Clause 13 - Powers in relation to landfill operators

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 3:45 pm, 8th April 2003

The words in the Bill explicitly refer to the presence of a constable, which shows the seriousness with which those who drafted the Bill take the matter. I suggest that the amendment, which removes the reference to a constable, would weaken the clause if passed. I do not know whether the monitoring authority would have the ability to have recourse to a constable if the Bill did not explicitly refer to it. Perhaps the Minister will deal with that point. If the use of force is countenanced in legislation, it is always useful for that to be explicitly referred to so that everyone knows where they stand. I would be very uncomfortable with the situation that the hon. Gentleman seems to be suggesting whereby the Bill did not refer to the use of force in the presence of a constable, but where he can suddenly turn up as a consequence of clause 13. That would be unsatisfactory. It would not make the Bill clear, and no one would know where they stood. I am unhappy about that, but I wait to hear what the Minister has to say.

The second part of amendment No. 65 is the inclusion of the word ''only'', which is a separate point to the one that was just made. I sympathise with it, as someone entering premises for a purpose specified in the clause may well have other convenient reasons for entering those premises at the back of their mind. Although it is unlikely, they may regard it as an option to take the opportunity to pursue other matters while in the presence of a constable or otherwise. The word ''only'' is helpful in limiting the purpose for which entry is permitted to the reasons set out in the clause. Without the word ''only'', there is the danger that other purposes that are not mentioned could subsequently be justified. For that reason, I agree with the word ''only''. The word ''solely'' could also have been used in the amendment or in the Bill, if that were to be added.

I shall make one more point on clause 13(3)(b), which saves me from making a clause stand part speech. I am concerned about the breadth given to persons in the subsection, which does not relate simply to the monitoring authority. Lines 33 and 34 state:

''An allocating authority may by regulations make provision enabling the monitoring authority for its area, or persons authorised by the monitoring authority''.

We do not know who these people are. They may not even be members of the Environment Agency, but

people whom it may have authorised, perhaps from a debt collection agency or similar agency. Those people can

''specify the form in which, the place at which and the time at or by which records are to be produced''.

That is a very wide power to give to someone who is not necessarily a member of the Environment Agency, but who is appointed by the Environment Agency for the specific purpose. I would be happier if the Minister agreed to include the word ''reasonable'' at some point, limit the wide power, specify a time limit or otherwise clarify the power. It seems an extraordinarily wide power to give to someone who may not necessarily be a member of the Environment Agency.