HC Deb 23 December 1937 vol 330 cc2142-3
34. Sir Percy Harris

asked the Minister of Health how many prosecutions there have been in London during the last 12 months under the Public Health (London) Act, 1891, and the Public Health Smoke Abatement Act, 1926, for chimneys sending forth smoke in such quantities as to be a nuisance; whether there are any officers of his Department detailed to see that the provisions of these Acts relating to smoke abatement in London are enforced; and whether he is satisfied that all the London boroughs are making full use of the powers entrusted to them?

Sir K. Wood

The latest information I have is for the year 1936, when two prosecutions were reported. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. The statutory responsibility for enforcing the smoke abatement law in London rests on the Metropolitan Borough Councils. The London County Council have certain default powers and also powers of making complaint to me. I have received no complaint of failure by the councils to use their powers.

Sir P. Harris

Is the Minister not aware by the evidence of his own eyes and nose that these powers have not been enforced by the borough councils; and will he, therefore, detail an officer to investigate the whole problem of smoke in London so that next year we may not continue to have these unpleasant and unsatisfactory conditions as a result of failure by local authorities to enforce the by-laws in many parts of London?

Sir K. Wood

I am looking forward to the formation and the meeting of the Joint Smoke Abatement Committee for London, and, as a result, I hope that something may be achieved during the New Year.

Mr. Thorne

Is the Minister aware that a good deal of the smoke complained of in this question is due to the fact that a very large number of factory owners use dirty, beastly coal for generating steam?

Sir K. Wood

I have heard all sorts of suggestions including the suggestion that the smoke is due to the coal fires which we all like to have in our own homes.

Mr. David Adams

Have there been any prosecutions in connection with the smoke nuisance arising from Government buildings in Whitehall?

Sir K. Wood

None have been brought to my notice.