HC Deb 09 July 1964 vol 698 cc593-5
9. Mr. Longden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions have been brought under the Litter Act in each year since it became law; and what was the average penalty imposed.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Mervyn Pike)

From 7th August, 1958, when the Litter Act, 1958, came into force, until the end of 1962, the last year for which statistics are available, 10,242 persons were prosecuted, of whom 938 were convicted. Nearly all those convicted were fined and in 1962 the average fine was approximately £2. I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table showing the number of persons prosecuted and the number convicted year by year.

Mr. Longden

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the Litter Act is doing what it was intended to do? In the Royal and respectable borough of Kensington, the streets often look as though a paper chase has recently been through them. Is the reason that the law is insufficient, or is it that it is not being enforced?

Miss Pike

I gave an incorrect figure in my Answer. I should have said that 9,938 people were convicted, which gives a slightly better picture, but I agree that there is a considerable amount of litter. This is something about which we are all worried. It is principally for the local authority to take proceedings under the Litter Act, though it is open to individuals to do so. The police cannot normally undertake the primary responsibility of enforcing the Act because of their many important commitments. The provisions of the Act are for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

Sir Knox Cunningham

How many of these prosecutions are for the dumping of large and unsightly articles by the side of the roads?

Miss Pike

I have not got those figures.

Mr. Worsley

Will my hon. Friend be as firm as possible on this subject? Will she bear in mind that a well-publicised prosecution for this offence would do more than anything else to improve the situation?

Miss Pike

I agree with the necessity of constantly bringing this to the public notice.

Following is the table:

Persons prosecuted Persons convicted
1958 (from 7th August) 268 262
1959 2,450 2,370
1960 2,599 2,527
1961 2,395 2,322
1962 2,530 2,457
10,242 9,938