Clause 17 - Strategy for England

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 5:15 pm, 8th April 2003

The Minister should not be surprised because, apart from himself and the Government Whip, none of the Committee members is a member of the Government. Every time that he tells us that the Government have a strategy, we are supposed to take his word for it. Quite honestly, we would not have a Committee stage and there would be no need for Members of Parliament, such as myself and my hon. Friends, if all we needed to do was to take the Government's word for it.

The amendments are reasonable and uncontentious. They do not undermine the spirit of the Bill and do nothing more than add a few very small but important steps to help the Government achieve their target. I am disappointed that the Minister took such a ''heli view'' of what is required. He did not need to be so holistic. Had he wished to, he could have taken a more detailed approach and picked to pieces the details in the amendments. He failed to address amendment No. 58, which covers waste minimisation and reuse of waste products. Such a critical acknowledgement of the waste hierarchy would have been welcome and would have set out the real way to achieve the targets that we all want to see achieved.

The amendments, for which Friends of the Earth deserves a great deal of credit, would have been exceptionally helpful, not only to the Bill and to people who agree about what the Bill stands for, but in reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste. We have moved one rung up the ladder by attempting to deal with landfill, but we should be aiming for the top of the ladder. The fact that eight out of 10 people would like to see a great deal more recycling makes it incumbent on all of us to support small but important steps. That is what the people want and we, who are not members of the Government, have the opportunity to bring about a positive step. I hope that hon. Members from all parties will support the amendments. They could be proud of doing so because they do not have to take the Government's word for it that the strategy will be sufficient. The Government strategy may need to be amended at a later date, but we will not have missed our opportunity here today.

I hope that Labour Members will support the amendment. There is no reason why the Minister could not continue with his strategy if the amendment were included in the Bill. It does not undermine his position in any way, and unless there is some secret code of ministerial machismo, which makes it impossible for him to accept at least one amendment—[Interruption.] Yes, I know that the Minister does not appear to be macho, but he could strut his stuff at a later date, suggesting that he did not give in on a single amendment to the Bill. If he is to give in, however, now is the time to do it. That is why I urge him not to oppose the amendment. [Interruption.] He may well be in the minority, and I hope that he will be when I press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 9.