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Joan Ruddock: I would also like to comment on the amendments, all of which I oppose. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) for saying that they are only probing amendments, and it is valuable to have them. I became slightly anxious about the way in which he kept telling the House how well we knew each other. For the sake of clarity, I should say that he was once a Minister and I was his opposition.
We have had a useful debate on these issues. In relation to new clause 3 and amendment No. 8in which the hon. Gentleman seeks to remove garden waste from the provisionsI want to make it clear that the Bill deals with compostable waste, which covers more than just garden waste. We have some difficulty at the moment because there are issues relating to regulations on food safety and composting that have still to be debated and resolved. Compostable waste would include kitchen waste.
Councils would do well to publicise how that could be done, and to help people to do it. Although I grew up with market gardening grandparents, I, like most people, have forgotten everything that I knew about dealing with the land, and with waste, in a natural way. We need education on these issues, and it is appropriate for councils to invest in such education to help us all to do better. As the Minister has suggested, there are circumstances in which the collection of green waste can be sustainable. For that reason, it would be wrong to exclude garden waste.
The Bill has been designed to try to give local authorities real options on how they conduct their business and how to make the collection of recyclable materials most sustainable in their own communities. I want them to have flexibility and choice. I assure the hon. Member for Mole Valley that his amendment No. 7 is unnecessaryhe was embarrassed to find that he had tabled itas the Bill would build on the 1990 Act, which requires the collection of waste. However, that legislation allows for authorities not to collect waste if that is too difficult and unreasonably costly, although most Members will have little experience of households that do not have their waste collected.
Where households have such a collection, the imperative, if the Bill is passed, will be for local authorities to examine how to make collections of recyclables in addition to the collection of regular waste, which they now undertake. The Bill makes no prescription for the doorstep, although we had a long debate about that. It expects that there will be a collection of the recyclates from the point at which the householder currently has his or her waste collected. That clarifies our expectations for the record.
Some householders, particularly in my experience in the inner city, have to bring the rubbish from their flats down to the collecting point at the base of the tower block. They will continue to do that under these new provisions, but they will also bring separated rubbish for collection, which is extremely important.
The hon. Member for Mole Valley introduced amendment No. 5 to ask why 2020 has been chosen, but 2020 does not figure in the Bill. The major proposal provides for local authorities to undertake the new duties by 31 December 2010 at the latest. All that is permitted is the possibility of their being a circumstance in which the local authority could go to the Secretary of State and of there being a dispensation, which would have to be agreed. We think that that is extremely unlikely to happen, but the provision is there to reassure local authorities that they would at least be permitted to make their case if achieving that target were utterly impossible, although I cannot foresee circumstances in which that would occur. That is all the Bill says about such circumstances, and the relevant date is 2015.
I believe, and I think that my hon. Friend the Minister agrees, that the powers that we want local authorities to exercise over collecting two separated recyclates by 2010 are entirely reasonable and practicable. I expect, further, that a local authority that sees its way to collecting two recyclates will probably go for three or four. That is how things work once local authorities have decided to put the infrastructure in place. They respond to the demand that comes, such as that from my constituents. We have had but a partial collection service in our borough, although it is improving and getting a roll-out to all parts of Lewisham. It was but a paper collection, and not from every household. Of course, once local authorities get into this business, they increase their uptake, which is crucial.
As to the amendment that stands in the name of the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire), which suggests that only one waste stream should be collected, I find that difficult to understand. All our experience is that once a local authority begins the process, it sees that the economics dictate that it should move to two, three or four streams. That is extremely important if we are to deal with the huge and constant increase in waste arisings that we are suffering from in this country.
During the preparation of the Bill, on Second Reading and in Committee, we discussed at length what we should prescribe for collection. Those of us who worked on the Billincluding local authorities, some 200 of which support itreached a consensus that we in the House should not prescribe the types of rubbish and recyclates that authorities should collect. They should be able to decide what is right and economic for them, and identify the best environmental option in the waste hierarchy.
We made clear in Committee that we did not want loopholes in the Bill. It specifies a minimum of two waste streams. Councils must not be allowed to define green and brown bottles, for instance, as two separate streams; it must be made clear that we are talking about different types of material, and the Minister emphasised in Committee that green and brown bottles, both being made of glass, constitute a single form of collectable waste.
There are some minor amendments suggesting changes in dates. Two Opposition Members have diametrically opposed views: the hon. Member for Mole Valley wants to bring the dates forward, while the hon. Member for Spelthorne wants to put them back. This is, of course, an example of the disagreements on the Opposition Benches about which we are now used to hearing. As I have said, I want to secure a consensus.
Mr. Wilshire: I imagined that some mirth might be generated by our differences of opinion. At least ours is a free-thinking partyand I doubt that this particular exchange of views between my hon. Friend and myself is likely to hit the Sunday papers in anything like the same way as news of Labour Members tearing each others' eyes out over Europe and so forth.
Mr. Wilshire: I am happy to place on record that I support the Bill and wish it well. The intervention from the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty) just goes to show that Liberal Democrats have not the slightest idea of what actually happens in Parliament, and why Members table amendments.
While I have some sympathy with the hon. Member for Mole Valley's wish to bring forward the date on which we could implement local authorities' duties in regard to separate collection, I specified 2010 because, following extensive consultation with local authorities and other interested bodies, with industry and indeed with Government, I concluded that it was the most realistic date. There is consensus on that, and despite my enthusiasm for the cause I do not think that the arrangements could be completed any more quickly.
Mr. George Osborne: As I made clear when we discussed the Government new clause, the Opposition wholly support the Bill but I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford), who is renowned for his green credentials, on at least allowing us to probe some of the issues to which the Bill gives rise. It is right to do so. It is quite brave to do so, too, I understand, because both he and my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) have been deluged with e-mails and letters from people around the country. Obviously, the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) has mobilised her army to put pressure