Resources Minister Dan Rogerson unmoved by plea from Shadow Minister and EAC

5th December 2014 Posted by

Following Defra’s proposal to levy a five pence charge on single use plastic bags (see previous blog: Bag policy should be binned), the Environmental Audit Committee’s comments on this policy were debated in the House of Commons last week.

Chair Joan Walley reiterated the Committee’s conclusion that Defra’s proposals were “unnecessarily complicated” and that, in persisting with exemptions for biodegradable plastic carrier bags and for firms with less than 250 employees, Resources Minister Dan Rogerson was clearly not listening to the majority view of his consultees, nor to evidence brought before the Committee.

The Minister was unmoved by the argument of the Chair and Shadow Minister Barry Gardiner, as to why these two provisions in particular were “incoherent” and “an unscientific mess” – with the Labour spokesman announcing that the “next Labour Government” [will adopt] “the EAC’s recommendation for a simple universal charge that will reduce plastic waste and litter as part of a wider, comprehensive and coherent waste management strategy”, itself “an essential component of a resource management  strategy worthy of the name”.

Fighting talk, though the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we will see when Labour unveils its policy proposals on waste and resource management, the culmination of a review started under the previous Shadow Minister Gavin Shuker in April 2013 and we wait to see what resource policies make it into Labour’s general election manifesto.

Perhaps the most persistent charge put to the Minister was that Defra had created “widespread concern” by its announcement last year that it was “stepping back” from policy areas it believed industry was better placed to lead and the shadow minister noted that “the opportunities are huge … so are the risks of inaction”.

Fairly or unfairly, the Minister’s legacy in office looks destined to be defined by “his infamous letter” as Barry Gardiner referred to it.

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