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Aerosols

Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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36.

To ask the Lord President of the Council if there are any plans to ban the use of aerosols in the Palace of Westminster; and if he will make a statement.

Does the Minister not realise that Prince Charles has already banned the use of dangerous aerosols——

Yes, but we must not bring in the private opinions of members of the royal family to support arguments.

It is a stated public opinion of the royal family that the aerosols are dangerous and the royal family are not using them in their homes. Prince Charles made his statement as an environmentalist who is concerned about the environment. In the light of recent reports that there has been a 3 per cent. depletion of the protective ozone layer over Britain, and that every 1 per cent. by which that ozone layer is depleted causes the incidence of skin cancer to increase between 5 and 7 per cent., should not the Government take the issue seriously, set an example and ban the use of CFC-bearing aerosol cans in the Palace of Westminster and in all Government Departments, especially the Department of the Environment?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman realises that not all aerosols are subject to this restriction. The restriction applies only to those aerosols which contain chlorofluorocarbons. I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware that by signing the Montreal protocol the Government are committed to reducing the use of those chemicals in this country by 50 per cent. before the end of the century. We are looking to all users in refrigeration, insulation and dry cleaning—as well as aerosols—to contribute towards that reduction. To that end the Government are adopting a more far-reaching and co-ordinated policy that will produce greater environmental benefits.

Is the Lord President of the Council aware that if aerosol sprays are banned from the Palace of Westminister hon. Members run the risk of becoming extinct? A lot of hot air is spoken here late at night.

Any such ban would ultimately be for the House to decide. While I would not discourage any decision by individual Members or Officers of the House not to use aerosols containing chlorofluorocarbons, it would not be appropriate to ban their use. Voluntary action is likely to be more effective, and the British aerosol industry, which has already made a significant contribution to reducing emissions, expects virtually to phase out the use of CFCs within the next few years.