The Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is “utterly useless” and full of jobsworth staff, Jeremy Paxman will say today in a scathing attack on “the filthy state of the nation”.
The former Newsnight presenter, who is a patron of the campaign group Clean Up Britain, is due to speak at a rubbish and waste convention in Birmingham where he will criticise the UK’s growing litter problem.
Mr Paxman said he is “fed up” with how people treat “this beautiful country as if it were a rubbish dump.”
“Travel almost any road in Britain and you will see the evidence. Fast food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bags, fag ends, chewing gum,” he will say. “The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has for years been known as the most utterly useless Ministry in government. When it comes to litter, all it seems to want to do is to look as if it’s doing something.
“It wanted people to think it was bothered by the filthy state of the nation. In fact, it managed to produce a slogan or two and a few advertisements. Then it turned over and went back to sleep.
“Most of Whitehall is saying it can’t do much because of Brexit. The reason in this case is that DEFRA is a waste of a nameplate. It isn’t just that so many of the civil servants are time-serving jobsworths.
“In the last nine years there have been nine separate Ministers in charge of litter. What on earth can you do in single year?”
A spokeswoman for DEFRA said: “Littering blights our communities, spoils our countryside, harms our wildlife, and taxpayers’ money is wasted cleaning it up.
“We’ve invested in the national, ‘Keep it, Bin it’ anti-litter campaign in partnership with environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, and which is supported by some of the biggest names in retail, travel and entertainment, to make littering culturally unacceptable within a generation.
“We all have a responsibility to tackle litter and we welcome hearing from all partners that are interested in joining our campaign.”