§ Mr. Speaker
We now begin the second of two short debates. I appealed successfully at the start of the last one for brief speeches; I make the same appeal now.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Chataway (Chichester)
I beg to move.That this House deplores the failure of Her Majesty's Government to ensure the supplies of smokeless fuel necessary to implement the clean air policy, particularly in view of the stress laid on environmental pollution in recent Ministerial speeches.In New York on Monday of last week, the Prime Minister said:The British people today offer you, the American people, a new special relationship.As the Prime Minister went on, a no doubt grateful American people learned that the new special relationship was to help them with, among other things, the problems of pollution; in his words, "the problems of pollution of the air we breathe". I have no evidence whether or not the great majority of Americans were over-impressed by this offer of the Prime Minister, but they would surely have been less impressed had he mentioned that the highly successful clean air policy which his Government had inherited was even then being brought to a grinding halt.
The Ministry of Housing was at that moment, on Monday of last week, arranging not only to delay for over a year the introduction of new smokeless zones, but to suspend existing smokeless zones. After a period of years in which, apparently, there was precious little evidence of any communication between the Ministry of Technology and either its predecessor, the Ministry of Power, on the one hand, or the Ministry of Housing on the other, after a number of months in which there appears to have been very little attempt at co-ordination by the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning, the clean air policy virtually collapsed.
Therefore, at the very moment that the Prime Minister was offering this special relationship on pollution, his own Government were starting to embark on an exercise in pollution which, quantita- 292 tively, makes the "Torrey Canyon" incident look like a minor mishap.
The setback is very serious in health and environmental terms. It will be clear that the shortage of smokeless fuel was entirely foreseeable and widely predicted, and that the whole crisis appears to have been caused by a series of muddles and by a straight lack of interest by the Government Departments concerned. That lack of interest contrasts strangely with the recent spate of high-flown rhetoric, not only from the Prime Minister but from other Ministers, on the subject of the environment.
But, first, I acknowledge that, in parts of this country at least, we have been extremely fortunate in the results of the clean air policy and the legislation which we have enjoyed over the past decade and a half. There was a useful addition only last year to the main Act in a Private Member's Bill sponsored by the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell). I am glad to pay tribute to his contribution, but the prime credit for the basic 1956 Act goes to my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), who was Minister at the time, to my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), who played a very big part in bringing that Bill forward, and, of course, to Sir Hugh Beaver who was the chairman of the committee which reported on the matter.
The legislation had a spectacular success, as the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, the Minister of State, Ministry of Technology, said to the National Clean Air Society last October. He stated that "the sun now shines in London as brightly as in the depths of the countryside". But the Minister of State appeared to be blissfully unaware at the time—as I wondered whether the Secretary of State was at Question Time today —of the effects of the shortage which was then brewing. But as long ago as last October he recognised that we had still a great way to go before the North was as clear as the South.
The nature of the improvement in London was accurately measured by the Director of the Medical Research Council's air pollution unit, Dr. P. J. Lawther, when he estimated that in the last 10 years smoke concentrations had 293 declined to less than one-fifth of their former values and that in recent winters there had been few days of high pollution. He went on to say that the effect of the Clean Air Act on daily deaths and hospital admissions in London was substantial and that the response of bronchitic patients to pollution was also tending to decline.
These are all results of the 1956 Act, and they contrast with the position before 1956. For example, hon. Members may recall the smog of December, 1952, which, in a few days, led to an increase in deaths of 4,000 in the Greater London area alone. The Clean Air Act made history in two ways: first, it subjected the domestic fireplace to direct positive control for the first time, and, second, it meant that the United Kingdom was the first country to introduce a provision of that sort into its legislation. That Measure may fairly be regarded as the most important British anti-pollution Act since the war.
It was clear by last year that the clean air programme was slowing down. Whatever else caused the present shortage of smokeless fuel, it certainly was not that the Government were making faster progress than was expected; that they were forcing local authorities along at breakneck speed. Far from it. On 23rd September last—this was before the shortage of smokeless fuel—The Times spoke of a "deplorable cut" in the advance of smoke control, and commented:In spite of the obvious good to come out of it all, our smoke control programme has slowed down in recent months, and the reason is lack of money. By the end of March this year, only 308 new smoke control areas had come into existence in the United Kingdom over the previous 12 months, 47 fewer than the year before…. Current economic conditions are largely to blame. Local authorities, for example, simply do not have the funds to continue making grant-assisted changeovers to the new solid smokeless-fuel burning appliances…By last year, therefore, the steam was running out of the programme, but not because the job had been done. Only half the designated black areas were effectively covered, and a recent Ministry of Technology estimate of the cost of polluted air was £300 million. That contrasted with an estimate of £250 million at the time of the Beaver Committee's Report. I admit that the recent estimate was in 294 the depreciated currency of 1970, but a great deal remained to be done, despite the Government's losing interest in the matter.
We come to the present situation, in which the clean air policy has not only been ground to a complete halt—in that the creation of new smokeless zones is Being deferred until after April, 1971—but the Government are now taking steps substantially to increase the country's levels of air pollution. Already four smokeless zones have been suspended, and I understand that at least one other is in the process of being suspended by the Minister of Housing and Local Government. I trust that the Minister of State will give more information on this topic.
Against this background, a number of questions need answering. How long does the Minister now believe these suspensions will last? They are initially only for this winter, but is it believed that it will be necessary to suspend them again next winter? In how many more zones is it expected that suspensions will occur? What is the position of the smoke control Orders that have already been confirmed?
I understand that 152 smoke control orders have already been confirmed and that they are due to come into operation during 1970. I gather that they will cover nearly 300,000 premises. On 31st December of last year there were another 78 smoke control orders before the Minister, covering nearly another 100,000 premises, and most of those were dated to come into effect in 1970.
The Solid Smokeless Fuels Federation has asked local authorities to delay the implementation of those orders because it believes that if they are implemented and smokeless fuel is available in certain areas, it will be procured in those areas only at the expense of other areas, where there will be a comparable shortage.
I understand that a number of local authorities, on being approached by the Federation, have so far refused to delay the date of implementation. They take the view, fairly understandably in the circumstances, that if the Minister has approved their orders it must be all right for them to go ahead, and many of them are, naturally, anxious to make progress. I understand that the Federation has 295 already asked whether the Minister of Housing and Local Government will advise delay of these orders.
I hope that it will not for a moment be suggested by the Minister that this is another instance of the Government having been blown off course by totally unforeseeable extraneous circumstances. We shall no doubt be told that there has been a boom in world steel production and that the demand for coke has been great. It may be said that it has been due to the Gas Council's run-down in the production of coke; but that has not occurred suddenly, either.
It has been clear for 10 years that the Gas Council was switching to producing town gas from oil rather than coal. It has been clear for six years that there would be an increasing use of natural gas. There is, therefore, absolutely no reason for the Government to have suddenly discovered these developments.
If the Government were caught unawares a year or 18 months ago by the rate at which the Gas Council was shutting down plants, it is only reasonable to ask what action they took to try to remedy the situation. For example, did they suggest anything which might have induced the Gas Council to keep plants open? Or had the clean air policy gone so far down the list of priorities for the Ministry of Power that such an alternative was hardly thought of?
Alternatively, can the Government blame it on to the National Coal Board? The National Coal Board is certainly not blameless. It is clear that it has been far from successful in hitting its targets for manufactured smokeless fuels.
§ Mr. Chataway
Understatement is at least a technique. Perhaps my hon. Friend would go so far as to agree that no one could detect in the National Coal Board's pronouncements an unrestrained enthusiasm for the clean air policy.
Lord Robens warned the Government, we understand, five years ago that the Gas Council's run-down would cause a shortage of coke. What was the attitude of the Government when the Coal Board applied for open-cast workings, which, of course, are an important source of 296 high quality natural smokeless fuel, anthracite? The Government turned a large number of those applications down. In the fuel White Paper of 1967 they said:Production of coal from open-cast sites employs comparatively few men for each ton of coal won, and reducing it therefore gives rise to fewer manpower difficulties than reducing deep-mined production…. The Government have therefore decided not to give further authorisations for open-cast production except in special cases where, because of quality or location, the coal to be produced is not in competition with coal from deep mines…".That may well be right so far as the arguments deployed are concerned, but now the Coal Board is being given authorisation to work the open-cast mines, although too late. If the decision had been taken two or three years ago nobody extra would be out of work because the Coal Board would be able to sell the fuel which it is not now able to sell and the clean air policy would have been saved.
On 4th December the Paymaster-General was asked a Question on this subject, and, knowingly or unknowingly, he gave this Written Answer:Generally supplies this winter, and those planned by producers for 1970–71, should be adequate, although there may be local difficulties in obtaining some grades, particularly in severe weather."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th December, 1969; Vol. 792, c. 355.]That was only two months ago. It is very difficult to see how the right hon. Gentleman could have been so wrong. The weather could hardly have been milder. If there had been a severe winter one shudders to think what would be the situation. If we had a really cold snap, every chimney in the country would be belching dirt and grit into the atmosphere.
Was it that no information was given to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to suggest that, however slowly, new smokeless zones were being authorised? That is a possibility. It was not for lack of warnings from outside that the right hon. Gentleman was caught unawares. The Chamber of Coal Traders warned the Ministry of Power last summer, and the summer before, of a likely shortage. The Coal Merchants Federation, early in 1968, gave similar warnings. My hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) 297 on 10th May, 1968, expressed the Federation's doubts in the House. He asked whether more smokeless zones would mean that there would be a shortage of smokeless fuel. He was assured that this was very unlikely.
In August, 1969, The Coal Times reported that the Coal Merchants Federation was again warning that there would be a shortage of gas-coke smokeless fuel. It said that a spokesman for the Coal Merchants Federation said thatbetween 500,000 and 1m. tons of Britain's total smokeless fuel requirements, about 8m. tons, might otherwise come from the gas board sources.There was considerable doubt whether the gap could be filled. At that time the Ministry was assuring everyone that there would be no trouble at all.
The Domestic Coal Consumers Council gave further warnings. As one looks back on the record one finds that almost everyone except the Minister and his advisers were giving these warnings. In the Annual Report published early in December by the Domestic Coal Consumers Council as reported in the Daily Telegraph on 12th December there was a similar warning. The council was also said to be uneasy about prospects for 1970–71 because of a run-down of gas coke production. The Sunday Times of 14th December said thata shortage of smokeless fuel is becoming severe in many regions of Britain although so far the winter has been milder than usual.I do not believe it can be suggested that this is a shortage which has blown up unexpectedly. There has been absolutely no co-ordination between the Government Departments which are responsible. Lord Robens put it like this:The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.… The Ministry of Local Government is urging clean air because of the health aspect but the Ministry of Technology should make sure that when one department decrees something the other department can meet the demand. It is not properly organised.At Question Time the other day the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology called that "poetic licence". I would call it understatement.
The Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning seems to have been blisfully unaware that there were any diffi- 298 culties. We had about 1,500 words or perhaps 2,000 of his urbane reflections on the environment in the Sunday Times on 15th January. He referred to pollution, urban sprawl, tourism—[HON. MEMBERS: "Toryism?"]—no, tourism—but in all this there was not a single word about clean air. This bodes extremely ill for the co-ordinating rôle that we were told by the Prime Minister in October is supposed to be the main justification for the right hon. Gentleman's appointment.
