HL Deb 11 March 1970 vol 308 cc806-23

2.58 p.m.

BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY rose to draw attention to the commercial re-use of waste material; and to move for Papers. The noble Baroness said: My Lords, as the first victim of my noble friend Lord Denham's Question, I should like to say that I entirely agree with him, and that it is really for me to thank your Lordships for allowing me to raise this debate to-day. It is, to my mind, both from the economic and from the amenities point of view, a very important debate for the nation.

We have recently had an excellent debate on pollution. But, after all, that is the negative side, what we must not do; pollution is a crime. This debate to-day will, I hope, be on the positive side, that of reclamation and salvage, which must be a virtue, and one which I am afraid at the present moment is rather lacking in our national character. It was not so during the war. Those of us who went through that time will remember that we saved everything that was in any way usable. I looked up my war records and I found that in my county alone in one year we saved 15 tons of aluminium for Lord Beaver-brook's Spitfire appeal, mostly in bottle tops. Even now when I throw away an empty cotton reel I think of the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, and feel guilty, because under her impetus as head of the W.V.S. we collected thousands of cotton reels for the Air Force. I hope that some day my Recording Angel will tell me what they were used for. For certain materials waste sorted on the doorstep is half the battle. I think per-haps women are more prone to save things than men, and perhaps that is why men are such excellent but rather extravagant cooks.

Noble Lords who are to speak after me will no doubt speak in detail about matters on which they have an expertise, or in which they are particularly interested, and I feel that as the mover of the Motion I should try to supply the frame-work for these details. I base my argument on three main principles: first, to save waste material that could be re-used in industry here; secondly, to save the expenditure of foreign exchange on waste material bought abroad which we ourselves could have provided; and, thirdly, to save the amenities of our countryside which I believe to be the most beautiful in the world and which we should want to keep.

Before I come on to those points, I should like to say a word about the men who at the present moment collect our refuse, and who are known as dustmen. I think we rather tend to look down on this service until it stops—and last autumn we were very conscious of how useful this work is. I had a good deal of sympathy with the dustmen when "totting" was stopped. After all, that was a definite and positive form of salvage, and treasure trove must have lightened the day's work very much. We all remember the song, "My old man's a dustman", and no doubt when he brought home a perambulator wheel to replace a broken one he had a certain glamour and was very popular. Now all that has gone.

I should like to see more self-respect and importance attached to this work. I know of one local authority where the men are put into white overalls, their vehicles are hosed down after every sortie, there is a wash basin in every vehicle so that they can wash before their midday meal while they are on the road, and they are trained to believe that they are doing work of national importance—and so it is. I should like to see them called "salvage crews" instead of "dustmen".

It might interest your Lordships to know that the first place to institute the collection of refuse was the City of London in the early 14th century, when dustmen were called "scavengers", and the first dustbin dates from 1875. The collection of refuse as a general service is relatively modern. In 1914 only 66 per cent. of the local authorities collected refuse. I remember that in my village in Sussex everything was put into the village dump, and occasionally a public-spirited farmer would cart the whole lot away— goodness knows where. By 1964, 469 local authorities had got going, but what is rather sad—I am not going to give many dates and figures, because I am very bad at them and I know they are rather boring—is that, although in 1959 salvage brought in £2,884,000, by 1964 the figure had gone down to £2,501,000, so that salvage reclamation, instead of gathering momentum, has been falling.

I wonder whether our methods of collection are really up to date compared with some of the continental countries? How about our dustbins? I believe that the only local authority in England using the spring closing, mechanically picked-up dustbin is Birmingham, whereas it has been used in Italy since 1920. I am sure that there must be more efficient vehicles than those we have, and I wonder how much we have studied what happens abroad. Also, what O and M studies have been made into the gathering of our refuse? Some local authorities have done this.

