HC Deb 15 July 1992 vol 211 cc1121-2
2. Ms. Eagle

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on urban waste management.

The Minister for the Environment and Countryside (Mr. David Maclean)

The Government will maintain tough controls on those who produce, handle, treat or dispose of waste, to minimise any detrimental impact on local communities.

Ms. Eagle

More than half the non-fossil fuel offset capacity is used for waste incineration, which has been shown to account for at least one quarter of United Kingdom dioxin emissions. Does the Minister agree that dioxin is an extremely dangerous chemical, whose effects on the human body pass down generations? How can he justify the Government subsidising dioxin production in that way, and the proposal to build an incinerator at Bidston between Wallasey and Birkenhead in the same locality as 100 residential streets?

Mr. Maclean

The proposal to build the incinerator to which the hon. Lady refers may be the subject of a planning appeal to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, so I cannot comment on it. Before Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution consents to any emissions into the atmosphere, it will need to satisfy itself that any and all incinerators, wherever they may be, are safe and that emissions are tightly controlled.

Mr. Marlow

Will my hon. Friend the Minister remind my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State—who is not only a decent chap but a well-known Euro-sceptic and also a lawyer—[HON. MEMBERS: "Even worse."]—that under article 130R of the treaty that will bring about European union, European institutions will require competence over protecting human health? In future, therefore, such questions will be better answered in Strasbourg than in the House.

Mr. Maclean

My right hon. and learned Friend made it very clear where the Government stand on subsidiarity when he answered the original question, and I have nothing to add.