The Select Committee on Science and Technology urged months ago that the anti-pollution activities of Government should be concentrated in the hand of fewer Departments. The Committee made absolutely clear in its report that it was dissatisfied and worried by the arrangements which exist within the Government for co-ordinating anti-pollution measures of all kinds. The sorry events unfolded in this debate are another justification for the view to which the committee came then. Incidentally, I hope that it will not be too long before the Government give some reply to the detailed criticism by that Committee.
There are two damaging effects to which I particularly draw attention in this failure of Government policy. The first is on regional policy. Successive Governments have believed that the clean air policy is of importance in making the regions more attractive and in holding population there and in encouraging industry to go there. This must be right. It must make a great deal of difference to people in considering whether it is worth while cleaning buildings, whether washing on the line remains clean, and whether plants grow in the garden.
The effect of this failure in Government will be an appreciable setback in regional policy. Even more important, this has been a total bureaucratic nonsense. It has caused real hardship to individuals, and it has a psychological effect that will probably outlast its physical effects. The Yorkshire Post, which has been very active throughout the past two months in exposing the shortage of smokeless fuel, quoted a public health inspector in Yorkshire as saying:The Ministry forced us into going smokeless by threatening to do it themselves. Now people are feeling the pinch. The Ministry keeps saying there is no shortage. You do 299 not know whom to believe—unless you are without fuel, that is.Many people have found themselves not allowed to use ordinary fuel and yet unable to get smokeless fuel. This is exactly the kind of situation that will breed resistance to any future attempts to enforce clean air measures, and perhaps breed resistance to future attempts to protect the environment in other ways, because so often these efforts to improve the environment include placing restrictions upon people. They will be acceptable only if they are carefully thought out, if they do not result in the kind of bureaucratic muddle and nonsense that has resulted on this occasion.
This is a case in which there has been no co-ordination and apparently a straight lack of interest on the part of the Government. It coincides strangely with so many speeches from Ministers, including the Prime Minister, with, it sometimes seems, a discovery of the environment for the first time by the Prime Minister. We certainly welcome this new emphasis on conservation. With perhaps 20 Acts of major importance to the environment to the credit of the last Administration, we shall welcome it if the Prime Minister and others now wish to push these issues to the forefront of political argument. The instinct to conserve is not totally alien to the Conservative Party.
But what will be asked by people outside who are perhaps increasingly concerned with these problems is whether the speeches of the Prime Minister really mean anything. Is this simply another instance of the Prime Minister mimicking an American President? After all, we have had a great deal of emphasis on the matter from President Nixon over the past year. We all remember in the Kennedy era the 100 days of dynamic action, and in the early years of President Johnson the interminable talk there was from 10 Downing Street about consensus. Sure enough, six months after the issue becomes a major one in the United States it is included in every speech from the Prime Minister.
So I think that there will be doubts. Again it will be asked whether this is simply a new banner under which right hon. Gentlemen opposite want to launch a pre-election attack on private enterprise. In his Swansea speech the Prime Minister talked about the polluters being 300 powerful and organised, and there were dark asides about the sanctity of profit-making. Anybody who studies the attitude of the National Coal Board throughout this story will be cured of the idea that public corporations are necessarily more concerned with the environment that private ones.
On present evidence there will be an inclination to believe that these speeches amount to no more than a repetition of the "white heat of the technological revolution", of the 500,000 houses target and all the rest. As yet there is no evidence of anything beyond words.
The Government record in the matter of river pollution is not much better than it is in the case of air pollution. Circular 64 of 1968 from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government has fairly effectively put a stop to anti-pollution measures in a large number of rivers. So, despite the high-flown phrases to which we have been treated, I believe that on present evidence one can say that the Government are well on the way to earning for themselves the title of the most pollutant Government of modern times.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Denis Howell)
During his extraordinary speech, a speech which polluted the facts at every point at which they are known, the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) said that understatement might be a technique. That is certainly not a charge that could be levelled at the hon. Member. His speech was the most exaggerated distortion of inaccuracies that I have heard during my time in the House, as I shall hope to demonstrate.
The Motion is in some way a tribute to the Government. There has been more activity on the question of the quality of living, the general question of environment, during the five years in office of the present Government than in any five years in the life of any previous Government.
The Shadow Minister for Sport is leaving us. The Shadow Minister for the Arts is not here. But we have a Shadow Minister of the Environment. The hon. Gentleman is on the Front Bench opposite today only because of the appointment by the Prime Minister of a Minister in charge of Environment. But for the 301 activities of my right hon. Friend, the Shadow Minister of Sport would not have been here, and he is gone. We do not hear much about him, nor of his colleagues. Certainly, since the hon. Gentleman was appointed in October to shadow my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—I note that he is not in the Shadow Cabinet—this is the first time these matters have been raised from the benches opposite.
They have been raised in the narrowest possible manner. The questions of the pollution of our rivers, beaches and the air are of tremendous importance and should be taken together in totality. Not one word about these issues was to be found in the speech of the hon. Gentleman, who concentrated on the absence of smokeless fuel in certain parts of the country. He gave us no information, but I intend to give the House more information on where smokeless fuel cannot be obtained. He does not know. Not a single case of hardship was mentioned by him during his 30-minute speech.
The Opposition's ignorance of what has been achieved in the lifetime of the present Government is—
§ Mr. Howell
Not until I have worked up a head of steam, and then I might do so.
My right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General will reply to the debate, and he will be pleased to talk in greater detail about the supply problems in the trade than I wish to do now. My task is to put the whole matter into perspective, but he will be glad to take up individual cases.
The hon. Gentleman said that this is an extremely complicated matter, especially because of the technological advances such as the changeover from one type of fuel to another, one type of power to another, and so on, which make it very difficult to make accurate forecasts. For example, the switch to natural gas is not the only major factor. The manufacture of town gas from oil, which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, and the subsequent phasing out of traditional gasworks all necessitate the most complicated judgments not only by Government and the Coal Board, but by the private enterprise sector.
302 There is another factor which had no place in the hon. Gentleman's speech, but which has increasing significance. This is the habits of consumers and the choices they make. Even though we have more and more smokeless zones and more and more people who have converted their heating arrangements to take smokeless fuel, more and more of them are turning away from smokeless fuel towards other forms of heating, particularly gas, electricity and oil.
§ Mr. Howell
The point I am making will become apparent if I am allowed to make progress.
Where the Opposition are in difficulty is that they have believed everything they have been told by some of the interests involved, particularly by the private trade. There has been disagreement on the interpretation of the figures, particularly in relation to the range of choice to householders.
On 1st January, 1965, the consumption of smokeless fuels per annum was about 8 million tons. It has stayed at about that figure every year up to and including this one. There has been no significant increase in the amount of smokeless fuel consumed. Yet, in that period, the number of house premises which have switched over as a result of smoke control orders, and so on, is 2,234,594. In other words, if we take only the number of domestic and other premises subject to smoke control orders, there is that nucleus of under 2¼ million homes but no increase in the overall amount of smokeless fuel consumed.
With that number one must take into account the whole housing programme. Most of the new homes have been fitted to burn smokeless fuel. Every time, for example, a slum house is demolished, the house built in its place is fitted for smokeless fuel. Put all this together and a remarkable trend emerges, away from the smokeless fuel which is the subject of the Motion towards other forms of domestic heating, and this makes it extremely difficult to give accurate forecasts.
Nevertheless, for the reasons I have stated and for some of the reasons stated by the hon. Gentleman, my right hon. Friend felt just before Christmas that it 303 would be right to use his powers under Section 11 of the Clean Air Act, 1956, to authorise the suspension of smoke control orders during the winter if he was asked to do so by local authorities. If the hon. Gentleman was right in his claim that shortage is very widespread and is of such magnitude, a very large number of local authorities would have asked my right hon. Friend for the suspension of their orders. But what are the facts?
There are over 350 local authorities with smoke control orders in operation and 16 of them have asked for suspension of their orders. That is hardly the sort of evidence on which to mount a vote of censure and on which to make the sort of hysterical comments we have heard from the hon. Gentleman. The figure in percentage terms is 4 per cent. If that adds up to failure, or deplorable failure, or a grinding to a halt, then the English language seems to have lost its meaning—which, of course, it increasingly does on the benches opposite as we draw nearer to the election.
§ Mr. Reginald Eyre (Birmingham, Hall Green)
But the hon. Gentleman must know of cases of hardship in Birmingham which have been reported in the Birmingingham Evening Mail. In King's Heath and Hall Green there has been difficulty of supply.
§ Mr. Howell
Not within my knowledge, except in so far as I saw the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) debating on television with an official of the Coal Board. That official made a point which I do not think the hon. Gentleman understood—to be fair to him, it was perhaps because they were in different studios separated by 120 miles.
Because of this complaint of hardship, which has been grossly exaggerated, Lord Robens took the initiative and instructed his area managers to write to every Member of Parliament saying that, if they had any cases of hardship and got in touch with the board, the matter would be dealt with within 24 hours. That was the reply which the area manager concerned gave on television to the hon. Member for Hall Green.
§ Mr. Howell
I have not heard that from the area manager, but I did hear him on television. He said that he had heard about the complaint only on Friday morning and had caused a load of fuel to be delivered to the constituent concerned first thing on the Monday morning. He could not have acted more quickly.
I want to give figures relating to those hon. Members who would have been the recipients of all this information if it were in existence. After all, if people are complaining bitterly, they usually get in touch with their Members of Parliament. In the Midlands, 17 hon. Members responded to the letter asking them to get in touch with the appropriate Coal Board official and they delivered 20 complaints. In Yorkshire, 11 hon. Members, in Lancashire 25, and in London and the South 12 got in touch with the Board. Altogether, 65 hon. Members replied to the letter, many of them merely acknowledging it, and only 40 complaints were forwarded for the Board to deal with.
That is the size of the problem that the hon. Member for East Grinstead decided to exaggerate out of all proportion.
§ Mr. Lane
The hon. Gentleman appears to be talking on a different wavelength from the experience which many of us have had, whether or not he has been in touch with the Board. In a large area of East Anglia around my constituency, the delay for a number of types of smokeless fuel is eight or nine weeks. That is hardship.
§ Mr. Howell
I am aware that certain types of smokeless fuel are in greater demand, or shorter supply, than others. We are dealing with hardship and the situation as a whole. The hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us the extent of the hardship his constituents have suffered, whether he has accepted the offer by the Board to deal with the matter and how it has been dealt with. The House can then judge between us.
I want to turn to the whole story of smoke control orders so that the position 305 can be judged fairly. By the end of 1964—the halcyon days which the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Grinstead was taking credit for—1,668 orders had been confirmed, involving 2,167,000 premises, an annual average of 239 orders involving 309,000 premises. That is what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chichester described as a spectacular success.
§ Mr. Howell
And Lord Delacourt-Smith.
The hon. Gentleman emphasised the phrase "spectacular a success." He was talking about 239 orders a year, involving 309,000 premises. If that is a spectacular success what adjectives would he like to apply to the record of this Government when our annual average of orders confirmed has not been 239 but 299? When the number of premises involved is not 309,000, but 447,000? There is no suggestion in those figures that the Government have run out of steam and are grinding to a halt. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) is very good at coming to the aid of his colleagues when they are in difficulties—he does it every Tuesday and Thursday and we watch in admiration.
