Litter

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th March 1991.

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Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford 12:00 am, 27th March 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his assessment of progress in respect of the litter problem under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

I am in no doubt that the litter provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which represent the most comprehensive package of measures ever introduced by any British Government to deal with the problem of litter, will lead to a visible improvement in the standard of cleanliness of our streets and open spaces. We will monitor the effectiveness of the legislation when it is all in place, which should be in about three months' time. I welcome the Tidy Britain Group's initiative to hold a national spring clean from 19 to 28 April.

Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford

I welcome warmly the initiative that my hon. Friend mentioned and I appreciate that money has been made available to the Tidy Britain Group to help the national spring clean week. May it go well. Does my hon. Friend share my disappointment that, despite the powers provided under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we still have a profusion of supermarket trolleys littering residential areas, town centres and car parks? Will he knock some heads together among local authorities and supermarket operators so that we get sensible mechanisms for controlling this wretched nuisance?

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the further commercial that he has given to national spring clean week. I am anxious that everyone should play a part in helping us not only to clean up the country, but to ensure that it is kept clean. On his second point, the wanderlust of shopping trolleys is a feature of British life which has concerned me for a long time. We had lengthy debates during the Committee stage of the Environmental Protection Bill and I sought to have it included in the Act. Section 99 allows local authorities to collect, store and dispose of abandoned shopping trolleys. As a result of that initiative and now that the law is in place, I am comforted to see that more and more supermarkets are introducing new and ingenious technology to stop the trolleys wandering out of the perimeters of the land owned by the supermarket, although in recent months many of us have seen them end up in streams, waterways and motorways, though not in the fast lane. I am glad to say that the problem is slowly diminishing.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

We welcome the Tidy Britain Group week and hope that it will be a success. Will the Government admit that their 23-page code of practice, which introduces 11 category zones with three different types of road category, is a bureaucractic nightmare, made much worse for local authorities by desperate underfunding of all the provisions? The Government allowed about £50 million, but the metropolitan authorities alone reckon that they need £60 million to carry out their duties. Is not this another case of the Government setting desirable objectives, but failing lamentably in administration and finance to carry them out?

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

No, it is not. The hon. Gentleman is obviously anxious to support the Tidy Britain Group's initiative of a national spring clean week and I welcome that. I remind him and the House that the code of practice, which has statutory backing, was put together not only by the Tidy Britain Group but by the local authority associations. Therefore, they had a hand in ensuring that the code was not a bureaucratic nightmare. The standards that I accept and for which I do not apologise are extremely high and can be met. On the hon. Gentleman's final point, it may be fairer for me to take the political sting out of the argument by comparing two Labour authorities in the north—Leeds, which is remarkably clean, and Manchester, whence I come, which is filthy. The question that the hon. Gentleman should address is how Leeds manages to keep its city clean while Manchester does not. As from next week, when the litter laws will bite, I can assure him that Manchester city will be more often in the dock than out.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

May I ask for briefer answers as they seem to be taking a long time.