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Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for her response. In defence of our amendments relating to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, they deal with matters on the face of the Bill. Clause 17 deals with the strategy for Scotland and the wording is virtually identical to that of the strategy for England. Clause 18 deals with the strategy for Wales with virtually identical wording and Clause 19 deals with the strategy for Northern Ireland, again with virtually identical wording. It therefore seemed that if I were going to amend the Bill for England, I would have to amend it for the other countries as well. It did not seem improper in view of the fact that we are already imposing responsibilities on Scottish Ministers, on the Welsh Assembly and on Northern Ireland. It is entirely proper, therefore, to suggest that.

I heard what the Minister said about inert wastes. If there is a strategy for diminishing these elsewhere and the matter is covered satisfactorily—and I shall read

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what she has said with care—we may not need to pursue this. Furthermore, I agree that telling householders how they should dispose of their waste in order to put pressure on them is somewhat dictatorial. I am not particularly in favour of that. In the end, somehow, we have to go beyond merely the sort of talking that takes place in chambers like this and to exert persuasion on them. This was just one way of looking at that. Again, I shall study what the Minister has said.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: For the record, I would like to make plain that I was not saying that householders should not be required, by the waste collection authority, to comply with the scheme that is most appropriate for that particular neighbourhood. I would not want the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, to misunderstand that.

Lord Dixon-Smith: No, I understood that absolutely. The reply is what I expected, but this is perhaps not appropriate for the face of the Bill. However, we have to ensure that the issue is covered and that it will be dealt with. We hope it will come from the waste collection authorities and waste disposal authorities. We will see. The issue needed raising, so I do not apologise for moving these amendments. I will try to avoid picking them up when we come to them later in the Bill because at the moment, they are not correctly grouped, for which I apologise. For now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 76 not moved.]

5.30 p.m.

Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 77:


    Page 11, line 7, at end insert—


"( ) The Secretary of State must have a strategy for—
( ) providing every household with either a home composter or a separate collection of biodegradable waste;
( ) providing every household with a separate collection for the recycling of dry recyclable waste;
( ) reducing, by 2010, the quantity of waste arisings, including waste arisings from households, from 2002 levels."

The noble Lord said: These are more amendments similar in nature to ones that we have recently discussed. I recognise what the Minister said about devolved administrations. She does not need to repeat it. However, I have some sympathy with the view of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, that it is interesting that biodegradable municipal waste is a matter for this Parliament and for the Government of the United Kingdom and all other sorts of waste are not. I understand why that is being said but we find ourselves in an interesting position.

Amendment No. 77 is grouped with Amendments Nos. 78, 94, 95, 106, 107 and 120. The last amendments, Amendment No. 94 onwards, concern devolved matters, so I shall say nothing more about them.

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Amendments Nos. 77 and 78 include four matters, two of which are virtually identical to those that have just been raised in Amendments Nos. 75 and 76 by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, so I shall say nothing more about those. They probe what the Government have to say about their policy on those matters. The two new matters raised in these amendments are home composting and the proposal for a mandatory doorstep recycling scheme in all local authorities not later than 31st December 2006. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about those. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: As the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, indicated, the amendments concern the strategy for England in Clause 16 of the Bill. That requires the Secretary of State to have a strategy for reducing biodegradable waste to fulfil the requirements of Article 5(1) of the European Landfill Directive, which obliges member states to have such a national strategy. Many of these amendments seek to extend the statutory scope of the strategy beyond its main purpose. Amendments Nos. 77 and 78 seek to prescribe the way in which that strategy should be delivered—for example, through home composting or compulsory kerbside collection of materials—and to set statutory targets other than for the reduction of landfill.

A single system, such as kerbside recycling, will not always be appropriate in every place. Our approach, therefore, has been to specify the outcomes that we need to achieve and not how they are to be delivered, thus leaving councils free to adopt solutions most appropriate to their particular circumstances. One solution may be appropriate for Harlow in Essex but a small, sparsely populated, rural community may require a different solution. Both solutions may be equally valid in terms of meeting the targets that are agreed. Many of the matters raised in the amendments that seek to extend the scope of the Bill will be considered in the context of the developing waste strategy outwith the Bill.

The other amendments in this group cover the position in other countries. I note that the noble Lord recognises that they are not for Parliament to consider under this Bill. We seek to impose a minimum constraint upon the devolved administrations but together the component parts of the United Kingdom make up the country as a whole which is required to meet the directive targets.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: In relation to this group of amendments, which is very ambitious, I simply do not know how we shall incorporate some of these matters mentioned in Amendment No. 78 by December 2006. It is very ambitious and probably over-ambitious. I agree with the Minister that a great deal has to be left to the local authorities, because local authorities have different problems. The configuration of their towns and cities is also very different for which they need different strategies.

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One has to realise that this will be an imposition on individuals in households. Many households are so small that they cannot accommodate one dustbin, let alone two. Therefore, one cannot really have a single strategy and think only about the local authority and the waste disposal and waste collection people. One has to think of the people on the ground—the householders—on whom are imposed enormous amounts of unsolicited waste which somehow has to be disposed of. The local authorities are the only bodies to whom they can turn. There has to be a pact between them and the local authorities if the system is to work properly. We must not be too prescriptive from the centre. We should certainly give guidance to local authorities and let them know of the best practices in this country and, indeed, others. However, to impose things from the centre would be to go along the wrong road.

I return to what I said at Second Reading. We should try to persuade industry, retailers and commerce to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste that they produce. I refer to the awful 10-pound pile of newspapers that one has at the weekend and the two or three newspapers which are pushed through virtually everyone's letter box. Those are all issues that can be addressed and worked on together. However, we have to work in co-operation with local authorities and not impose too much on them—particularly at a time of financial constraint.

Lord Hanningfield: I cannot resist saying a few words in response to that because, on this occasion, I agree with the Minister rather more than I agree with the sentiment behind the amendments. It would be totally impractical to have the same solution everywhere and, in fact, it would be totally wrong. We always say that we want more local autonomy and, in this case, there are different solutions for different places. As much as I agree with composting and so on being done in the right way, such things will be done differently in different places.

I return to an issue that we talked about yesterday. A report called Waste Not, Want Not has been referred to several times. Is the Minister able to give us a timetable because we need to go along with what the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, has just said. We need, as other countries have, legislation and help in order to reduce waste. Instead of a great deal of prescription, we need encouragement and legislation to help to reduce waste. This matter is obviously tied up with the report, Waste Not, Want Not, and the strategies therein. Can the Minister give us an idea of the timing and an indication of when that will come about?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My recollection is that it will happen in the spring. That was the timing given to the Committee yesterday. I hope that that is of help.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I want to make two observations. First, we need to remember that many people do not live on the ground but above the ground in flats. They certainly would not be able to use some of the things suggested in the amendments.

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More importantly, I mentioned yesterday the biosecurity aspects of composting. Those will be difficult enough to deal with if we are talking about composting domestic biodegradable waste at large-scale industrial composting sites. Frankly, we would need to be very hesitant—if we did not actually ban it—about the idea that domestic biodegradable waste, which might include meat waste, might be "composted" in someone's garden. I suspect that if we are concerned about the possible risks of animal disease, it probably should be banned. We shall come to that debate later on.


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