The right hon. Member is trying to help the hon. Gentleman now, but the hon. Gentleman said that we were running out of steam, not making or confirming the orders. This is not so and the figures prove it. They prove that the procedure is going on faster than ever. The facts from the London Weather Centre also underline the Government's activities starting from the 1956 Act, largely the instrument of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro). I remember that he was then the Member for Kidderminster. I think that this was the first time that I ever sat on the Committee stage on the Bill and I took a great interest in it. I remember that the hon. Gentleman's first action was to put down 364 Amendments to it. That was what he thought of the Bill. My first action was to put my name to all his Amendments so that he could not withdraw them without my permission.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
The hon. Gentleman is unfair. It is a matter of 15 years ago, 306 but if he reads the record he will find that the great majority of the Amendments were accepted because they were lifted out of the previous year's Clean Air Act, which was a Private Member's Measure. The first name on that Measure was that of Lord Robens.
§ Mr. Howell
That is true. I also recollect that the Amendments which were not accepted involved the industrial processes, the alkali division. I had to move them because during that time the hon. Gentleman, unfortunately, was ill and was not able to be present.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
No. The hon. Gentleman is completely wrong. I voted against my own party in Committee in 1956, on the alkali Clause, Clause 17, and defeated the Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) was the Minister and the hon. Member voted with me in defeating the Government on alkali. Now get up and own up.
§ Mr. Howell
I am prepared to own up to the fact that by the time we had got through all these Amendments and reached the debate on the Clause as a whole the hon. Gentleman had recovered from his illness. At that stage we did defeat the Government.
What is the current situation? Far from postponing any of those orders, as the hon. Gentleman opposite said, we are proceeding to deal with them. There are 69 orders within our Ministry awaiting confirmation. Where the hon. Gentleman got his information from, I do not know. When my right hon. Friend does confirm the orders he will certainly draw to the attention of the local authorities the fuel situation. It would make a nonsense to postpone orders which would mean stopping people implementing them in another area where there was no shortage. We have no intention of doing any such thing.
The hon. Member made a passing reference to the Clean Air Act, 1968, mainly the responsibility of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell). On that occasison we paid tribute to his efforts, which have had a considerable effect. The Minister now has powers which the 1956 Act did not give him. He has far stronger powers to deal with certain situations. It is now an offence either to buy or supply a smoke-producing fuel in any area covered by an order. 307 It empowers the Minister to require local authorities to prepare a programme. The 1968 Act puts right many of the deficiencies of the 1956 Act and it has had a spectacular success.
The hon. Gentleman was talking about "black authorities", which was the definition of Sir Hugh Beaver. The House might like to know the figures on such authorities. There were 324 of them in 1960; in 1968, at the point when we had the new Act, there were 83 and today, as a result of two years' working of that Act, we are down to 23 authorities which could be described as "black". This is no mean achievement. My hon. Friend's Measure gives the Government a powerful stick, but the indications are not that we shall not need to use it.
I am glad to join in paying tribute to the Alkali Inspectorate for the tremendous work it has done, particularly by way of encouragement, to deal with the industrial processes of grit and dust and sulphur dioxide. There has been a tremendous improvement—a 50 per cent. improvement was shown in the figures I have given earlier from the London Weather Centre on smoke concentrations at ground level.
The important thing to remember is that we are not dealing with this problem in isolation. We are tackling pollution on an all-round basis, particularly in rivers. At present, there is a survey of the extent of river pollution going on and we hope to know by the end of this year the degree, extent and type of pollution, mile by mile, for every river in the country. Then we will be able to make the necessary judgments to sustain progress.
The hon. Gentleman made a light reference to the Prime Minister, I do not know why. If it had not been for the appointment of my right hon. Friend the hon. Gentleman would not be sitting there today. Leisure and the quality of life must be taken together. The record of the Government bears comparison with anything that can be put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite. As to the Prime Minister's activities in connection with pollution, they date from before he went to Washington recently. He made a major speech at the Labour Party conference in 1969 and another at Swansea on 10th January this year. He has specifically appointed my right hon. Friend 308 the Secretary of State to deal with the whole question of environmental matters.
In December of last year my right hon. Friend announced the setting up of a Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. We now have a permanent central unit established by the Secretary of State to assist him in his co-ordinating rôle. I could also describe the activities of the Government in dealing with another question of pollution—the growing problem of noise.
My conclusion from all this is that we should be obliged to the Opposition for enabling us to show how this Government, for five years, have been dealing with the environment and the quality of living, during most of which time not one word has been heard from the Opposition. The Government's record is active and exciting. No censure Motion has ever been more ill-conceived or more misdirected, and I ask the House to reject it with contempt.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
I must remind the House of Mr. Speaker's request for short speeches, in view of the fact that a large number of hon. and right hon. Members wish to take part in this short debate.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)
I intend to be very short and not emulate the 31 minutes of my own Front Bench, followed by almost as lengthy a speech from the Government Front Bench, which is grossly unfair to back benchers in a three-hour debate, which is already substracted from by nearly a quarter of an hour for the Divisions at the outset.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for referring to the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 and the originating Private Member's Bill in 1955, also called the Clean Air Bill.
Of course there is a shortage of one type of smokeless fuel. The Minister of State is a very good football referee, but not very good on fuel and power matters. He failed this evening to point out to the House that there are five different forms of smokeless fuel, and that we should differentiate between them. First, there is the form of solid smokeless fuel derived from coal mines, such an anthracite coal; second, there is the form of 309 solid smokeless fuel which derives from carbonised coal and is generally called coke; the third is oil; the fourth is electricity, and the fifth is gas. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should have delineated those at the beginning of his speech.
There is no shortage of oil; there is no shortage of electricity; there is no shortage of gas; but there is an ephemeral shortage—and my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) was exactly right in drawing attention to it—in some parts of the country of the different types of solid smokeless fuel.
I will deal first with coke, which we all know as gasworks coke. The reason for the shortage of coke is not very far to seek. It arises from two causes. The first is the use of crude oil at gasworks, instead of coking coal, for the manufacture of town's gas, and the second is the substitution of natural gas for town's gas.
I could not illustrate this more clearly than by relating the story of what happened to me aver the weekend before last Christmas. The House rose on the Friday. I went home to my constituency in Worcestershire, where I live, on the Friday afternoon. I was telephoned on the Saturday morning from Evesham and told that the principal hospital in Evesham would run out of coke before Christmas, and the hospital patients would be cold and shivering during the Christmas holidays. I was asked whether I would do something urgently to get supplies of coke for the hospital.
When I started investigating this in depth, I sent telegrams to Lord Robens—not in response to his invitation but because this is my customary procedure in such matters—and I discovered that the hospital had always bought its coke, its smokeless fuel, from the gasworks at Cheltenham, but the gasworks had been shut, because the whole area had been converted to natural gas appliances, and there was no more coke. The coke was now coming from a South Wales Coal Board establishment at Nantgarw. That is the reason for the shortage of solid fuel in one town in my constituency. My complaint is that nobody had foreseen it.
Exactly the same thing has happened with solid smokeless fuel of the premium 310 kinds which include anthracite. If I may correct my hon. Friend, who seemed to be floundering deeply when talking about open-cast mining, we do not open-cast bituminous coals for the clean air policy; we open-cast only anthracite coals for the clean air policy. Bituminous coals would be no good at all for the clean air policy. There is a shortage of premium solid fuels such as anthracite supplied from the Coal Board and the Phurnacite premium fuel also supplied by the Coal Board and coke from the gas boards. In any event, these premium fuels are so high in price as to ration themselves to most domestic consumers.
I happen to be very strongly on the side of the Government and Establishment in this new sophisticated soubriquet "environmental pollution". Nobody had ever heard of it until a few weeks ago. The right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) nods his head in dissent, but the fact is that nobody in this country, save for one or two boffins, had ever heard of environmental pollution. [Interruption.] I wish the hon. Gentleman would not use vulgar expressions. I heard what he said, and I would not repeat it. I am at least as well informed in these matters as he is, and 99.9 per cent. of my constituents have never heard of environmental pollution until a few weeks ago.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Yes, it is a scientific soubriquet. If the hon. Gentleman had not heard of it, he has learned from me this evening. This is a real danger to the whole of Western civilisation. Although I must be short in this debate tonight, there will be future opportunities on the Floor of the House to debate it in greater depth.
I talk at a distance of 15 years from the first Clean Air Act passed by this House, which was described at the time as a revolution at the fireside, because it involved replacing all domestic open fireplaces in Britain over a period of one or two decades, so as to cleanse the atmosphere and get rid of the "black" areas of Britain as they were depicted in the Beaver Report of 1954.
The danger is that all the progress made by Tory Governments from 1956 311 to 1964 and by Labour Governments since that date—and they have carried on largely the same policy—will be negatived by the huge increase in atmospheric pollution resulting from two causes. The first is the exhausts of motor vehicles, which cause the appalling pall over our cities today. No progress has been made in the United States or in Britain towards ridding the atmosphere of the noxious fumes from the exhausts of motor vehicles, both petrol engines and diesel engines. The second is the increasing danger of belching the by-products of sulphur combustion into the atmosphere at power stations and other large industrial establishments.
§ Mr. Ellis rose—
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I have been less than 10 minutes on this speech, and I intend to sit down in less than one minute from now, because many of my hon. Friends wish to take part and as an example to my own Front Bench on how to make short speeches. I rebuke my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester; in future he should make 10-minute speeches, not 31-minute speeches. I want to hear the views of the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell) on his 1968 Clean Air Act.
The Minister of State who responded to my hon. Friend's speech was not correct in dismissing as fanciful the widespread complaints about shortages of solid smokeless fuels. There are shortages. But our own Opposition draftsmen are faulty. The Motion before the House should read:That this House deplores the failure of Her Majesty's Government to ensure the supplies of solid smokeless fuel necessary to implement …and so on. There is not shortage of oil or of electricity or of gas. There is only a shortage of solid smokeless fuel. In future I hope that my hon. Friends will consult me before they put these Motions down.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Maxwell (Buckingham)
I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro).
§ Mr. Maxwell
Having listened to the remarkable statistics of progress as presented to the House my hon. Friend the Minister of State in response to the non-facts presented by the Front Bench spokesman for the Opposition, I can only deplore, as I am sure will the whole country, that the instrument of censure should be so debased as it has been tonight in a Motion on such a deplorable basis and on which the Opposition spokesman should be so ill prepared. It serves him and the Tory Party right that the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South, who knows more about fuel than the hon. Member for Chichester will learn during the rest of his life, should have had to rebuke him properly and publicly for the shoddy manner in which this non-Motion of censure has been drafted and which ought never to have been brought.
I should like to pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys)—who, I regret to say, is not at the moment in the House—who together with the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South and many people on both sides of the House has taken such a great interest in and positive steps to bring about the Clean Air Act of which we are all so proud. They have indeed achieved many good things. In London we can now see the sun shining as brightly as it does in Norfolk or in Worcestershire.
