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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. I remind the hon. Lady that we are dealing with a particular group of amendments, but her remarks are more appropriate to a Third Reading debate, which we have not yet reached.
Returning to the group of amendments, I support the objective of achieving recycling by 2010the Bill's targets. I was surprised to hear that there appears to be some doubt about it. Those who have studied the issue at length and examined the targets placed on local authorities have sought to clarify how we achieve success. We do not want failure; we want success. I do not support the amendments, but the Bill as it stands.
Mr. Leigh : The whole House owes a debt to my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) for tabling the new clause and amendments, because it has given us an opportunity to debate the issues in greater depth. It is particularly important for the House to debate how local authorities will meet their obligations under the Bill. My main concern is about garden waste and the date at which the provisions will become operative.
I am also concerned that what may be easy to carry out in an urban environment such as Lewisham could be very difficult in a rural environment such as West Lindsey. I know that the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) will acknowledge that she represents a tightly knit urban borough, perhaps 2 square miles, whereas I represent a constituency of 600 square miles. There are about 72 constituencies in London, but my constituency is about the same size as the whole of Greater London. The potential duties placed by the Bill on local authorities are enormous. As I
The issue of garden waste sums up the whole problem. It may be appropriate, as the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty) said, for local authorities in an urban or suburban environment to collect garden waste, but I do not believe for a moment that it is appropriate for a rural environment in which people have much larger gardens and are far more aware of how to compost. People can put their grass cuttings in a pile in the corner of the garden without much difficulty. In that sort of environment, no rural authority wants to place on itself a duty to collect garden waste. In an area such as West Lindsey in Lincolnshire, that would be absurd. It will not happen there, but, as I said, it may be more appropriate for urban or suburban areas where there are smaller gardens, lots of trees and people stuff bits of branches and leaves into ordinary black bin bags.
Local authorities have to given the freedom to decide. I am concerned about the Bill, particularly after listening to the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford. When I intervened earlier, I said that West Lindsey was so starved of resources that it could barely afford to collect the black bin bags from people's houses, which are left at the bottom of the drive. The hon. Lady made the point that local authorities have a duty to go round once a week and collect black bin bags, so it would not be difficult for them, even in rural areas, also to collect a couple of other bags, perhaps containing plastic bottles or textiles. The Minister agreed and suggested that the waste disposal vehicle could have different compartments so that it would not have to go around twice to collect everything. However, it would be an enormous cost to a rural area if it had to re-equip its fleet.
I do not want to throw too much cold water on the Bill, because we all believe in recycling as a worthy aim. It is ludicrous that such a small percentage of people recycle their waste. Many people, even in rural areas, are conscious of the cost to the environment of all our rubbish going up in smoke or being buried in landfill sites, and they would like to be given the choice. People in my area would like West Lindsey council to collect plastic bottles or whatever separately, and we should leave it to the local authorities.
The Minister teased me about the lack of sites available in Lincolnshire. We do have an absurd situation, because people have to cross the county border and can be turned away. That demonstrates the resources problems that exist in large rural areas when dealing with waste, which are so much greater than in urban areas. It is important that someone from a rural area can describe to the House some of the difficulties that local authorities face.
If the amendments are not accepted, we have time to think about the issue before 2010. Local authorities such as West Lindsey or Lincolnshire county council can point to clause 1 and the addition of a new section 45Aspecifically subsection (2)(a)and say that much as they would like to collect such materials, the cost
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I must say to the hon. Gentleman what I said a moment ago to the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty). He is referring to a clause that has already been dealt with. We are not on Third Reading yet, and the hon. Gentleman must confine his remarks to this group of amendments.
Mr. Leigh: I am grateful for your strictures, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that the amendments will be accepted as probing amendments and will not be pushed to a Division. We must respect the right of rural local authorities to rely on the provision that I just mentioned. They should be able to claim that the cost of collecting the materials would be unreasonably high. I know that my hon. Friend does not wish to push his amendments, and that he wants to leave that provision in the Bill. He is wise to do so. I suspect that many local authorities will rely on it, and it is only fair that they should have the ability to do so.
Sir Paul Beresford: I shall be brief, because the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford is looking anxiously at the clock. I am pleased to have obtained a reaction to my probing amendments. I received the reaction from the Minister that I wantedto a degreeand I expected the positive reaction that I received from the hon. Lady. Rural local authorities will feel that the difficulties they face have been recognised, and therefore I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Amendment made: No 1, in page 2, line 32, after "45A" insert ", 45B".[Mr. Morley.]
Order for Third Reading read.
The Bill is a simple measure but one that I believe will have far-reaching consequences. Our deliberations in Committee produced a final outcome that has overwhelming support not only in the House but in the country at large. I am delighted that the Bill has remained intact today.
Most people want to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment, and they expect their elected representatives to provide them with a means of doing so. The Bill does exactly that. It places a duty on local authorities to provide for the collection of two separated recyclable materials by 2010. It gives local authorities just seven years in which to bring that about and to introduce this provision for all households. It further places a duty on the Secretary of State to report on progress.
My thanks go to my right hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West and Royton (Mr. Meacher), who was the responsible Minister for most of the life of the Bill. He played a very constructive role. I also thank the Minister for the Environment for his support today. I thank the civil servants involved and the Committee Clerk, who have been extremely helpful to me in this process.
Despite the changes of personnel and some reservations, those on the Opposition Front Bench have consistently supported the principle of the Bill. I thank the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne) for his support today. Similarly, I thank the Liberal Democrats for their constant support and in particular the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty) for her support today.
Thanks are also due to my 11 sponsors for their participation and strong encouragement. I thank my researcher, Heidi Alexander, for taking on all the extra work that a private Member's Bill entails. I thank also Martyn Williams and those in the parliamentary unit at Friends of the Earth, which has made sure that our postbags were constantly full. It obviously organised the most recent e-mail campaign, of which we have heard today and ensured that 360 Members signed the supporting early-day motion, as well as its amendments. The staff there provided me with valuable technical help throughout this process.
Tackling waste is an environmental imperative, and Britain has lagged behind for far too long. This is our chance to do better. I believe that the Bill will give us all an opportunity to recycle more and to contribute to a more sustainable waste policy in England and Wales, and I commend it to the House.