§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
I am sure that the Committee will understand when I say that after the speeches to which we have just listened it is not an easy task for the Member who has first to take up more routine duties, and that opening this debate is not something that I can do with a light heart.
For our discussion today we have a subject of specialised range, but of wide interest—the pollution of the beaches by sewage. It might be regarded as part of the wider question of pollution of river as well as sea water, not only by sewage but by other forms of contamination, but in the limited time available I believe that it is right to devote special attention to this one problem of sewage pollution of the beaches. As I say, if it is a subject of narrow scope, it has grown steadily over the last few years into a subject of wide general interest.
There are very many bathing beaches around the coast—the total number must run into many hundreds—and one gets authentic, reliable reports from every part 713 of the country of beaches made unfit for decent use by sewage pollution. I find, for example, reports of that kind coming from Bournemouth, from the Devon and Cornish coasts, from Whitley Bay in the North, from Hoylake in Cheshire, from New Brighton—from almost every strip of our coast that is favoured by holidaymakers.
Having mentioned some of those places by name, it is fair to say that Bournemouth, for example, is now engaging on a very considerable project for dealing with sewage, and that the Devon County Council is engaging on a survey of its beaches with a view to dealing with this nuisance.
In addition to the examples—and they could be multiplied— that I have mentioned, there is one that has received, perhaps, the most frequent and striking mention; the one sometimes referred to as the "Solent Sewer". Possibly, it has been given special publicity by the public-spirited activity of Mr. Wakefield, of the Coastal Anti-Pollution League. He is, I understand, a constituent of the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) and, if I may say so, Sir Gordon, I hope that the hon. Member may catch your eye at a later stage in the debate.
The Coastal Anti-Pollution League is performing a valuable service, first, in drawing attention to the extent of evil, and, more recently, in supplying the public with a list of beaches where it can be said that good precautions have been taken to make them healthy and attractive. Those who, like myself, are fond of taking their holidays in the Isle of Purbeck will be gratified to notice how many of the beaches in that part of the country figures in that golden list.
There has been some suggestion that it was, in some way, improper for a private voluntary organisation to set itself up as a judge of the suitability and attractiveness of bathing beaches, but part of the case that I want to make is that in the absence of any kind of official standard of cleanliness or decency, a private body has rendered a valuable service in filling that gap, and the Government should consider whether they ought not to establish a generally recognised standard for a decent and cleanly beach.
714 How do people become aware of the fact that some of our beaches are polluted? They do not need to do it by reading scientific documents; they can do it by the evidence of their five senses. A bather can come into contact with a mass of sewage actually while he is bathing. Those who have not entered the sea can observe the filthy scum along the beach. The presence of pollution can also be observed by the sense of smell, or, if we want a more permanent record, there is that which the camera can supply.
The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary may be interested in a photograph I have here. It is a photograph of the shore of a Marine Lake, at New Brighton. They will be able to see its disfigurement with sewage. In this second photograph they will be able to see a party of guests at the café that forms part of this Marine Lake having to take their meal in the near presence of a mass of filth, so much of which had been deposited that it was quite impossible for the proprietor to clear it all away before he was obliged to open his premises for business. It is true that the lumps of timber shown in the photograph, deposited by the joint action of the tides and of the River Mersey, are, perhaps, a little outside the scope of our debate, but the dead rats, and filth and certain other matter are certainly part of what we are now discussing.
Finally, those who do not become aware of the nuisance by any more obvious method can adopt the more recondite course of reading the Circulars issued by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government on 31st December, 1959. It refers to beaches that are grossly polluted. I do not think, therefore, that it will be disputed that this nuisance exists, and that it is a disgrace to the kind of standards that people normally expect at this date in our history.
Why has this gone on? I believe that one reason for its persistence is that there has been some paralysis of both judgment and action during recent years because it was known that a committee of the Public Health Laboratory Service was inquiring into the health aspects of the matter. For a long time, whenever the subject was raised, the stock answer was, "We shall have the report from the 715 Public Health Laboratory Service and then, perhaps, we shall know how serious it is and what we ought to do". With the very greatest respect to the eminent people on the committee which made that inquiry, we are obliged to notice that they took six years over it, six years during which it was often felt proper to suspend judgment and to delay action.
We now have their verdict. My hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) who will, I hope, catch your eye at the end of the debate, Sir Gordon, will be considering more narrowly than I shall the medical aspects of that verdict. All I want to say at this stage is that there was only one question which the committee was set and only one which it attempted to answer, namely, can we, on the evidence at present available, say for certain that there is a causal connection between bathing in contaminated sea water and catching poliomyelitis, typhoid, or certain other diseases? That is the only matter with which the report is concerned.
The only thing the report tells us is that, on present evidence, it cannot he said that there is such a causal connection. Even that limited conclusion is qualified by the statement that there may be some revolting beaches in respect of which one could not give even that exemption from evil effect on health. I notice that, during their six years, the 18 members of the committee examined about 40 beaches. As far as I can discover from a study of the report, they did not bathe on any of the beaches. They relied on tests of the sea water. One must remember that, after all, an expert, by derivation, is a person who has experience of something. If one wants to examine not merely the scientific, health aspect of the matter, but the aspect of public decency, it may be necessary to bathe on the beaches as well as to examine the contents of samples of the sea water.
I have used the term "decency". The committee rather quaintly calls it the aesthetic aspect of the matter. I cannot help making one direct reference to the report. When dealing with the desirability of pounding up or disintegrating masses of human sewage before pushing it into the sea, the committee, at the end of its report, reaches the conclusion that the disintegration of masses 716 of human excreta may be aesthetically desirable. That is a conclusion with which, I think, most hon. Members of this Committee would agree. Some of us would go even further.
That is the matter with which we are concerned. I called it public decency. It seems to me that decency, cleanliness, or amenity are all more suitable words than the rather curious reference to the aesthetic aspect of the matter. The extent of the problem is undisputed. Its affront to decency is undisputed. What can local authorities do? First, they can consider the treatment to which they subject sewage before they put it anywhere. The practice of local authorities in this respect seems to vary greatly.
Public interest has centred recently on the enterprise of the Island of Jersey in its treatment of sewage. It has, apparently, managed not only to obviate offence to health and decency, but even to turn its activities into a profitable business. One could not say categorically that what Jersey has done could be done by every local authority faced with a similar problem, but one can certainly say that, that if one puts what is done there at one end of the scale, and one puts at the other end the complete failure to carry out any adequate processes at all observable in some local authority areas, there is a very great gap in practice between the two, and an effort ought to be made to bring the most laggard authorities nearer to the standards of the best.
