New clause 30 - Zero waste strategy

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 10th April 2003.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 3:45 pm, 10th April 2003

In respect of new clause 30, my answer is that I will press it, although I accept much of what the Minister said, and do not intend to speak for very long because we have had a long, wide-ranging, interesting and helpful debate.

The Minister's principal criticism of the amendments and new clauses was that they were too ambitious. However, if he reacquaints himself with new clause 30, he will have to agree that that is not so. That might be true of other new clauses and amendments—I will of course allow the hon. Member for Lewes to speak to his own new clauses. However, new clause 30 is not terribly ambitious, and is neither an insurmountable hill to climb nor an unreasonable target. To detach the Minister from his prepared text for a second, I remind him that new clause 30 says:

''The Secretary of State shall . . . within twelve months put before Parliament a strategy to deliver a year on year decrease in the volume of waste sent to landfill that shall be commensurate with statutory reductions in the weight and volume of waste sent to landfill as required by Clause One''.

That is, frankly, pretty sympathetic to the objectives of the Bill. Crumbs—requiring a ''year on year decrease'' is not asking the earth. Rather, it is asking for steady progress towards the targets that have been set for us and which are the driving factor behind the Bill. I see no great difficulty with that proposal—it is certainly not over-ambitious. Reporting progress to Parliament is simply a matter of proper scrutiny and an opportunity to debate the issues in the House and more widely.

The Minister talked about weight and volume and I take his point that there are difficulties and technical questions that one would need to examine closely. However, it would not be impossible to come to a sensible arrangement about volume, in which I should think a combination of technology and mathematics could be employed. I bear in mind the Minister's points on that subject, but I do not think that they are incompatible with the new clause because it is broad. It does not specify a ratio, as we did in earlier debate, but allows great flexibility; indeed, new clause 30 gives the

Secretary of State the opportunity to specify the formula that will accurately measure the significance of waste by volume against weight.

Although the vote will not take place right now, when the time comes we will press new clause 30 because it does not detract from the Bill one iota; in fact it adds to it. It would allow us to debate the matters more fully on Report. I am not sure that the Minister's principal criticisms of the other new clauses and amendments count as persuasively for new clause 30.