Twenty Private Members' Bills have been presented to the Commons for the current session, which is likely to run till October 1998. Top of the list and also the most controversial is a Bill to ban hunting of wild mammals with dogs.
Several environmental bills feature in the list:
A similar Bill passed through the House of Lords earlier this year in the face of opposition from the Government and mortgage lenders (ENDS Report 264, p 28 ), but failed to make progress in the Commons. The mortgage industry claims that the cost of energy surveys would be excessive, but the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE), which helped draft both bills, puts the cost at only £10.
The change of Government appears to have brought a change of attitude. ACE Director Andrew Warren said: "We are confident from discussion with Government Ministers that [the Bill] will be successful." ACE estimates that the Bill will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 0.27 million tonnes (as carbon) per year within a decade. The Bill is due for a second reading on 6 February.
The Waste Prevention Bill, which would give local authorities explicit powers to promote and give support to waste minimisation initiatives (ENDS Report 266, pp 29-30 ), was drafted by the Women's Environmental Network and is being introduced by Piers Merchant (Con, Beckenham).
The Bill failed to progress beyond Committee stage in the last session due to lack of time. Shortly before Mr Merchant announced that he would introduce the legislation, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said that the Government was "hoping to see a backbench MP bringing forward a similar Bill in the current session...We would certainly give it a fair wind...subject to the exact details." The Bill is due for a second reading on 12 December.
Also of potential significance in the environmental arena is the Public Interest Disclosure Bill, introduced by Richard Shepherd (Con, Aldridge Brownhills). The Bill would protect individuals making certain disclosures of information in the public interest and allow them to bring action in respect of victimisation. Its second reading is due on 12 December.