HL Deb 13 July 1981 vol 422 cc993-4
Viscount Mountgarret

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether local councils have been instructed to remove litter bins from lay-bys on main trunk roads to save expense, and if so whether they will revoke this instruction as being a self-defeating exercise.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, while my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport has issued no such general instructions, the department has requested the removal of litter bins from trunk road lay-bys in North Yorkshire, and sanctioned this practice in a number of other counties, in order to reduce the cost and nuisance of litter in lay-bys. The difficulty with litter bins is that they can lead to indiscriminate dumping of refuse for which they were never intended. This is unsightly and can be a hazard to health. The department is therefore examining the alternative of withdrawing litter bins and requesting the public to take their litter away.

Viscount Mountgarret

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply, which makes it rather difficult to ask my supplementary question because I appreciate the point he has made. None the less, will he not agree that the absence of litter bins on main trunk roads will inevitably lead to an increase of litter spread on the roadsides in the country and on the verges of main roads, therefore making it more costly and rather more hazardous for it to be picked up?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, this is an experiment which is going on at the moment. The Government have discovered, in relation to litter bins in North Yorkshire, that there has been no increase in litter as a result of removing these litter bins. Depending on how the results continue to be monitored will be whether the Government make up their mind to give firmer advice.

Lord Grimston of Westbury

My Lords, will my noble friend not agree that it would be wise to ask car manufacturers to install a small litter bin in all their cars so that at least the occupants can be encouraged to take away their litter?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, that is an interesting question which no doubt motor-car manufacturers would like to study.

Baroness Sharples

My Lords, will my noble friend please ask the local councils to advertise where their dumps are, so that inhabitants of towns can take their rubbish to them?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that supplementary question. It sounds a good idea, but it is slightly wide of the litter bin question.

Lord Moyne

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that in the country a great deal of dumping of litter occurs in hedges, ditches and fields? If some litter bins are provided there is some hope that people may put their litter into them.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, although I agree with my noble friend, it is equally the case—a point which I made in an earlier reply—that people actually bring litter to dump in litter bins, which is not what they are meant for.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that the Forestry Commission adopted a policy of displaying large signs saying, "Take your litter home", and stopped providing bins, and that in many areas it was a huge success?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for underlining my earlier reply.

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