Paper Conservation

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 1989.

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Photo of Mr Nicholas Baker Mr Nicholas Baker , North Dorset 12:00 am, 24th May 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce environmental measures to stop the excessive use of paper so as to save depletion of timber resources.

Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

The Government promote recycling of paper wherever it is economically viable to do so. The use of recycled paper is increasing and already the United Kingdom is the fourth largest user of waste paper in the world. There are no plans for compulsory restrictions on the use of paper.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Baker Mr Nicholas Baker , North Dorset

Is my hon. Friend aware that efforts on recycling will be welcome on both sides of the House, as will efforts to encourage the planting of trees? Will my hon. Friend join me in a campaign against the excessive use of paper by mindless lobby campaigns, oversized and unreadable Sunday newspapers, junk mail and unnecessary photocopying, the waste of paper in Whitehall and, last but not least, the waste of paper in the House of Commons?

Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

I endorse the points made by my hon. Friend. I think that most hon. Members and members of the Government agree that there is far too much paper in Whitehall. The only difficulty is that it has to go through Ministers' boxes on its way to being recycled by the City of Westminster. The only redeeming feature of junk mail is that if it has been through the Post Office in the last month it has at least arrived with "We love unleaded petrol" franked on it.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

Does the Minister agree that there is a shocking waste of paper? I cannot agree with her reply. The Secretary of State at her side is responsible for the environment. Why do we keep finding confidential Government documents on landfill sites? That shows clearly that the Government are wasting paper because the documents do not tell us anything. I suggest that we should recycle the Secretary of State.

Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

That was an uncharacteristically ungenerous remark from the hon. Gentleman about my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State who has pioneered many achievements for the environment. I shall riot respond in kind as, although I should like many Opposition Members to be recycled, I would not apply that insult to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns , Chelmsford

Is my hon. Friend aware that enough litter and waste paper is deposited illegally in Britain each year to reforest an area the size of Wales? Does she accept that any initiatives taken by her and the Department to encourage the recycling of paper and, therefore, saving the timber stock, are to be warmly applauded?

Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

I thank my hon. Friend who has done a great deal to promote activity and interest in the war on litter. Litter is offensive and needless and, as my hon. Friend well knows, the Government are determined to tackle the problem of litter once and for all. Not only is it a waste of resources, but it is unsightly and offensive and there is no place for it in a modern Britain.