§ Mr. Gareth Wardell
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence is available to his Department that differs from that included in the 10th report of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution regarding the health risks posed by bathing in grossly polluted bathing waters; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Freeman
There is no evidence to dispute the conclusion of this report that the risk of contracting serious illness from bathing in the sea off the United Kingdom appears to be extremely small.
Research outside the United Kingdom has reported a small risk of contracting minor illnesses such as gastro-enteritis and skin complaints, but gives conflicting reports of which sewage indicator organisms give the best correlation with illness. We wish to be better informed about the position of minor illnesses in United Kingdom waters and the Department of the Environment has already carried out a pilot study to test the proposed methodologies.