Clause 13 - Powers in relation to landfill operators

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 3:30 pm, 8th April 2003

I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman and read the amendments, but unless I am missing something, I do not believe that the amendments will strengthen the Bill. In fact, on my reading, they will weaken it. Amendment No. 64 would remove from line 37 the words,

''or for removal for inspection elsewhere''.

There is an argument about whether it is appropriate or fair on the person involved for their records to be removed and examined elsewhere—and, perhaps, even falsified by the monitoring authority. It is unlikely, but theoretically possible, although I do not buy that argument myself. If that is not the argument, prohibiting the removal of records makes the task of the monitoring authority more difficult because it will have to attend the premises where the records are kept and stay there for as long as it takes to examine them. It might be a long process and the representatives of the monitoring authority might need to stay overnight. Alternatively, if they leave the premises and return, and if wrongdoing is occurring, there is a real possibility that the records will be falsified between the first and second visits. The amendment does not make sense and weakens the Bill, so I cannot support it.

Amendment No. 65 would also weaken the provisions, and I find that curious. It would remove the words in brackets in line 42:

''with or without a constable, with any necessary equipment or material and, if need be, by force''.

It would also insert the word ''only.'' Two separate amendments seem to be incorporated into one, and I shall try to deal with both parts. The first part would prevent the monitoring authority from attending with a constable and being able to seize records. If someone has been up to no good and has been falsifying records in a serious way, which has led the monitoring authority to conclude that it needs to attend, and to attend with a constable if it believes that there will be resistance to its attendance at those premises, removing the ability to attend with a constable and to use force in those excessive and unlikely circumstances will mean that the persons who are suddenly sprung upon may say, ''I am sorry, but I am not going to show you my records now.'' Where does it leave the monitoring authority in such a situation if it cannot enforce its will?