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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: These two amendments would have the odd effect of allowing landfill only of waste that has been separated for recycling. Unseparated waste could not then be landfilled at all. We think that these two amendments seek a far greater separation than is possible.

As earlier discussions show, we agree that separation is good and minimisation of landfill is very good. We recognise that as a laudable aim. However, including the requirement in the Bill in this form is asking too much of the waste disposal authorities. The Bill deals with implementing the requirements under the Landfill Directive to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfills and

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to provide an economic instrument that will help the waste disposal authorities achieve their obligations. Source separation is a way of securing a good quality of secondary resources, but it cannot be an end in itself unless there is a market for the resources. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is not here, because this is precisely the point he was making earlier. It has be to be given great consideration when looking at this issue.

We accept that this issue needs to be dealt with as part of a wider package of measures rather than linking it to this relatively narrow Bill. We support the idea. The Government's response to the Strategy Unit report will have something to say on this when we respond to it in the spring.

The issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith was to do with composting. I do not know whether he wishes me to deal with that now or, as the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, said, return to it later.

Lord Dixon-Smith: Would it help if I said that I am quite happy that it should be dealt with only once? I feel that I should toss the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, for the privilege but I am quite happy to deal with it on his amendment.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I thank the noble Lord and look forward to the rest of the debate.

Lord Greaves: I thank the Minister for her response. In defence of our amendments, I point out the words,

    "in such a manner as to enhance its recoverability".

That does not mean that it all has to be recovered. That was written fairly carefully. The Minister says that is asking too much of landfill authorities. Our concern is that that is asking too much of the Government to provide the commitment, vision, leadership and finances that are necessary to do what we believe is required. We shall look forward eagerly to the Government's response to the Strategy Unit report. No doubt that will be debated.

We thank the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for his comments on markets which are absolutely right. That again is an area where we believe that the Government should be more pro-active in intervening in the markets, where necessary, to support and to sustain markets that are necessary in order to sustain recycling. I thank him for raising the important issue of composting, to which we shall return later. We look forward to the Strategy Unit debate later in this Parliament. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 44:

    Page 7, line 3, at beginning insert "Subject to subsection (5),"

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 44 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 47 and 51. Amendment No. 44 refers to a new subsection (5) which is proposed in Amendment No. 51. Several times today we have spoken about the problems of two-tier authorities. As I said earlier, in the east of England, 88 per cent of the public are served by two-tier authorities, and over 70 per cent of the whole land

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mass of England is covered by two-tier authorities. One could have the collection authority wanting to thwart the disposal authority for political or other reasons. Therefore, the disposal authority could be at fault because of a matter that it could not control.

As has been discussed several times today, one feels that that should be rectified or recognised somewhere in the Bill, otherwise the members of the authorities could be fined or imprisoned for something that they did not do themselves. That is why we feel strongly that Amendment No. 51 should be accepted. That would recognise that sometimes the disposal authority could be at fault for no reason of its own. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: Perhaps I should say something about Amendment No. 62, which is in this group. The purpose of the amendment is to require collecting authorities to keep appropriate records. That will become essential. My noble friend Lord Hanningfield has already spoken about the potential liability of that. That may well require regulation so that the disposal authorities have accurate information as to what is going on, and more importantly, are able to supply accurate information onwards as they will be required to do. The amendment is fairly straightforward. Whether the Government are minded to accept it is another matter.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: We thoroughly support the amendment. I have a great deal of sympathy with the situation in England where more than one authority operates in an area. Fortunately we have sorted that out in Wales where we now have single-tier authorities, and as a result life is much simpler and more straightforward. Clearly, where there are two authorities, the difficulties that have been described occur. The amendment is well worthy of support, because it would sort out those matters and ensure that things do not go wrong.

Lord Whitty: I recognise the situation to which the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and others have referred. It is obviously important in all of this, as in the totality of the waste strategy, that where there is a two-tier authority structure, the waste disposal and waste collection authorities must work in partnership. However, the Landfill Directive and the allowances with which the Bill deals relate to the disposal authorities. So it must be the primary responsibility of the disposal authority to ensure that the amount sent for landfill does not exceed its allowance. Shrugging that off to one of the district authorities is not an appropriate sanction.

We will need to ensure that the delivery of the strategy is seen in a wider context than is provided in the Bill, so that it requires the waste disposal and waste collection authorities to act together and for there to be some horizontal agreements between the waste disposal authorities. The Strategy Unit report addresses that issue and sets out some options as to how that should be achieved.

However, in the context of the Bill, I do not think that the ability to transfer the cost of failure to meet a requirement to one or more of the district authorities

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is the appropriate method. Indeed, it could undermine the discipline on the disposal authority to act in accordance with the allowances limit. It could also provide an excuse, if one of the district authorities failed by a relatively small amount to deliver what had been the assumption about the collectable items of waste. That could then be used as justification for not meeting the target and for upping the precept on that authority or other district authorities. That could remove the incentive for the waste disposal authorities to comply with their duty, and therefore undermine our ability to meet the European targets. I therefore do not think that is the way to proceed. Instead, we should encourage through other means the partnership between the districts and counties, in order to meet the overall waste strategy objectives.

Amendment No. 62 is confined to the question of provision of information by the collection authorities. I cannot really see what kind of information would be helpful, given that the operation of the sanction would apply to the disposal authority. However, I am willing to consider that to see whether there is anything that we need to cover in terms of information required of the districts in order to ensure that the full system works and that we have a full indication of how the strategy is going.

Without commitment, I will take that matter away and consider it, but I would resist any attempt to shove the sanction or the cost onto the district authority. The disposal authority must take the responsibility here.

Lord Hanningfield: One does not want to put the blame on the districts, but there is no doubt about the situation. I repeat that we have 12 districts in Essex, with varying degrees of recycling. Some are doing very well, but others are not doing well at all. I repeat that council tax can go up in leaps and bounds because of a very small amount of extra expenditure. Councils are often not willing to incur that extra expenditure on attaining high recycling targets. There are thus variable and patchy results from the district councils in our county.

We are working together—we have a consortium, which is working quite well—but, when it comes to it, district councils often will not put up their council tax. The county council sets aside a lot money in its council tax for waste disposal, but district councils often do not do it. Unless we have some kind of mechanism, I cannot see how we can force them to do it. We therefore may not meet the disposal targets required by the Government because of what district councils have done. I can see that that is a case for judicial review and all sorts of things. I cannot see disposal authorities accepting blame when the collection authorities have not co-operated or have not been able to co-operate in achieving the targets. Therefore, it surely has to be thought out a bit further in the Bill. Otherwise it just will not work across a lot of the country. A tremendous proportion of England is still covered by two-tier authorities and will be for many years to come, whatever happens. It is a problem. The Minister has to recognise that we have to find some

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mechanism in the Bill for getting the district councils to recognise their responsibility as the collection authorities.

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