to the other. That seems to be a fairly simple, straightforward process, unless there is some legal bureaucratic reason why it must all be done through highly legalistic documentation that ordinary council officials—or even ordinary council solicitors—cannot be expected to understand, so that we need a new specialist profession of waste disposal allowance brokers. I cannot understand that; it seems nonsense.

Is the Minister saying that these brokers will be a necessary part of the process—even if they are allowed to trade in such allowances and must be registered, accredited and put through some politically correct process involving equal opportunities and all the rest of it? Perhaps they will have to be checked against the police register; goodness knows what has to happen nowadays with everything. Is it being said that a council in Lancashire and a council in Essex will be unable to trade direct in the sensible way of ringing up to talk to people, getting the paperwork done by their solicitors and exchanging it, or will it be compulsory to go through this new profession?

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