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Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 13:



"( ) Within the context of the strategy required by section 16, a duty shall be placed on a waste disposal authority and a waste collection authority within a given area to produce and publish a Joint Municipal Waste Strategy.
( ) Within the context of the Joint Municipal Waste Strategy, a waste disposal authority may exercise a power of direction to a waste collection authority to specify the type of segregated waste to be delivered in support of meeting agreed targets for the recovery and recycling of dry recyclable material and biodegradable waste."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment would help to make the legislation more workable. As we discussed in Committee and on Report, the majority of the landmass of England is still covered by two-tier authorities—county councils and district councils. As my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith said, even if we introduced regional government and unitary councils, most changes would probably not happen for 15 or 20 years. Let us hope that, by then, all waste will be recycled, in which case this legislation would be obsolete. In the mean time, we must make the legislation work.

Essex County Council, of which I am the leader, has been trying to make waste management work in the county; therefore, we have also talked to other counties. One of the secrets of making waste management work in two-tier authorities is to have a joint municipal waste strategy, whereby county councils and district councils work together closely. Essex County Council and district councils are working closely to develop a waste strategy as are many counties in England, including Hampshire and, I am almost certain, Lancashire.

But some counties do not take that approach. Much of the UK is not covered by any completed strategy. The amendment would help the Government to make the legislation work by requiring councils to have a joint municipal waste strategy. Nobody could deny that it should be part of the Bill, which is a complicated piece of legislation. As we shall discuss later, some authorities could be fined for problems created by others.

I received some helpful letters from the Minister, who acknowledged that there was a problem that must be resolved. I hope that the Minister and noble Lords can accept the amendment, because it would add a great deal to the Bill. It would help all local authorities to try to make the legislation work. We all want to reach a stage where the maximum amount of waste is recycled and a minimal amount goes into landfill. Co-operation and a strategy are needed to ensure that that happens across the country, particularly in England, where there are two-tier authorities. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I support my noble friend's amendment. One of the reasons that I withdrew Amendment No. 8 was that it would become redundant if Amendment No. 13 were accepted. In parts of the country where waste collection authorities are separate from waste disposal authorities, it is

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important that there is joint ownership of the waste management strategy, particularly in dealing with municipal biodegradable waste.

The Minister has tabled amendments with the same objective as this one. But Amendment No. 13 is worth serious consideration by the Government. I, too, hope that they can accept it. Success in dealing with the problems will depend on immense hard work and co-operation by everyone involved in the business. There have been occasions when two-tier authorities have not always seen their best interests as being identical. Therefore, the development of a joint municipal waste strategy between the two tiers has much to commend it. The EU directive sets out a time limit by which we must produce solutions or else the whole process will become exceedingly expensive. I hope that the Government will treat the amendment sympathetically.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, this amendment, together with others, including several by the Minister, covers an issue that provoked much debate and concern in earlier stages: the relationship between disposal authorities and collection authorities in areas of two-tier local government. I refer specifically to county council disposal authorities and district council collection authorities.

There are two aspects of the problem. First, without the co-operation and support of collection authorities in separating waste satisfactorily before delivering it for disposal, disposal authorities may be unable to meet their targets. Secondly, what will be the comeback for collection authorities if they fail to separate waste satisfactorily with the result that disposal authorities are subject to penalties under the legislation? In such cases, the disposal authorities would not be at fault. There are, therefore, two considerations: the need for co-operation between the two tiers, and the penalties imposed on district councils that fail to co-operate. The aim is to separate waste so that biodegradable municipal waste can be disposed of appropriately to reduce landfill waste as required by the European directive.

We support the objectives of the various amendments aimed at tackling the problem. We welcome, in particular, the fact that the Government have tabled amendments in response to concerns expressed previously.

Having said that, we have some problems with the amendment. We have no problem with the first paragraph, which refers to joint municipal waste strategies, and would not hesitate to support it. The question of separation and power of direction in the second paragraph is much better dealt with in the later government amendment. We therefore regret that the two paragraphs of the amendment have been moved together .

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However, we support the general principles advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and we look forward to hearing the Government's reply. On balance, we are minded to support the amendment.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, perhaps I may add a coda to what my noble friend said. In Wales, until recently we had two tiers of local government authorities. Because of devolution, we have had single-tier authorities. From personal experience, they have operated waste disposal and collection much more effectively than was previously the case. If there is to be regional government in England—that is clearly at the mercy of the democratic will of both Houses of Parliament—the issue may well be re-examined in future. I assure the House that in our experience of unitary authorities, collection and disposal of municipal waste has been much simplified.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, all sides of the debate on the Bill recognise the issue of the relationship, in those parts of the country covered by two-tier authorities, between the county and the district, with the district having responsibility for collection. As was said on sanctions, the final group of amendments largely deals with the issue of giving the disposal authority some influence over the collection authority.

Effectively, the amendment requires a joint strategy. I have sympathy with what is proposed. We need an effective partnership between the two tiers so that disposal and collection move in the same direction to meet the landfill directive obligations. It is also true, as the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, said, that there are some excellent examples of co-operation and, as he implied without naming names, there are also some examples in which such partnerships have not developed so fruitfully. One can envisage other such examples developing under additional obligations.

However, our approach has not been that of imposing statutory responsibilities. We have encouraged preparation of joint municipal waste strategies. We have issued guidance and given encouragement to develop such strategies and guidance on how to prepare them. The guidance sets out in broad terms what such strategies should cover and the partnerships needed to develop sustainable waste management among the authorities in an area.

As I said, some authorities have clearly risen to that challenge. It is also true that the Strategy Unit document, Waste Not, Want Not, recommends that joint municipal strategies merit further consideration. The Government are indeed considering implementing that part of the report. However, we must also bear in mind that local authorities are drawing to the Government's attention the number of statutory strategies that various pieces of legislation have imposed on them and suggesting that we should be reluctant to impose more. We must consider that dimension when proposing any additional municipal strategy statutorily laid down, especially one that involves a complicated collection of authorities.

We would hope that the extension of the disposal powers of direction included in the final group of amendments headed by Amendment No. 22 would

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encourage joint working where there may be difficulties and will provide a safeguard, but there should be a degree of voluntarism to how those joint waste management strategies are drawn up—whether the collection of authorities want formally to go down that road. We believe that that is a sensible route and we have encouraged authorities to go down it, but, for those wider reasons, we are not inclined to write it into the Bill. That does not undermine the need for partnership between the two tiers and a clear understanding of what is the strategy and what are the respective responsibilities. I hope that that argument not to write another statutory strategy into the Bill is sufficient.


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