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Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, why have the Government put the cart before the horse? If there is to be a seamless transition from CHCs to the new arrangements, what is the sense of abolishing CHCs before knowing whether those new arrangements can be delivered on time?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, many of the new arrangements are either in place or being put in place. If we were to maintain community health

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councils beyond 1st September this year, there would be real problems in relation to the employers, the people employed by those organisations and their members. It makes much greater sense to have a clear date for the winding down of CHCs and to get on as speedily as possible with the appointment of the patients forums—but that will take a little time—and to ensure that services such as independent advocacy, patient advice and liaison services and the role of local government in independent scrutiny are indeed in place as much as possible.

Baroness Noakes: My Lords, does the Minister recall giving an assurance when the House was in Committee considering the National Health Service reform Bill last April that arrangements would be in place to involve and consult all stakeholders? Therefore, will the Minister explain why it is that neither CHCs nor ACHCEW have been consulted about the date of their abolition?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, in the end, Ministers make these decisions. There have been many discussions with CHCs and their association about these issues. The distinct view that was expressed to us was that there was a need for an early announcement. That is why we made the announcement—so that people know when the due date is and have time to prepare for it.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, does the Minister mean that by 1st September there will be no gap between the current situation and the new regime? Secondly, following the question put by my noble friend Lady Noakes, is the Minister saying that consultation will not take place, that a decision has been made; or will consultation have taken place and will everyone be happy by 1st September?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I think I have made it clear that the decision has been made by Ministers that 1st September should be the date on which CHCs are to be abolished. It is to everyone's advantage that the date is known. We will of course be working very hard to ensure that there are no gaps. I have said that independent advocacy will be available from that date throughout the country. The paperwork that CHCs are involved in will be transferred to relevant organisations. Some 75 per cent of all NHS trusts already have patient advocacy liaison services in operation, and that number is rising every week. Local authorities have the powers they need to make sure that their overview and scrutiny committees are working effectively. So while patients forums will not all come into operation on 1st September, I am assured that sufficient and adequate services will be available to ensure that the public can make complaints and be supported, and that there are areas where they can express concerns about NHS services.

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Lord Carlile of Berriew: My Lords, will the Minister give an undertaking that the specialist advocacy services available to patients suffering from mental illness and to children will continue in force seamlessly after the reforms? Does he recognise how welcome the retention of community health councils in Wales has been because it will ensure the seamless continuation of those very services?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, it is a matter for Wales to decide what it wishes to do about community health councils, and the Assembly has made its decision. For the English NHS, I believe that the improvements, the advocacy arrangements and the role of local government add up to a much more powerful involvement of the public in the NHS than CHCs, with their patchy record, have ever been able to provide. On specialist advocacy, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. The intention is that, in providing an independent advocacy service throughout the country, there will be sufficient specialist services available for the very care groups that the noble Lord has mentioned.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, when did the noble Lord discover that the undertakings he gave in Committee could not be fulfilled?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, these matters have been under discussion for some time. The department has been involved in discussions with the new chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health. The decision on whether and on what date CHCs were to be abolished was finally made last week. A written Statement was made in the House of Commons on Friday. I made this known to opposition spokesmen on Thursday. I believe that every consideration has been given and the right decision has been reached.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, the fact remains that despite all the Minister's words justifying what has happened, the Government made a promise to Parliament and Parliament made a decision to allow them to have their way because of that promise. They have now broken that promise. Are the Government not the slightest bit ashamed?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Baroness ignores the fact that most of the elements concerned with improving patient and public involvement will be in place. The problem with the abolition date is that community health councils are haemorrhaging staff and members. It would not make sense to go for an extended date; it is better to go for 1st September and to do everything that can be done. The new independent Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health is the key agency in ensuring that patients forums are in place. It is better to concentrate on moving as speedily as we can, but it would serve nobody to keep CHCs in being after 1st September.

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Lord Grocott: My Lords, with the leave of the House, at a convenient time after 3.30 p.m., my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House will repeat a Statement on Iraq.

Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [HL]

3.15 p.m.

Report received.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 1:

    Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause—

(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations make provision for waste disposal authorities in each area to reduce, from year to year, the threat to the environment from the transport of waste.
(2) Regulations made under subsection (1) shall—
(a) make provision for the steady decline in the number of miles travelled per tonne of waste taken to landfill in each of the following categories—
(i) inert waste,
(ii) hazardous waste,
(iii) biodegradable municipal waste; and
(b) make provision for the steady decline in the quantity of emissions harmful to the environment released through the transport of waste to landfill, particularly—
(i) carbon dioxide,
(ii) particles,
(iii) benzene,
(iv) carbon monoxide.
(3) Regulations made under subsection (2) shall specify for each area—
(a) the starting point from which the decline in miles travelled will be measured;
(b) the level of decline in miles travelled to be achieved by each target year;
(c) the starting point from which the decline in emissions will be measured; and
(d) the level of decline in emissions to be achieved in each target year.
(4) Regulations made under subsection (2) shall provide for the supply for the financial year 2004–05 by each waste disposal area—
(a) the miles travelled and tonnages of waste in each category listed in subsection (2)(a) transported to landfill, and
(b) the emissions produced during that process.
(5) The Secretary of State must consult the devolved authorities before specifying the quantities under subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we all produce an enormous amount of waste and, having produced it, our interest in it ceases. I make no comment on the fact that I am waiting for Members to leave the Chamber,

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but this subject, which is essential to the whole of society, generates little heat in normal political discussion.