When I say that I agree with my hon. Friend the Minister of State that the Alkali Inspectorate has done good work in recent years, I hope that it will not be taken as a licence to sit back and relax. There are great pollutants which still remain and must be tackled, ones which I regret to say I had to delete from my Clean Air Act because I was threatened both by industry and by the Government that if I did not the Act would not get on the Statute Book. I had to remove any question of trying to deal with vehicle exhaust and the problem of industrial exhaust fumes and dust.
One reason why legislation on vehicle exhaust and industrial dust emission and gases could not easily be introduced in the 1968 Clean Air Act, or perhaps even in any other Act, very quickly is that the research and development into methods of combating this ghastly nuisance are lagging far behind public demand, which 313 is insisting on an urgent improvement in the quality of life.
My constituency is the centre of the brick industry. My constituents in Bletchley and in many other places as well as in Bedfordshire are suffering nausea and a great many discomforts as a result of the exhausts and emissions emanating from the production processes of that industry. For years they have been promised an improvement, but nothing has happened.
I must warn the Government as well as industry that the public will not put up for many years longer with just words. I urgently invite the Government to join hands with the Americans, Europeans and Russians to set up an international research organisation to club in with more funds and bring about a faster exchange of information about how this problem can be tackled.
In my constituency I have a very large cement works, and thousands of my constituents live in its area. Every time a mother puts her baby out in a pram she finds it covered with dust. She cannot put out her washing. Farmers in the surrounding areas find their cattle suffering disease and illness which they do not know how to protect themselves against.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Motion deals specifically with supplies of smokeless fuel. He is getting rather wide of the Motion.
§ Mr. Maxwell
Since the wording of the Motion does not specify smokeless fuel, could I have the advice of the Chair?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman has not been ingenious enough so far to keep his remarks within the scope of the Motion on the Order Paper, which deals with smokeless fuel.
§ Mr. Maxwell
Is it not headed "Smokeless Zones and Pollution"? I am merely trying to bring to the notice of the House the terrible sufferings caused not just to constituents in my area, but to people all over the country because of industrial pollutants emitted by motor vehicles and industry.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The main theme of the Motion is, clearly, smokeless fuel. The hon. Gentleman must stick to that.
§ Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)
We might have had shorter speeches from the Front Bench had that Ruling been made at an earlier stage.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The remarks that I have heard from the Front Bench or backbenches so far have been in order. I have indicated to the hon. Gentleman that he is getting out of order.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Mr. Deputy Speaker, would you direct your attention to the form of words in the Motion, "particularly in view of the stress laid on environmental pollution in recent Ministerial speeches"? Is it not the intention of the Government to fit arresters to all the chimneys of the cement works in the hon. Member's constituency, Buckingham, thereby improving the environmental attitudes and leading to a cleaner life for all his constituents?
§ Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)
Why does not my hon. Friend make the speech of the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell) for him?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) is very ingenious but the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell) is outside the terms of the Motion, which the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South was scrupulously careful to keep inside. The hon. Member for Buckingham must also do so.
§ Mr. Maxwell
I accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that the Government have heard what the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South has said and will do something promptly to put the kind of arresters on the chimneys of the brick and cement works in my area. We should be eternally grateful if that were possible. I fear, however, that this is not likely to happen tomorrow.
I conclude by appealing again to the Government, and I hope that when the Paymaster-General comes to wind up, instead of wasting time in demolishing Her Majesty's Opposition's non-case on this issue he will be good enough to tell the House and the country of the positive steps which the Government are currently taking to encourage research and development in environmental research and what concrete projects the 315 Government have in mind to bring this evil of the 20th century under control.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)
I speak on this important subject both as a doctor and as a politician. That does not mean that I shall make a very long speech as I shall be saying the same things from both points of view, and I shall be supporting the Motion.
Despite what the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell) has said, it is the business of Government to predict the future consequences of present actions. For the Minister of State to come along and say, "If we are building new houses and put smokeless fuel-burning appliances in them this will result in a greater demand for smokeless fuel", is not good enough. This is the kind of thing that the Government should think ahead about.
The facts are clear. Although I do not share in all the criticism, there is a shortage of smokeless fuels and that shortage has impeded the clean-air programme and is doing something more important—it is turning many people against the clean air programme. It has not been easy over the years—and for 15 years or more I have spoken and written about the hazards of polluted air—to convince people of the necessity of burning smokeless fuels. I am bound to say that an empty grate is not the kind of argument to which many people respond. The present situation is dangerous and so far as there is a shortage—and some people are finding it difficult to comply with the regulations—we are beginning to put the clock back. We must not do this.
I have been a little uneasy about the extent of complacency in this debate. We have been told that this, that and the other has been done. But we have not done anything like enough. I speak with pride as one who comes from an area which has reason to be proud of its achievement in this field. We have heard rightly of the activities of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) and of the hon. Member for Buckingham. But let me remind them both that the City of Manchester pioneered the whole idea of smokeless zones. It was way back in the 19th century that Manchester formed the Noxious Vapours Abatement Association. 316 Hon. Members may say that it had need of it. But it was that which led to the Smoke Abatement League of 1909, formed in Manchester, and to the Smoke Abatement Bill, drafted by Manchester in 1912, but finally pushed through as the Public Health (Smoke Abatement) Act, 1916. Finally it was the brilliant concept of smokeless zones of Charles Gardy which was enshrined in the Clean Air Act, 1956. But I certainly join in paying tribute to the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South for what he did also.
I also speak with pride as representing a constituency which contains four urban districts, one of which is Cheadle and Gatley. That district, with a population of 55,000, became, on 1st August, 1968, the first local authority outside London to complete its smoke-control programme. Ten smoke-control orders were made under that Act to prohibit the use of bituminous fuel in all dwelling-houses in the area or by industrial premises unless they were designed to burn smokeless fuel. I take pride that one of my urban districts was one of the first to implement the Clean Air Act in full. The policy has worked. The kind of measurements which have been done have shown an encouraging decline in visible pollutants—smoke—and also invisible pollutants, such as sulphur-dioxide, which has declined, too.
But let us not be too complacent. If we slip back we shall soon be in difficulty. Let us not forfeit the benefits we have earned by relaxing now. As has been said, the benefits include more hours of sunshine, not only in London but everywhere, and better visibility. Better visibility benefits aviation and all kinds of activities. Lower cleaning bills for people, local authorities and industry. More leisure for housewives—who would otherwise spend more time cleaning—as they do now in dirty polluted areas—and less damage to buildings and machinery, including agricultural machinery. There are still farms in some industrial areas, where ploughs sometimes perish within months, because of the action of sulphur-dioxide.
Despite the action which has been taken, in some areas, during fog and smog, people are breathing a weak solution of sulphuric acid. Most important 317 of all is the effect that all this has on health, and it is about this that I want to say something. There is the obvious effect of atmospheric pollution as a contributory cause of lung cancer, which is a source of great worry. As a cause of lung cancer, it plays an important part, though a very much less important part than another pollutant, tobacco.
The main importance of pollution, from a health point of view, is that it causes bronchitis, a condition known for good reason as the English disease. Bronchitis is five times as common in Britain as it is in any other European country, and about twenty times as common in Britain as it is in the Scandinavian and most European countries. It accounts for 30,000 to 40,000 deaths every year in this country.
One in five of all items of service given by general practitioners is for chest complaints of one kind or another related to bronchitis. We lose 25 million working days a year through this disease, at a cost to the nation of more than £100 million a year.
Whether we win the World Cup or not, a matter in which the Minister of State has some interest, there can be no doubt that we are top of the world at poisoning the population. Whatever we may have done so far, the fact is that we have not done enough. It is true that we may not see again the sort of things that we saw during the great smog of 1952 in London, but we could see them again if we were to relax, bearing in mind the growth in housing, industry and in the use of motor vehicles. All these things are playing their parts. We could return to the 1952 conditions when in London the sun shone brightly on the tops of buildings, while down below about 8 million people were struggling to breathe a dense cloud of chemical-laden fumes; and 4,000 of them died—in only four days.
That is the size of the problem. Those people died from atmospheric pollution. Let us accept that we have made great progress and that we are not likely to get back to that state of affairs—we simply must not—but it is important to realise what is the main cause of atmospheric pollution. I am sorry to say that it is the domestic consumer, who has been difficult to deal with in the past. He has looked at the example, which is not often 318 a good one, set by power stations in many places belching forth black smoke and has felt that his little bucket of coal was not important.
Hospitals, too, have not always set a good example. Some time ago a hospital I know introduced an excellent new air-conditioned ward for the treatment of bronchitis. Rather paradoxically, just outside there was a chimney belching forth smoke to give people the bronchitis they came into the hospital to be treated for in the special ward. Things have improved greatly, but all the time there has been this basic resistance of the domestic consumer because he finds it difficult to appreciate the significance of his own coal fire.
It is difficult to persuade people of the importance of measures of this kind, and when supplies are hard to come by, or when the proper fuel is made more costly, implementing the measures becomes more difficult. The importance of the shortage of smokeless fuels is not so much that because of the shortage everybody is suddenly burning coal fires, but that we are putting the whole programme back. We are turning many people against something which they had been persuaded to support.
This is one of the main problems facing the Government. If they mean to tackle environmental pollution, they have to realise that they are dealing with conflicts within society. So far as industry is concerned, they are dealing with a conflict between the need for plentiful and cheap goods, and the need for clean air. The Government must resolve this conflict and lead people towards the right answer. Officialdom does not always do that. Recently, close to my area, and adjacent to the area in which I practise, there was a typical case of British compromise when there was a conflict.
I refer to the new Shell plant, on the Partington and Carrington Industrial Estate. A new chimney was to be put into use. The residents from the area protested, so there was a public hearing.
The development could have been stopped, which would have been undesirable. Shell could have been required to put in a smoke and fume washing plant at a very considerable cost, or they could have been made to make 319 the chimney higher. This was the compromise which was inevitably arrived at, so that the smoke and filth, instead of dropping on the people where my practice is, now go two or three miles further and drop on the people of Stretford.
This is not solving the problem; it is hiding from it. It is not an easy problem to solve, I accept that, but the Government must help people to do so. If they are to get ordinary consumers to co-operate they must make it worth while, and to do this they must make smokeless fuel cheap and plentiful. At the moment, it is not cheap and it is not plentiful, and for that reason I and my colleagues on this bench will oppose the Government.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. David Watkins (Consett)
We have in this country, of course, the most advanced legislation in the world for dealing with matters of atmospheric pollution. The 1956 Act is by no means the only Act which is relevant to the matter, because a considerable time before that there was the town and country planning legislation, which was put through the House in the 1945 to 1950 Parliament, and which gave our planning authorities far greater powers than they had ever possessed before to deal with the siting of obnoxious industrial plants relative to residential areas. This has played a very considerable rôle in the progress which has been made.
I think it fair to say, as a number of hon. Members have pointed out in the debate, that, on the whole, the legislation has been reasonably effective. Anyone who compares the Sheffield or Stoke-on-Trent of today with those places of 20 years ago is bound to be enormously impressed by the progress which has been made in those two cities in the introduction of smokeless zones. While recognising that enormous improvements have been made in London, I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House who spoke about these were being a little over-optimistic in saying that the sun now shines as brightly in London as in the country areas. The fact is that, notwithstanding the smokeless zones—and, certainly, the terrible smogs of bygone days will never occur again in London—there is still a considerable 320 amount of pollution in London, and this is the measure of the further progress which now needs to be made.