After the treatment of sewage there comes the disposal of whatever must remain after such treatment. Those who live in the area of the London County Council may be proud of the fact that that authority puts the stuff on ships and takes it a long way out to sea, so far that it is quite impossible for any offence to either health or decency and amenity to arise. We must admit, I think, that not every authority could be expected to undertake an enterprise of that kind for which the great resources of a great authority are needed.
Many local authorities have to consider the siting of an outfall into the sea, and this, after treatment, is the next matter to which local authorities ought to give consideration. This, I believe, is a matter to which sufficient study has not yet been devoted. A good many 717 factors, it seems to me, on the information I have been able to collect, may determine what the form of an outfall should be. Clearly, among the questions one has to consider is how far out into the sea it will take the stuff. Very frequently, the answer is, "Not far enough".
There is then the relation between the position of the outfall and the movement of the tides. Opinion seems to vary on whether the nuisance actually becomes worse at high tide or at slack tide. So far as I can discover, it seems to vary from one area to another. Clearly, the action of the tides is one matter to be considered when an outfall is being sited. One has also to consider the configuration of the coast, any movement of currents in the sea that there may be, and probably the prevailing wind.
This is, surely, something to which human knowledge today is equal. Granted that there are all these factors, it should not take very long, if one collected together people having experience of the problem, to lay down a reasonable set of rules for the construction and siting of outfalls so as to protect for certain both health and decency.
If they are either to carry out proper treatment of sewage or, perhaps, to resite their outfalls into the sea, do local authorities need financial help? When one considers any local government problem, there is always a temptation to urge that the Government ought to give a grant to deal with the particular matter, and I admit that that is a temptation to which any hon. Member of the Opposition may be particularly prone. But I am obliged to notice one fact which stands out if one examines how much different authorities spend on sewage disposal.
I will take the figure of rate expenditure on sewage disposal per head of population. The average figure for county boroughs throughout the country is 17s. 3d. One coastal county borough, the Borough of Brighton, manages to solve the problem with an expenditure of only 4s. 3d. Another coastal authority, Wallasey, can do it for 3s. 6d. The average expenditure of non-county boroughs throughout the country is 19s. 1d. Dover is able to do it for 2s. 1ld. and Hythe for 6s. 8d. On looking through the list, one finds that the expenditure on sewage disposal of 718 authorities which have the sea at their door is substantially less.
I am not saying that a low figure for every authority means that it is not doing the job properly. I am saying that the presence of the sea makes it easier to do the job more cheaply and that if any authority is not doing the job properly it should look at what some of its inland neighbours have to spend on this problem before saying that it is a financial impossibility to deal with it.
There is, however, this aspect of the financial problem to which I think the Government should give attention. Let me mention a detail of administration. If an authority dealing with a problem of this kind is a rural district council it can apply to its county for a grant to help with sewage disposal. If the county makes a grant, financial help is also forthcoming from the central Government. However, no such expedient is available to an urban district or county borough. I wonder whether that is a satisfactory arrangement.
The next thing which I think the Government ought to look at is this. Granted that authorities might well be able, once they have a decent sewerage system, to maintain it properly out of their own resources, some authorities would be involved in fairly heavy capital expenditure to put it right. In such an instance, is there not a case for a special loan from the central Government? While we are on that topic, I wonder whether the Minister realises that, if he finds that local authorities are unwilling to engage in capital expenditure for this necessary work of health and decency, that is only to be expected in view of the general interest rate policy of the Government. We cannot go on for ever making it more difficult for local authorities to engaged in capital expenditure and expect proper standards of health and decency to be maintained.
I should like to sum up what I think the Government ought to be doing. I think that it is not unfair to say that they have not done very much so far. They issued a circular drawing the attention of authorities to the Public Health Laboratory's report and, indeed, even told them that if they wanted an extra copy they could get one from the Stationery Office. The Minister, in a Written 719 Answer to the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham, said, in effect, that it was the local authorities' business.
I learn from the Press that the Parliamentary Secretary met a group of hon. Members interested in seaside resorts and referred them, in the main, to the report of the Public Health Laboratory. The newspaper which described the proceedings unkindly likened the Parliamentary Secretary to an ostrich burying its head in the sand. In common charity, we must hope that the sand was not contaminated. Up to date, the Government have done nothing in this matter except to tell local authorities that they had better get on with the job.
In conclusion, I should like to suggest a possible programme of action to the Government. First, will they establish a nationally accepted standard for a decent beach? There are two ways in which that can be done—either have a fairly strict scientific standard, about which there are difficulties, although I an not satisfied that it is impossible, or have something less precise and formal even if it is no more than arranging, with the help of voluntary bodies, an annual competition, or device, to stimulate local authorities to keep their beaches up to what common sense, if not scientific knowledge, tells us is a proper standard of health and decency. Secondly, will they carry out a quick inquiry, not one that lasts six years, into methods of treatment of sewage and methods of siting outfalls?
I think that the necessary knowledge is available if the wisdom and experience of local authorities is pooled. It is really a question of making the practice of the best and most intelligent known to the rest. That ought to be a fairly speedy job, but it is a Government job. One of the tasks of the Government in the sphere of local government is the bringing together and pooling of the knowledge and experience of widely separated localities.
Thirdly, the Government should look at the particular aspects of the financial question which I have mentioned.
Fourthly, they should look again at their interest rate policy. We have in this matter a limited but very striking example of what we have come to call private affluence and public squalor. It is absurd 720 to create a society in which more people can afford to visit the seaside and have leisure and holidays, but in which the community as a whole is too poor, too weak, or too ignorant to keep the beaches which they visit in a decent condition. One of the contributory factors to that kind of society, based on private affluence and public squalor, is the hampering of public enterprise by high interest rates or loans for vital social work.
I put this to the Government as a short programme which would make a real impression on an admittedly nasty and urgent problem.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Sir Keith Joseph)
I shall try to comment on all the points made by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). If I may, I will take them in order as I deal with the subject as a whole.
Nearly all coastal authorities discharge sewage into the sea by way of sewage outfalls. In principle, this is a perfectly satisfactory method of sewage treatment provided that it is efficiently carried out. The sea is vast. The moving waters first greatly dilute and then purify sewage flowing into it provided that the point of discharge is suitably chosen. The very basis of sewage treatment is a supply of oxygen to enable the bacteria in the sewage to break down the organic matter into harmless materials. The sea has an inexhaustible supply of oxygen.
