Clause 36 - Registration requirements and conditions

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 20th January 2005.

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Photo of Ms Sue Doughty Ms Sue Doughty Shadow Minister (the Environment), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs 5:00 pm, 20th January 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 90, in clause 36, page 31, line 10, after 'impose', insert 'reasonable'.

Many Committee members are concerned about waste and fly-tipping. We must deal effectively and appropriately with the problem. The amendment is about waste transport. We do not want to see the regulation authority making a profit out of the charges imposed on waste carriers; we want them just to cover the running costs of the scheme. We have no difficulty with authorities keeping the proceeds from fixed penalty notices, but we do not want to see predatory action just for the sake of it. The public have been upset in the past about speed cameras and has regarded them as a form of predatory action, so we are testing the provision to determine the Government's intention. Is it reasonable to expect a problem? Do they intend the provision to be used regularly? If so, it   should be made clear that that is necessary to deal with the scourge of the illegal transport of waste. If that is a Government strategy, we need to be clear about it.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

May I start by saying how pleased I am to see you in the Chair and to be serving under you, Mr. Forth? I am also pleased to see so many familiar faces supporting the Bill and to be serving again in partnership with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality on piloting through effective new legislation. I know that Opposition Members, too, welcome the clauses and the Bill.

The hon. Member for Guildford is asking for the word ''reasonable'' to be inserted into the power for a regulation authority to charge for inspection of waste carriers. I understand her argument, but I think that I can reassure her straightaway that it is not necessary to specify in the Bill that a charge should be reasonable. The Environment Agency is under an duty to consult on any fees and charges that it imposes and to ensure that charges cover costs only. That is in line with the polluter pays principle on charges levied in this way, whereby those who are regulated should be required to cover the cost of that regulation.

If the hon. Lady is worried that the measure gives the Environment Agency powers to levy punitive fines or to boost its coffers, I assure her that that is not so. The agency is obliged simply to cover its costs and to ensure that when it sets charges it does so after full consultation.

Photo of Ms Sue Doughty Ms Sue Doughty Shadow Minister (the Environment), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

I thank the Minister for his response and welcome him to this part of the debate. We have worked together a lot on waste issues and occasionally we have a robust debate, but there is no doubt that we need to get to grips with this Bill, which is an important piece of legislation that I welcome.

I certainly have the reassurance that I sought. We will draw attention later in our deliberations to the fact that the Environment Agency is underfunded to undertake the work that it needs to. At this stage, we wanted to get a clear understanding of how such schemes are financed so that it is obvious to the public that people will not be forced into doing things just to collect more money. The Minister has satisfied me on that score, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 36 ordered to stand part of the Bill.