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Lord Whitty: In order to prepare for that objective, I also want to say that this is a complex issue. It may be helpful to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and to other Members of the Committee if I write down what was intended. On Report, we can then judge whether that is properly represented by these words or by some other proposition.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am most grateful to the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 56 and 57 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 58:

The noble Lord said: I am sorry, but with this amendment we again return to the business of language. In this case, where the Bill states at page 8, line 18, "make provision requiring", why does it not simply say "require"? That would be one word instead of three. It would be far simpler but would have precisely the same effect and would still be good English. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: As usual, I was deeply suspicious as to what lay behind the amendment and I therefore had difficulty in finding a substantial reply. If the good intent of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is simply to tidy up our English, then let us take the matter away to see whether it makes any difference. I shall undertake to return to him at a later stage.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I count that as quite a triumph. I am most grateful to the Minister for that response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4 p.m.

Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 59:

    Page 8, line 23, at end insert—

"( ) Before formulating policy for the purposes of subsection (2)(d), the Secretary of State must—
(a) consult such bodies or persons appearing to him to be representative of the interests of local government as he considers appropriate;
(b) consult such bodies or persons appearing to him to be representatives of industry as he considers appropriate; and
(c) carry out such public consultation as he considers appropriate."

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The noble Lord said: The amendment concerns the need, when making regulations, to consult the interests of local government, representatives of industry, and the public in general. When I looked at the amendment in detail, I could not understand why it referred only to subsection (2)(d) rather than to the whole of subsection (2). These things happen when one compiles amendments. When they are being compiled, one thinks they are the most intelligent and important thing in the world. Then sometimes, when you read them afterwards, you wonder what on earth that means.

I have two questions about subsection (2)(d). The first relates to the whole subsection, which is about scheme regulations and the whole area in which regulations may be made. Noble Lords will remember that the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform, in its first report 2002-03, had some interesting things to say about the number and extent of the regulations that are set out in this legislation. Paragraph 26 said:

    "The Bill is, effectively, almost a 'skeleton bill'".

The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, read out a good deal of the comments on Second Reading. I will read a little of them again because they vital in the context of the regulations, both in relation to consultation and in relation to what kind of orders they should be—a matter to which we will come later.

The committee said:

    "The bill is, effectively, almost a 'skeleton bill'. We have previously reported unfavourably on such bills, which leave many important matters to ministerial discretion. Even where the powers in the Bill are subject to affirmative procedure, Parliament can only accept or reject what is proposed. It cannot amend it. Had this Bill applied only to England"—

this is the crucial bit—

    "we would have considered seriously whether to recommend that some of what is proposed to be done by regulations should appear on the face of the bill."

The committee went on to explain why that situation had come about. We all understand that the Bill refers not just to England, where the powers are vested in the Secretary of State, but also to the devolved administrations, where the powers are quite rightly vested in the devolved authorities.

We shall deal later with whether the affirmative procedure should be used, so I will not pursue that further. However, I would like a general assurance about the consultation that will take place on all these regulations. Given that some of them would almost certainly have appeared on the face of the Bill, and if they had not, we would have been discussing a clear recommendation from the Delegated Powers Committee that they should, then it is doubly important that the consultation that takes place is as strong as it possibly can be.

Secondly, what does subsection(2)(d) mean? The more I read it, the less I understand it. It may be absolutely clear if you understand what the words mean. However, if you do not understand what the

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words mean, as in the previous amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, it does not mean anything. It says that regulations may, in particular,