Then there is what is to my mind the most important point of all. How far are the private reclamation industries, which now have a turnover of £1,500,000, encouraged to work in close contact with the local authorities? I think there is a lack of cohesion there, and there is a great deal that ought to be done. There ought to be some way of exchanging information on what waste is available and where that waste is needed. We need a sort of stock exchange of waste material, but this information is not generally available throughout the country.

A great deal of foreign exchange and indigenous capital is involved in this service. From the researches which my noble friend Lord Sandys—who has been my partner in crime this last month or two—and I have made, I am certain that what is needed is a great deal more planning and capital investment, which would give a really big reward. As regards foreign exchange, The Times published an article just before Christmas which explained that we had bought 38,000 tons of waste paper from abroad, and I have been down to Purfleet and have seen the Dutch barges full of waste paper waiting to be unloaded. Since then I have had more up-to-date figures, and the latest figure from the British Waste Paper Association is that we bought 52,707 tons from abroad. That seems to me a most terrible waste of foreign exchange when we could provide all this waste paper ourselves; and I should like to ask the Minister whether he can let us know what we spend in this way.

There is a magazine published in Europe, called the Bureau International de Reclamation, which stated: In three years the use of waste paper instead of wood will replace forest which would cover approximately the area of the Netherlands. The reclamation of waste paper therefore not only contributes to the supply of cellulose, but also helps to lessen the need for clearing forests.

Even from the little I have seen, heard and read, I feel that there is no awareness in the country of the urgency and importance of this subject; of the real need for re-search, applied especially to certain materials; and of a better co-ordination of private enterprise and local planning.

Some industries are doing great work and so are some local authorities. At Bradford there is the Esholt set-up where, through the scouring of sheeps' wool, they make all sorts of products such as lanolin, axle grease and so on. Then there is a local authority on the South Coast near my home, which is a model of enterprise and organisation. It services about 80,000 people and has not extravagant but modern plant, set up over the last five years. It salvages waste paper, tins, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, bones, fat, bottles, rags and so on, and methane gas is extracted from the sewage to provide electric power for the plant. The paper is packaged, the metal is compressed, the rags are sorted and compost is made from the sludge and the tailings, which is used to cover a dumping tip which is landscaped. So nothing is wasted; and, what is more, that policy benefits the rates. They reckon that over the last five years they have saved the country £250,000 in foreign exchange. I cannot help quoting the local engineer, who is a splendid per-son. He has trained his householders by propaganda, personal visits and so on, and I am going to quote what he said to me because I think it will appeal to your Lordships. He said: "I tell my householder, ' Once you have pulled the plug, its all mine.'" How happy we should be to think that we were helping the national economy in that situation!

Where the local authorities are not big enough they should combine; and I think there are regulations which enable them to do so. I read in the Redcliffe-Maud Report—I think it is on page 88—that it has been suggested that the lower-tier authorities should collect and the unitary authorities should dispose. There has been a reaction to that which is a very natural one; namely, that if the lower-tier authorities collect and deal scientifically with their refuse, they will be reluctant not to benefit from this service by way of the rates, and if they do not the house-holders will not be so co-operative. The general feeling is that this would not make for very good profits in the end.

I am sure that in the last years an enormous amount of valuable material has been thrown into pits, that valuable crude sewage has been pumped away into the sea, and that we have lost a great deal of valuable material which might have been re-used. I read the Question on the disposal of crude sewage, which the noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, put down in 1967; and I thought the noble Baroness got rather a "dusty answer". I hope we have moved a bit further since then. There must be a very great deal of money lying about the country, if only we took the trouble to research and pick it up. I am not an engineer, I am not a chemist and I am not an industrial tycoon, but I was brought up as a farmer, and I was brought up to believe that where there is muck there is money —and I think that is where we have to get down and look for it. There was a great French chemist who said: In nature nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.

We, my Lords, must transform our refuse.

