HC Deb 16 June 1953 vol 516 cc714-5
18. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether he is aware of the need for further research into the possibilities of regulating the rainfall on this country by making certain rain clouds discharge their rain over the sea; and what action he is taking?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works (Mr. Hugh Molson)

As part of the research into the processes of rainfall in this country experiments have been carried out from time to time on the seeding of clouds. The results of these experiments, and of similar experiments in other countries, have shown that certain types of cloud can be made to produce rain and, conversely, that in some circumstances limited sheets of cloud can be dispersed. We are, however, still a long way from a complete understanding of the physics of natural rain.

The hon. Member's objective of making certain rain clouds discharge their rain over the sea would involve further complications. I am advised that, because of the natural processes giving rise to the extensive cloud and rain areas which are common here, any practicable application of the present techniques of dispersing cloud could have little effect in protecting any particular area of this country from rain. Developments in other countries are being closely followed by the Meteorological Office, which will also continue its investigations into the basic processes.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that I know full well that the present technique would not succeed, hence my Question about the need for further research? Would the hon. Gentleman remind the Lord President that however good our climate here may be, and the excellence of its products, animal and vegetable, shows that it is a good climate, we should not neglect the possibility of mitigating the occasional extremes of excessive rain and drought?

Mr. Molson

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that this process is more effective in causing rain to fall where it is required than in preventing rain from falling where it is not required. My noble Friend is of the opinion that in this country we have not the same urgent need for research into this method as may perhaps exist in other countries.

Mr. Assheton

Has my hon. Friend thought of the appalling responsibilities that would fall upon any Minister who had to decide whether it was to rain or not on a particular place?

Mr. Molson

I have no doubt at all that that is a problem which will present itself at some time in the future, but at the present time we are still quite unable to make rain fall or to prevent it from falling where it does.

Mr. Mikardo

Will the hon. Gentleman advise the Lord President that future experiments should be concentrated into periods when Test matches are being played?

Mr. Molson

I am afraid that in the nature of scientific experiments it is difficult to limit experiments to the time when these sporting events are taking place.

Mr. Hollis

Even though it may seem that there is a good deal too much rain in London and Nottingham, there are other parts of the country, where there is not sufficient rain. If my hon. Friend has any to dispose of, will he put some of it on my garden?