    "make provision for determining the amount of biodegradable municipal waste in an amount of waste",

but for the life of me I cannot work out what that means. I would be grateful if the Minister could increase my general level of education by telling me. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I support the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, in this amendment, particularly on the issue of consultation. It is essential that those who will be affected by these regulations are able to make their views known before the regulations are drafted. There is an obligation for consultation about the totality of a Bill but consultation comes into this Bill pretty rarely. I am not sure that the references that there are to it cover this specific point where we are really getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, I too have a problem in that the Bill is designed for the United Kingdom, which unfortunately leaves England in a handicapped position vis-à-vis the regulations. Scotland can devise its own legislation in detail on the subject, if it so chooses. The Welsh Assembly has an absolute power, because of its function, to discuss the possibility of regulation in detail. The Northern Irish set up, where there is a hiatus at the moment, has such a power built into it. In this country, we have this clause and in due course, the Minister can write the regulations and Parliament can say yes or no. It would serve the Government right if one day someone said no, on principle, to all such regulations when they come forward because there has not been proper consultation. That has not happened yet but the more Bills of this kind that appear before us, the more likely that becomes. I therefore support the noble Lord.

Lord Hanningfield: I support that. Being involved in a Local Government Association, I take a particular interest. However, the Minister said, during some of his responses yesterday, that bodies would be consulted. Therefore, perhaps the fact that the wording of the amendment is not in the Bill is an oversight. The Minister may be able to confirm that such bodies will be consulted.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I have a couple of points to make on this matter. It is absolutely essential that those who are deemed to carry out the duties should be consulted, and they should have been consulted a long time ago. What happened, for example, when the directive was discussed in the European Council or in the Parliament or wherever? Were local authorities involved in that? Were they consulted by those who were negotiating? I do not know how the Government makes arrangements for directives with the European Union. Were the local authorities consulted before the process began? That is a stage at which local authorities can have the greatest effect.

Secondly, were local authorities consulted and did they help with the construction of the Bill? They will have to put the Bill into practice, they may be penalised

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and they will have to find the money to cope with the Bill, possibly from their council tax payers, if the Government do not give them enough money to cope with the provisions in the Bill. I am extremely interested in the matter of consultation. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, can help.

Lord Hanningfield: I want to add something from the local authority point of view. The noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, was involved in the Committee of the Regions for some time, as I have been. Unfortunately, until recently, the Committee of the Regions, the body that would be consulted, had not been consulted much on such matters. We are being given increasing responsibility and involvement in European legislation but for much of the earlier legislation, and in regard to this piece of legislation, local authorities had not been consulted or involved, although the European parliament is involved. Perhaps increasingly, with the new convention about the future of Europe, local authorities may become involved in such matters. At the moment, we often end up with legislation that is passed without local authorities having been involved.

Lord Whitty: On the last point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, it may be true that the Committee of the Regions was not consulted. Indeed, the role of that committee, as the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, indicates, is subject to some discussion now in relation to the legislative process. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise that the local authorities' domestic people are consulted. In fact, between them, DTLR and DEFRA were consulted four times on the implementation of the Landfill Directive and were informed while the directive was being drawn up. Two of those consultation documents, Limiting Landfill and Tradable Landfill Permits, solely concerned how to implement Articles 5.1 and 5.2 of the directive—the articles with which this chapter deals. They were heavily involved in consultation about how to translate that into legislation here—consultation that is partly reflected in what we now propose. So I do not think that the domestic consultation was at fault. When we come to make regulations, they require consultation and we shall engage in that consultation in the normal way.

I understood the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, to imply that he wanted to withdraw the exact terms of the amendment because it was limited to subsection (2)(d), to which he did not wish to limit it—except insofar as he did not understand subsection (2)(d)—he wanted it to relate to all the regulations. He also referred to the Delegated Powers Committee. On the question of whether it is acceptable for the Bill to leave so much to delegated regulation for England, the Committee concluded:

    "the extent of delegation is acceptable in the light of the position under this bill elsewhere in the United Kingdom."

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It then went on to comment on how those regulations should be made, which we will be moving onto when we discuss a later group of amendments. One cannot cite the Delegated Powers Committee as criticising the manner of these clauses.

The clause relates to all allocating authorities. I can give the assurance that I think that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, seeks, that as concerns England, there will be a consultation on the regulations. I should be surprised if that is not paralleled elsewhere, but it is a matter for the relevant authorities, not a matter for the Bill to lay down how that consultation should be carried out. We intend to consult on the regulations under the clause. I hope that that clarifies the issue.

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