I have only touched on a very vast subject because, as I say, I hope your Lord-ships will deal with the details, but perhaps I may just mention some headings. There is the reclamation of our derelict areas, which want re-landscaping and re-using; there is the clearing of our countryside of hardware, which should be compressed into scrap; there is the reuse of disused pits, where there are a great many chemicals lying about which have not been examined; and valuable chemicals are being washed away by some industries which are the raw materials of others. Incidentally, Germany has set up a consortium among her chemical firms to deal with precisely this particular side and to prevent the loss. Then there is the use of old tyres. We do not seem to get on with it very well, but I am told that in Hungary and Czechoslovakia they have solved that problem.

There is, again, the question of bottles. In the United States they are now making "glasphalt" with which to re-surface their roads. Whether that will be successful or not I do not know; but, at any rate, a great deal of research is going on. There is, of course, the big question of what one does with plastic. I hope it will not be "the glassy floor of Heaven" that we sing about in church occasionally. I have awful visions of its lasting into Eternity and getting there before I do. One last word on paper. I am told that there is a firm which has discovered how to make paper soluble in water. On the other hand, I gather that we are all going to wear paper clothes quite soon. I am just wondering what would happen if we were caught in a rain-storm without our plastic mackintoshes.

My Lords, not only must we save, but we must also guard against getting into the position in which they are in the U.S.A. The New York problem is a national problem. What was once an urban nuisance is escalating into a huge and expensive environmental outrage. One of their big problems is to get rid of old motor cars, which they calculate now number 825,000 a year. How they are going to deal with that problem I do not know. Chicago is rushing to build the nation's largest incinerator, a furnace which will consume 1,600 tons of refuse a day. In the United States they have to deal with the most appalling figures, and there they are at panic stations. I should like to think that we shall make our preparations in time, before we, too, are overwhelmed.

My Lords, I am afraid I have just exceeded my norm of ten to twelve minutes, but, as mover of this Motion, I hope that your Lordships will forgive me. I now leave the debate to those of your Lord-ships who have put their names down to speak.

I beg to move for Papers.

3.16 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Baroness has initiated a debate on a most important subject with a very comprehensive and well-informed speech. If I may not thank her for it, I congratulate her on it. She has quite rightly drawn attention to the two main facets of this subject, the commercial and the social. She has mentioned the lesson of America. Those of us who have been there recently are well aware of what is happening in that country; and it means that we have to keep a very watchful eye indeed on the way man has been allowed to pollute and defile his own environment and, in the process, to upset the ecological balance of nature.

The example of the Great Lakes is quite horrifying, where whole industries and many people are moving away from the areas where the water is absolutely filthy and the stench is becoming impossible. And the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, knows that this is happening in other parts of the world, too. Time magazine reported in early February that each of the 18. million residents of California throws away 20 lb. of solid waste a day, and they calculated—I hope they got it right—that this was sufficient to build a wall 100 feet wide and 50 feet high from Oregon to Mexico. It may be that that would be one way of getting rid of it; but that gives one some idea of the magnitude of the job which they have and the magnitude of the job we want to avoid. I believe that in this country we are in fact getting to grips with these problems just in time, but we cannot afford to be complacent. This is not of course a British problem, as I have said, but we could at least set a good example and we could make a better start, perhaps, than we are making at the moment.

The point is, I think, that up to now the world has taken it for granted that it can go on expanding the population, producing more goods and chucking away the waste products of Nature and production without worrying too much about it. This simply is not true. It is clear that man has now to examine critically all the materials that he abandons after using them in part of one civilised process or another.

He must do this because, first as the noble Baroness said, they could be capable of re-use, either directly or after adaptation; and, indeed, some of these may become essential for man's survival. I do not know how long we can go on wasting water in the world at the rate we are doing without finding some way of replenishing it. And it must be done, secondly, because things casually thrown away can unwittingly pollute the environment to an alarming degree. People just do not know what they are doing when they throw these things away. For instance, I am told that even so-called scientific methods of treating or dumping waste can occasionally cause pollution after it has been scientifically treated. Sewage treatment will prevent pollution of the river system, but the treated sewage, once it gets into a lake, can upset the ecological balance. That is why this, I believe, is a business for professionals and not for amateurs. It is a job for scientists, chemists and others fully trained in the first place to give their knowledge on these matters.

