HC Deb 25 July 1990 vol 177 cc460-2
19. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received the report on pollution issued by the Institution of Civil Engineers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier

The institution sent me a copy of its report, entitled "Pollution and its Containment", which it published on 19 July. I welcome the report as a valuable contribution to continuing studies of environmental issues.

Mr. Thurnham

While fully considering the fuel needs of poorer households, will my hon. Friend consider the need for a tax on carbon fuels, as recommended by the Institution of Civil Engineers?

Mr. Trippier

Taxation is entirely for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. With regard to the recommendations in the document to which my hon. Friend referred, particularly in terms of the stabilisation of carbon dioxide levels at present levels by the year 2005, we shall address that matter in the forthcoming White Paper.

Mr. Holt

Will my hon. Friend read the report carefully before he passes comment, unlike the reporter of The Observer newspaper who last Sunday was able to write about the Environment Select Committee's report on beaches before having seen it, allegedly on the basis of a leaked document? Five days later the reporter asked the Clerk to the Committee for a free copy so that she could rewrite what she had written the previous Sunday completely inaccurately.

Mr. Trippier

I share the disgust of my hon. Friend, who is a distinguished member of the Select Committee on the Environment, about the article that appeared in the Sunday newspapers. It was far from the truth. I welcome the Select Committee's report and the nice things that it said, particularly about my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Will the Minister concede, either now or later, that the Government's best intentions to do environmentally good things in the White Paper have been shot through by the Treasury refusing to accept any fiscal penalty or advantage? There are to be no green taxes. Does not that undermine the pollution policy that the Government intended to introduce?

Mr. Trippier

The speculation in which the hon. Gentleman indulges is about as wide of the mark as The Observer article on bathing beaches to which my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) referred. Were I to convey to the hon. Gentleman the import of the White Paper, there would be no point in having the document.