HC Deb 30 July 1980 vol 989 cc1493-4
5. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will issue a circular to local authorities on the use of the pesticide 2, 4, 5-T in municipal parks, gardens or on highway verges.

The Minister for Local Government and Environmental Services (Mr. Tom King)

The need for advice will be considered in the light of the Government's conclusions on the present review of 2, 4, 5-T by the Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

Mr. Hooley

Will the Minister accept that that at least gets us somewhere? Is he aware that Sheffield has already banned the use of this dangerous pesticide? Will he encourage other authorities to follow that excellent example?

Mr. King

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the matter has been considered before. I have here the review of the safety of the use of the herbicide 2, 4, 5-T in the United Kingdom, dated March 1979, which was submitted by the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) when he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In view of further evidence, the advisory committee is reconsidering the matter. The National Union of Agricultural Workers has also produced a dossier of evidence, which is being reviewed. The advisory committee will then report.

Mr. Latham

Does my right hon. Friend know whether local authorities use that pesticide in municipal parks and gardens, and along highway verges?

Mr. King

My understanding is that it is used by local authorities. One or two have decided temporarily to cease to use it. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) referred to one such authority.

Mr. Concannon

Due to disquiet about that pesticide, will the Minister accept that it may not be a bad idea to ask local authorities to keep a register of where it is used in their localities?

Mr. King

The advisory committee will report shortly. The last report was only 16 months ago. The Royal Commission on environmental pollution, in its seventh report on agriculture and pollution, also considered the matter but did not suggest that such steps were necessary. All pesticides, even, for example, sodium chlorate, are dangerous. The question is the method and extent of their use. That is why we should adopt a sensible approach, and the Government feel that it is right to take the advice of the best qualified advisory committee on the matter.