HC Deb 18 January 1995 vol 252 cc693-4
3. Mr. Elletson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about assistance provided by the Government to eastern European countries to deal with environmental pollution.

The Minister for the Environment and Countryside (Mr. Robert Atkins)

Like many other people, the Government have been appalled to learn of the extent of pollution and environmental destruction that has been exposed since the collapse of communism and socialism in the former eastern bloc. We are providing substantial support to the newly emerging democracies to improve the situation through our environmental know-how fund.

Mr. Elletson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply and I congratulate him on the success of the environmental know-how fund, which has sponsored more than 100 projects throughout eastern Europe. As eastern Europe continues to endure a horrific legacy of years of socialist central planning, is my hon. Friend prepared to consider how the environmental know-how fund might be expanded, perhaps in partnership with the private sector?

Mr. Atkins

My hon. Friend, with his knowledge of the eastern bloc countries, speaks with greater authority on the matter than almost anyone in the House and I pay great heed to anything he has to say. I assure him that we shall continue to consider ways and means whereby we can help those emerging democracies, and any ideas that he has to add to what we are already doing will be gratefully accepted.

Mr. A. Cecil Walker

Much as I appreciate the Minister's actions in respect of other countries, will he continue to bear in mind Northern Ireland's problems with environmental pollution, of which he is much aware?

Mr. Atkins

The hon. Gentleman raises a point which could take us down a long and difficult path. He will understand that not all such problems can be solved quickly. I am sure that my successors in Northern Ireland, doing the job that I once did, are as aware as the hon. Gentleman of the need to continue the good work of environmental improvement there.