Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Wednesday, 24 October 2012 16:42 UK

Chewing gum debate

Darren Millar AM's wish to introduce a bill that would put a tax on chewing gum led to a heated debate on 24 October 2014.

Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood was vehemently against even considering the bill, saying it showed the "lack of teeth" the assembly had to legislate.

Ms Wood said that "the Tories should be ashamed of themselves" for proposing the bill, that would make local authorities responsible for enforcing a five pence levy on every chewing gum packet at the point of sale.

The money would be used to fund campaigns to promote the responsible disposal of chewing gum, improve enforcement and assist local authorities in the cost of removing chewing gum deposits from Wales' streets.

Ms Wood believes that the assembly has more important matters to discuss, such as creating jobs and encouraging growth.

Labour AMs and lawyers Mick Antoniw and Vaughan Gething also had "concerns" with regard to the legislation, considering the issue "not unimportant" but not worthy of assembly committee time.

"I cannot support this bill," said Mr Gething.

"I do not accept this is a priority issue for the people of Wales. It is a bad idea and a bad use of our time."

At present, local authorities can issue a fine of £75 for throwing gum.

Carmarthenshire is the only county to have done so, fining a woman for throwing chewing gum at the beginning of October.

Mr Millar cited the lack of fines issued as a justification for changing the law.

"Only one fixed penalty notice has been given in Wales," he said.

"That's appalling when you consider 40 million pieces of gum are thrown on our streets."

Labour AM Jenny Rathbone "warmly supported" the bill, adding that the "problem is a big one" and that "the polluter must pay".

Support also came from fellow Conservative AM Russell George who gave gum litter "equal status to dog fouling and fly tipping".

Members had a free vote, but Environment Minister John Griffiths said the government, whilst sympathetic to the cause, would oppose the bill.

The motion was not agreed.

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