The first group of amendments relates to the transport of waste. If the producing and disposing of waste are offensive to people—the nimby attitude is immensely strong, everyone hoping that their waste will go somewhere else—the transport of waste is equally controversial. Transport spreads pollution in all sorts of places. Most waste is transported by road. That leads to damage to country roads and to the countryside, and to the spread of atmospheric pollution. If streams of heavy lorries run through small rural communities, the residents are, not unnaturally, upset. One of the gaps in the Bill—a measure aimed specifically at biodegradable municipal waste—is that it does nothing about transport.

Amendment No. 1 represents my first thoughts on how to tackle this issue. The amendment is very prescriptive and probably too detailed. It is based on a number of recent decisions to which my attention was drawn by a nephew. Sometimes relatives have their uses, and even heredity has its purposes. One decision was a court case; the second and third were the results of planning appeals.

The court case related to a claim brought against Surrey County Council as a result of the council having granted planning permission for an energy-from-waste plant near the village of Capel on the south-western boundary of the county in preference to other sites at Redhill and Guildford. The claimants held that the decision was unreasonable because both Redhill and Guildford were nearer to the source of the waste to be treated.

The case was complex—I am inevitably having to precis pages of report—and involved planning procedures and administrative process. But the judgment was that the grant of planning permission should be quashed. Among the reasons, the judge cited the proximity principle as a significant matter. The proximity principle is part of the European directive at Article 9, and Article 10 follows on from that. The judgment raises that directive and the question of the proximity principle to a matter of significance in dealing with applications for waste disposal facilities.

The second case that I found interesting relates to the Edmonton incinerator, where an application for an extension of the use of the site—again, for an energy-for-waste project—was turned down on appeal to the Minister on the ground that the extension would lead to the importation of waste from outside the immediate area served by the incinerator. I shall not go over all the background details, but it is significant that the decision supports the concerns that we are expressing about the transport of waste and the need to reduce transport distances wherever possible.

The third case concerned a similar refusal of planning permission on appeal—this time in Bedfordshire. In that instance, the main reason for the refusal was that the applicant was relying on importing

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waste using rail transport, but he failed to show that there were waste sources that wanted to use the rail transport that he was expecting to have provided.

It is a considerable pleasure to report these matters to the House because they show, as so often, that the Government are doing the right thing. In the light of those examples, it might be tempting to argue that Amendment No. 42 and the others in the group are superfluous. However, I argue that they are not. The Bill gives us an opportunity to ensure that we put every incentive on waste disposal authorities and those who have to deal with waste to operate in the most businesslike, economical, efficient and environmentally acceptable way. I am the first to accept that I may not have got the wording of my amendment perfect, but it is the best I can do as a layman's first shot.

Amendment No. 62 contains two subsections, which deal with a particular situation. Subsection (1) says that a waste disposal authority can dispose of waste within its boundaries, as it should, but must use the nearest facility that it can to the source of the waste and should consider the best practicable environmental option. It would be unusual for a waste disposal authority not to do that within its own boundaries, but we are in the business of persuasion. Existing waste disposal practice is not always as rational as we might wish.

Subsection (2) of the amendment is necessary because the present arrangements seem to create an anomaly. Many authorities, particularly in inner London and some other major metropolitan areas, have no facilities to dispose of their own waste. Such authorities can contract to dispose of that waste wherever there is a facility that has the capacity to handle it. They do not need to apply to the authority in the area that will receive that waste. In a sense, there is no consultation in those new arrangements. Clearly, the receiving authority will be aware of the existence of the disposal facility. The planning system would be bound to make the authority aware and environmental monitoring would probably keep it reasonably up to date with what was happening on the site. However, the local authority is not able to express a view if someone asks the facility to take another million tonnes—or whatever—of waste. That is peculiar. I heard of one inner London borough deciding to dispose of its waste in an outer London borough, which had no opportunity to express a view. That is permissible. Subsection (2) deals with that anomaly.

Amendment No. 69 seemed worth putting forward for clarification. I extracted the definition from a regulation. I thought it would be useful to have the wording in primary legislation. Some environmental bodies increasingly tend to equate anaerobic fermentation with incineration. It is not incineration and it is not environmentally polluting, apart from the fact that the waste has to be transported to the site. It leads to the production of green fuels, as opposed to carbon dioxide and so on. I thought it would be useful to put that into primary legislation to kill that argument from environmental lobbies.

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Those are the reasons for the amendments. They are well found and are in accordance with what is increasingly becoming general practice. However, I thought it worth advancing the amendments to ensure that these measures were general practice rather than just on the way to becoming so. I beg to move.

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