Clause 70

Climate Change Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 8th July 2008.

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Waste reduction provisions: piloting

Amendment made: No. 104, in clause 70, page 33, line 18, leave out from ‘exercised’ to end of line 19 and insert

‘at any time after the coming into force of this section.’.—[Joan Ruddock.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I will take this opportunity to correct the record. When we debated clause 69 on Thursday, I was recorded in column 334 of the Official Report as saying “clause 60”. I will ensure that that is corrected.

I will press the Minister on a couple of points so that she can respond to some criticisms that have been made. We have had lengthy debates last Thursday and today on why five pilot areas have been designated. Subsection (4) will give the Government the power to change the pilot  areas. Does that mean that there can be additional pilot areas or that a pilot area can be substituted? Is five the maximum? How does she envisage subsection (4) being interpreted?

The Minister will recall that the Communities and Local Government Committee report described the thrust of clause 70 as a “massive retreat” because it will limit the number of recycling incentive schemes to just five local authority areas and because the Government have capped the amount that local authorities may offer as incentives or take-in charges. Perhaps the most serious criticism is that it delays any possibility of England-wide schemes until after 2012-13. Is she confident that the Government will be able to introduce an England-wide scheme before that date? What date do the Government have in mind? Does the clause mark a departure from the Government’s waste strategy along the lines suggested by the criticisms, or does the Minister believe that the clause is in keeping with the strategy?

I have had a little read of “Erskine May”, as one does from time to time. Subsection (5) will exclude the prospect of an instrument being treated as a hybrid instrument. Is that a standard procedure? I am sure that the Minister will find that help is at hand. The Commons is not as used to this procedure as the Lords because hybrid instruments are largely used in the Lords. Such instruments give the public the opportunity to petition. I do not know whether that could be seen as a delaying tactic, given the strength of feeling about clauses 69 and the amendments to it. What was the thinking behind the Government’s seeking to exclude the possibility of a hybrid instrument?

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Climate Change, Biodiversity and Waste)

The hon. Lady is correct to suggest that I might require the help that is at hand in dealing with her final point about hybrid instruments. I have looked at the provision and taken a briefing on it, but as we are in a formal Committee, I will read what is provided to me in due course to be on the safe side.

The hon. Lady referred to the Communities and Local Government Committee report, which said that the clause was a “massive retreat”. Everyone who has spoken has indicated that these are subjects on which people feel strongly. We have considered, therefore, that moving immediately to the roll-out of schemes across the country would be premature, given the controversy that they have generated. That is why we thought that it would be much better to start with pilots and to have a limit of five pilots. In no way does that go against our waste strategy, as outlined a year and a half ago. We said that we would create such powers and they are being created, albeit by beginning with piloting.

The Government have said that we want to have substantial results from those pilots before proposing any roll-out and that we want a parliamentary debate on those results, so the timing could be as the Committee has suggested. That is not a huge problem because we are already on target for the 2010 requirement under European law to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, and we believe that we can achieve the 2013 target. It is beyond that time that we know we will have a huge challenge to meet the 2020 targets. If the schemes were to be rolled out within that time frame, it would be a way of rising to the challenge of the difficulties that face us regarding the 2020 target for the reduction of waste going from households to landfill.

On the issue of capping the amount that could be charged, although we have not really been referring to charges, based on the schemes that we have studied from overseas, the indicative amount that might be charged would be of the order of £50 over a year. That is not a huge amount. As I said previously, there has been a great deal of excitement about this, which has come primarily from the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, and it has been suggested that we could be talking about £1,000 a year. We want not only to make it clear that that is ludicrous, but to reassure people by saying that we will take the power to cap in case any local authority wanted to propose anything that was unreasonable.

I am now getting the advice that I need, although there is much of it—[Interruption.] It keeps coming, so I do not know whether the opinion is changing. I am told that hybrid procedures do not state that there will be full public consultation, if that helps anybody. If a scheme does not start, a designation order can be revoked and another designated in its place—that is the precise answer to the question about changing where a scheme is. Apart from as provided for under that power, only five may be designated.

It is reasonable to remind the Committee that we are talking about five pilots, not a scheme throughout the country, so the question of the hybrid procedure would relate to a small number of cases. I confirm that such an instrument would allow the public to petition. There is no doubt that that could result in the process slowing down. However, of course, there will be full public consultation on all the secondary legislation proposed.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 70, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.