HC Deb 15 February 1940 vol 357 cc958-9
73. Miss Rathbone

asked the Minister of Health whether any steps have been taken to oblige local authorities to introduce methods of collecting and utilizing household food refuse, waste paper, tins, etc., on the lines of the system practised at Tottenham and in certain other areas; and how many local authorities have, in fact, introduced the systematic collection and utilisation of such products?

Mr. Elliot

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply is, through his officers, in touch with local authorities, voluntary agencies and industry on the question of the fullest practicable utilisation of waste materials contained in household refuse. The question of requiring local authorities to adopt specific methods of collection and disposal is being worked at but it will be appreciated that local conditions vary and no standard scheme of collection and disposal could be applied to all districts. I understand that in November slightly over 300 local authorities were doing salvage work in greater or less degree; since then the number has practically doubled, and according to the latest information local authorities representing a population of not less than 25,000,000 people have some form of salvage work in operation. This includes 70 local authorities who have special refuse separation plants for the recovery of waste products from domestic refuse. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply is taking active steps to stimulate the remainder.

Miss Rathbone

While recognising the progress indicated by the Reply, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that national interests demand that the matter should not be left simply to the initiative of the local authorities and their energy or lack of energy, but that they should be required to introduce some such system and that the process should be speeded up?

Mr. Elliot

I agree that there is a great necessity for the utmost energy in this matter, but in the first place we want to go as far as we can by co-operation with the local authorities, and I am glad to say that in many cases that is being given.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Is there any policy for the classification and treatment of these waste commodities when they are collected?

Sir W. Davison

Does not my right hon. Friend think that it would have been better to make arrangements with the local authorities for the collection of these things before appealing to the public to gather them together, since there is great dissatisfaction among people who have taken the trouble to separate their refuse, to keep paper separate, and so on, and then have seen it all thrown together into the dust-carts?

Mr. Elliot

I think many of the London boroughs have been rather laggard in making arrangements for the collection of this refuse which has been gathered together by individuals, and my right hon. Friend and I are addressing a letter to them on this subject.

Sir P. Harris

Will the right hon. Gentleman, if necessary, obtain powers from the House to compel the local authorities to carry out their duties in this respect?

Mr. Elliot

I should like to see how far we can get by co-operation with the local authorities before bringing in such legislation.

Mr. Thorne

Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider the question of the necessary dustbins being provided so that there will not be an additional expenditure thrown upon households?