I agree with my right hon. Friend. We need to ensure that people know that it is a criminal offence. The courts should be tough in imposing punishments on those who cause that scar on our countryside, as he describes it.
I applied for this debate after a similar conversation with my constituent Mr Nick Spall, who contacted me to complain about litter and debris piling up along the approach roads linking the M25 with the South Mimms turn-off. He had particular concerns about the connection with St Albans Road leading south towards High Barnet, which is just outside my constituency of Chipping Barnet. He pointed out:
“Visitors to the UK will be surprised and disappointed that this cannot be kept under control at such a visible and prominent location.”
I raised that complaint with Highways England, which told me that Hertsmere Borough Council was responsible for litter clearance on the roads concerned. Hertsmere Borough Council informed me that the general area was litter-picked on a weekly basis, but that several sections could not be safely accessed without traffic management measures, and that they could take place only if Hertfordshire County Council had road closures planned.
That illustrates the first key issue I wish to raise with the Minister. If we are to tackle the litter that we can see through our car or bus windows every day, we need to address the problem of divided responsibilities and introduce clearer lines of accountability. That point was made by Peter Silverman of the Clean Highways campaign, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for the briefing he provided for the debate and for his determined work to highlight these important matters.