It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Griffiths.
The amendment was proposed by my noble Friend Lord Dixon-Smith, and it is interesting that Liberal Democrat Members have taken it up. The argument is that the Bill provides for the intervention of third-party brokers in the trading of waste disposal allowances. Lord Dixon-Smith considered that to be wrong; he believed that the only parties that should be allowed to trade in allowances are WDAs, of which there are a limited number. He contended that all local authorities know and work with one another; they are familiar with arrangements across boundaries and counties. He believed that normal meetings and lines of communication were sufficient and would allow
WDAs with surplus capacity to locate WDAs that were deficient in capacity and do business with them over the phone.
The Bill also provides for the necessity of regulation to define how the third party should behave when involved in trading practices. Lord Dixon-Smith believed that to be unnecessary. In response to those arguments, Lord Whitty suggested that the measure was intended to give local authorities flexibility when operating the scheme and, at the same time, to safeguard public interest in relation to propriety. If they wished, local authorities could choose to contract out their operations or buy in professional advice.
Lord Whitty said that there was no question of additional costs. I found that a surprising statement. He went on to say that if local authorities wished to outsource their activities and if professional brokers became involved, the Government would need to regulate their involvement, so the Bill covers that eventuality. He did say, however, that no local authority would have to employ a broker.
Understandably, brokers will engage in such activities to make a profit. Can the Minister tell us how much profit brokers are likely to make? Obviously, any profit made will be at a cost to the local authority, the WDA, and if that cost is a significant burden, will it not be transferred to the consumer? Do we need what may be unnecessary insurance that will impose an extra layer of administrative and bureaucratic burdens? It will take precious funds away from local authorities—funds that should be spent on investment in sustainable waste management infrastructure.
Amendments Nos. 38 and 11 both seek to amend clause 7, and I wonder whether we need the clause at all. Would not it simplify procedures if we got rid of it and streamlined the bureaucracy?