I think it true to say that in the country today there is a strong desire for further progress to be made, but I very much agree with the point made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), when he drew attention to the fact that there is a need for national education in what is actually required. As he so rightly said, almost every local authority which has sought to bring in smokeless zones has had to face very considerable local opposition. In fact, the Stanley Urban District Council, in County Durham, in my own constituency, introduced a smokeless zone about six years ago and as a direct result the ruling Labour Party lost a substantial number of seats in the local elections. I was glad to see that in the subsequent election, three years later, they were almost all regained, and this is a measure of the fact that progress can be made.
Yet, in spite of the will to improve and extend smokeless conditions, and of the advanced legislation and the improvements which have been made, the fact remains that there are grave problems still of pollution in industrial areas, even where efforts have bene made to introduce smokeless zones. I represent a constituency which has very serious problems of pollution arising from the existence there of a large steel works.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. The Motion is much more specific than the debate the hon. Gentleman is seeking to raise relating to steel works. It is concerned with supplies of smokeless fuel. In view of the short debate, I think the hon. Gentleman must stick to the Motion.
§ Mr. Watkins
May I draw your attention to the wording of the Motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, which mentions the stress laid on environmental pollution. This, with respect, is the point I am making.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The view of the Chair is that the Motion concerns the supply of smokeless fuel, and the hon. Gentleman must confine his remarks to that.
§ Mr. Watkins
With great respect, if that Ruling had been given earlier the 321 debate would have been considerably shortened. Before your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, hon. Members on both sides of the House went considerably wider than that.
§ Mr. Watkins
I accept your Ruling, of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
My point is that the whole subject of environmental pollution goes wider than the present shortage of smokeless fuel. I have had only one specific complaint from a constituent about the shortage, and that same constituent told me that, within 24 hours, he had taken delivery of a ton of coke. I suspect that the shortage of smokeless fuel is exaggerated, although there is a problem and I do not seek to disguise it.
Smokeless zones have been introduced in my constituency, but notwithstanding all the progress which has been made all the powers with which local authorities are armed, and the fact that the British Steel Corporation has spent £1-million in my constituency alone trying to come to terms with the problem of pollution, it remains true that my constituents are showered with dirt and pollution every day. There are even those who cannot eat the vegetables which they grow in their gardens because of the filth which falls upon them.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I notice that you are getting restless again, and I do not wish to invoke your ire. However, perhaps I might make three brief points by way of elaboration of those made by the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), in what was an extremely good overall assessment of the situation. Since the hon. Gentleman was not ruled out of order, I assume that it will be in order to do that.
In a highly industrialised society such as ours, in which so many people and so much industry are concentrated in a comparatively small area, clean air is not cheap. Astonishing though it may seem to say that air is expensive, one of the points which have to be put across to people is that we have to pay the price for introducing clean air. That is why my remarks about the expenditure of the steel works in my constituency were by no means irrelevant—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Perhaps not irrelevant to the hon. Gentleman's constituency, but out of order in discussing the Motion.
§ Mr. Watkins
I will try to keep in order in the remainder of my remarks.
The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South was ruled to be in order in making his points. If I might elaborate slightly on another of them, may I say that the country faces grave problems as a result of the new industries which are developing. All the legislation which we have enacted with a view to creating smokeless zones and to deal with planning, was designed to come to terms with the pollution and the other problems of the 19th century. It was the middle of the 20th century before we succeeded.
Surely, it is all important that the growing problems of pollution should not be dealt with in the 21st century, but must be dealt with here and now.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)
I was amazed by the speech of the Minister of State in answer to this censure Motion. With great pride and a certain crass complacency, the Minister got up to say that everything was going well, but somehow he neglected to point out that six days after the beginning of European Conservation Year the Government had begun banning smokeless zones and started a pollution standstill because of the shortage of smokeless fuel. Indeed, he went on to quote a number of figures. I tried to interrupt him, but was unsuccessful.
Therefore, I ask the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology whether he will ensure that the Minister who is to wind up clears up a very strange and definite contradiction that appears to arise from figures that the Minister of State gave to the House and statements made by the Ministry published in the Guardian on 17th December:The Ministry of Housing and Local Government has decided that because the production of smokeless fuel cannot be increased at a sufficient rate, no new smoke control orders will come into operation until after April 1971.Is that correct, or is it not? I was informed by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government last week that not only was that information correct, but that nothing had been done about approving smokeless zone orders since October of last year.
323 This is the background to the debate; not the sort of devil-may-care knockabout stuff that the Minister of State tried to give to the House. It is a debate really to debunk Uncle Harold who is attempting to claim that the Labour Party has discovered the evils of pollution because it wishes to capitalise on this, and suggesting that everybody should be grateful.
Not only is that claim of Labour Party propaganda basically untrue—we have had all the facts presented way back from Manchester to the Conservative Act of 1956 and the steps taken since then—but I remind the Minister that the Conservative White Paper, Cmnd. 2231, of December, 1963, stated:By 1970 the total shortage of fuels for improved and unimproved grates"—for smokeless zone purposes—may be about two million tons a year.In 1963 we predicted that there would be a shortage. This is the Government of planning, the Government of great technological achievements. What the blazes have they been doing since 1963? They have been making a greater shortage, because that was two million tons less with a prediction of over eleven million tons, not the eight million which the Government are suggesting. So, even if they got half way to trying to meet it we should have been without the shortage of smokeless fuel that we now have.
The major criticism is not only a lack of urgency, but a lack of information. The right hand of the Ministry of Technology does not know what the left hand of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is doing. Indeed, the Minister had the indignity—I am sorry for him, because I believe that it was not has fault but that of his officials who were unable to brief him—
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology (Mr. Alan Williams) rose—
§ Mr. Emery
When I have finished this sentence I will be delighted to give way.
On 23rd January, six smokeless zones were cancelled. By the following Friday week, the number had risen to fourteen. By the following Tuesday, the Minister, who had not been informed of the alteration, had to tell us that it was fifteen.
Mr. Alan Williams
Since the hon. Member has mentioned a situation in which I was unfortunately involved, perhaps I might say that he has done himself less than justice here.
In a personal apology to the House, which he accepted immediately, I accepted full personal responsibility for having quoted a figure that I had used the previous Monday in a broadcast; the figures had changed on the Thursday and Friday prior to the Monday Question Time. The responsibility was mine. The hon. Gentleman cannot blame the Government machine for the fact that I happened to get two figures mixed up.
§ Mr. Emery
The hon. Member is very gallant in taking responsibility on himself, but that mistake should not have been made, because the briefing should have got the matter clear.
Lord Robens himself said:The Ministry of Local Government is urging clean air because of the health aspect but the Ministry of Technology should make sure that when one Department decrees something the other Department can meet the demand. It is not properly organised.That is not a Conservative, but an ex-Socialist M.P. and chairman of a major nationalised industry.
It has been claimed that the demand and the supply should be in the region of 8 million tons. It is evident from these figures, which were given both by the Paymaster-General on 4th December and then again by the Joint Parliamentary Secretary on 18th December, that they had no realisation that since October of that year the Ministry of Housing had been saying that nothing could be done about smokeless zones. It is not just a lack of co-ordination. It is that one Ministry does not understand the problems of another.
We should be grateful for some figures about the future supply of smokeless fuel. In the Homefire production plant at Coventry, I understand, only one of the three streams is currently in use, and even in that there are problems of operation. The total capacity of this plant is 600,000 tons per year, but it is producing for this year an estimate not of 50 per cent. or even one-sixth, but just 90,000 tons. At Markham, where room heat is being produced, the total capacity is meant to be 240,000 tons a year and it 325 is hoped that this may be reached in 1972–73, but again only one of the two streams is currently in use. The other is being "refurbished", whatever that means. Personnel at both these plants claim that there is little possibility of their getting anywhere near their targets.
§ Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson (New Forest)
Would my hon. Friend comment on the fact that today I went to my local coal merchant to buy 1 cwt. of Homefire and that I have the order here with me—one lump of Homefire out of a display case and no hope of any further supplies for at least two or three months?
§ Mr. Emery
That is a telling point and I hope that it will be answered. Indeed, I hope that my hon. Friend will give the Paymaster-General the one lump to remind him of the shortages.
It is astonishing to compare Government plans with the amount of production that has come from the private sector. The production of Coalite and Rexco has increased by more than 50 per cent.—from 1 million to over 1.5 million tons. The production of the small independent coking plants has virtually doubled between 1966–67 and today. This shows that it can be done. Why, when the Government are in control of the matter, do we see such abysmal failure?
The trouble is that the planning of the so-called super-Ministry of Technology is too cumbersome. It is unable to push forward with the type of overall policy which the Conservatives implemented and which would have been near to the fulfilment had we been in power. Instead, we are in the mess that hon. Gentlemen opposite have created.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Probert (Aberdeen)
As a number of my hon. Friends wish to speak, I will be brief.
In my constituency is situated one of the nation's largest plants for the supply of smokeless fuel. I refer to the Phurnacite plant. The N.C.B. is embarking on a 5 million expansion project, and this is to be welcomed. Nevertheless, my constituents suffer a considerable nuisance because of the incongruity involving 4 million tons of English coal being imported into Wales.
I am not a Welsh Nationalist. Nor do I resent English coal coming into 326 Wales. However, this importation creates severe problems because of the high volatility of the coal. We are, after all, speaking about smokeless zones. A serious hazard is being created in this Phurnacite area.
Another point to bear in mind is that we supply the finest dry steam coal in the world. This fuel, apart from anthracite, is naturally smokeless. I hope that the Minister will bring pressure on Lord Robens not to close down pits which supply this naturally smokeless fuel. One pit which supplies the finest coal in the world is on the jeopardy list because it is not viable. Considering the shortage of fuel facing the country, we should look carefully before closing pits on grounds of non-viability.
If I were to level a criticism, it would be at the N.C.B., but, as the Minister said in an excellent speech, it is difficult to prognosticate changes in consumer choice. This is where the N.C.B. may have slipped up. In an effort to combat the shortage of coking coal it is embarking on a £5 million expansion project, as I said. While that programme is to be welcomed, it should have been embarked upon some years ago.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. John Smith (Cities of London and Westminster)
I do not mean to speak in favour of pollution, but I want to moderate the apparently unqualified enthusiasm that has been displayed for smokeless fuel and clean air. I have been concerned with what is now called the environment for over 20 years—indeed, long before it was fashionable. I mind very much about atmospheric pollution, particularly the worst form of atmospheric pollution of all, which is noise. I hope, therefore, that the House will believe me when I say that I speak from an unpolluted heart.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I am afraid that, although the hon. Member would be making a very interesting speech, he would be out of order if he pursued that line.
§ Mr. Smith
I had noticed, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how strict you were this evening and I was going to say no more on that topic.
