Results 141–160 of 2174 for speaker:Mr Robert Atkins

New clause 8: Coal Authority Responsibility in Relation to Water from Abandoned Mines (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I will not give way. Let us try to make progress with the facts; then the hon. Lady can respond. I am conscious of time, and I understand that Opposition Members are keen to hear my response to their genuine concerns. New clause 8 would place an absolute duty on the Coal Authority to prevent water from abandoned coal mines polluting controlled waters or causing significant harm, irrespective...

New clause 8: Coal Authority Responsibility in Relation to Water from Abandoned Mines (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: Of course I understand the importance of such an incident. I made it clear in Committee, and I do so again, that any such incident must be investigated, and that the conclusions drawn from such an accident must influence future policy. I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman in that regard. We all accept that minewater pollution is a long-standing and difficult problem. In this Bill, the...

New clause 8: Coal Authority Responsibility in Relation to Water from Abandoned Mines (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I am sorry, but the statement is also dated 20 April. It states: Sir David White, chairman of the …Coal Authority"— in the company of Mr. Neville Washington— told members of Durham County Council that pumping would continue until an environmentally acceptable alternative is found. As a result of the meeting, Councillor James said: We were pleased to hear that the Coal Authority has made...

New clause 8: Coal Authority Responsibility in Relation to Water from Abandoned Mines (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I understand that the hon. Lady feels strongly about these matters. A perfectly legitimate response by a courteous county council seems to conflict with what she is saying. I assure her that I shall check with the Coal Authority to ascertain what the chief executive has said. As I have said, I have sought to do so. As I have also said, the dates appear to be the same, and there appears to be...

New clause 8: Coal Authority Responsibility in Relation to Water from Abandoned Mines (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I am conscious of the time and—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] I am being told to get on with it, but I am trying to respond to an important debate in which some hon. Members have spoken at length. I resent suggestions that I should get on with it when I am trying to answer questions.

New clause 8: Coal Authority Responsibility in Relation to Water from Abandoned Mines (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: No, I will not. My right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling) asked me specific questions, and I must give him the assurances that he seeks. Liability is changing only under the abandoned mines provisions for the owners and operators of mines abandoned after the end of 1999. They are liable for mines abandoned before then only if they cause pollution. Farmers and...

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I shall always give way to the hon. Lady, but I would like to get a little way into my speech. If the hon. Lady insists, I shall give way.

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: We know that, in Committee, the hon. Lady quoted from briefs from various organisations, all respectable ones that had a great part to play in our proceedings, and made great play of their views. I shall deal with as many of the matters that she has raised as I can. It is suggested that clause 38 is a Pandora's box, in that any action taken by the agencies could be challenged for the first...

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I see no reason why the agencies should not set their corporate objectives in that way. Why does the hon. Lady think that that should not be the case?

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: We have had long debates on Second Reading and in Committee on this issue. I have made it clear on every possible occasion that at the forefront of the Government's mind, and that of the Department of the Environment and eventually those of the agencies, will be environmental considerations. They cannot do that without taking account of costs and benefits. That is the crucial difference...

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I can say yes on two counts, and not only because I would be in dereliction of my duty if I did not accede to my right hon. Friend's request and his continued representations on the lake district, one of the most lovely parts of England. Secondly, I can say yes because, as my right hon. Friend correctly concludes, the Bill sets out just that objective. I have no doubt that, when it becomes an...

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: My understanding is that we could accede to that request. The Government could certainly bring some pressure to bear, and would do so if we felt that my hon. Friend's concerns and mine were not being recognised.

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but I do not agree with it. We consistently and continuously made it clear on Second Reading and in Committee that, while environmental considerations are at the forefront of what the agencies must do and what my Department is doing, we cannot proceed without considering costs and benefits.

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I should like to make some progress, because I have been stuck on the same paragraph for some time.

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I give way to the hon. Lady.

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I intended to mention that matter, but as the hon. Lady has asked about it, I shall deal with it now. I said in Committee that, in 1991, my Department issued a guide called "Policy Appraisal and the Environment". There was a follow-up in 1994 illustrating its applications to specific cases, and it was entitled "Environmental Appraisal in Government Departments". Also relevant is a document...

New clause 3: Guidance on Costs and Benefits (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: The hon. Lady is obsessed with judicial reviews. I have tried to explain that the agencies will be allowed wide discretion. If matters are made more precise and specific, there is a likelihood that more judicial reviews will be held than were conducted in the past. What I said in Committee bears repeating. I remind the hon. Lady that I said: All challenges by way of judicial review require...

New clause 4: Greater London Regional Advisory Committee (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: indicated assent.

New clause 4: Greater London Regional Advisory Committee (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: The new clause would require the agency to establish a Greater London regional advisory committee for a region covering all the London boroughs. I agree that the agency will need to be mindful of particular issues relating to London, but I do not think that a region based on London alone is necessarily the best way forward. The Environment Agency advisory committee has now submitted...

New clause 4: Greater London Regional Advisory Committee (27 Jun 1995)

Mr Robert Atkins: I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I am saying that the proposition is part of the considerations on which I and my colleagues will have to decide. We have made no decision and we shall be careful in terms of listening to and reading again the views that have been expressed by Opposition Members. I hope accordingly that the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) will withdraw...


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