That brings me to the activities of the industrial waste disposal contractors. I did not in fact know that such people existed, but as a result of research for this particular debate I find that there is a National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors. They have produced a code of conduct for the industry; and with the help of the relevant training board they are intensifying the education of the smaller members to raise the professional standards of the industry as a whole. This must result in a growing professionalism and, more important, a more scientific basis for the industry. But it is going to be a long process.

The trouble is that this Association cannot insist on other industries' using its services. Too many firms still discharge untreated refuse into rivers and private tips. We shall undoubtedly, in my view, have to face stricter legislation and better enforcement of the present laws if we are to improve things. I am told that it would help the Association if some form of Government recognition were forthcoming. This need not be costly, but it would enhance the status of the organisation and give them the backing that it wants. Action by Government, local authorities and industry, intelligently guided by professional organisation, could do a lot to improve things.

But, my Lords, disposal is not the only problem. As the noble Baroness has said there is still much to be done in the field of reclamation and recovery. I am indebted to Mr. Tony Morgan, Chairman and Managing Director of the Purle Group (which has been mentioned before and which has pioneered so much in both these fields), for a good deal of enlightenment on these matters; although the views that I express are very much my own. As the noble Baroness has said, where there is money in muck it will not remain muck for long. But there is another problem: where there is no profit in muck there is no incentive to recover and reclaim. Another problem that we have to tackle is how to finance the orderly recovery and reclamation of items which will otherwise constitute pollutants or eyesores. This is my view will have to be done partly by insisting that industry pays the cost of getting rid of these waste products by socially acceptable methods. If they cannot pay the whole cost, it may be that they can pay part of the cost and we shall have to find some other way of dealing with the remainder. In some difficult cases it may be preferable that tax relief should be made available in the interests of the area as a whole. In other cases it may be necessary to subsidise the capital and/or the operating costs of various reclamation schemes which at the moment appear to be uneconomic.

It may well be that local government can offer reasonably profitable contracts to encourage waste disposal operations —as I think the G.L.C. are doing—and, if necessary, offer the operators low interest-rate loans to help with the capital cost. In fact, with a firm contract and reasonable borrowing facilities it should be possible for a number of these services to be undertaken without much difficulty. The truth is that the existing economic structure of our technological society is not going to lead to the fulfilment of long-term happiness and the health of the people unless something is done about changing our potential pollutants into useful assets—and this will have to be done by a combination of changes in the tax and the law and attitudes to the whole question.

If I may, I will mention one or two subjects which have been touched on by the noble Baroness. First, land reclamation. Areas which have been laid waste can be reclaimed by scientifically based landfill operations. Holes can be filled and contoured to provide a landscape which will hide existing industry and provide recreational and residential areas. The possibilities for such sites are extremely exciting. The Purle Group is at present preparing plans for a site in Essex which will find a solution to the disposal problem of toxic liquids in the South of London and act as a chemical treatment centre for hazardous wastes. In addition, it will provide recreational facilities and reclaim for ultimate recreational use more than 300 acres of land which at the moment is completely unusable. There are many sites like this which are not being used at present because they are isolated from the place where the waste arises or be-cause they are difficult to work.

