HC Deb 21 July 1959 vol 609 cc1047-8
17. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works as representing the Lord President of the Council, what reply he has given to the United Commercial Travellers' Association in regard to the resolution forwarded to him concerning the emission of fumes from motor vehicles powered with diesel engines.

Mr. H. Nicholls

As my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health said in answer to a similar Question on 22nd June, a reply has been sent by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation to the United Commercial Travellers' Association to the effect that the concentration of noxious exhaust gases in the atmosphere is unlikely to affect healt in any detrimental way. This reply went on to say that further research in this and other directions is still be carried out.

Mr. Davies

But does not the Parliamentary Secretary admit that the emission of these noxious fumes from vehicles is a considerable danger on the road, that it is nauseating and increasing, as evidenced by correspondence now appearing in The Times? If the law cannot be enforced, or if it is too complicated to be enforced at present, will the Parliamentary Secretary consult his colleagues with a view to amending the law?

Mr. Nicholls

That is not a question for me at this stage. I answer for my noble Friend on behalf of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, which has made it perfectly clear that if the engines are properly maintained, as they should be. these excess fumes which we find so objectionable need not be produced. I am afraid that enforcement is not within the authority of my noble Friend. As to the health aspect, the Medical Research Council has satisfied itself that the detrimental effects are not as extreme as is sometimes suggested.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Would the Parliamentary Secretary make recommendations about regulations that are required to ensure that vehicles are properly maintained? Does he not agree that present great abuse of diesel machines is becoming a menace to health and a great inconvenience?

Mr. Nicholls

The regulations are clear. If it can be shown that vehicles are emitting fumes which are dangerous there are powers to deal with them, but that is a matter for those who enforce the regulations and not for by noble Friend's Department.

Mr. Nabarro

Is my hon. Friend aware that last week, in response to my three Parliamentary Questions on this topic, he could give the House no information at all about the catalyst or muffler to be brought from the United States to be tested here? Has the catalyst or muffler arrived, and when is it to be tested?

Mr. Nicholls

I gave my hon. Friend the very clear answer that we are obtaining particulars of it. Before we incur any unnecessary expense in bringing the actual device here, we want to see that it is a thing that should be examined. Once we are satisfied on that, it will be brought here.

Mr. Nabarro

A very bad answer.