HC Deb 22 January 1953 vol 510 cc382-3
20. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Health what representation his Department has on the Atmosphere Pollution Research Committee; and whether lie has yet notified the Committee that 4,703 persons died in the Greater London area during the week ending 13th December, 1952, as compared with 1,852 during the corresponding week of 1951, a large part of which increase he has attributed to the fog.

Mr. Iain Macleod

My Department is not represented on the Committee, but I have confirmed that the Committee are aware of the figures quoted by the hon. and gallant Member.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask him whether, as the fog in December, with its man-made atmospheric filth, killed thousands of people in the London area, he will see, as a matter of urgent priority, that his Department is represented on this committee and will take the most vigorous steps, in association with the Departments concerned, to reduce this appalling and unnecessary loss of life, which in the light of the figures that he has mentioned—6,000 more deaths in five weeks in London—is on the scale of mass extermination?

Mr. Macleod

My Department has been looking into this matter as a problem of the very greatest urgency, as I agree it is, but this committee is mainly a scientific body concerned with causes, whereas, for obvious reasons, I am far more concerned with effects. I think that the method that we are adopting—there is a link between this committee and the M.R.C.—is a better one.

Sir Edward Keeling

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in Westminster alone deaths from heart diseases were more than doubled in those days of fog, and that deaths due to lung conditions were nearly five times as great?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the Minister give consideration to the granting of a subsidy to the Smoke Abatement Society?

Mr. Macleod

I will look into that suggestion. It does not really arise on this answer.

Mr. Hastings

In giving continued consideration to this matter, will the Minister also note that there is some evidence that the smoke and fumes of cities predispose to cancer of the lung?

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