Liberal shadow environment secretary Norman Baker hit out after economic secretary John Healey told him the government ‘currently’ have no plans to introduce it.
The wording of his reply to a question in the Commons from Baker left it open to chancellor Gordon Brown to adopt the idea in a future budget.
But Baker said he believed the Treasury ‘got on their high horse’ and was hostile to the ideaÿbecause it came from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and not within their own department and they were reluctant to appear to allow other departments to influence tax affairs.
Baker said: ‘This is a very disappointing answer because it has been shown by what is happening in Southern Ireland that this would be an effective measure in effecting a change in people’s behavior and the government should learn from that.’
He added: ‘I do nor think the Treasury have ruled this out but the message I am getting from within is that they are not looking favourably on it at the moment.’
He said more should be done through tax incentives to changeÿbehaviour harmful to the environment.
Environment minister Michael Meacher pressed the proposal after Eire introduced a tax which resulted in a 97.5% fall in the number of plastic bags produced.
Even the supermarkets – which hand out large quantities of bags – seemed supportive of a levy, with Asda saying in was ‘in everyone’s interest’.ÿ
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