A system of grants to contractors would help a lot and a transport subsidy to enable waste to be moved relatively far away would also help. In fact, it would be much better to get the local authorities transporting waste to distant derelict areas instead of investing rate- payers' money in socially unproductive capital equipment. I think that the same sort of thing could apply to the recycling recovery processes, where a reasonable subsidy would make this profitable in competition with the original production processes. There are many things which could be done for a relatively small expenditure in cash: the Hungarian rubber industry's crushing of tyres to grist has been mentioned. I understand that this has not yet been found economic in this country but it may be that with a little Government help and backing it could be made so. There is the whole question of the auto crushers. I believe that in the United States they are considering putting a surcharge on all new vehicles in order to find the money with which various organisations can set up the necessary plants and dispose of these old cars in a proper way to the steel works. At the present moment there is no incentive to get rid of these motor cars or to get them to a central point.

I think that there is a great deal which could be done in this field and also in the field of incineration. I am told that in Stuttgart the municipal authority have a magnificent way of disposal of most of their industrial waste by incineration without causing any air pollution. In Britain to-day there are no fewer than 5,000 firms engaged in helping industry to save its own money and lessen the depredation which industrial waste has on our environment. Between them, they encourage British industry to re-use something like 30 million tons of re-covered material every year. But if the nation would look at some of these other problems not in terms of straight profit and loss, not in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, but in terms of profit and loss in the field of environment, ecology and the quality of life, then we could get much better results and, what is more, we should be tackling this vital problem in time. I hope that the Government will give a lead to the local authorities and others interested in this so that we can start moving forward in this decade.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I think I could mention one thing which would greatly strengthen his argument. In America, in New England, the most rural, most beautiful country is ruined and made horrible to look at by these old cars which are lying about and by other refuse of that kind. While—


My Lords, if I may intervene, I think that if one uses the phrase, "before the noble Lord sits down", it is the practice to put a question. I do not think that it is for the purpose of adding to the contents of the noble Lord's speech.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. As I have cut my speech by seven minutes, I do not want to take up any more of your Lord-ships' time.

3.29 p.m.


My Lords, I know that I am not supposed to say that I am grateful to the mover of the Motion, but I should like to express my gratitude to my noble friend not only for her speech but for giving us all the chance to talk about a subject of great national and individual importance. In her speech she properly laid great emphasis on the domestic aspects of waste material and its disposal. The equally interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, broadened the field into industrial waste and disposal. I should like to add only a few comments which may be of some interest to your Lordships. At lunch to-day, when explaining that I had to be here to join in the debate on the commercial re-use of waste material, a friend said: "So you are going to talk about retired civil servants entering the City". I hastened to correct him as he is himself a retired civil servant.

I think that in this field we should recognise that in using the phrase "waste material" we are considering not only domestic disposal but also disposal from industry and commerce. And the Motion is specifically phrased that it should be "the commercial re-use". In other words, we should see what the market forces will do in order to solve the problem. Of course, the commercial re-use of waste material has been going on in industry ever since industry started. Scrap iron supplies are essential for iron foundries and scrap steel is an essential part of the raw material supplies for our steel works. There is a careful collection of wastages in engineering works. Base metals, filings, turnings and the like are all care-fully segregated, sorted and sent back to where they can be used again. If noble Lords were to go round a cigarette factory they would find that the floor is carefully swept; for the floor sweepings are more valuable by weight than silver owing to the high duty content of the tobacco scrapings which are swept up. So it is no new thing that has suddenly dawned on this Island of ours. We have always been collecting waste material and devising means for securing its commercial re-use.

What is perhaps new is the conspicuousness of the waste arising to-day, particularly in respect of waste paper and old motor cars, Regarding waste paper—and here I should declare an interest because I am deputy chairman of a company which controls important paper and board mills which want to use waste paper—it seems at first sight ludicrous that we should be importing waste paper from abroad. My noble friend mentioned that she had been to the Thames Estuary to see the Dutch barges coming in loaded with Continental waste paper. That serves to underline the point which I should like to put to your Lordships, that we should allow the forces of the market place to operate; and if it is more economical for the people on the Continent of Europe to collect waste paper than it is for us, then let us use their waste paper collection system to supplement our own resources.

