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8.24 pm

Vernon Coaker (Gedling): In the short time available, I wish to draw the attention of the House to three issues; two have national implications and one relates to my own constituency.

I very much agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac) about fireworks. In the past few weeks, we will all have been contacted by numerous constituents about the problems that they have experienced with fireworks. Indeed, in common with my hon. Friend's local newspaper, our local newspaper—the Nottingham Evening Post—launched a campaign calling on the Government to review legislation on fireworks. Many of us in the House have had much correspondence and pressure from our constituents, and it is incumbent on the Government to examine how well the current legislation and regulations are working, reviewing them to ensure that in future some of the misery that many of our constituents have experienced is avoided as far as possible.

The issue is extremely serious. At some point, the Government will have to examine it to see what can be done. I appreciate that we can have as many regulations and reviews as we want, but at the end of the day we

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need regulations that can be enforced on the streets in an effective and practical way. Certainly, we cannot allow a situation to continue in which people feel terrorised for months on end—indeed, almost all year round. I therefore urge my hon. Friend the Minister to take up the issue.

Secondly, Nottingham City Transport has recently reviewed its bus services, and new services were introduced on 30 September. For many of my constituents, the review was a disaster because the buses have disappeared: services have been withdrawn or cut. The bus is often forgotten. We talk about grandiose schemes—huge motorways and railways and billions of pounds spent here and there—but in many of our communities, the bus and its effectiveness, which involves the question of whether it runs or not, are crucial.

Nottingham City Transport has reorganised its bus services to cut some of its losses: effectively, it is concentrating on what it calls profitable routes. I accept its argument that the service on those routes is fantastic, with new and frequent buses. However, for people on extreme edges of estates and in rural areas, it is difficult to reach those super-duper buses. Nottingham City Transport's changes mean that many of my constituents who are socially excluded have become even more socially excluded.

Many of these people have families, many are elderly and many find it difficult to make their voice heard. I suspect that the company will say that because the level of complaints has reduced, because the number of letters to the local newspaper has declined, because the number of letters sent to me about the matter has gone down and because the number of complaints that the company receives has declined, that means that the service has settled in, that the changes are working and that the initial furore was part of the process of change.

As I have said, many people find it difficult to make their voice heard and to make an impact on the system. As a result, they give up. They think that they have lost. They think that despite all their efforts, nothing further can be done. Far from being satisfied with changes, there is a sense of resignation.

It is important for Members to have a say in their Parliament on behalf of people who feel hard done by by a bus company that has put increase in profit and the dividend to shareholders above the needs of those who live in the communities that it used to serve. I take this opportunity to call on Nottingham City Transport to review the changes that have been made and to consider whether it is possible to reinstate some of the services that have been taken from some of my constituents. The company should undertake such a review because the outcome will be important to many of my constituents who live in the suburbs of Nottingham.

Thirdly, there is the enormous problem of antisocial behaviour. I believe that police resources are rising and that the numbers of police on our streets are increasing. However, there is a need for more officers, and I think that that is generally accepted. Those who talk to me are not necessarily afraid of some of the huge crimes that we tend to think about when talking about the police. They come to me because they are fed up with people throwing stones at their windows, with their cars being scratched,

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with people running down the street screaming late at night and with milk being stolen. There is intimidation on the street. There is loutish behaviour all the time.

I ask my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to examine how effectively some of the legislation on antisocial behaviour that we have introduced is working and to examine how we can ensure that antisocial behaviour orders work. We must ensure that the legislation that bears on antisocial tenants is enforced. We must ascertain whether the parenting orders that we have introduced can be broadened so that they can be used before someone offends. At present, they can be used only when someone has offended, or when a parent is taken to court because a child is not attending school.

Far from there being only law and order problems or policing problems, there are social issues that bear on parental responsibilities for some young people. As a society, we should encourage the taking up of those responsibilities.

Many of the antisocial problems that we talk about involve young people. However, we should recognise them as people who demand services just as others do. Some of the facilities that are available to young people in many areas are not good enough, and we should do something about that. Young people should have a voice in the provision of services, and we should provide more services. Many of them simply want a place to go sometimes where they can feel safe and hang around with their friends.