Sewage is not like oil. It disperses and is purified by the sea, but for this to occur the sea must be properly used. Local conditions, tides and winds must be taken into account. The outfall must be appropriately sited so that the sea carries away and dilutes the sewage. If for any local reason this is impracticable, steps ranging from screening right up to full treatment need to be considered. I will return to these steps later.
As the hon. Member for Fulham has said, the fact is that nearly all coastal authorities discharge sewage to the sea through sewage outfalls. We believe that when, after suitable tests, these outfalls are sited so that the sewage will be dispersed seawards without nuisance, this is a perfectly satisfactory method. But some outfalls, generally those built a long 721 time ago, have been found to be either badly sited, or too close in, or have been overloaded, or even fractured.
Partly for these reasons, and partly because in some cases local conditions make it appropriate, some coastal authorities have done or are doing work on their outfalls and/or have applied or are applying differing degrees of treatment. Some screen away the larger solids. Some arrange tidal tanks which release the sewage only when the tide is going out and the currents are suitable. Some give partial and a few full treatment. Some resorts, however, evidently have not yet taken the necessary action to remedy a state of pollution that can probably only come from trouble with their existing outfall.
The hon. Gentleman made great play with a list called the "golden list", which has been given some publicity in the Press. I think that, as he mentioned it, it would be only fair if I made a few comments on it. This list contains the names of 156 beaches. It was apparently compiled, at least partly, from returns to a questionnaire sent by the Coastal Anti-Pollution League to 221 authorities, of whom 105 did not reply. The list, therefore, was very far from being complete. Furthermore, many of the places named are in sparsely populated areas, where there is unlikely to be much sewage discharge anyway. There are many more beaches of this nature not included in the list.
The method of assessing the conditions of the beaches is not free from criticism, nor is the statement that the sewage on the beaches starred in the list is given treatment. The list, therefore, must be viewed with caution. Even so, it is notable that even the League appears to accept that outfalls need not give rise to pollution.
Some years ago, at a time when poliomyelitis was much in the news, there was a scare that such polluted water and beaches could endanger health. In 1953, the Public Health Laboratory Service set up a research committee to study the health aspects. The committee included 18 doctors out of 21 members. Its full report, a highly technical paper, was published in the December, 1959, issue of the Journal of Hygiene and, at the same time. M.R.C. Memorandum No. 37, designed for the public at large, was also issued.
722 The public had been concerned about three main alleged dangers—polio, enteric fever, and food poisoning. About polio, the committee's conclusion, on page 20, was that as far as it could ascertainbathing history is irrelevant in the causation of poliomyelitis".On enteric fever, that is, typhoid or paratyphoid, of which there are some hundreds of cases each year in England and Wales, the committee was able to detect each year on average, I quote from page 21:Less than one case with a history pointing to a possible sea bathing infection.There is no attribution even of this one case per annum to sea bathing, merely a suspicion that less than one case on average per annum might be so caused. I will come back to food poisoning later.
The committee's overall conclusion, on page 23, was thatwith the possible exception of a few aesthetically revolting beaches the risk to health of bathing in sewage contaminated water can, for all practical purposes, be ignored.There are three qualifications in that conclusion and I shall deal with them one by one.
It may be asked why the committee provisionally excludes aesthetically revolting beaches from the clean bill of health given to the rest. I will try to explain this. If there happens to be a person in the area who has enteric fever or food poisoning, and if faecal matter from that person happens to be carried, intact and undispersed, on to the beach, there arises the possibility of chance contact which the committee says, in the case of this infected matter alone, is the minimal risk that its researches showed might conceivably have caused on average each year not more than one case of enteric fever. But for such circumstances to be found, the beach and the water would have to be so heavily and obviously fouled, so aesthetically revolting, as to be repellant. To repeat the report's conclusion,The risk to health of bathing in sewage contaminated waters can for all practical purposes be ignored.Why did it mention "sewage contaminated water"? That is the second point that I should like to meet. This is because the sewage is put into the sea through an outfall and, therefore, into an area where bathing might occur, 723 although if the outfall is properly sited a long way out and after proper scientific skill in location the sewage is dispersed and disintegrated and any infection there might be in it is diluted to harmlessness by the sea. When the outfall is well sited none of it comes near the beach.
I now turn to what might be called the qualifications of this conclusion. What does the phrase "for all practical purposes" mean? Here, I return to food poisoning. The phrase refers to the theoretical risk, the entirely theoretical risk, that a bather might swallow sufficient water from an area in which sewage had been discharged to come to some harm. But—I refer to page 19—a bather would have to swallow many gallons of such water before there could be the least suspicion of a risk.
I would now leave the health aspect but for the publicity that has been given to a very short passage during the British Medical Association's Conference last month. I understand that the opponents of sewage outfalls—I quote from The Times report—did not dispute the facts of the report, but deprecated the air of complacency which its conclusions had engendered.From the platform however. The Times reported, it was pointed out that 18 of the 21 sub-committee members were doctors and that it was quite clear that there was no medical or public health aspect to all this
The hon. Member for Fulham made a little play of the fact that the committee took six years to report. Anyone who reads the committee's report will I think understand that a lot of its research was dependent on analysing individual case histories. The statistical apparatus for doing this, the bathing seasons in which it could be done, the comparisons over a period of time which could alone validate conclusions, justify the length of time that was taken. I think that the Committee will agree that when a committee including 18 doctors has been studying the subject for six years and has reached unanimous conclusions, we cannot possibly disregard or wave away what it said.
I now turn to what the committee calls the aesthetic aspect, and what the hon. Member for Fulham wishes to call decency. Everyone knows that there are 724 beaches which are in a disgusting state. But everyone knows that this is not the general picture. Most beaches are clean because most local authorities carry out sewerage responsibilities efficiently, and because it would be absolute madness for towns that depend on attracting holidaymakers to keep their beaches and their water other than clean.
All coastal authorities, just as all local authorities, are responsible for efficient sewage disposal. Those few where there is something which should be done must be well aware of the need. They must know better than anyone else from their own observations—they must know from complaints—and they must have been alerted, if they needed alerting, by the report and by public interest. There is certainly no complacency centrally.
