Northern Ireland introduces a charge on plastic bags

MQT on 2013-05-22
Session date: 
May 22, 2013
Question By: 
Jenny Jones
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


In light of the Northern Ireland decision, will you call on the government to introduce a mandatory charge on single use bags issued by all retailers in England, and which by definition will apply to London retailers?


Answer for Northern Ireland introduces a charge on plastic bags

Answer for Northern Ireland introduces a charge on plastic bags

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, Jenny, as so often you are on the right path. We are looking at this very seriously. We had a meeting recently with Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and he is very keen for us to run it. If you remember, this was a thing that London Councils wanted to do, and it all sort of ran into the sands. We are looking at what we could do to make sense of this. There are all sorts of options, including obviously a charge on plastic bags. We could do that; there may be other more technologically inventive solutions.

Jenny Jones (AM): My experience, as a Green, is generally that the technologically complex solutions do not work as well as the simple methods and other parts of Britain are doing it, but somehow England, with our Government, is choosing not to do it.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): That is because you want to punish people in some way; that is because the Greens always want to find some way of -- you hate technology.

Jenny Jones (AM): You, in your position, you could make a big difference on this and you could protect small businesses; you could bring in measures to protect small businesses, you could make a difference. You had it in your 2008 election manifesto but somehow you dropped it in 2012; I do not know if you thought it became a bad idea, I do not know, why did you drop it?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Basically, it just seemed something that we needed to deliver with the help of London Councils if we were going to make it work. We did not have the statutory power to do it on our own and it was not something that London Councils in the end were able to get going. We are now though in discussion with the Government about ways in which we could run a pilot in this city and we are certainly looking at it.

Jenny Jones (AM): When you say, 'a pilot', how many organisations would that include?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Obviously, to work, it would have to apply to everybody who uses plastic bags.

Jenny Jones (AM): Why not just do it? Just do it. It is time to just do it like the rest of Britain.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): The rest of Britain?

Jenny Jones (AM): Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, unfortunately I do not have the statutory power to do it myself. I could announce that I was banning plastic bags and unfortunately legally speaking I would be unable to enforce it.