HC Deb 15 December 1953 vol 522 cc189-90
34. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what further research work has to be undertaken into the problem of the nuisance caused to large numbers of people by effluvia from the River Thames to enable the Committee to make a full report.

Mr. H. Macmillan

As the answer is long I will, with permission, circulate it in the Official Report.

Mr. Dodds

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how much longer this Committee, which was set up in April, 1951, is to continue, in view of the fact that the position is becoming intolerable at Woolwich and Erith, where the contamination is such that cream paint turns brown in a few weeks, a horrible experience for those who have to live in such an atmosphere?

Mr. Macmillan

I did not want to inflict this Report about oxidation and solution of hydrogen sulphide and other things on the House. The main point is that the L.C.C. Improvement Scheme which will cost £12 million or £13 million and was held up for many years, is due to start at the beginning of 1954.

Mr. Lewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the conditions in Essex, in East Ham, West Ham and other parts of East London, and of the growing concern about the awful smells and stench which arise from the lack of proper facilities? Will he try to do something, because the public are annoyed?

Mr. Macmillan

That is why I am glad to have been able to authorise the beginning of this scheme, which was held up through the years of restriction and shortage.

Following is the statement: The extensive research still in progress covers such things as the quantities, temperature, and chemical and biological condition, at various points and times, of the estuary water itself and of the discharges into it from the upper Thames, tributaries, sewage works, and industrial premises (including gas works and power stations); the nature and behaviour of bottom mud and suspended solids; the volume and movement of liquid within the estuary; and the interactions of these and other factors, in varying conditions, as affecting—among other things—the production, oxidation, solution, and release, of hydrogen sulphide. Much of it is fundamental research now being undertaken for the first time, and the results should be of considerable use in relation not only to the Thames but also to other estuaries. As the hon. Member is aware, however, it is already accepted that a major cause of the complaints in the lower reaches of the Thames is the need to improve the purification of London's sewage, and the London County Council, who have long been anxious to carry out the necessary works, have now been authorised to do so.