Queen's recommendation having been signified—
The Minister for the Environment
(Mr. Michael Meacher)
I beg to move,
The motion concerns the private Member's Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock). On Second Reading the Government said they were content to allow the Bill to proceed to its Committee stage, and that was agreed by the House. The Government also said on Second Reading that a number of amendments would have to be made if the Bill was to receive Government support. Our first problem is the requirement for a strategy to be prepared within six months to achieve a 50 per cent. municipal waste recycling rate by 2010. We are not sure that that would fit with the rather more comprehensive waste strategy 2000, which involved the whole waste stream rather than just municipal waste and addressed the entire hierarchy rather than just recycling. We think it important to focus on the action needed from central Government and local authorities to meet our published targets and to make progress with the 2000 strategy rather than publishing a further strategy so soon after the production of the others. Speaking just for England, we considered the issues of targets in our response to the strategy unit's report "Waste not want not". The unit made a number of suggestions for new strategy targets, although they were not as ambitious as the target of 50 per cent. by 2010 proposed in the Bill. We concluded that it would not be fair to change the statutory recycling and composting targets that the Government had set for 2005–06 at this stage. We recognise, however, that national recycling rates higher than the current targets are both possible and clearly desirable. We have said that in 2004 we will review the national recycling targets in the light of progress made by local authorities in meeting their 2003–04 targets. We are not currently convinced, however, that the achievement of a 50 per cent. rate by 2010 is practicable. That rate is far beyond the current target of 30 per cent. by 2010 as set in "Waste Strategy 2000", and the target of 35 per cent. by 2010 as recommended by the strategy unit. On other parts of the Bill, we intend that the Waste and Emissions Trading Bill should incorporate the requirement for municipal waste management strategies in two-tier areas. These strategies will not be required for "excellent" authorities or for those that can show that they are on track to meet their targets. We intend to table an amendment to this effect on Report. The Waste and Emissions Trading Bill already incorporates the power of direction for a waste disposal authority to require a waste collection authority to deliver waste separated, where that is necessary to meet its requirements under the landfill allowance scheme or recycling targets. On the motion and the matter of cost, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently doing some financial modelling to forecast the cost of providing such services and of meeting increasing levels of recycling within the UK, although this is not ready yet. The calculation is not straightforward; the modelling is very complex, involving a number of different scenarios. We need to be very clear about the assumptions and fears that we feed into the model; however, we are certainly working on this. So I think that we can agree that sustainable waste management is a vital policy, and that it will be useful to discuss this Bill further in Committee. I commend the motion to the House.That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Municipal Waste Recycling Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other enactment.
Question put and agreed to.