My right hon. Friend sent out a circular as soon as the M.R.C. report was published. In it he said, among other things:The report makes it clear that there are beaches which are grossly polluted and where, even though the risk to health is remote, active steps should be taken to remedy the pollution. The Minister looks to your council to study the report and to consider what action, if any, is needed in their area. The appropriate action will, of course, vary with local circumstances, but the Minister believes that a great deal of pollution which occurs at present is attributable to outfalls constructed many years ago, some of which discharge sewage too close to the shore or have become overloaded in the course of time.If this is the case, if the problem is entirely one of the outfall, the outfall should be extended or if necessary enlarged. In some cases it might not be necessary to do this and an improvement could be effected in some other way —for example, disintegration, or comminution which, broadly, means pulping; tidal storage tanks allowing discharge only at suitable states of tide to allow sewage to be carried away, or settlement of the sewage prior to discharge, which would necessitate separate sludge disposal arrangements later.
The hon. Member for Fulham rather scoffed at the idea of the Medical Research Council that pulping—that is, comminution or disintegration—might be desirable. He thought that these things must be desirable in any circumstances. The hon. Member has missed the whole point of the Memorandum and of engineering opinion in this field. 725 The whole point is that if the outfall is properly located there is no problem whatever. The sea does the job. No sewage is brought inland on to the bathing beaches whatever. That depends, however, upon proper location of the outfall. Only if that is not, or cannot be, done because of a freak of nature in the area is it necessary to consider these other alternatives.
At this stage, it would be only fair to refer to cost. The cost of any scheme must depend upon local circumstances and needs. Generally, comminuters and disintegraters—that is, the pulping alternatives—are the least expensive, with tidal storage tanks next. Partial treatment by way of settlement or of lengthening the outfall would both tend to be more expensive.
It is often said, although the hon. Member for Fulham was careful not to give it his support, that resorts need help from the taxpayer towards their sewerage costs, because, it is said, and rightly so, that they have to provide for more population concentrated in a short holiday period than live permanently in their areas. Surely, catering for this extra seasonal population is their industry.
The hon. Member for Fulham appealed for special loans to be available. Loans are available and the terms on which they are raised are, in broad principle, up to the local authority concerned, subject to the approval of my right hon. Friend. In addition, most coastal resorts have already provided perfectly adequate sewage disposal arrangements at their own expense. Why should it necessarily be beyond the purse of those few who still need to act? If there are cases where expensive work has to be done by a local authority, the taxpayer is already available to help through the rate deficiency grant.
I must repeat that all this remains a local authority task. There is no health risk against which the Minister must protect the public. The risk is quite different. It is the purely local one that if those few local authorities whose beaches are seriously polluted do not act, and act effectively, they may well cease to attract holidaymakers.
I should like to warn the House that spot judgments about beaches cannot, except in the rare, bad extreme, produce reliable information. So many variables 726 must be taken into account—for example, tide, season, weather and time. The Committee is quite strong on this at page 18 of the Memorandum. The only people who really know the true conditions are the local authorities themselves. It is up to them to see that their shop windows are not soiled.
What the Minster can do, and will do, is to advise local authorities who approach him, as he always has done. There is, however, another situation in which my right hon. Friend can help. Sometimes, resorts are so closely involved, because of tides or geography, with each other that their problems might best be assessed and solved jointly. Here, the Minister is willing to call a meeting and act as co-ordinator.
I should like now to try to summarise in conclusion. Nearly all coastal authorities discharge sewage to the sea. Disposal to the sea, provided that it is efficient, need not cause pollution and is a satisfactory method of treatment. Most coastal authorities do not have pollution of their bathing water or beaches. There are some with a degree of pollution on their beaches and a few, no doubt, with grossly polluted beaches. These can be offensive, and often disgustingly offensive. It is for the local authority concerned, which knows local conditions and which will have been alerted, by public interest, by the Memorandum and by my right hon. Friend's circular, to take action. This action must be to seek expert advice.
The hon. Member for Fulham spoke as if the knowledge of how properly to locate an outfall is not necessarily available. I should like to reassure him. The knowledge is available and it is up to local authorities who are worried by the problem to seek that advice, which might well lead to work on the outfall or varying degrees of lengthening or treatment. There is no case for help from the taxpayer beyond the help that is available from rate deficiency grants for those who need it.
At the end of his speech, the hon. Member for Fulham outlined an apparently attractive programme of what he thought should be done. First, he said that standards, either scientific or less precise, should be laid down. I draw the attention of all who are interested in the subject to page 18 of the Memorandum, where the Committee 727 concluded that it would be impracticable to lay down a bacteriological standard. It fully argues the reasons why. The situation may, of course, change. The Committee is constantly saying that, perhaps, next year, or in ten years' time, there may be more knowledge. We are working at it, but at the moment a bacteriological criterion and standard is not practicable.
The hon. Member then suggested that there should be a stimulus. I should have thought that the stimulus of their future industry should be enough for all resorts at least to examine the condition of their beaches and their water. The knowledge is available to advise them where to place their outfalls. Power to obtain loans is available. Grant for those who cannot afford it is available through the rate deficiency grant system. All that is needed is the willpower.
The few local authorities concerned must get their beaches clean for their own sakes as resorts. My right hon. Friend the Minister is available to advise and, when joint action seems sensible, to co-ordinate. On the whole, our coastal resorts have clean beaches and clean bathing water, but my right hon. Friend hopes that this surge of interest will lead the few laggards to clean themselves up.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I had not intended to take part in the debate, but I feel compelled to do so because of the grave inadequacy of the Parliamentary Secretary's speech. He has given us, in his usual admirable style, a great deal of technical information conveniently prepared and well expressed, but he has done nothing whatever to allay the profound sense of shame and disgust that is felt at the state into which so many of our beaches have been allowed to fall.
It is not good enough for the Minister, who admits that we have a number of disgusting beaches, to say that the matter is purely one for the local authorities concerned. It is a national matter, and the existence of so many beaches in such a disgusting condition is a strong reflection on the Government. It is because we feel so strongly that we have called for this Vote to be debated today so that we can condemn the complacency of the Government in this respect.
728 It is elementary to point cut that anything which affects the health of a sizeable proportion of the community must affect the health of the whole community. Therefore, this is not a matter which can be complacently left to local authorities. This pollution of so many beaches has now reached such a stage and has produced such a sense of national indignation that the Government must do something far more effective about it than was indicated in the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary.
I am glad that we are having this debate, because it is time that the House of Commons reflected for a while not only on the pollution of coastal beaches, but on the whole question of sewage disposal throughout the country. The truth of the matter is that we have lagged a long way behind the proper requirements of sewage disposal generally. That is because sewage disposal, during the last few years, has come to be regarded as the Cinderella of social activities. Obviously, it does not attract as much interest as education, medicine or housing, but the life and health of any community fundamentally depend, first upon the water supply, and, secondly, upon sound, effective sewage disposal arrangements.
