HC Deb 09 December 1948 vol 459 cc557-8
47. Mrs. Leah Manning

asked the Lord President of the Council what steps are being taken by the Scientific Research Council in respect of smoke abatement, in view of the menace to health, and the serious results to industry, commerce and transport caused by fogs such as this country recently suffered.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The reduction of smoke in the air will not prevent fogs, but it should reduce their intensity and frequency. The Fuel Research Station of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research has studied methods of reducing the emission of smoke by using fuel more efficiently. Smoke eliminators developed by the Station for hand-fired industrial boilers are being marketed commercially. Research on the design of domestic appliances and on the production and use of smokeless fuels is in progress, but this is essentially a long-term problem. The Department has also, over many years, organised the measurement of smoke pollution to assess any change in its distribution and intensity.

Mrs. Manning

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him whether, in view of the fact that smoke in fog makes the fog heavy and therefore much more difficult to move quickly, there is not a short-term remedy which his Department has considered?

Mr. Morrison

I devoutly wish there were, but I am afraid that there is not a short-term remedy. Very much improved fireplaces and boilers have been elaborated, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is, in respect of new housing, urging local authorities to use new types of fireplaces, and in other ways to improve the boilers. I can assure my hon. Friend that I am anxious to do all I can, but this does involve a change in equipment over a period.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the benefits which accrue to those who insist on having an open coal fire; and in that connection, will he also bear in mind the possibility of burning smokeless fuel in open grates?

Mr. Morrison

That is one of the aspects of research, because it is recognised that many people wish for an open fire. That is taken into account.

Mr. Bossom

Would the Lord President look into the question of using more district heating? That is possible, and would do a lot to help to meet this very situation?

Mr. Morrison

Well, we are getting rather wide of the original Question now. I am not sure that I am competent to answer in detail about district heating.