HC Deb 02 November 1995 vol 265 cc381-2
8. Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to encourage the farming industry to increase its level of recycling. [38929]

Mr. Boswell

The Ministry has produced guidance for farmers on recycling of waste through its codes of good agricultural practice. Farmers can also take part in an industry-led recovery scheme for farm plastics.

Mr. Sheerman

Surely the Minister is being complacent. There is a real problem with plastic packaging waste which is a by-product of modern farming methods. When will the Minister talk to colleagues in the Department of the Environment about measures to dissuade farmers from using so much plastic waste or to persuade them to recycle it? Or is the Minister going to wait until the whole country is knee-deep in plastic waste?

Mr. Boswell

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not aware of the farm films recovery service, which has a hotline and has been established to develop a service for farmers. I share the hon. Gentleman's enthusiasm for recycling. The opportunities are already available. I assure him that we already talk regularly, frequently and positively with our colleagues in the Department of the Environment and the Department of Trade and Industry, which take the lead in waste disposal matters.

Mr. Bellingham

Will the Minister of State and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food introduce a comprehensive programme of recycling to recycle the garbage and claptrap spoken by Opposition Members? If they do that, every farmer will vote Conservative.

Mr. Boswell

It is interesting that, during the development of the common agricultural policy, most of the traditional mountains have been removed, including butter, milk and cereals, but the mountain of unrecycled Labour waste and abandoned policies which are then reintroduced in a different form continues to no purpose.

Mr. Foulkes

Is the Minister aware that, when I met the Ayrshire branch of the Scottish National Farmers Union, along with Sandra Osborne, the prospective Labour candidate and the next Member of Parliament for Ayr, the union said that it was keen to see farmers recycled? It is important to introduce an early retirement scheme, because the average age of farmers in Ayrshire is over 55. Why are early retirement schemes in place in other parts of the Community but not in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Boswell

In formulating our agricultural policies and selecting the European opportunities available to us, we clearly have to set our own priorities. Clearly, the early retirement of some of the more unwelcome Labour policies such as the minimum wage might be beneficial.