During the last generation or so, there have been so many new urban developments, such a growth of population in certain areas, so many new towns have been built, such an extension of travel as a result of the increased numbers of motor cars, as well as increased facilities for people to have holidays who have never had them before, and a vast extension of the caravan habit, that new problems of sewage disposal have been created which have no been adequately dealt with. Problems of sewage disposal and methods of treatment for sewage have not kept pace with other social developments, and that is what we are suffering from today and what we are complaining about. I notice, for example, that so far in the debate we have concentrated upon the pollution of many of our beaches but it is not only the pollution of the beaches——
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. H. Hynd)
I must call the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the Estimates 729 that we are considering are for services in connection with beach pollution by sewage.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I was not intending to do more than pinpoint the fact that our complaint about the pollution of beaches by sewage disposal is only one aspect of the whole problem of sewage disposal. I was going to mention rivers, because we have the same problem in the estuaries of many of our rivers. It is not only the coastal beaches that are being contaminated as a result of deficient sewage disposal arrangements, but also the river and the river estuaries.
Let us examine what the Parliamentary Secretary said and consider how inadequate it was as a response to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). The Parliamentary Secretary dealt first with the health aspect. He really tried to assure us that there was no harm at all suffered on any of these beaches by people who swam and bathed in these coastal waters. I agree that the sea is an admirable dissolvent of sewage, provided that the outfalls are taken far enough out and, as the hon. Gentleman said, provided that they are properly sited. The trouble is that so many of them are not properly sited. They may have been properly sited in some places when they were built fifty or more years ago to meet the requirements of those days, but the tragedy is that as our seaside resorts have expanded so the requirements of sewage disposal have expanded and there has been no adequate overhaul by the local authorities of those requirements.
I differ from the Parliamentary Secretary in what he said about the health aspect. It may be that sturdy and regular bathers or swimmers suffer no ill effects if they swim in a certain amount of contaminated water. I do that myself, and I am conscious of certain slight risks which I ignore, because I swim in Highgate Ponds every morning. These are polluted sometimes because people go and drown themselves there and there is other contaminated matter. People who swim regularly may not be affected, but I am convinced that if visitors to seaside resorts, and particularly children who are not accustomed to swim regularly or if they are, swim 730 in chlorinated water, must run serious risks to health if they bathe or swim in the sea at some of these resorts, which the Parliamentary Secretary admits are in a disgusting state. I would hesitate to swim there.
It is not necessary to quote statistics. The Parliamentary Secretary and the Committee have ignored the psychological effect. Experience shows that if there are these disgusting conditions on the beaches the effect is that people do not want to bathe there as much as they otherwise would want to do. People are so disgusted and nauseated by the conditions that they deny themselves the ordinary pleasure that the seaside visitors to coastal resorts expect to enjoy, namely, being able to bathe, swim, paddle and amuse themselves on the beaches in comfort and with pleasure. They deny themselves or, if they do not, they run a certain amount of risk. The Parliamentary Secretary cannot brush off the health aspect of this matter as complacently as he tried to do. I attach more importance to the fact that the public are now becoming so increasingly conscious of this danger to their health that it is inevitably having a psychological effect and, as a consequence, an effect on their health.
As to the outbreaks of polio that occur from time to time, it is all very well for the Parliamentary Secretary to say that some selected doctors say that they cannot prove that there is any statistical evidence of a connection between such an outbreak and sea bathing. Experience shows that wherever there is such an outbreak or epidemic, whether in London, in a provincial town or on the coast, nearly every family doctor who advises people on what precautions they should take in order to avoid catching the epidemic disease will say to the family, "Until the epidemic is passed I would not go swimming; I would not go near a bathing pool or the sea. I would avoid the water." If that is true of the general advice that is given, surely the argument must be stronger in the case of those bathing places on the coast or elsewhere which are subject to a large degree of contamination. That is not in dispute.
While nobody wants to exaggerate the dangers that arise to health from these nauseating conditions on a certain number of our beaches, it is not, as the 731 Minister suggests, a problem that can be ignored. While I think that the health aspect is the most important, there is also the aesthetic aspect. Some of these beaches in their present condition are an offence to human decency. They are an offence to one's sight and to one's sense of smell. They produce conditions which are revolting even if one is an inhabitant of the locality. They must be even more revolting to those who go to these places for their summer holidays.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
They go there in full health and come back possibly with impaired health.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I ask the Committee to remember that during the last twenty years or so we have deliberately developed as part of our national policy a system of providing facilities so that everybody can have a holiday with pay. These conditions did not exist before the war. Since the war there has grown up this desirable system whereby far more families than ever before go away to the seaside for a week or a fortnight. It was hoped and intended that this would not merely give them relaxation and the benefit of change and better health but a great deal of pleasure as well. All that is being eroded and undermined by the conditions which so many of these thousands of visitors find when they get to a certain number of places. I will not mention any names or particularise. I leave that to those who want to do it, but a great many people know where these conditions exist. The Parliamentary Secretary knows, and he has admitted that there is a large number.
§ Mr. Fletcher
We will not argue about precise numbers. This, of course, is a matter of degree, and obviously some are worse and more revolting than others. Some coastal resorts are free from blame and criticism, but the visitors from London, Birmingham and the Midlands do not know which beaches are all right and which are not until they get there. We are complaining on behalf of those who suffer from these conditions when they find them.
732 The Minister says that in the case of local authorities which have been so remiss and negligent, that is purely a local authority concern—it is their fault, and if they do not do the job they are the only people who will suffer because they will cease to attract visitors. That is a complete fallacy. They are not the only people who will suffer. The other people who will suffer are the visitors who go to these resorts from London, Birmingham and elsewhere and do not know what the state of the beaches is until they get there.
If ill-health results from these conditions it will not only be the people who go to those areas who will suffer, because one cannot confine an epidemic within the area of one locality. Health is a matter which affects the whole nation. It knows no geographical or local authority boundaries. Therefore, it is a matter of national concern, and, therefore, it is not good enough for the Minister to say that this is a purely local authority matter and must be dealt with by the local authority concerned.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman remembers that I prefaced my remarks by saying that it was a purely local authority matter on the basis of the findings of this Committee that there is no health risk involved. That is why it is a purely local authority matter.
§ Mr. Fletcher
As I think I said, a great many other experts do not agree with the findings of that Committee. It is not a matter in which expert knowledge bas the last word, because we cannot entirely dissociate the health aspect of the matter from the amenity aspect of it.