8.34 pm

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Mid-Bedfordshire): I always find this pot-pourri of a debate interesting. There is such a variety of topics. My little rose petal of a contribution to this pot-pourri will relate solely to the disposal of refrigerators. The Government have got themselves into a considerable bind, and that involves the taxpayer. It was known that the problem would arise for about four to five months.

The reason for this situation became apparent only last Tuesday when the Minister for the Environment, in a reply to me during a debate on waste, admitted that we are in this bind because the Government did not understand the implications of an EU directive to which they had signed up. They did not realise that in disposing of refrigerators they had to deal with the chlorofluorocarbons in the gas and with the problems of the insulation material within refrigerators. There is no plant in the United Kingdom that can deal with that insulation.

In accordance with the Montreal protocol, the new EU directive on ozone-depleting substances requires the removal of all chlorofluorocarbons from refrigerators, and the directive will take effect in 12 days' time.

The Local Government Association has estimated that if there is one fridge per household and 21 million households in England, on the assumption that each fridge will be replaced every 10 years, 2.1 million fridges will be scrapped this year alone. The retailers think that the figure is higher—3 million fridges a year. Those figures ignore commercial and industrial refrigerators and air conditioning units.

It is expected that apart from those fly-tipped on verges and lay-bys, most fridges that cannot be collected by retailers will pass through the hands of local authorities.

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The Government have explained that they want local authorities to dispose of those 2.1 million fridges in purpose-built plants, but there are no such plants in Britain. I am told that no sites have been approved or given planning permission, so how will the Government assist local authorities in disposing of that mass of waste? I believe that the regulations that will affect the plants are still in draft form. Clearly, no company will invest in such plants until they know what the final regulations are, so there is no possibility of moving forward to investment decisions or planning permission.

The Government have belatedly understood the implications of the EU directive to which they signed up. They have said that the insulating foam inside fridges must not be allowed to escape into the environment, and old fridges must be dealt with in one of three ways. First, the entire fridge may be disposed of in an incinerator, but that is expensive and it means that the metal element is unlikely to be recycled.

Secondly, it has been suggested that the fridges could be disposed of abroad, but that will not work. Because refrigerators contain CFCs, they are classified as hazardous waste, so the insurance premium and the shipping premium go up. It is therefore not economical to export them. The only practical way of exporting them is to get rid of the chlorofluorocarbons by de-gassing the fridges, but if they are to be exported to third-world countries, where they are very useful, there are no facilities there to re-gas them.

The third option is the Government's preferred one. They want to dispose of fridges in purpose-built reclamation facilities in the UK. It is undoubtedly the best option available, yet the Government have made no provision for this means of disposal. Although the Government say that we need three plants in the entire UK, manufacturers have told me that 10 plants will be needed, each with a throughput of 300,000 fridges a year.

In the meantime, because we have no plants the Government have given local authorities some £6 million to store fridges. However, that does not mean that the recycling problem will be dealt with. The fridges will just be taken to a dump and stored there. If people are elderly, poor or have no car, how can they get the fridge to a dump? The answer is that they have to pay someone to take the fridge, and that could cost £50.

The Government have produced a system that does not work. It also means that the fridges cannot be refurbished. Currently, one third of old fridges are refurbished and go to the poor or to third-world countries, so they are still valuable. That will not happen if they go to dumps. They cannot be re-used once they have been out in the open for a long time. We will simply have fridge mountains around the country, because we have no way of dealing with them.

The Government must explain what happens when the £6 million promised to local authorities runs out. Will it or subsequent sums be allocated to the environmental protective and cultural services block on which the local authorities depend? Will the £6 million and any further moneys be in addition to that money?

Clarification is also required about a statement made by the Minister for the Environment, who said:

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Who will get it there?

I realise that I have only a minute left, so I shall be extremely brief. The fact is that the Government have got it wrong, and we are going to see throughout the country what are colloquially known as fridge mountains. In the next two months, about 800,000 fridges will be sold, so the same number will be dumped in one way or another. In the next year, in which there will be no recycling or disposal plant, some 3 million units will be dumped or stored. The Government say that they believe in the producer paying; frankly, they have produced the mess and I wish that they would pay to sort it out.

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