Clause 17 - Strategy for England

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 8th April 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 4:30 pm, 8th April 2003

My hon. Friend makes an important point: half the battle on recycling concerns the quality of collection. As my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire said many times during his time on the Front Bench, half the battle is separating collections effectively and communicating that to the public, so that they know how to present their waste in a form that can easily be recycled and can be confident that recycling will take place. As was said earlier in Committee, there is concern that once rubbish has been collected, it all ends up in the same bin and not even the majority of it is properly recycled. Public confidence is important. Effective provision, in which the public can believe, must be available. In those circumstances, people will, undoubtedly, buy into the principle of recycling, which, along with the reduction of landfill, must be regarded as a key part of the strategy. The importance of the amendments is that they signal that link and that connection clear. Further legislation will be required, but they facilitate the opportunity for us to legislate in other areas to make that desired end a reality.

The second important issue thrown up by this brief discussion is incineration. I do not want to spend long on that subject now because we shall debate it in a few moments, but if we are to be serious about the waste hierarchy and to create distance between good and poor practice, we must not simply transfer our priority from landfill to incineration. However, there are legitimate concerns that that may happen unless we firm up our priorities at this stage. That was well articulated on Second Reading by the hon. Member for Southampton, Test, who made an excellent contribution and has expertise in the field—considerably more expertise, I suspect, than I have. That important point should be signalled now. If it is not, the wrong message will be broadcast and the Bill will be seen merely as a legislative cover.

The Minister described the Conservative party earlier, in an unwise remark, as a party of rugged individualism. How could he possibly call the party of Burke, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury a party of rugged individualism? The amendments suggest that we believe in obligation and responsibility. Our approach to waste is to reinforce responsibility and a sense of continuum—it appears that we are about to hear an intervention on Conservative philosophy.