HC Deb 22 June 1950 vol 476 cc1465-6
39 and 40. Dr. Bantett Stross

asked the Minister of Health (1) in view of the inadequacy of the legislation relating to smoke nuisance, what steps he proposes to take to diminish atmospheric pollution and deposit which may reach, as in Stoke-on-Trent, a figure of 20 tons per square mile, per month, or more;

(2) whether he is aware of the ill-effects upon the health of the population particularly the aged, resulting from the inhalation of lung irritants due to atmospheric pollution by smoke; and what remedial measures he has in mind.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

I am aware of the ill-effects of atmospheric pollution, but, in my view, the problem is practical rather than legal. The efforts of all concerned to secure that the best practicable means of prevention are used have already resulted in some improvement in this area in recent years, and I shall do all I can to see that these efforts are maintained.

Dr. Stross

Is my right hon. Friend aware, however, that local authorities and medical officers of health think that the maximum penalties imposed on conviction are too low, and that the legal position is such that they cannot effect the improvements they desire? Will he do something in that direction?

Mr. Bevan

It is not always desirable to have very heavy legal penalties for conditions that are sometimes physically difficult to carry out.

Mr. A. Edward Davies

When my right hon. Friend says that it is a practical problem, is he aware that there is a shortage of alternative fuels—gas and electricity—and will he do what he can to supplement the already improved supplies?

Mr. Bevan

The shortage of gas and electricity reflects the higher purchasing power of the community.