Environmental Targets for Sepa

Part of New clause 18 – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 28th June 1995.

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Photo of Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith , Strathkelvin and Bearsden 4:39 pm, 28th June 1995

I thank the Under-Secretary of State for his reply and I am grateful that he did not go through all the arguments that I suggested. He obviously dropped them from his brief. He tried to slip in one argument that is unworkable, however—something to do with air pollution control, emissions from cars and so forth, saying that the change would be too costly. I think that that was the general train of his argument.

The Under-Secretary forgets that the Government insisted on keeping provisions for a cost-benefit analysis on the face of the Bill—it was the subject of one of our big debates—which deals with his argument about cost. Although he tried to slip in the unworkability argument, therefore, it is not true.

The Under-Secretary also took us around the panoply of powers open to the Secretary of State when dealing with the matter. The trouble is that those powers relate to pollution control. As an aside, I must point out that waste regulation is a part of pollution control. It was suggested that SEPA is now more than a pollution control agency, because it has powers over waste regulation, but that is not the argument. SEPA does not have powers over the environment. That is the problem and it is a problem that the Government did not address.

When the Under-Secretary took us around the panoply of the Secretary of State's powers, he did not give us much information on his right hon. Friend's views on environmental targets. Under certain parts of the Bill, the Secretary of State will have powers to produce guidelines about having regard to the environment and its enhancement, but the Bill does not give SEPA a duty to protect and enhance the environment. I have seen the draft guidelines and they are so weak as to be worthless for the environment.

Clearly, the Government are not going to take great strides forward, but this is not an issue on which we should divide the House now. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.