HC Deb 01 November 1949 vol 469 cc189-90
29. Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he proposes to secure the cleansing of such Scottish rivers as are at present badly polluted.

Mr. Woodburn

The administration of the Rivers Pollution Prevention Acts is in the hands of local authorities and I have no power of enforcement. Within the limits of the capital investment programme, however, I am prepared to approve works for the prevention of pollution whether in the form of sewage purification plant or outfall to the sea.

Mr. MacPherson

Would the Secretary of State agree that the amount of untreated sewage still discharged into the rivers is sufficient to call for very strong enforcement of the Act?

Mr. Woodburn

I have no powers in that direction. I should be very glad to encourage and help any local authority which is so disposed.

Mr. Rankin

In view of the fact that many local authorities are failing in their duty in this respect, would my right hon. Friend consider the advisability of creating one pollution authority so that we may have a uniform approach to this problem?

Mr. Woodburn

There is a subcommittee of the Water Advisory Committee at present considering the question of the pollution of rivers, and when their report comes along it may perhaps make some recommendation of a practical nature. In the meantime, if my hon. Friend will give me the particular cases referred to I can consider them.

Mr. Mathers

Does my right hon. Friend agree that what he requires in this connection is more authority to deal with pollution, and if that is so, if he has not the time before then, will he, when he comes back as Secretary of State for Scotland after the next Election, bring in stronger legislation?