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Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, I thank the Minister for those comments. However, the Bill will be enacted and it must work. The Minister has advanced the Government's view as described in Waste Not, Want Not, and we expect further legislation in due course to implement some of its ideas. But the Bill will be enacted shortly. Without the parts of it that will make it work, it will be difficult for local government, as we have said in Committee and on Report. There needs to be a firm relationship between the collection and disposal authorities if the Bill is not to cause chaos.

Requiring a joint municipal waste strategy in the Bill would be the one thing that would make it work. I only repeat that in Essex, Hampshire and Lancashire, big authorities are putting much effort into that. They have done so voluntarily; but many places are not doing so. Enormous difficulties and disputes may be caused in implementing the Bill. The Bill would lose if it did not include the amendment, so I should like to test the opinion of the House.

12.17 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 13) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 115; Not-Contents, 99.

Division No. 1


Aberdare, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor of Hever, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B. [Teller]
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Greaves, L.
Greenway, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooson, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Montrose, D. [Teller]
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Saatchi, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thatcher, B.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tordoff, L.
Trumpington, B.
Tugendhat, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Windlesham, L.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chorley, L.
Christopher, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
McCarthy, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Rooker, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Tenby, V.
Thornton, B.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walpole, L.
Weatherill, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

6 Mar 2003 : Column 941

12.27 p.m.

Clause 18 [Strategy for Scotland]:

[Amendment No. 14 not moved.]

Clause 19 [Strategy for Wales]:

[Amendment No. 15 not moved.]

Clause 20 [Strategy for Northern Ireland]:

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

Clause 21 ["Biodegradable waste" and "municipal waste"]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 17:

    Page 14, line 40, after "capable" insert "within 25 years"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 17 deals with a small but none the less, in its way, significant matter. It would make a distinction between inert waste and biodegradable waste.

Biodegradable waste could be treated in an anaerobic digestion plant to produce useful fuels such as ethanol or even hydrogen; inert waste could not. There is a thesis that plastic bottles will break down eventually, but the timescale is so long—the suggestion is 300 years, although I do not know how that was tested—that it must be regarded as inert waste. Most building products are inert waste. With a substance such as timber, there is a problem. Timber is biodegradable, if treated appropriately. We have suggested that the distinction between types of waste should be made at 25 years.

I shall be interested to hear what the Minister has to say about the amendment. He and I have worked together on the Bill for some time, so I suspect that he will tell me that the amendment is unnecessary. However, I consider the discussion worthwhile. It will help those outside the House if such matters are clarified in Hansard. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I understand what the noble Lord is getting at. I shall not even argue that we could have a different definition. The Bill is dependent on the definition in the landfill directive. The amendment would change the definition of "biodegradable waste" in a way which is not the same definition as that in the landfill legislation. It is a narrower definition, although the EU definition does

6 Mar 2003 : Column 942

not include plastic bottles. The noble Lord will be happy to hear that. Therefore, it would mean that all the measurements would be different from the measurements required by the landfill directive. For that reason and the potential of doing something different from that which we are required to do under the directive, I am unable to accept the amendment.

12.30 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I should not want to take a particularly Euro-sceptic line, but it is a question of definitions. I must accept that. The whole genesis of the Bill relates to the European directive. I am grateful for the explanation. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 22 ["Landfill"]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 18:

    Page 15, line 23, at end insert—

"( ) In this Chapter "composting" includes a requirement to maintain selected biodegradable waste at 98 degrees celsius for a minimum of two hours before storing."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 18 states that,

    "'composting' includes a requirement to maintain selected biodegradable waste at 98 degrees celsius for a minimum of two hours before storing".

This is a significant amendment. Many people hope that the composting industry may be able to remove a significant proportion of municipal biodegradable waste from the need to go to landfill.

Be that as it may. The countryside still is recovering from the previous outbreak of foot and mouth disease. It had a direct cost to the Treasury in excess of £4 billion. It probably cost the economy at large in excess of £10 billion. Many people are still suffering as a result.

The exact cause of that foot and mouth outbreak is unknown—or at least it cannot be defined. I believe that the only certainty is that the virus must have been in imported meat or in an imported meat product. There was once a case when the foot and mouth virus succeeded in crossing the Channel. As, in this instance, there was no outbreak of foot and mouth disease on the Continent, I believe that we can rule out that possibility. Therefore, this appalling problem was imported, although we do not know in what or where or how. The dreadful reality is that we do not know how many misses we may have before we receive a hit.

As a consequence of that outbreak, the pigswill industry was closed down at an administrative stroke. The industry was banned. Although the pigswill industry was well regulated and the disease probably caused by inadequate treatment, it was deemed too dangerous to permit the industry to continue its business. As I understand it, the industry was required to treat food residues at 98 degrees celsius or above for a minimum period of two hours.

We now have the Animal Health Act, to which this House devoted a great deal of time, which has the specific intention of increasing the biosecurity of the

6 Mar 2003 : Column 943

whole agricultural industry and all related trades through the food chain. The Bill tries to ensure that this dreadful disease is not visited on this country again.

If we treat municipal biodegradable waste less rigorously than was acceptable for pigswill, there are those of us who are very concerned that a coach and horses could be driven through all the work that has been done in the field of biosecurity since the last outbreak of foot and mouth disease. If I understand it correctly, the process of composting will require that the temperature goes up to only 60 degrees celsius, although for a much longer period of 48 hours. However, I understand that the foot and mouth virus is a particularly tough little beast.

There must be the consideration of what is to happen to this compost. We are not discussing simply foot and mouth disease; there are other diseases which could conceivably be spread too. The compost will go to garden centres. One can bet that it will be handled by people not wearing gloves. The compost may be used for pot plants and used in gardens. It may be spread on agricultural land if there is a sufficient quantity, if it is deemed worthwhile, and if it is found to be "beneficial to soil and soil structure". That raises the question of contact with animals, not to mention contact through human use.

We cannot afford to take any risks. Therefore, if Amendment No. 18 is not on the face of the Bill, we shall need very specific assurances. First, there should be no possibility of the foot and mouth disease vector being imported to the United Kingdom through any meat or meat products. To achieve that, it would probably be necessary to ban the importation of all meat and meat products. Therefore, that is not a practical option. But, if the Minister could give that assurance, no further assurances would be necessary.

Secondly, as an alternative, could meat or meat products be prevented from being used in biodegradable waste for composting? If that could be achieved, it might be possible to accept the Bill as it stands. Again, that would be very difficult to achieve. Thirdly, bearing in mind that the treatment to remove the virus now is less rigorous than in the past, would it be possible to guarantee that the composting process ensured the complete and total breakdown of the foot and mouth virus so that the transmission of the infection in that way could not arise?

The fourth assurance relates to the possibility of other diseases. Are the Government satisfied that all diseases that might cause problems for either human beings or animals and pets are totally removed in the composting process? Finally, could it be ensured that the compost was used in such a way that it would be impossible for the disease to spread to animals?

I am a countryman. Composting is composting, but I would not like to guarantee that there would be nothing left in the compost to attract animals such as rats. There is a real problem with this development. I have a great deal of sympathy with the composting industry over this matter. If Amendment No. 18 is

6 Mar 2003 : Column 944

included in the Bill, the industry's problems will increase dramatically and its costs will also increase. However, in view of the events of the past two or three years, I believe that the proposal should be included in the Bill. I regard it as a matter of extreme significance. I beg to move.

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