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Mr. Speaker: Order. I thank the hon. Gentlemen for raising this point of order. When Members address the Housewhether presenting petitions or in any other waythey must take responsibility for the accuracy of their remarks. There is nothing that the Chair can do to help the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch).
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I note your guidance to the House about the accuracy of Members' statements to the House. If the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch) had been in the Chamber when my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) presented his petition, would it not have been possible for the hon. Gentleman to have put the matter right then?
Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As you know, there is considerable concern in the House about the situation in the middle east, particularly as, once again today, the Israeli Cabinet has turned down the request for a United Nations mission to go to Jenin. The Americans hold all the cards in this case and unless they play those cards, they will be considered to be complicit in covering up what happened in Jenin. Have you, Mr. Speaker, received any indication that a Minister will come to the Houseeither today or later this weekto update us on the latest situation so that we know what Her Majesty's Government are doing to press the case for the UN to be allowed access?
Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch) and I would have been in the Chamber when the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) presented his petition if he had done what he promised and told us when he was going to present it[Interruption.]
My Act and the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which followed it, gave a new impetus to apprehending fly-tippers and to cleaning up the results of their criminal activities. Inevitably, as environmental standards rose and public concern increased, waste regulation authorities struggled to keep pace. Regulating waste and tackling environmental crime are high priorities for the Environment Agency, which has done much to deal with both problems over the past decade. However, in respect of fly-tipping, experience now suggests that there would be considerable benefit if local authorities could exercise some of the powers currently available to the Environment Agency; that is the purpose of my Bill.
Obviously, the scope for fly-tipping is enormous, but no precise national figures are available for the volume of waste fly-tipped or removed. The Environment Agency estimates that removing fly-tipped waste costs it £500,000 per annum. By contrast, a recent Local Government Association survey of fly-tipping provided evidence that the estimated cost of clean-ups to English and Welsh local authorities was £25 million per annum. It found that 94 per cent. of the 128 responding authorities had recorded incidents of fly-tipping, with 20 per cent. recording more than 1,000 incidents. Furthermore, 84 per cent. believed that local authorities did not have sufficient powers to deal with fly-tipping, and 97 per cent. supported a change in regulations.
The survey informed the deliberations of the National Flytipping Stakeholders Forum and its recommendations on the way in which local authorities could deal more effectively with fly-tipping. Officers from my council
Kevin Moore wants action. Lewisham has suffered 13,600 fly-tipping incidents in the past year, costing over £500,000 in clean-up operations. That is an enormous burden for a local authority but, more frighteningly, the figure is 50 per cent. up on last year, which was 50 per cent. up on the year before. Whenever a new waste sector is regulated, fly-tipping increases. I dare not mention fridges, but tyres are already a major problem in Waltham Forest, Birmingham and Newcastle. The London boroughs of Lewisham and Newham were the first local authorities to have public service agreements aimed at reducing fly-tipping. They stand ready to pilot the new powers proposed today and are confident that many other local authorities wish to follow them.
My Bill would make explicit provision to give local authorities the power to serve notices requiring waste carriers to produce documents and to extend the offence of failing to comply with such a requirement. It would introduce two further measuresfirst, to extend the power to carry out roadside checks and, secondly, to provide for the imposition of fixed penalties for the offence of failing to produce authority to transport controlled waste.
The latter is particularly important because in practice, as I mentioned earlier, failure to produce registration documents results in no penalty. The new measure would be a much more effective deterrent to those who take to our streets with their trucks full of illegal waste: they would have to get registered or get fined. The advent of CCTV and the willingness of residents to report fly-tippers mean that local authorities can often identify offending vehicles. They are much better placed than the Environment Agency to stop a fly-tipper in transit or to spot a suspect vehicle on their patch.
Case studies from my borough indicate all too clearly that the stretched resources of the Environment Agency mean that it does not use to the full the powers that the House gave it a decade ago. Fly-tipping remains a major scourge, blighting our landscape and people's lives.
Local authorities are not alone. Increasingly, big landowners such as the National Trust, Railtrack, British Waterways and individual farmers are suffering unsightly and dangerous fly-tipping. Councils are faced with mounting clean-up costs as they seek to meet increasing demand. Last year, Lewisham prosecuted 46 fly-tippers and, using existing powers, served more than 500
Frustration is growing. Local authorities are under increasing pressure from the public and, indeed, from central Government. Waste production continues to rise relentlessly as prosperity and consumerism grow. Neglected and dirty streets lead to community apathy and antisocial behaviour. Waste minimisation and recycling are essential to protect the future environment, but we need to take action today. If we do not want to get buried in our own filth, we will have to give councils the means of tackling the criminals who constantly evade the law and blight the environment of so many law-abiding citizens.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Joan Ruddock, Peter Bottomley, Malcolm Bruce, Mr. Gregory Barker, Sue Doughty, Jim Dowd, Ms Julia Drown, Julie Morgan, Mr. Bill O'Brien, Ms Bridget Prentice, Mr. Simon Thomas and Ms Joan Walley.