Clause 13 - Powers in relation to landfill operators

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Minister (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Environment) 4:00 pm, 8th April 2003

I understand the hon. Gentleman's logic, but we are talking about the monitoring authority, which for England is the Environment Agency. In practice, what the hon. Gentleman suggests means that the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency could use the powers under subsection (3)(b) to expect landfill operators to provide information in an unreasonable form, excessively fast or in a thoroughly unreasonable manner.

Unless we are to use the Bill to specify absolutely and down to the last minutiae the detail by which those authorities should work, we must have a measure of trust in them. They are not Government Departments, but they are second best; they are closely associated with the Government. I hesitate to say it, but the authorities are also at arm's length. They are independent and sovereign bodies, but they have a close relationship with Government. The suggestion that they would behave in a thoroughly unreasonable way and that we should specify in excessive detail what they can or cannot do is going too far.