A good example of this arose in the years after the war in relation to scrap iron and scrap steel; because in those days, when it was desired to keep down the price of steel, an essential ingredient was scrap iron at a particularly low price level. What happened was that the prices on the Continent were much higher and so scrap iron was exported to the Continent; and the fussy Government of the day then had to decide to ban exports of scrap iron in order to conserve supplies for British steel works, thereby frustrating the collection of scrap iron in this country because the price was not as high as other-wise it would have been. So I come back to my essential point that in this field market forces are best. I noted that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, referred to the desirability of Government assistance, tax relief, possible subsidies and the like. I would submit to your Lordships that this is a field in which there should be the minimum of Government assistance, because before we know where we are, it will become Government intervention. What is probably—


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that point, and because I am sure that he does not wish to mislead the House, may I say that I was put-ting that against the background of the environmental and quality of life value. That is something which, in my view, cannot be left to the market forces.


No, my Lords, I should never wish to mislead noble Lords, and still less to mislead the noble Lord, Lord Byers. I thought he was making the debate rather wide by bringing in the environmental question. Of course I agree with him that a certain measure of either local authority intervention or Government guidance to local authorities may be required. But let us not lose sight of the fact that the best way to deal with waste material is to let the market forces operate. It may be untidy at the edges here and there, but, by and large, that is the best and most economical way to make sure that what to us may seem to be a waste material is a very valuable commercial raw material to somebody else. One of the most difficult problems for us in Britain is that the cost of labour has risen so much. What was worth collecting twenty or thirty years ago is no longer economically worth while, because it is so expensive to collect. Having had it collected, it is expensive to sort, and having sorted it, it is expensive to transport to the point of re-use.


My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend for a moment? Is it not strange that in some parts of the world it can be done and is economical, but in a great many parts of the world it has not even been tried?


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that intervention because it shows that I have retained her interest, and I am always grateful for that. I was about to give one or two illustrations from other parts of the world. But dealing with the situation as we find it in Britain, we have to consider whether it is economic to collect certain forms of waste material and re-distribute them or whether it is better, in economic terms, to burn or destroy the product. It may even come to pass that it is cheaper to import waste paper from the Continent than to collect it ourselves because of the high cost of collection, sorting and distribution. Here I am not, I must hasten to add, stating the case of the paper makers, who, of course, want to maximise waste paper collections in this country. But it is very much a question of the economic level of activity.

I should like to mention to my noble friend that if one jobs around the world, one sees some remarkable examples of what it is worth while salvaging in some countries but is not worth while salvaging in others. When I was in Nigeria I was fascinated to find that not only were the empty soup cans or cans which had contained milk or beans, carefully collected; they were traded in in the market place, because they were useful receptacles. They had a new market value as milk cups or as units of measurement. It would be unthinkable in this country that we should have old tins or old cans on sale in the market place, because no one would want to buy them. But, given the very different economy in Nigeria, they had a market value.

When I was in China I was fascinated to find that in Canton there was a small shop where they were breaking down old mattresses. I do not know whether any of your Lordships have tried to get rid of an old mattress, but in England it is a very difficult thing to do. No one seems to want it. But in Canton old mattresses are eagerly sought after, or they were when I was there, because the springs are taken out and straightened. Noble Lords who have ever tried to straighten a coiled spring will know that, apart from influencing Her Majesty's Government, it is probably one of the most difficult things to do. Here were two extremely dexterous and able Chinese taking the springs out of these old mattresses and straightening them with the minimum of technological equipment (copy to MINTEC!)—with their bare hands and a piece of wood; and very well they did it. Those straightened pieces of wire had a market value and were eagerly bought by the citizens of Canton.


What for?


Because they wanted straight wire. It is very difficult to get one's point across to some noble Lords on the other side of your Lordships' House without making it so obvious. I mentioned this example, per-haps at greater length than I meant to do, to illustrate that it is all a question of the general level of the economy. In China it is worth while straightening out the springs of mattresses because the straightened springs have a market value. In Britain it would be completely ludicrous. I hope I have answered the point made by my noble friend about looking round the world.