If people go to what are called "health" resorts for the benefit of their health and even if we cannot produce statistical evidence to prove that they are contaminated by inadequate sewage disposal arrangements, nevertheless, if they are confronted day by day with these disgusting spectacles, that surely must have an adverse effect on their health. It robs them of a clean, happy health-giving holiday which they are entitled to expect.
It seems to me that the Minister is talking complete rubbish on the subject. I am convinced that far more is required of the Government than the Minister realises. What has now become a national scandal must be dealt with by the 733 Government on a national basis, and if there are some local authorities which are remiss in this respect, as the Parliamentary Secretary has admitted, then effective steps must be taken by the Government 10 correct their negligence and mistakes.
My hon. Friend has made a number of suggestions. It may well be that some of these local authorities have failed to do the work properly because they have not wanted to spend the capital. That, in turn, is due to the policy of putting up interest rates to local authorities which the present Government have consistently followed.
I could give the Committee, although I will not do so, the names of various local authorities which have been advised by their technical advisers that new and up-to-date sewage disposal plants or new outfalls for sewers are required and where the cost was so great that those plants, needed on health, aesthetic and national grounds, have been turned down on financial grounds.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)
Turned down by the local authority.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Naturally — turned down for lack of finance, and very often through lack of finance after consultation with the central Government. It is no use the Minister pretending that this is——
§ Mr. Brooke
Will the hon. Gentleman forgive me for interrupting him again? For the last two years or more no sound scheme for the treatment or disposal of sewage has been turned down by my Department on financial grounds or delayed on financial grounds. What, therefore, the hon. Gentleman must be saying is that the elected members of the local council have decided not to go ahead with the schemes.
§ Mr. Fletcher
No, I am not saying anything of the sort. The most significant part of the Minister's intervention were his first few words—"for the last two years". I am not talking merely about the last two years but about the last ten years and more. I quite agree that there has been some improvement 734 in the last two years, but there are 10, 20 or 30 years' leeway of neglect to make up.
I forget how long the right hon. Gentleman has been Minister of Housing and Local Government, and I am not sure whether he was pretending to speak for the whole of his tenure of office or only for the latter part of it, but I will agree with him that in the latter part there has been some improvement. However, the matter has to be looked at over the whole period.
§ Mr. Brooke
The hon. Gentleman has sought to impute to the Government that they have been standing in the way of these coastal local authorities improving their sewage disposal arrangements. That is not true.
§ Mr. Fletcher
It is obviously difficult for me to argue the matter over the Floor of the Committee. I have not come prepared in great detail and I can only generalise, as the Minister can do, but what I can assert is that, as the Minister knows, a large number of sewage disposal schemes throughout the country have been submitted to him by various local authorities, some from coastal areas and some from other areas. A few of those schemes have been carried out, but the great majority of them have not. They are all equally desirable. It may be that there are limitations and a lack of technical expertise in dealing with them, but the truth of the matter is that in this country there are now pending a large number of technically approved disposal schemes, in both coastal areas and elsewhere, which are recognised as desirable. Some of them—I think a great many of them—have been held up on financial grounds.
I am anxious to ensure as a result of this debate that none of these schemes is further delayed on financial grounds and that the Minister will take the initiative and see that the local authorities concerned, particularly those few coastal authorities to which he particularly referred, where conditions are particularly disgusting, are given by some means or other, whether by a special loan or some special arrangement, the necessary assistance so that they shall have no possible excuse for perpetuating a state of affairs about which we are complaining today.
735 I will not pursue the matter further. I am quite sure that public feeling is now so aroused about the matter that it is determined that the Government shall do something about it.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Dr. Reginald Bennett (Gosport and Fareham)
Members of the Committee may know that I, although a doctor, have specialised in a very different sphere of medical endeavour, but I would say, in extenuation of my views, that I spent many of the war years looking after the health of large numbers of sailors and airmen in the tropics and, therefore, had to do a good deal of fairly intense public health work.
I certainly welcome this debate today because I have, as may be known, some very deep misgivings on the subject of sewage disposal. I have the greatest respect for my right hon. Friend the Minister and for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. I know that they are conscientious men. However, in this matter I am bound to say that I cannot conceal that I believe that they are badly advised.
I cannot accept the advice given by my hon. Friend, because I believe that the advice which the Government have been offered by this highly-qualified committee commits a basic scientific error by standing pat on a negative, by asserting, as it does in many cases in the report, that it has not set out to prove, or has not even carried out tests on, certain things and that, therefore, those things cannot be proved to happen. That is fatal and dangerous advice, and that is where I believe my right hon. Friend is being led astray, although I am happy to notice that his sympathies leak through nevertheless.
After all, when dealing with public health one has had, as a major branch of public health, to study the water-borne diseases. These are the diseases to which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary referred, such as poliomyelitis, the enteric group and many others.
I might, perhaps—as I have done in the past—refer to poliomyelitis as an example. This is a disease which, long since I first qualified in medicine, has been established as being transmitted 736 through the intestines. Work which has been done on this shows certain facts which I think are valid scientific facts accepted throughout the world of bacteriology, virology and what have you. For instance, two workers in America called Paul and Trask published in 1942 a paper in the American Journal of Public Health in which they said:From the epidemiological standpoint and from the public health standpoint the intestinal tract seems a dangerous place for this virus to be…From the sewage studies it appears that the virus may still be detected when considerable dilution has taken place, and we find that it may be transported by sewage for at least an eighth of a mile and perhaps for several miles.The material on which they base these findings was work on the sewage outfalls in the Harlem River or East River in Manhattan at a time when there was a certain amount of polio. The cases were mostly in Harlem. The nearest case was about an eighth of a mile away, but the majority were three miles away. That is a positive solid—or liquid—scientific finding.
Another worker—Rhodes, I think; I am not sure—managed to isolate active polio virus from the sewer outfalls at Toronto before an epidemic occurred. It is well known that patients who are sufferers from polio carry the virus in their intestines during the latent period before they have any open symptoms, and excrete it, and may do so for many weeks. They may approximate to the "carrier" in medical circles. Such a person may have the disease in him but may never contract it as a clinical entity.
Another paper of vast importance to our deliberations today is one by Rhodes and his co-workers. I have not got it with me; I lent it to another hon. Member who has not returned it. They proved in a laboratory experiment in Canada in the early 'fifties that polio virus placed in experimental circumstances in water in a laboratory was recovered alive from that water no less than 188 days later. These are facts. We may certainly tamper with them in the course of an argument, but I am just putting these matters before the Committee as facts.
