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Baroness Byford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. The discussions that we have just had included mention of the fact that regulations will be introduced to cover our concerns. I have to say again, as I have said on many occasions in Committee, that I am never enormously happy that so many things are done by regulation. We have already had that discussion. It is a small but important point. However, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 15:

Earl Peel: My Lords, I would very much like to support my noble friend's amendment. Those who have been involved in trickle irrigation are now feeling—it is no exaggeration to say—some degree of

12 Jun 2003 : Column 371

vulnerability, as they find themselves being brought into the abstraction licensing system for the first time. As my noble friend said, many of those operators—horticulturists, principally—have been involved in trickle irrigation for a long time. Indeed, some of the investments have been of a very substantial and long-term nature. So I think it absolutely right and proper that the Environment Agency should have a concern for the impact of the new controls on those businesses. There is another point which I raised in Committee and should like to raise again. It is essential to take into account not only that trickle irrigation businesses often have considerable economic importance in the areas in which they operate and are therefore important for jobs, but that restrictions placed on their operations could well lead to increased imports from abroad. I have no doubt that the Environment Agency will wish to consider the impact that those imports might have on pollution and all the various additional costs and difficulties that go with it. So it is essential, as my noble friend said, for the Environment Agency to look very carefully at the impact that these abstraction licences will have on trickle irrigation. To my knowledge—the Minister may be able to correct me on this—the Environment Agency has not yet given any commitments to those involved in trickle irrigation and very little discussion has taken place. I therefore think that Amendment No. 15 is very reasonable; in fact I am not so sure that it could not have gone a stage or two further. I very much hope that the Government will accept it.

1 p.m.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, this is indeed a fairly innocuous amendment. It merely states that,

    "the Agency shall have regard to the length of time such abstraction has been practised and the purposes to which it has been put". That seems a very reasonable proposal, should abstraction licensing be extended to such irrigation. Clearly it is necessary to have regard to the matters dealt with in this amendment.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am slightly confused about where we are on this. The noble Baroness, Lady Byford, moved Amendment No. 15, and the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, referred to the terms of Amendment No. 15, but some of the more general remarks about trickle irrigation seem to relate more to subsequent amendments which we have yet to reach. This part of the clause deals with transitional arrangements. The Environment Agency has made it clear that there will be a period of two years for licence applications to be made and that abstractions by existing operators, including trickle irrigation, will continue to be lawful during that period. Likewise, the Environment Agency would not be expected to issue licences to other people which would affect that

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traditional use of the water. Therefore, there would be a continuation of the period until the formal licence came into play.

The question of a more general exemption for trickle irrigation comes later, in Amendment No. 17, I think. During that period when people are making applications, the continued viability of their businesses would be discussed. However, as trickle irrigators are above the threshold quantum of abstractors, they should be treated on a level playing field along with everyone else. I shall return to that argument later. However, the sudden withdrawal of access to trickle irrigation, which is covered by the area to which Amendment No. 15 applies, would be covered by that two-year transitional period. I think that we will be returning to the wider arguments.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I did not think that there was any confusion. However, just in case there was, I was speaking to Amendment No. 15, which amends page 10, line 8 and provides that the agency,

    "shall have regard to the length of time such abstraction has been practised and the purposes to which it has been put". I hope that that is the amendment to which the noble Lord responded. I thank my noble friend Lord Peel for his contribution. Trickle irrigation is very important to horticulture and is a growing part of the community. I am delighted about that. If climate change continues, we will be able to produce many different types of vegetable and other crops. My noble friend referred to the pollution caused by transporting imported food, which I call food miles. There is a huge number of such miles. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, for his comments. However, I am not at all satisfied with the Minister's response. That is why I queried whether he was responding to the right amendment. I should therefore like to test the opinion of the House.

1.6 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 15) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 91; Not-Contents, 89.

Division No. 3


Addington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crathorne, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ezra, L.
Feldman, L.
Fookes, B.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Hanningfield, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Hooson, L.
Howe, E.
Kimball, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Ludford, B.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montrose, D.
Noakes, B.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peel, E.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Perry of Walton, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogan, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandwich, E.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selborne, E.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L. [Teller]
Strathclyde, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tordoff, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Wilcox, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Nicol, B.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Radice, L.
Rea, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sewel, L.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

12 Jun 2003 : Column 374

1.15 p.m.

Clause 9 [Power to provide for further exemptions]:

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