Not quite, my Lords. When I said "all over the world" I meant also in this country, where certain local authorities have found that it pays and some other local authorities have not even tried.


My Lords, I do not want to go on about the mattress springs, but I should like to deal with my noble friend's point about local authorities. Of course there are different levels of zeal and activity in local authorities in this country. Some have decided that it is worth while making waste paper collections; others, for other reasons, have decided that it is not. It may be sloth on their part, or it may be that they have a sharper eye for economic realities. There is also the question of the density of housing in a particular local authority area and whether it is worth while employing an extra man to go round with the refuse vehicle in order to keep and segregate the waste paper resulting from the collection which is generated, or can be generated, by the zeal of the local authority. This matter can be resolved to some extent by Government encouragement, but in the last resort it must be a matter for the local authorities to decide whether to make periodic and regular collections or whether to give up and let every householder dispose of his or her waste paper as he or she thinks fit. I think that in this field we should be chary of asking Her Majesty's Government to give assistance; the free play of market forces ought to be encouraged and allowed to develop. Nevertheless, I think that the Government could properly make a contribution in encouraging local authorities to see what the opportunities are and then make their own decisions.

Secondly, although this may seem to be contradictory, I should have thought that the Government could help to get economic realities in better perspective if they were to abolish the 10 per cent. import tariff on waste paper, because that tariff is protecting the relatively inefficient collection of waste paper instead of it being entirely free to find its own economic level. For those companies who have to rely on imported waste paper, it seems unfortunate that they should pay a tariff on what is essentially one of their raw materials, when they do not have to pay tariffs on other imported raw materials; and for the paper board industry waste paper is nothing more than a raw material.

As regards the disposal of motor vehicles, this is a problem or, one might say, an opportunity for progressive local authorities to show how well they can cope with the situation. I should have thought that here is a particularly import-ant field where we can say to the local authorities, "You do not want to be dictated to by Whitehall in every matter. Find out your own solution of how to deal with derelict motor cars in your area." Nevertheless, there are many-individuals who are prepared to run, in a kind of gypsy-like fashion, a dealer's scrapyard in old vehicles. We have all seen them, not very beautiful I know, but they provide a source of spare parts for obsolescent vehicles and provide a living for those who are prepared to do that kind of work. It would be wrong to insist that all motor vehicles should be put through some enormous pulping machine. I do not think that the Hungarian scheme suggested by my noble friend for reprocessing motor tyres for road materials would necessarily work here. Let commercial forces operate and see how it will work.


My Lords, what are the commercial forces going to do with the hundreds of thousands of old tyres and old motor cars? These are piling up. Surely this attitude is terribly complacent.


My Lords, I thought about this point when considering what I might say to your Lordships, because I felt sure that what I was going to say would be castigated as complacent. I believe that there is a time for direct action and a time for letting other people do the work. If enough tyres pile up, then it will be a commercial opportunity for somebody to take them away, instead of all of us getting very busy and worrying about how to deal with the problem. We are apt, in your Lordships' House and at the other end of the corridor, to take all the problems of the world on our shoulders and feel that we must solve them. If we would just allow a little time, many of them would solve them-selves. And I do not believe that this is a very great problem. When enough tyres pile up, sources of disposal will be found; and where they are not, then it is the proper duty of the local authority to take the necessary steps. I hope that the Government will not set up another department or subsection of MAXTEC to deal with this problem, because I do not believe that a great problem exists if only the market forces are allowed to operate.

As regards the environmental question, I regard that as outside the terms of the Motion which is why I have not referred to it. I hope that your Lordships will not regard my contribution as complacent; it is anything but. It is the result of careful consideration and I offer my observations to your Lordships in that spirit.