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Lord Whitty: I am deeply impressed by the description given by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, of his noble successors' networking and marketing skills on behalf of Essex. No doubt Essex can take care of itself, as it can in so many other matters. It is clear that if his colleagues feel like the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, there will not be many Liberal Democrat councils seeking the service of brokers. The question is whether we should allow them. No, they will not be compulsory. Local authorities may well find that direct dealing is best. We are trying to introduce some transparency and flexibility into the system and it may be that some authorities find that it is helpful to have an agent or a system whereby a specialism grows up as the trade grows.

We do not seek to prohibit that in the Bill, but if such a profession is created, we seek to regulate it. That would seem sensible in the public interest; that is all that the clauses are about. The provision makes clear that regulations would need to provide that such brokers were licensed and subject to regulations and conditions of the licence. To return to the issue of penalties, breach of those licence conditions would be an offence. It is not that Lancashire or Essex will be required to employ some sharp-suited broker from the City, to whom they clearly would not want to entrust their trading arrangements. However, a respectable trade may develop that gives greater transparency to the market.

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It is important to recognise that those brokers are brokers. They do not own allowances; only the authority owns the allowances. The brokers may simply be there to help the system work better. If so, they must be regulated.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: Is the Minister saying that quick bucks can be made? I know that from the grain trade. Is this a situation in which local authorities may be in competition with brokers for the money that could assist local authorities with some of their financial problems?

Lord Whitty: No, I am not saying that. I am saying that to maximise their benefit from the system local authorities may employ their own staff or, in the case of Essex, their leader, in such negotiations. On the other hand, they may employ someone else on a professional basis. We should not rule that out, but we should ensure that that person would be covered by regulations in the same way that local authority staff would be covered.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am almost persuaded, but not absolutely. It seems to me that we are creating a hazardous career for someone. We are not sure whether anyone will use such a person and it appears that he will have to turn to other employment in 2020, which is not ideal for any young man starting up in business. One would hope—I hope that the Minister agrees with this—that if this Bill is successful, by 2020 we shall have met all the commitments, and most of the Bill will become so much redundant paper. That would be highly desirable.

That may not be so. It may be that the Minister has inside knowledge and knows that someone is already working on a successor directive to squeeze a bit more juice out of the same orange. Once the movement to diminish waste gets under way, the developments will create their own momentum, and we shall probably go much further in the end than the directive requires. The problems are all in the initial years and that is welcome. I am grateful for the response, which we shall have to study. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 34:


    Page 6, line 12, leave out "persons engaged" and insert "Regional Development Agencies"

The noble Lord said: I almost said that I would not move this group of amendments. They postulate a different way of dealing with the matter of a third party involved in trading. Perhaps the Minister will say whether a regional development agency is a "suitable body" to act as a broker. It would in some sense have an interest, but it would be a disinterested party as between one waste disposal authority and another. It would be interesting to know the Government's reaction to that.

Lord Whitty: I would not want to prevent the RDAs developing that role, although it is not a very obvious

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role for them in that the scheme is not confined by region any more than it is in allocating authorities for the whole of England. Some of the trading could be UK-wide. I do not know that the RDAs recommend themselves for this role, but I would not wish to prevent them acting as agents.

The clause also refers to the regulations relating to registrars, which is a somewhat different role. We envisage the Environment Agency acting as registrar for England, and probably Wales, although I cannot strictly speak for the Welsh authorities. The registrar's role would be to hold the definitive record. That is a rather different job and one that would not be appropriate for the RDAs.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I am quite happy at this stage to withdraw my amendment. However, everything that is said and done in the Committee must be subject to the proviso that it will be studied and may promote further questions. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 35 to 41 not moved.]

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Duty not to exceed allowances]:

[Amendment No. 42 not moved.]

Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 43:


    Page 7, line 2, at end insert—


"(1A) It shall be the duty of the waste disposal authorities to ensure that for any year after and including 2010, waste which has not been sorted at source and collected in such a manner as to enhance its recoverability through recycling and composting is not sent to landfills."

The noble Lord said: This brings us back to some of the fundamental aspects of the Bill. We are talking about biodegradable municipal waste. The Bill does not tackle the problems of reducing the amount of that waste at source. We can argue about where the source is. We suggest that there should be a duty on waste disposal authorities, in co-operation with waste collection authorities, to ensure that by a particular year—some people may consider our suggestion of 2010 to be too soon but we believe a year needs to be set down—waste which has not been sorted at source and collected in such a manner as to enhance its recoverability through recycling and composting is not sent to landfills.

Unless we are collectively able to get to grips with the problems of separation at the source of collection, we will not get to grips with the problems of recovery and recycling. Failure to do so will mean that all the good intentions in the world in the Bill, all the financial penalties that are to be levied in the Bill, all the targets and levels of allowable waste in the Bill will come to nothing. We believe that it is reasonable and sensible to set a date by which waste must have gone through the basic process of separation and appropriate processing, whether it is recycling, composting or other processes—and it will be a combination of all of them. Unless the Government are prepared to set these targets, everything that is set down in the Bill will come to nought.

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That is the purpose of the amendment. We believe that a timetable needs to be set by which waste collection authorities, waste disposal authorities and everybody else involved in the waste chain can work to eliminate any unsorted waste coming from households and commercial properties in the high streets of this country. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: It is attractive to support the amendment but, as it is worded, one could not do so. Of course, one wants to see as much waste as possible segregated and collected in a segregated manner. However, unless we introduce a penalty, if someone persists in not segregating it—or if there is no market for the segregated material—we all have difficulties.

Curiously enough, if the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, had stopped at recycling, I would have had no difficulty. However, once the word "composting" is put into the Bill I am afraid we have to raise a separate issue that is very relevant to the whole question of waste disposal. There is no doubt that a lot of people see composting as a potential means of removing a great deal of waste that goes to landfill and using it beneficially.

My question is just a little matter of biosecurity. We had huge problems over pig swill treated to a far higher temperature than exists in any composting system that I have yet heard of, which gave rise to the foot and mouth outbreak from which this country is only just beginning to recover. It was a huge cost. We hope we have the BSE problem under control. That involves sterilisation systems even more sophisticated than anything required for foot and mouth disease. This is the first chance there has been on the Bill to flag up a real concern that we need to think extremely seriously about composting systems if there is a risk that, through composting, another foot and mouth outbreak could be set off.

The current systems are an open door for trouble, so we need to be extremely careful when looking at them. I am not aware that people have given much thought to that issue up to now.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I just want to point out that our Amendment No. 82 specifically addresses what the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has quite correctly said. We shall debate it later.


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