Waste Material.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Supply. – in the House of Commons on 24th July 1940.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

asked the Minister of Supply whether his attention has been called to the inadequacy of the sorting arrangements for old metal, waste paper, rags and other waste at the municipal and other depots to which the public, who at Government request have carefully sorted their waste, have sent in their collections, so that in the case of paper, clean paper has been allowed to become dirty and the bulk of what has been collected is only fit to mix with rags for the making of such material as felt, which is not immediately required, while munition firms refuse to accept the unsorted old scrap metal which is offered to them; and what action is being taken to deal with this matter?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

The adequacy of the arrangements for sorting scrap metal, waste paper, rags, and other waste at the depots of the local authorities is receiving constant attention from my Department. According to the information available, there are adequate arrangements at most of such depots for keeping separate, or sorting, the material to the degree requisite for the sale of it to merchants, and I hope for the active interest of all citizens in the affairs of their local authorities in removing any deficiencies. In many cases the sorting and grading of the material requires, in addition, the technical knowledge and experience of the merchants. In the case of paper, as a result of the advice given to local authorities, the proportion of clean paper has been greatly increased, and the returns for the month of June show that over 80 per cent. of the 23,500 tons of paper disposed of was sold as clean paper. Scrap metal is sold almost entirely to scrap merchants, who further classify and grade it, so that it may be disposed of to the best advantage.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is it correct, as has been stated, that the marine store merchants have many hundreds of tons of metal of which they are unable to dispose?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That is a matter on which I am actively engaged, but I would warn hon. Members not to believe everything that is said on these matters by interested parties.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will take steps to use the immense amount of waste of all kinds contributed by the public in response to the Government appeal, which, to a large extent, is not being made use of, inter alia, as it is not suitable for use under most Government specifications, and, in particular, with regard to wool waste which is no longer required for flock for mattresses, as these are now made from coir fibre imported from overseas, taking up shipping space which might be more profitably used?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

All possible steps are being taken to make the best use of the waste material arising from the salvage appeal, both by modification of Government specifications where this is possible, and by other methods. With regard to the last part of the Question, I am not in a position to add anything to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) on 17th July.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that it would be very desirable to save shipping space, as was done in the last war, by using flock, which can be properly disinfected, rather than bringing this coir from overseas?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Naturally, the shipping aspect appeals to me, but, if I may say so to my hon. Friend and to my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), the Department really concerned with this Question is the War Office. They take the view, on medical advice, that the use of this wool might be dangerous to the health of the troops, and would be uncomfortable. The argument on the merits is one for the War Office, and not for me.