HC Deb 09 July 1957 vol 573 cc181-2
26. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what recent representations he has received from the Middlesex County Council in regard to the state of the River Colne below Rickmansworth; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. H. Brooke

I have received no such representations from the Middlesex County Council.

Mr. Beswick

Is it not unsatisfactory and is not the Minister concerned that he stated in this House last week that the River Colne was in a better state now than for some time; whereas the Middlesex County Council, in a letter it was constrained to write to local authorities, states: The county medical officer considers that the river is little better than dilute sewage and constitutes a definite risk to the health of any Middlesex resident who may be tempted to bathe in it. In the circumstances, does not the Minister think this calls for some action on his part?

Mr. Brooke

No, not by me in the first instance. This is a matter for the Thames Conservancy in the first instance rather than for me.

Mr. Beswick

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman abrogates all responsibility in this matter? Is it right that he should assure people by a statement from this House that the condition of the river is all right, when the county medical officer says it is not?

Mr. Brooke

I am fully aware of my responsibility, but the primary task here rests with the Thames Conservancy. If the Thames Conservancy wishes me to intervene, I am sure that it will communicate with me.

Mr. Lindgren

The Minister repeats that there are sixteen rivers where conditions have improved, but hon. Members on this side of the House know from their correspondence that the local authorities in the areas of these sixteen rivers are denying any improvement. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain that?

Mr. Brooke

I was basing my statement largely on the reports of the river boards presented to this House.

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