Against this, we have the report which has recently been presented to my right hon. Friend. Over and over again the members of the Committee plead that 737 things are not proven. More than once —once to my ready recollection—they say they could not experiment adequately with the coli group bacilli but chose to carry out their experiments on the salmonella group instead as an analogous thing. They say they have every reason to have confidence. They do not set out to establish my confidence in that assertion.
There are many instances which I should like to bring to the notice of this Committee where the members of that committee frankly confess that they have made no tests at all. For instance, they claim that the sea disinfects. So it does. But they say this on page 18 of the report:A detailed study of such biological aspects of sea-water bacteriology in relation to sewage disposal has not been made in the present series of investigations.These words come under the headingThe fate of sewage organisms in seawater.In my humble opinion, they give the whole argument away by saying that.
On page 22 the report also says the following on another subject which we may mention again later—comminution:The committee has not yet been able to make a careful study of the effect of comminution or of other modifications in sewage disposal on the bacterial quality of seawater…Surely they have sold the pass twice in the most blatant manner, and the report ceases almost to have any value as a scientific document, although it testifies to six years' hard work.
Even if we allow that sea-water and sunlight will help to kill, say, the polio virus ten times faster than the water in a laboratory experiment—possibly in the dark—we still must assume that the virus lives for over eighteen days in sea water. How can we accept these rather dull, cloudy asseverations not based on experiments against the facts which have been proved by a few workers elsewhere?
Personally, I would not think that anybody could decently pretend to bathe in such a mixture as we have heard described when there is, for instance, any polio or any other enteric disease about. Admittedly, if there is no enteric disease in the population no enteric disease may be found in the sea water, but it is not till after the latent period that the cases may be discovered and meanwhile the 738 propagation of the infection has been going on.
I cannot accept this complacency. It is grossly unscientific. In the specialty to which I have become more accustomed it is referred to as catathymic thinking —which means that when one wants to believe something it must be true.
Out of their mouths the members of the committee have condemned themselves. On page 21 of the report they make a very curious observation at which I invite this Committee to look:Although these observations strongly suggest a connection between the bathing beach and paratyphoid fever, nevertheless, in view of what has been said about the numbers of paratyphoid bacilli present in sea-water and the minimal dose of these organisms required to cause the disease, the committee think it far more likely that the four patients just referred to were infected by direct contact with undisintegrated faecal matter rather than by swallowing contaminated sea-water.What are we quibbling about? They bump into the stuff and eat it instead of drinking it. Is not this a fantastic document?
I have discussed this report with one of the perpetrators in public surroundings. I was astonished in the course of the discussion to find that he based some of his defences of his views on the fact that the coli bacilli and other things could not penetrate the skin. I felt bound to ask him whether he expected everybody to swim with their mouths shut. But other remarks were made later on which show that he is not thinking of people swimming with their mouths shut.
I now refer to what I think is the basic fallacy which I place before hon. Members for their consideration. I do not wish to take any part in this controversy other than in respect of what is backed by reasonable assumptions and reasonable investigation. But here we have the public health authority of the country which lays down, on the one hand, that a drinking water supply which has more than one coliform bacillus in 100 c.c. of water is condemned outright, and yet the same chaps are saying, apparently at Torquay, "You can drink gallons of it with floating solids in it without the slightest risk." Then why do they test our drinking water supplies at all? That is all I want to know. It seems to me that they are trying to put across two utterly different cases. In short, I think that the report is just solemn poppycock.
739 After all, I suppose that if there had been public health doctors in the old days or in the Middle Ages, when chaps used to empty things out of the upper windows into the street, these doctors would have reported that there was no danger to the passer-by, unless the chap up top let go of the pot. It seems to me that this is a most confused, contradictory and even deceitful report, because on page 23 there is a reference to this little matter of comminution, which I mentioned earlier. Comminution is turning the stuff into soup. It says:Clearly, comminution may be desirable in situations where gross visible contamination of bathing beaches is occurring.I think the word "visible" is the operative word there. In other words, if one can see it, it is time to do something about it and turn it into soup, so that the chaps cannot see it. I think it is a deceitful and misleading report, and I also think that it is utterly unscientific.
On the strength of these observations, I want to ask my right hon. Friend to show willing about getting something done, and not to stand pat on this very pseudo-scientific negativism, because if he should do so, he will be defying the common sense of the whole country. I ask him, first, to show willing, and I give him three ways in which he can do so. One is to encourage the building of sewage disposal plants whenever it is in his power to do so. I still do not know whether he encouraged Fareham, though I know that it decided against the plans after interviewing his Department.
Secondly, I want him to encourage the building of what I believe are efficient, useful and financially rewarding plants in which a certain amount of compost is made possible in conjunction with town refuse. A month ago, I had the privilege of nipping over to Switzerland in between Divisions and seeing there a plant near Basle, which was a most efficient composting arrangement. It even composted bottles. It composted everything except tins, and the people are selling the product and there is a ready market for it. Surely, if such undoubtedly rich nitrogenous material as we are talking about can be mixed with town refuse, we might be able to get a rewarding product which could be sold and which could be of value to horticulturists and farmers.
740 The other thing which I ask my right hon. Friend to support—and I am afraid that the Parliamentary Secretary did not appear to support it—is the principle of this so-called "golden list" which an organisation based in my constituency has published. It is no use jeering at this list because only 155 out of 260 local authorities replied. I venture to submit to the Committee that it is quite possible that the other 105 did not want to talk about what was going on. That is the first conclusion which one might reach, because they are not likely to be the local authorities which have the most pride in their performance.
I ask my right hon. Friend to take a hint from public opinion and not to take a stand on bad advice. He should not place himself in a position from which no retreat may later be possible, nor should he be pushed into expressing unconcern with what is certainly concerning people up and down the country, because, otherwise, we shall get into the situation which was described to me last week in my constituency in which "going for a bathe round our coasts is no longer a question of swimming, but simply of going through the motions."
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Wells (Faversham)
I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary is feeling considerably less complacent after the speech which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Gosport and Fare-ham (Dr. Bennett) than he was when he made his own speech this afternoon. I hope that I shall not be called to order if I take the debate a little further inland than did my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). It is not only from outfalls that our beaches are contaminated, because if sewage is discharged into rivers and streams they finally go into the sea and thus are also responsible for part of that contamination.