Of course pollution is deplorable. Looking through the evidence submitted 327 to one of the committees on pollution, I noticed a letter from a man listing in detail the pollutions of the River Calder and ending with:P.S. This letter is written with water from the River Calder.Of course we would all like clean air, and clean everything, just as we would like more research into dangerous diseases, earlier retirement, or longer holidays; but the question, when dealing with smokeless fuel and clean air, is: how much can we afford? It is no use being like a Russian Grand Duke and saying, "This is something we must have", and turning to the taxpayer carrying his purse on a cushion and ordering him to pay for it. It may be that the Government in economic terms are right, probably by mistake and due to inefficiency, to have run us out of smokeless fuel at this point of time.
Several newspapers have said on this subject that it is a question of how much we are prepared to spend. It is not even that. It is a question of how much we are prepared to forgo in the shape of exports. Clean air and other forms of freedom from pollution are extremely expensive to the nation, no matter who pays. I should be interested to know whether the Government have calculated what would be the additional cost of bricks if atmospheric pollution were dealt with in a thorough manner, or whether they have worked out the extra cost of plant in industry as a whole, and the consequent cost to the building industry and in exports. Freedom from pollution is not an inalienable human right, but something very desirable which only a rich country can afford.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. John Ellis (Bristol, North-West)
In many ways this has been a pathetic debate. It has been said that the hon. Member who opened for the Opposition spoke for too long. He has also been criticised for the terms of the Motion and for getting the fuels wrong. By trying to make this a party political occasion when everyone says, "Yah boo, we have a better record than you have"—my hon. Friend the Minister of State replied in much the same vein as he was bound to do after that kind of talk—we have missed the whole point of the debate. It is 328 simply that in this country successive Governments and the great mass of people do not understand this problem in a significant way.
If we are to get down to the bones of this problem, whether we are in Government or out and whether hon. Members opposite are in or out, we have to pose for ourselves such problems for the future that any Government will be in trouble in this business of putting things right and very great changes will have to take place. A certain amount of complacency has been shown. Reference has been made to the killer fogs, and how we have stopped them. But it is not really progress if we have only reached the stage where we have at last been forced, because of thousands of deaths, to stop killing people, bowling them over in the streets.
If I feel very passionately on the matter, it is because for 15 years I was a meteorologist. I know that the very bad conditions occur when there is an inversion. Smoke coming out of chimneys, or anything slightly warm, in the normal process of events rises and disperses in the atmosphere. This is not a particularly good thing to do, because one immediately cuts down sunlight over a wider range. But where there is an inversion, where the air is getting warmer, with height, all this piles down into the lower atmosphere. The Motion is laughable when it speaks of…smokeless fuel necessary to implement the clean air policy…".Since when did smokeless fuels give us clean air? All that happens is that in the conditions to which I have just referred the smoke stops sunlight. One does not break the inversion, and the real killer constituent is the sulphurous fumes that then come out of the chimneys and are concentrated in the lower layers.
As a conservationist, I am rather pleased in some ways if there is a shortage of fuel, because what is happening at present is that we are pushing out sulphurous fumes. If the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) disbelieves me, would he rather enter a room filled with smoke fumes or one filled not with smoke fumes but with the kind of atmosphere given off by a coke fire? One will drop dead in that atmosphere much more quickly than in 329 the smoky place, because that atmosphere is carbon monoxide.
The sad point about the debate was not just the Opposition's criticism of the Government but their failure to go on, take some courage and say what they really mean. It will be a great pity if it is not said tonight, and I shall try, because I believe that if we are to get down to dealing with the problem of having clean air we must go one stage further and say what is the best means of ensuring that our environment is preserved.
One cannot even have a gas fire in one's home unless one has a way of getting out the exhaust fumes. One must have a chimney with a fire above a certain calorific output. The only safe fuel from the environmental point of view is electricity.
I do not criticise my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for stirring people up on the matter, because it is a big problem. I will go along with any hon. Member on either side, of whatever party, if he tries to alert people to the dangers that exist. We must reach the position where nobody burns fuel, whether coal or coke, in his open grate. In many ways coke fumes are worse than coal fumes. If we face up to the problem, I believe that we shall be able to tackle the question of the environment.
When I was a meteorologist I was for a time at a little station just outside Cambridge, which is not a great area for pollution. But perhaps I can use a better example of what we mean when we talk about bringing sunlight back to our country areas. I was in North Yorkshire between the North York Moors and the Pennine Hills. One could see 30 miles in each direction, but when the wind went round to 020 we got the smoke down from Middlesbrough and visibility dropped to 1,200 yards. That is the measure of our problem. Immediately it stopped the sunlight getting through, we began to lose natural heating.
If the House in this debate can only congratulate itself and find reason for complacency in the fact that we have just managed to stop killer smog by getting smoke out of the atmosphere—and I have explained the inversion position—and then goes on to demand that we have fuels like coke to put the sulphurous gases in, then this will have been a 330 lamentable debate indeed and we shall have shown that we ill understand the problems and have so slightly smudged over the surface that we should be ashamed of ourselves. A glorious opportunity has been missed by the Front Bench opposite.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. David Lane (Cambridge)
In this Motion we are critical of two Government Departments. I want to try to puncture the amiable complacency of the Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, by one example from my constituency experience. It is one I touched on when I interrupted him.
I checked this morning what the latest situation is. I was told that there is a delay of eight to nine weeks in the delivery of some solid smokeless fuels. This delay is aggravated by problems of storage which particularly affect old people. I am told that the situation is already as bad as in any winter during the last five or six years. The hon. Gentleman talked about hardship. There is hardship. It is very hard for people who have loyally stuck to home-produced solid fuels instead of changing to other fuels, some of which are imported.
The other Ministry we are charging is the Ministry of Technology. My hon. Friends have already explained the confusion there has been between the Ministry and the Coal Board over production plans for solid smokeless fuels. It is ironic to read what the Paymaster-General is reported in The Times today as having said yesterday. The report reads:The enlarged Ministry of Technology, Mr. Lever said, was well placed to take account of the diverse interests of coal. All the fuel-producing and nearly all the fuel-consuming industries were now 'under the same roof', as were its regional responsibilities.Up to now the Ministry of Technology has been complacent both about this problem and about the problem of gas conversion, and we are looking forward to a sign tonight from the Paymaster-General that it is turning over a new leaf.
The conclusion I draw from the debate is that here we have a fairly simple aspect of environmental pollution which is wholly under Government control. They have failed to cope adequately with it, and it is hard for us to take seriously 331 their more grandiose schemes about the environment. What the problem needs, to quote a phrase used in the last General Election, is action, not words. I have litle hope of getting it from this jaded and incompetent Government, and it is high time for them to go.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
The short debate has been characterised by an understanding on our part of the seriousness of the position and on the part of the Government by apparent indifference and complete complacency.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, seemed to discount all the evidence of shortages and hardship. He apparently had not heard of any of the troubles which are being experienced by countless numbers of people. I will admit that the main difficulties seem to be concentrated in the North, but they are by no means restricted to that area. There are serious shortages of solid smokeless fuels in London and they are known to exist also to a quite considerable measure in the Southampton area, for example, where merchants are experiencing difficulty in getting supplies of the fuels they want.
There are any number of Press reports with which we have all been regaled, all of us, that is, apparently, with the exception of Ministers, about the individual difficulties which have arisen as a result of the failure of supplies of effective alternative solid smokeless fuels. This was made clear by the Chairman of the Keighley Health and Welfare Committee. He is reported in the Yorkshire Post of December last year as saying:We put the full blame for this"—that is, the shortage—on the Government. If the Government planners in this Department are not prepared to see that the proper type of fuels are available to the authorities then let it be on their heads. As far as we can see it is just another piece of gross Socialist mismanagement.In the same newspaper in January of this year examples were given of the difficulties facing coal merchants, in a number of major cities, in finding adequate supplies of solid smokeless fuel and of the consequent hardship this was imposing on old and sick people. The 332 National Federation of Coal Merchants, in York, took the unusual step of imposing its own form of rationing. In Leeds, the public health department set up an information centre to advise householders and merchants on how to get alternative supplies of smokeless fuels. In Hull, the city council decided on 8th January to ask the Minister of Housing and Local Government to relax the city's smoke control orders for six months.
Then there was the case, reported at the end of last month, of a Mrs. Kaye, of Barnsley, who said that people in her area were reduced to burning old boots because they could not get smokeless fuel. She is then reported as asking the manager of the National Coal Board's Coal Product Division:Can you tell me when in the foreseeable future there will be plenty of every kind of smokeless fuel? Can you give me a date in the 'seventies that I can ask people to wait for?The answer was:No I can't. It depends on too many factors.There are countless other examples that could be given of the difficulties that individuals are experiencing. The amazing thing about the situation is that the Government are blithely unaware that it exists.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
The hon. Gentleman has quoted a Yorkshire Post report in relation to my constituency. I, too, read the report. I have never had one complaint from any member of my constituency about this. I wrote to the Coal Board about this and it denied that there was a problem.
§ Sir J. Eden
Probably the hon. Gentleman's constituents find it more profitable to complain to me. I have had complaints from all over the country.
This has been developing for some time. Lord Robens warned the Government of the developing shortage more than five years ago, but my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) was assured as long ago as May, 1968, that shortages were unlikely. In December of that year Lord Robens accused the Government of "acting with two faces". As my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) has said, the question of supplies has not been properly organised.
333 In December, 1969, the Paymaster-General was quite calmly saying, in answer to a Question, that domestic supplies of smokeless fuel would be adequate this winter although there might be local difficulties over some grades in severe weather. That is such an understatement that it is almost untypical of him. He seems to have had no regard for the report of the Domestic Coal Consumers' Council, or for the concern which had been expressed there in September of that year.
In Appendix II of that report the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power answered the chairman's fears about the likelihood of a shortage of coke for the domestic consumer:As you know, we expect the position to be reasonably satisfactory this winter so far as solid smokeless fuels are concerned, and we will certainly be watching the position thereafter.The only comfort is that the Government have at least been watching the position, but they have not kept the House informed of the result of their examination. What has been said by the right hon. Gentleman and by the Parliamentary Secretary in answer to a series of Questions has been considerably at variance with the reports that have come from the areas which I have mentioned and from the merchants who have to deal with the position on the ground.
Of course the Government must watch the situation, and so much local authorities in the areas which are to be designated smokless zones or for which orders have been made. The Minister of State emphasised that a check has to be made with the Solid Smokeless Fuels Federation to ensure that adequate supplies of solid smokeless fuel will be available in the area if an order is made.
This procedure was fully underlined in the White Paper, Cmnd. 2231, published by the last Conservative Government in December, 1963. That White Paper forecast the sort of situation in which we now find ourselves. It stated that by 1970 the total shortage of fuels for improved and unimproved grates may be about 2 million tons a year.
The position is not as bad as that, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give us accurate figures of his assessment of the present position. That report 334 also stated that local authorities must have regard to the actual position of alternative solid smokeless fuels. This procedure was encouraged as a result of the Conservatives' Clean Air Act.
The present situation has resulted from several developments. The area gas boards have changed over from coal to oil for the manufacture of gas, there has been the advent of North Sea gas during the last five years, there have been the exceptional boom conditions in the steel industry, and other factors to which I will refer later. This is not something which has happened overnight; the picture has been clear for many years. Admittedly, it has reached more acute proportions within the last 18 months.
