HC Deb 01 August 1957 vol 574 cc1491-2
15. Mr. T. Brown

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is now in a position to disclose the results of the investigations made by the Lancashire River Board into the excessive pollution of the River Ribble on 3rd and 4th July, 1957, when many thousands of fish were poisoned; and what action he proposes to take against those responsible.

Mr. Godber

As to the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to my hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke)on 30th July.

Any proceedings would be for the Lancashire River Board to take, but my right hon. Friend understands that it has decided against taking such action.

Mr. Brown

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary not aware of the growing disquiet in the north-west of Lancashire about the heavy pollution of rivers and water courses? Is he further aware that, in the last three months, it has grown progressively worse? Will he not ask the river boards to have keener and stricter supervision and, when possible, to take action against the culprits?

Mr. Godber

I accept that this matter is causing concern. My right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government are very concerned about this, but there are strict limits to what we can do in this matter, although we will keep in touch with the river boards about it.

Mr. Jack Jones

Is the hon. Member aware that the continued pollution of this and other rivers is creating grave concern among ordinary, decent, humble anglers, decent working chaps, whose minds are becoming poisoned—they are already poisoned enough against the Government?

Mr. Godber

I should be sorry to think that while angling they were thinking about the Government.

Mr. Champion

Will not the hon. Gentleman consider using the default powers in the River Boards Act, 1948, because this is a serious matter?

Mr. Godber

I will consider that. This particular pollution arose in special circumstances and was aggravated by a severe storm. I do not think that at the moment we have sufficient grounds for using the default powers.