HC Deb 30 October 1956 vol 558 cc1223-4
5. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what progress has been made in protecting the people against the harmful effects of smog this winter ; what Government Departments are co-operating in this work ; and in what way the public, local authorities, radio and television services and industry are being asked to cooperate with a view to the maximum effort being made to avoid a repetition of the heavy toll of deaths and sickness of recent years from this form of visitation.

Mr. Sandys

Since the reply is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Dodds

If we get weather conditions similar to those of the winter of 1951–52, is there any likelihood of the results being less tragic than they then were, because of the progress made since then?

Mr. Sandys

I should be a very rash man if I were to forecast the effects of future weather conditions. I will say only that there has been an intensive effort to bring this policy into effect, but the implementation of the policy behind the Clean Air Act, which we passed early this Session, is obviously a matter which will take a number of years, although we are getting on with it.

Mr. Hastings

Will the Minister, as soon as possible, make a statement about the possibility of minimising the effects of smog on health in homes by the use of ammonia? There have been experiments. The method is simple and could be of very great advantage during the coming winter, if we get smog.

Mr. Sandys

Naturally we have all these points in mind, and I should be glad if the hon. Member will study the detailed reply which I am circulating in HANSARD.

Following is the reply : The only sure protection against the ill effects of smog is prevention of air pollution. This cannot be accomplished all at once, but will require a sustained effort by all sections of the community over a number of years. Since last winter, progress towards this objective has been marked by the passing of the Clean Air Act, which provides the legislative framework for an intensive attack on pollution by smoke, grit and dust from all sources. Government Departments and other bodies concerned, including the Medical Research Council, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the fuel industries are actively co-operating. An Order under the Act will shortly be laid before Parliament specifying the appointed day for those provisions which relate to smoke control areas, new furnaces, the height of chimneys, the appointment of Clean Air Councils, and certain other matters. It is intended that the remaining provisions of the Act, which deal with emissions of dark smoke, grit and dust from industrial premises, railway engines and vessels, should be brought into force in the early part of 1958. Meanwhile, arrangements have again been made for warnings to be broadcast by the B. B. C. this winter, if and when persistent fog is forecast, with advice to the public about the steps they should take. Householders and industry will be asked to take special care to minimise smoke during periods of fog