Enforcement Powers

Part of Orders of the Day — Food and Environment Protection Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 26th June 1985.

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Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway 6:15 pm, 26th June 1985

I thank the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) for moving the amendment, which I cannot accept.

The purpose of the Bill is not to give local authorities powers in the control of pesticides. As he rightly pointed out, it is the tool to ensure that Ministers have all the powers they need to effect such control. Before we could give local authorities such power, we would need to consult them and all other interests involved about that proposal. Indeed, we had a consultation meeting with the Association of Local Authorities last week. It is fair to say that on that occasion no clear new area of activity for local authorities was identified that would justify the amendment.

It may reassure the House to know that Ministers can authorise local authority officers or local authorities as legal persons to undertake an enforcement role. We believe that they will have a part to play in the enforcement of the legislation in future, particularly in relation to pesticide residues. However, that is still some time in the future, and we will be consulting at the appropriate time.

The hon. Gentleman raised the question of the number of people in the field. As he rightly pointed out, in the Health and Safety Executive there is an agricultural inspectorate of 160. Of the new additional staff quoted in the Bill, two of the London staff will be in the field on wildlife. In the Health and Safety Executive, of the 18 there will be 12 additional inspectors. That is the number requested by the executive to carry out the additional work involved, although there already exists an agricultural inspectorate of 160. I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.