It was for this reason that the National Coal Board made no fewer than 29 proposals for open-cast workings between July, 1967, and July, 1968. But, as the House will know, the Government attempted to put a total ban on opencast workings and denied to the board the opportunity to take advantage of a marketing situation which was developing before its very eyes. Only during the last year has the Ministry woken up to the fact that further open-cast workings are necessary, and 15 or so were authorised. Now, during the last few months, a number of other open-cast workings are being developed.
The coke situation involves international difficulties. Again, there are shortages, but they are not peculiar to this country. There is a worldwide demand for coke, primarily due to the boom in the steel industry, but the Coal Board and the Government have been aware of the situation. The board for years has been engaged on research into new blending techniques, and it is planning for new plant to come into operation shortly at Immingham.
This is a developing situation. As long ago as the end of last year the chairman of the board reached the point of saying:I do not think that it is physically possible to fill the whole of the gap.Yet on 26th January this year the Minister was assuring one of his hon. Friends that there is as yet no shortage of coke. This is a further example of complacency and failure to recognise the danger signals 335 as they appear, signals which were quite apparent to everybody else engaged in this business in any way at all.
The rundown of coke production in the gas industry has been going on for 10 years or more. The Billingham process has been with us for a long time. The figures of production available to the Government show clearly how, step by step, from 1962 onwards the amount of gas-coke production had fallen from 9 million tons to the present figure of about 3 million tons. It is likely to decline from that figure by as much as 1 million tons a year, until it finishes altogether. This situation has been going on for many years and is one of which the producers of alternative smokeless fuels as well as the Ministry and the Government should have taken full cognisance.
The situation was certainly clear to the private producers. As the House knows, there are a number of private producers of solid smokeless fuels. From 1964, they increased their total production by as much as 69 per cent. Over that same period the Coal Board increased its total production by about 36 per cent. The board have for long been aware that it has special responsibilities in this matter. As long ago as 1962 the Chairman of the Coal Board, in evidence before the Select Committee, said:…we have got a public duty to provide smokeless fuel in view of the Clean Air Acts, because there is no one else who would tackle this but us".We have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest (Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) of the difficulties being experienced by the board. I do not in any way want to mock the board's efforts to try to find a good alternative solid smokeless fuel, but at what cost have they been researching into this matter? Tens of millions of pounds have been expended.
It is impossible to find out how much money has been put into research and development by Bronowski and others on behalf of the Coal Board. The Bronowski "bullet" story is a miserable and costly one. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who started it?"] An hon. Gentleman asks, "Who started it", but what matters is that it has been going on for so long. 336 It is costing the taxpayers millions of pounds, year after year, without producing anything effective.
This is an extremely difficult process, yet the private producers have had to gear their increasing manufacturing facilities to the forecast of the Coal Board's own production. It was anticipated that by the end of last year Homefire would be operating at the rate of 600,000 tons a year. My information is that it has hardly exceeded 30,000 to 50,000 tons a year. This is a dismal picture and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will examine the situation very closely indeed.
My regret about the situation is genuine. The Coal Board was offered on a plate one of the finest marketing opportunities ever, and, regrettably, it has failed to take full advantage of it. It has the certainty of growing demand, the Clean Air Acts and the falling off in gas-coke production.
That is the picture today. It is not a happy one and Ministers should not be sanguine about it. It requires further examination, not least of all in the investment of large sums of public money to produce a project which so far has not been available on the market.
§ Sir J. Eden
I take the hon. Gentleman's point, which he made graphically in his speech. This is a step in the right direction.
Our first concern—and we have all been concerned about this—is getting rid of the smoke from the air. There is a great deal more still to be done, for there are more difficult and dangerous substances operating in the atmosphere which will have to be taken out. The cost will undoubtedly increase, but let us first be sure that the present legislation is operated effectively and efficiently.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House just how he sees the position. What is the position primarily that he sees developing over the year ahead? What is likely to happen in 1971? A number of questions were put to the Minister by my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester. Incidentally, my hon. Friend's appointment had nothing to do with the Prime Minister. It arose out 337 of the Report of the Select Committee on the Natural Environment Research Council. We saw the significance of this development, which grew naturally out of our concern in the whole of this field, as was evidenced by the Conservation Clean Air Act.
The question I want to put to the Minister is: how does he see the picture developing in 1971? There is a shortfall of solid smokeless fuel of 500,000 tons. It has already been forecast that by next year the gap will have doubled to 1 million tons. What steps do the Government intend to take? To defer smoke control orders? Is that what they are planning to do? If they do not intend to do that, what steps will they take to try to relieve the hardship of the individual who wishes to continue burning solid smokeless fuel, who is tied to solid fuel but cannot obtain the alternatives he needs in the smokeless zone?
I believe that it is the personal situation which needs greater emphasis. Somehow or other this has escaped the attention of Ministers. They have been able to brush us off every time with the answer that there are only one or two little local difficulties. But those local difficulties spell hardship for individuals. What future do the Government hold out for them?
All hon. Members are in favour of measures to improve the environment and of the need to promote action to counter pollution. The Prime Minister has freely preached about it in this country, in the United States and no doubt in other countries which he visits. But due to lack of co-ordination between Departments progress is being postponed. That is another example of the gap between promise and performance which has been a feature of his Administration.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Paymaster-General (Mr. Harold Lever)
I have to confess to the House that I am sadder this evening than I was when I awoke this morning. I accept that all hon. Members have an equal concern to improve the environment of our country, in the air, in the rivers, on the roads, and even on the question of noise. I do not think that there is any division between us on that.
What saddens me is to find myself winding up a three-hour debate, with a 338 Motion of censure on the Government, because of some supposed shortage of smokeless fuels, compelling the abandonment in a significant manner of the Government's smokeless zone policy. In fact, of course, all that we have been listening to is a series of generalised exaggerations of grievances, not based upon hard fact, or even upon solid fuel. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Worcestershire South (Sir G. Nabarro) because, once again, with his candour and knowledge he reminded his own Front Bench of the fact that there are smokeless fuels other than solid smokeless fuels, a fact of which they appear to be in complete ignorance, if we are to judge from the Motion.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
That is unfair. I said that the Front Bench spokesman, the Minister of State, might have delineated in his speech the five categories of smokeless fuel—from coal, from coke, oil, gas and electricity.
§ Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson rose—
§ Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman was out of the Chamber when I raised this matter. This day I went to a coal merchant in London and asked for Homefire, one of the most important of the National Coal Board's products, and was told that I could not have any for at least two months.
§ Mr. Lever
I understand that the hon. Gentleman could not have that article for two months, but it does not follow that he could not have smokeless solid fuel for two months. It means only that he could not have the particularly choice blend which is in very short supply in this area. If the hon. Gentleman really thinks that that kind of point substantiates the extraordinary charade to which we have been subjected of pretending that a minor customer inconvenience of that kind justifies a three-line Whip, and a Motion of censure, he will have to think again and get something more solid.
§ Dr. Winstanley
If the right hon. Gentleman casts his mind back to the days when he used to sniff the polluted air of Cheetham, which is now not as 339 polluted as it used to be, I am sure he will agree that the only way in which he could get his constituents to cooperate in the clean air scheme was by making it convenient to do so. This is the whole point of the shortage.
§ Mr. Lever
The hon. Member for New Forest (Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson) was relying on a different point. He found a justification for this debate in the fact that he could not get a particular branded mark of solid smokeless fuel. He feels that this justifies an occasion such as that to which the House is being treated, with a three-line Whip on both sides. He is seeking to exaggerate these minor matters into major matters of party political controversy.
I do not want to go through all the points that have been raised. Some are a matter for derision, rather than for argument. The hon. Gentleman wanted to justify this strange debate by the sad tale of the old lady who suffered acute hardship and was driven to burning old boots. I do not pretend to be an expert—in fact I am rather new to this subject—but, as far as I know, boots cannot be regarded as solid smokeless fuel. I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that if he hears of such misfortunes again, and if the lady is determined to take the plunge and use smoke-creating fuels such as old boots, she might as well burn domestic coal.
I want to try to put the whole problem in perspective in a few words and let hon. Members on both sides of the House who are fair-minded judge whether one can really traipse into the Division Lobby over the position that has arisen.
Both Governments, the previous one and this one, have been pushing forward as fast as is technically and economically possible to reduce the smoke in the atmosphere and to increase the smokeless areas. This programme had two wings, so to say. One was to assist the conversion and to make available all kinds of smokeless fuel, solid and other, the list of which was so conveniently enunciated a moment or two ago by the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South. The population has gradually burned less and less smoke-creating fuel. That is so over the whole country, irrespective of 340 whether there is a smokeless zone or anything of that kind, and it is much to be welcomed.
Side by side with this general advance in reducing smoke, the 100 per cent. areas in which it has been forbidden to burn anything but smokeless fuel have greatly increased. Orders were made, as we have heard from my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, in the Conservative Government—not as fast as we have made, not covering as many users per annum, but I do not want to make a special point of this. We would expect a better performance from this Government than from the previous one, and I do not want to score any cheap debating points. I am not questioning the sincerity and urgency with which the Conservative Government, to the best of their ability, pushed on with this policy.
Then there is the difficult problem of estimating this development to smokelessness in terms of burning which particular fuel. It is very hard indeed to forecast. When there is a great changeover to smokeless fuels it is not known which one is going to be the favourite as the demand rises. So if solid smokeless fuel is to be kept in balance it must be possible to forecast the demand for that particular smokeless fuel and also the supply. Both of these are very hard to forecast because, apart from the domestic consumer of smokeless solid fuel, there are industries which use it and their exact demand is very hard indeed to forecast.
The difficulty of forecasting this results in the situation that we have this winter, in which we have a somewhat tight supply—not the great hardships that have been retailed to us this evening, not a great shortage, not a lack of co-ordination, but roughly supply in balance with demand. The only difficulty is that in order to be sure that the right supplies are at the right place at the right time, so that when the hon. Gentleman the Member for New Forest asks for a bag of his particular choice it shall be there, there has to be a surplus. What is missing is that surplus. There is no shortage, but the surplus, which would make it possible to have an even supply of these smokeless solid fuels available all over the country, is missing.
The idea that there is not enough solid smokeless fuel to cover the smokeless 341 zones is too ludicrous to be worthy of more than a moment's comment. If we focused the supply of solid smokeless fuels on the smokeless zones there would be a glut of them. For the reason I gave in opening, we have to cover the whole range of the country. There are what have been referred to as little local difficulties; that is to say, some relatively minor shortages. Since there are alternative fuels available, many people simply cope with the situation if there is a temporary shortfall of the fuel of their choice by using gas, electricity or some other smokeless fuel.
§ Mr. Lever
The hon. Gentleman is anticipating, falsely in my view, the result of the next election. The present Minister of Housing has said nothing of the kind, and the hon. Gentleman has not yet been authorised to replace him.
To get the measure of the difficulty, there are 350 local authorities where smokeless zones prevail. Of those, 16 have asked to have their orders suspended because if they were 100 per cent. enforced some people, though not everyone, in the area might be driven to be without fuel or to burn some of the hon. Gentleman's old boots. As a result, these local authorities have asked and received permission to ease the 100 per cent. enforcement of their smokeless zones.
