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Newsprint

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has about the recycled content of newspapers published in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

Following discussions with the Government, the newspaper publishers agreed in September 1991 to a target of 40 per cent. waste paper in United Kingdom newspapers by the year 2000. As part of that agreement, the industry agreed to produce audited annual figures for the recycled content of newspapers, starting with figures for 1990.

As agreed, the pulp and paper information centre has now provided figures for 1990. The total amount of waste paper used in United Kingdom newspapers accounted for 26.8 per cent. of newsprint consumed in the United Kingdom in 1990.

Waste paper used in newsprint produced in the United Kingdom accounted for 25.6 per cent. of all newsprint consumed by United Kingdom newspapers. Waste paper consumed by United Kingdom newsprint mills amounted to 67 per cent. of their total production.

The newspapers publishers have agreed that figures for 1991 will be released later this year.

Contractor

St. James's Park and the Green ParkGlendale Industries Ltd.
Kensington Gardens and Brompton CemeteryBrophy PLC
Hyde ParkSerco Ltd.
Regents Park and Primrose HillTyler Environmental
Services Ltd.
Richmond ParkGlendale Industries Ltd.
Bushy ParkGlendale Industries Ltd.
Greenwich ParkTurfsoil Ltd.

After careful consideration of the tenders and some post-tender negotiations we are satisfied that the successful contractors will be able to provide the quality of work which we require. To meet that requirement we have chosen not to accept the lowest tender in some cases. Although the contract specification lays down higher standards than are currently achieved in the parks in some respects, the work will be carried out at less cost. Higher quality at lower cost is what this exercise is all about.

The successful contractors have started to conduct interviews with all staff currently employed in the parks who have applied for jobs with them. They will be required to employ apprentices in the parks who will receive their college training on a specially designed course with their tuition fees being paid for by the Department.

In addition I have decided to transfer responsibility for much on the day-to-day management of the parks from the Marsham street headquarters of the Department to the superintendents in the parks. With contracting out the number of civil servants retained at headquarters committed to the scrutiny of the parks will be reduced from 35 to 12. I have decided that the parks should be run by a chief executive and have arranged to recruit one by open competition.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on what grounds local authorities were excluded from bidding for the maintenance of the royal parks.

[holding answer 16 January 1992]: Local authorities were not invited to tender for this work because the Government believe that they should not operate as trading bodies. Their role should be to enable their charge payers to enjoy high standards in those services for which they are responsible without necessarily providing them themselves. It is certainly not their role to enter into competition with the private sector.

We welcome the release of this information. We encourage newspaper groups to provide the same information for individual publications for which they are responsible.