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Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne): I should say at the outset that I, too, support the Bill. I can well understand why the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock), having looked at the Order Paper, might have become a little nervous at seeing a rash of amendments in my name. I appreciate that we are not discussing them at the moment, but I just wanted to put it on the record that I do support the Bill. I say that in the hope that the hon. Lady will call off the hounds and my e-mails will go silent, so that I can perhaps have a quiet weekend.
I support new clause 1. It is entirely right that the people of Wales be consulted as to whether it is a good idea to extend the provision to them. If they say that it is, then far be it from this Englishman to prevent that from happening. However, on looking at the new clause I discovered something quite interesting. Subsection (1) begins with the phrase:
I have one worry about the new clause. The Government rightly say that the provision should be extended to Wales if the people of Wales want it, and that in the end, the vote shall be taken by people from Wales. So why did the Government mobilise Scottish MPs the other day to interfere in an English matter, unlike in this case, where the people of Wales can decide for themselves? On the question of foundation hospitals, surely the English should have decided what happens in England.
Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): I welcome new clause 1. Wales is absolutely committed to playing its part in recycling, and as the Minister says, we in Wales have our own strategy, which has been agreed to by the Welsh Assembly and in consultation with local authorities. I congratulate the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) on introducing this Bill. I was pleased to take part in a previous stage of its legislative progress, and I am very pleased that new clause 1 respects the spirit of devolution, enabling the Assembly to take appropriate action, rather than imposing a duty on it. We support the new clause.
Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford): I thank all Members for their comments and the appreciation that they have shown today. It has been a joy to work on this Bill, despite the many difficulties that arose. It was always my wish that the Bill should extend to the whole of the UK if possible, notwithstanding the devolution arrangements. I hope that the assemblies and the Parliament in the other parts of the UK will be able to
At one point, the Bill was in a form that set UK targets of 50 per cent. for recycling. That was an attempt to bring the Government on board, because they had not been able to support the original Bill. Unfortunately, I then found that the Government could not support the new form of the Bill either, so it took all my wit to produce it in yet another form. That was done successfully in Committee. It then became necessary to limit the Bill to England, and it was proper of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Julie Morgan), who was one of my sponsorsand, indeed, the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas), who was another sponsorto raise the question about consultation with the National Assembly for Wales.
The Minister undertook in Committee to write formally to the Welsh Assembly, and I am delighted that it has come back with a positive response. This is the best of all worlds. We in the House today offer the Assembly primary legislation, which it can bring into force if it fits its requirements. I congratulate the Assembly on the progress that it has made so far, but I say to its Members that, as in the rest of the UK, recycling levels are still far too low. Much more still needs to be done, and the Bill offers local authorities an incentive and an opportunity for people to lobby their elected representatives to ensure that more progress is made. I greatly welcome and support the new clause, and I hope that it will be accepted as a way forward for the people of Wales. As someone born and brought up in Pontypool, the Welsh environment is close to my heart.
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): Can the Minister clear up a point about the new clause? Am I right that the requirement on Wales would have to be abided by on the same terms that apply to the English provisionsno later than 31 December 2015? We understand why such a long time frame has been built into the Bill, but we also partly regret it. Can the Minister let us know within what sort of time scale he would envisage Welsh authorities and the Welsh Assembly complying with this part of the Bill?
Mr. Morley: Briefly, new clause 1 extends the same provisions to Wales. Of course, it can choose not to apply them. As I said earlier, if the provisions are not accepted now, no primary legislative powers would apply and it could not enter into the provisions later. My understanding is that the Welsh Assembly is keen to apply these measures, just as we are, so the time scales are the same.
'In this Act garden waste shall not be included within "household waste".'.[Sir Paul Beresford.]
'( ) For the purposes of subsection (3) above the types shall be
(a) paper waste;
(b) metal food or drinks containers;
(c) glass food or drinks containers;
(e) textile fabrics or clothes.'.
Sir Paul Beresford: The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) knows me well from when we did battle, in reverse position, on these matters. She knows that I am a supporter of recycling. I come from a county that is a leading light on zero waste and the techniques and methods of recycling. I do not know whether there are any incinerators there, though it looks as though there is an attempt to place one in my constituency, which is a great bother to me and the residents nearby. However, I have tabled the new clause as a probing one to give the Minister an opportunity to assist us and to recogniseas one would expect from someone in his Departmentthat there are both urban and rural areas, and urban and rural reactions to Bills such as this.
When I examined a research paper from the Library, I was particularly disturbed to find that household waste included garden waste. If one has a couple of window boxes and a handkerchief garden out the back, probably mostly paved, the garden waste proportion put out for recycling is pretty small and the opportunity to recycle there on the patch is also pretty small. I have watched what has happened in one of the two local authorities with which I am associated, and Friends of the Earth got rather upset about the problem that I deal with in the new clause. The organisation obviously did not talk to the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford, who would have explained that these were probing provisions with
In a constituency such as mine, if one wanted to lift the recycling leveland could put expenses completely to one sideone would concentrate on collecting garden waste. Before the local elections, Guildford council, then under Liberal control, did exactly that. It had a doorstep collection of garden waste as a pilot for an area in Guildford, which dramatically lifted the percentage of recycling.
In my constituency, my own neck of the woods, is an area where there used to be an oak plantation. It is easy to tell that it is ancient by looking at the trees, some of which are bent in such a way as to form the wood for shipsobviously no longer needed. Many but not all of the oaks have gone. In respect of my own gardenhere I declare an interestI would be delighted if the Liberal idea from the Liberal councillor, to collect all our garden waste, were implemented. In the autumn or fall, the oak treesI have three in my garden: two about 150 years old and one 450 years olddeposit vast quantities of oak leaves on the ground. I really mean vast quantities. I estimate that one tree produces about 31 cubic yards of leaves.
I should be delighted if the council would take them, and I would be even more than delighted if it would take them for free. It takes me a good day to sweep them up, put them into bags and compost them. If I could stick them out the front, I could fill one or two trucks without any difficulty. That does not apply only to my house, but to every single house in the street. We need to recognise how the figures can be distorted and that many local authorities take composting exceptionally seriously by approaching it in a different way. Mole Valley district council is taking an approach to garden waste that is different from the approach of the Liberals in control of Guildford. It is trying to make people aware of the opportunities for composting on their own properties.
As a result, the local authority's percentage figures for composting will go down. I raised that issue under the best value indicators, and the Minister was a bit nonplussed. I got an answer, but it was inadequate.