HC Deb 04 April 1963 vol 675 cc619-20
25. Mr. Leavey

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will instruct the Metropolitan Police to treat as an offence under the Litter Act the attaching of circulars to the outside of parked cars.

Mr. Woodhouse

Prosecutions under the Act of 1958 may be undertaken by the local authority or the police, and my right hon. Friend has no power to instruct them what constitutes an offence.

Mr. Leavey

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that reply, but does he not recognise that it is an increasing practice to use this method for the distribution of circulars, and that is a palpable evasion of Parliament's intentions as embodied in the Litter Act, since all that happens is that the circulars are put on the bonnets or windscreen wipers of the cars and, a few minutes later, fall on the street? Could he not use his good offices to ensure that, especially in this respect, the Act is more vigorously enforced?

Mr. Woodhouse

I think that it would be improper for my right hon. Friend to give directions to the prosecuting authorities. The question whether this particular practice would constitute an offence is one that could be settled only by the courts. I do not think that any case has yet been tested.

31. Mr. Speir

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions under the Litter Act took place in each of the last four years.

Mr. Woodhouse

The numbers of persons prosecuted under the Act were 2,450 in 1959, 2,599 in 1960 and 2,395 in 1961. I regret that the figures for 1962 are not yet available.

Mr. Speir

While thanking my hon. Friend for that information, may I ask whether he is aware that a growing body of opinion feels that the provisions of the Act are not being sufficiently well observed? In view of the fact that the Act has now been in operation for five years and that we are approaching the holiday season, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he does not think that it would be reasonable for his right hon. Friend to appeal to the police, the courts and the public to observe this Act more stringently?

Mr. Woodhouse

It is principally for the local authorities to bring proceedings under the Act, and my right hon. Friend has not the power to give directions on this matter. If the law is thought to be inadequate, it would be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and I will convey the points made by my hon. Friend to him.

Mr. Dodds

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that many of the local authorities are at fault far providing fiddling little baskets on trunk roads where holiday-makers stop and also for the long time that elapses before the baskets are emptied? Is the hen. Gentleman aware that conditions in some places are disgraceful where litter is left in the baskets waiting to be taken away and the local authorities do not take the job seriously?

Mr. Woodhouse

I am sure that the local authorities will take note of what the hon. Member has said.

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