§ 50. Mr. Winterbottom
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs how many applications have been made to him to make orders under Section 17 (2) of the Clean Air Act, 1956, transferring from the Alkali Inspectorate to local authorities responsibility for control of emission of smoke, grit, and dust from premises controlled under the Alkali &c. Works Regulation Act, 1906; and what decisions he has made.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)
Nine applications have been made. After consultation with the local authorities and industries concerned, I have made orders transferring control of certain processes to the Liverpool and Manchester City Councils and to the Sheffield and District Clean Air Committee. I have decided that transfer of control should at present be limited to the largest authorities, employing experienced staff with the appropriate qualifications.
Generally the processes transferred are ones which give rise to air pollution problems involving questions of fuel combustion.
I have not thought it right to transfer control over processes involving problems of chemical engineering, except that in the case of Sheffield, where the local authorities have long experience of the steel industry, I have included in the order certain steel-making processes where the problems are not primarily concerned with fuel combustion. I have 884 decided not to make orders for transfer of control in respect of the six other local authorities that have applied—Reading and West Bromwich County Borough Councils, and Jarrow, Luton, Redcar and Stalybridge Borough Councils.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
I thank the Minister for at long last making up his mind on this matter and being able to indicate some progress in the matter of control by local authorities over the atmosphere in their areas. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept from me that the Sheffield authorities will be very disappointed that he has not gone further in respect of the steel industry? If, in the opinion of the Minister, local authorities are progressing satisfactorily with the control given them under Section 17 (2) of the Act, will he give favourable consideration to suggestions for further control by municipalities as against the Alkali Inspectorate?
§ Mr. Brooke
If this has taken a long time to decide, the hon. Member knows that it was because I was asked to receive further deputations about it and was anxious to give all the interested parties every opportunity to put their cases to me personally. This decision will be criticised from both sides. That strengthens my belief that it is a correct one. I can certainly assure the hon. Member that the question will be kept under review. These orders may be modified or extended in future, in the light of experience.
§ Mr. Callaghan
As the only thing that really matters is that the air should be as clean as possible, can the Minister give us an assurance that he will not prevent local authorities from taking proceedings—as he has power to do—when they ask him for permission to do so?
§ Mr. Tilney
Can my right hon. Friend say whether Liverpool's Clarence Dock Power Station, which is owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board, will come under this Order?
§ Mr. Brooke
I have sent the Liverpool City Council a copy of my decision, and I think that it will be fully set out in the papers tomorrow.