My Lords, I hope noble Lords would accept that there appears to be broad agreement that a fair system of penalties, as established in Clause 57, should apply to household waste collection in England. Clause 57 would remove the criminal sanctions currently available under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It would ensure that people are treated fairly and consistently by offering individuals a fair chance to represent themselves and by introducing a “harm to local amenity” test.
Local authorities will have the power to issue fixed penalties of between £60 and £80 if a householder does not comply with household waste collection requirements, and this causes a nuisance or is detrimental to the locality. In practice, this could be when waste causes obstruction to neighbours, attracts vermin, unreasonably impedes access to pavements, or is an eyesore. Through Schedule 12, we seek to amend the London Local Authorities Act broadly to mirror the changes to the Environmental Protection Act. Under both pieces of legislation, civil sanctions would apply when a householder’s failure to comply causes a nuisance or is detrimental to any amenities of the locality. Householders would receive warnings before being issued with a penalty and the level of fines would be the same.
I turn now to my noble friend Lady Hanham’s amendments, Amendment 20 and Amendment 36. I thank her and my noble friend Lord Tope for discussing these matters with me between parliamentary phases. I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, was invited to the meeting by my officials; I asked them to invite him. I appreciate my noble friends’ concerns and those expressed by noble Lords this evening about changes to the waste collection system currently operating in London. Indeed, in following London’s lead we recognise that a decriminalised approach, as is used in London, is more proportionate than a system based on criminal sanctions. We want the approach used throughout England to be based on this type of system, with additional safeguards in place to ensure that people are treated fairly.
Before turning to points of detail, I would like to make a general point. The Government are firm believers in localism. This is, of course, not just about the powers available to local authorities, but about empowering local communities, neighbourhoods and individuals. Our proposals seek to reduce a regulatory burden that currently affects householders.