When the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) opened the debate, he appeared to enjoy himself so much in making a generalised rodomontade about the situation that he almost justified his speech. But then, as Jane Austen somewhat primly remarks:The pleasantness of an occupation by no means evinces its propriety.In his ebullience, the hon. Gentleman tried to paint a picture of 16 otherwise clean areas, not mentioning the 350 where the orders have not been changed, which would be belching forth black smoke from every point. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that happens where there has been a temporary suspension of 100 per cent. enforcement 342 is that the great majority of people in the area have smokeless fuel and will go on using it but, rather than inflict hardship on those who cannot find it and to ease the position, they have been granted permission to burn any smoke-creating fuel that they choose, including those suggested by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden).
We would have had a surplus of this fuel, in spite of the difficulties of forecasting demand and supply, were it not for the technical difficulties which occurred with the plant of the N.C.B. The hon. Gentleman complains that the board tried. I am not sure whether he complains that it tried and it cost money or that it failed. But it is enough to say that this effort to develop smokeless fuels further was started under a Conservative Government and continued under the present Government.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite should have a little sense of proportion in this matter. In order to have no difficulty over supplies, one must forecast both demand and supply, "demand" meaning not demand for smokeless fuel, as the hon. Gentleman seems to think, but demand for solid smokeless fuel. Some people will go to gas and oil and others will use electricity.
Even the 1960 White Paper of the Conservative Government recognised that it was difficult to forecast these demands and supplies. That did not deter right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite from doing so, but, in doing so, they proved the justice of their original promise. They forecast an 11½ million tons consumption by 1965 and a production of 12 million tons. Those figures would comfortably have given the half million tons of surplus which, if we had had it, would have avoided this sort of debate. The only trouble is that, instead of 12 million tons, there was a production of 8 million tons in 1965, a massive shortfall of 4 million tons. Fortunately for the Tories, there was a symmetry in the wrongness of their forecasting. The consumption of 11½ million tons failed to materialise as well, and demand was only 8 million tons. In other words, they were 3½ million tons short in their projection of consumption and 4 million tons short of their production forecast.
The hon. Gentleman complains of our forecasting 200,000 or 300,000 tons either 343 way. This forecasting was 4 million tons either way.
In fairness, the Conservative Government did not seriously try to bring about the 12 million tons to match the anticipated consumption. Had they done so, we would have had disused, dilapidated and exceedingly extensive works at great cost brought into being to supply this imaginary demand, and vast stores of unused smokeless solid fuel.
I wonder what would have happened if the consumption that they predicted had arrived, because the only production available was 3½ million tons short of the tonnage that they anticipated they would have to meet. In fact, consumption has remained steady at around g million tons. We would have had this little marginal difficulty overcome but for one or two factors in addition to the Coal Board's technical difficulties in getting its plant into full production. If the board's plant had been in full production we would have had a handsome surplus over all requirements of 700,000 tons.
In addition, there has been the steel boom. The hon. Gentleman referred to the 1963 White Paper where the error in forecasting had been reduced to 2 million tons wrong—
§ Mr. Emery rose—
§ Mr. Lever
Let me finish.
The White Paper forecast a shortage of 1.6 million tons. Though I have read the White Paper, I cannot see what the Conservative Government were doing to meet this expected shortage, had it arrived. It did not arrive. One hopeful thing on which they were relying was that the steel consumption of coke would be much reduced. It has increased, and any expectation of easement on that account would have been absolutely misplaced had the Conservative Government been able to meet their forecast.
§ Mr. Emery rose—
§ Mr. Emery rose—
§ Mr. Lever
The main point is to show the difficulties of forecasting. I have quoted verbatim the figures given in the 1963 White Paper of the Conservative Government.
I now turn to 1970 and 1971. There is no hardship, and the Coal Board has undertaken to see that there will be no hardship. There are difficulties. I should like to see an easier supply. There is a tight position. That tight position may recur again next winter. I cannot give predictions about that. There is no ground for panic, still less for the party opposite to excite a sense of panic or anything that is calculated to suggest that hoarding or anything like that is necessary.
There will probably be a tight situation next winter. I have not got the forecasting capacity of those who advised the Conservative Government in their White Paper, so I will not attempt to forecast how the weather will be next winter, nor how many people will use gas rather than smokeless solid fuel, nor will I venture into the range of unknowables about which I would have to know to give an accurate forecast of the balance. But I can tell the House that there will be no hardship this winter and there will be no hardship next winter. There will be a tight situation on supply for this winter and the situation next winter may be of the same order.
I ask the House to reject the Motion. It is really bandying about generalisations on lack of co-ordination, failure of policy, and matters of that kind. The criticism amounts to a mere exploitation of grievance without suggesting any kind of remedy whatever.
§ Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.345
§ Questions, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
Question put accordingly:—
That this House deplores the failure of Her Majesty's Government to ensure the
§ supplies of smokeless fuel necessary to implement the clean air policy; particularly in view of the stress laid on environmental pollution in recent Ministerial speeches.
§ The House divided: Ayes 244, Noes 305.349
|Division No. 58.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Fortescue, Tim||Maddan, Martin|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Foster, Sir John||Maginnis, John E.|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Fry, Peter||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Astor, John||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Marten, Neil|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Gibson-Watt, David||Maude, Angus|
|Awdry, Daniel||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Maudlin?, nt. Hn. Reginald|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Clover, Sir Douglas||Mawby, Ray|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Glyn, Sir Richard||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Goodhew, Victor||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Gower, Raymond||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Grant, Anthony||Monro, Hector|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Film)||Grant-Ferris, Sir Robert||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Grieve, Percy||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Biffen, John||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gurden, Harold||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Han, John (Wycombe)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hail-Davis, A. G. F.||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Blaker, Peter||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Murton, Oscar|
|Body, Richard||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Neave, Airey|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar.|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Braine, Bernard||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Nott, John|
|Brewis, John||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Onslow, Cranley|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hastings, Stephen||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Hay, John||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Heseltine, Michael||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Bryan, Paul||Higgins, Terence L.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N & M)||Hill, J. E. B.||Pardoe, John|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Peel, John|
|Burden, F. A.||Holland, Philip||Peyton, John|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Hooson, Emlyn||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hordern, Peter||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hornby, Richard||Pounder, Rafton|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Howell, David (Guildford)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hunt, John||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pym, Francis|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Iremonger, T. L.||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Clark, Henry||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Clegg, Walter||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Cooke, Robert||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Johnson Smith, G. (E, Crinstead)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Cordle, John||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Costain, A. P.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jopling, Michael||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Crouch, David||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Royle, Anthony|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Kershaw, Anthony||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kimball, Marcus||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kirk, Peter||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Dance, James||Kitson, Timothy||Scott, Nicholas|
|Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.)||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lambton, Viscount||Sharples, Richard|
|Dean, Paul||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Lane, David||Silvester, Frederick|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Langford-Hott, Sir John||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Doughty, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Speed, Keith|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Longden, Gilbert||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Eden, Sir John||Lubbock, Eric||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Tapsell, Peter|
|Emery, Peter||Mac Arthur, Ian||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Eyre, Reginald||McMaster, Stanley||Temple, John M.|
|Farr, John||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Fisher, Nigel||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Tilney, John||Walters, Dennis||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Ward, Christopher (Swindon)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|van Straubenzee, W. R.||Ward, Dame Irene||Worsley, Marcus|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Weatherill, Bernard||Wright, Esmond|
|Vickers, Dame Joan||Wells, John (Maidstone)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Waddington, David||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)||Wiggin, A. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Walker, Peter (Worcester)||Williams, Donald (Dudley)||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)||Mr. Jasper More.|
|Wall, Patrick||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Abse, Leo||Dickens, James||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)|
|Albu, Austen||Dobson, Ray||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Doig, Peter||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Driberg, Tom||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Dunn, James A,||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Anderson, Donald||Dunnett, Jack||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Archer, Peter (R'wley Regis & Tipton)||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Ashley, Jack||Eadie, Alex||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Edelman, Maurice||Judd, Frank|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Edwards, Robert (Bliston)||Kelley, Richard|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Ellis, John||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Bagier, Cordon A. T.||English, Michael||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Barnes, Michael||Ennals, David||Kerr, Russell (Feitham)|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)|
|Barnett, Joel||Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Lawson, George|
|Baxter, William||Fernyhough, E.||Ledger, Ron|
|Beaney, Alan||Finch, Harold||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Bence, Cyril||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Lee, John (Reading)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)|
|Binns, John||Foley, Maurice||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Blackburn, F.||Ford, Ben||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Forrester, John||Loughlin, Charles|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Fowler, Gerry||Luard, Evan|
|Booth, Albert||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Boston, Terence||Freeson, Reginald||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Boyden, James||Gardner, Tony||McBride, Neil|
|Bradley, Tom||Garrett, W. E.||McCann, John|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Ginsburg, David||MacColl, James|
|Brooks, Edwin||Golding, John||MacDermot, Niall|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Macdonald, A. H.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||McElhone, Frank|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McGuire, Michael|
|Buchan, Norman||Gregory, Arnold||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mackie, John|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Cunter, Rt. Hn. R, J,||Maclennan, Robert|
|Cant, R. B.||Hamiling, William||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hannan, William||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Harper, Joseph||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Chapman, Donald||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Coe, Denis||Haseldine, Norman||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Coleman, Donald||Hattersley, Roy||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hazell, Bert||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Heffer, Eric S.||Manuel, Archie|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Henig, Stanley||Mapp, Charles|
|Cronin, John||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Marks, Kenneth|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hilton, W. S.||Marquand, David|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Hobden, Dennis||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Dalyell, Tam||Horner, John||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Maxwell, Robert|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Davies, E. Hudson (Conway)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Howie, W.||Mendelson, John|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Hoy, Rt. Hn. James||Mikardo, Ian|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Huckfield, Leslie||Millan, Bruce|
|Davies, Ifor (Cower)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hunter, Adam||Molloy, William|
|Dell, Edmund||Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Mill)||Moonman, Eric|
|Dempsey, James||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Dewar, Donald||Janner, Sir Barnett||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jeger, George (Goole)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Rankin, John||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Moyle, Roland||Rees, Merlyn||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Mulley, Dt. Hn. Frederick||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Thornton, Ernest|
|Murray, Albert||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Tomney, Frank|
|Near, Harold||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy||Tuck, Raphael|
|Newens, Stan||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Norwood, Christopher||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Ogden Eric||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Wallace, George|
|O'Malley, Brian||Roebuck, Roy||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Oram, Bert||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Orbach, Maurice||Rose, Paul||Weitzman, David|
|Orme, Stanley||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Wellbeloved, James|
|Oswald, Thomas||Ryan, John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Padley, Walter||Sheldon, Robert||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Whitlock, William|
|Paget, R. T.||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Palmer, Arthur||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N 'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton, N. E.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Park, Trevor||Silverman, Julius||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Skeffington, Arthur||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Slater, Joseph||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Small, William||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Snow, Julian||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Pentland, Norman||Spriggs, Leslie||Winnick, David|
|Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire,W.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael||Woof, Robert|
|Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Mr. J. D. Concannon and|
|Probert, Arthur||Swain, Thomas||Mr. James Hamilton.|
|Randall, Harry||Taverne, Dick|