One of my local newspapers last weekend commented upon a speech in a Committee Room upstairs by the Minister to a group of Members of Parliament representing seaside resorts. I was one of that group. In a leading article the newspaper expressed considerable annoyance with the Parliamentary Secretary. I wish to quote what it said:He tells M.P.s representing health resorts that the Government accepts the evidence 741 of the General Medical Council's Report that the risk of bathing in sewage-contaminated water can be ignored. But the campaign is too well founded to be killed by this bland Ministerial reply.That will be said of his speech this afternoon. I will wait with interest to see what happens.
Reference was then made to a disclosure of the fact that no less than 10 million gallons of sewage pours into the Medway each day, most of it untreated or partly treated. Another paper, on its front page, carried the following headings:Sheppey Regatta Walk-out. Mass of Sewage in Sea at Queenborough".The report went on:Regatta day, Queenborough's biggest event of the year, was marred by allegations of water pollution. Swimmers from Rochester made a dramatic last-minute withdrawal from competitive races…after their club chairman had claimed that the water was unfit to swim in. He said 'The water is polluted with oil and what appears to me a mass of sewage. Rather than risk the health of our members, I have decided to withdraw our teams.In fairness, I should state that the harbour master said that the mass to which he referred was not sewage, though he admitted that there was much oil in the water.
The scandal of the pollution of our rivers and beaches has been going on for a very long time. I believe, however, that the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) has awakened public opinion in regard lo this matter. In my own case, for instance, I knew that Milton Creek which flows into the Swale near Sittingbourne is contaminated with an evil-smelling effluent which we had often been assured by successive medical officers of health was a harmless industrial discharge. It came rather as a shock to me, therefore, when as a result of the introduction of the hon. Member's Bill I had my attention called to the following paragraph in the Kent River Board's annual report for the year ending 31st March, 1959. I quote:Sittingbourne Sewerage Works. During the past two years the quality of the final effluent from this works, which discharges to Milton Creek, has become increasingly unsatisfactory. Only about a quarter of the peak daily flow is passed through the aeration plant, the remainder being discharged to the Creek after settlement only.742 Referring to the industrial effluent, the Report states:—effluent which, from a chemical standpoint, is more than three times as strong as untreated domestic sewage, is still being discharged to the head of Milton Creek at a rate of some three million gallons a day, From Kemsley Mill, effluent which is only some 20 per cent. less polluted is discharged at a like rate to the Creek at its junction with the Swale.I am pleased to say that the firm concerned with the trade effluent has planned to spend something like £100,000 to mitigate the discharge of this effluent.
This is bad enough, but in a letter to me, the clerk to the Kent Rivers Board, in connection with the Bill to which I have referred, says this about the River Medway:From Aylesford to Wouldham the Medway is septic and stinking in a normal summer, and Milton Creek is the same. This is not only to be sensed by the eye and nose, but has been established by systematic pollution surveys undertaken by the Board over the last two years…Reference should be made to sewage from the town of Queenborough. It is discharged without treatment from an out-fall on one side of Queenborough Creek, and at low tide it lies on the mud banks, where it is an offence to the eye if not to health. Masters of vessels have complained to the Port of London Authority of crude sewage being washed on to the decks of their vessels when in that vicinity.One wonders why these conditions have been allowed to arise. I think that the answer is that the extent has not been generally realised, and I suppose also because the cost of putting these things right must have entered into consideration of the matter when some medical officers have been making their reports. Certainly, that is the case in regard to Milton Creek.
Time after time we have been told that the smell was quite harmless. I quite agree that the smell may be harmless, but it is certainly not true of the contamination. What we want to know now is what the Government intend to do about something which is becoming a very serious scandal.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
In conjunction with the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells), I suggest that the outfalls from coastal urban districts may be wrongly sited and that there may, therefore, be a backwash to the beaches. But the possible contamination of beaches by 743 outfalls is mild compared with their possible contamination by rivers such as the Tyne.
The Tyne is a classic example of a fine river into which nauseous drains flow. Tragic indeed is the state of the river, tragic in its danger to health, and in the enormous cost not so much of preventing future pollution, but of making good the neglect of past years.
We have 20 miles of this river flowing through an urban area to the sea. At Tynemouth and north and south of the estuary are some very fine beaches. To them, from the industrial urban areas of the North Country go thousands of people every fine Sunday in summer.
It is very encouraging to hear from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that the danger to bathers is very slight—according to the Medical Research Council's Memorandum. However, I believe that there is a very grave psychological problem here and that we need to assure the people of Tyneside, and other areas where people go to the beaches at weekends, that the danger is non-existent, or, if we cannot do that that this problem of polluted rivers and the question of how best to deal with sewage is being resolutely faced.
It is very easy now to be wise and say that the annual expenditure of £19 million since the war has been inadequate. We know about priorities and we also know about the very great need for the fullest research and a correct decision about the disposal of sewage. Some slight consideration has been given to compost. I have taken a certain amount of interest in that subject and have studied results which have been obtained. Expensive as the necessary processing plant is, there is a strong case for some consideration in that direction.
We fear the effects of sewage on health over the entire 20 mile stretch of the Tyne as well as on our coastal beaches, and we have been locally facing the problem. We cast our domestic refuse into our rivers in exactly the way that domestic refuse was cast into the streets of Paris from upstairs windows before the French Revolution. Fifteen Tyneside local authorities have combined together and very soon now a sub-committee will report on the nature and quantity of sewage in our river and on the possibilities of dealing with it.
744 Public opinion in the North Country on this matter has been roused, very largely, I believe by an excellent newspaper campaign conducted by the Newcastle Journal. In the country as a whole, there have been 54 reports and there are 16 relevant Acts. I suggest that the moment is now at hand for a computation of our knowledge.
If assistance through rate deficiency payments is inadequate, there might well be an extension to urban stretches of river of the extra assistance given in rural stretches. It has been a great disadvantage that each local authority on rivers such as the Tyne is responsible for that stretch of river which flows between its boundaries, without, until now, sufficient co-operation.
Finally, aids to speedier assistance seem to be greatly needed. If Government loans are necessary to aid local authorities, following reports such as that about to be produced on Tyneside, easier loan conditions and longer periods of repayment may well be desirable and, possibly, essential. We may have to give even greater priority to giving increased powers to the Ministry of Health for the provision of sewerage works.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
I had hoped that we should have had longer time for this so that a large number of hon. Members could have aired their views and we would not have been confined to debating the question of pollution of beaches. As the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) rightly said, these matters cannot be fully discussed without discussing how the material gets to the beaches.
From time to time in the House of Commons I have represented the point of view of those decent, quiet folk, the anglers of Great Britain. As a father and grandfather of ten beautiful grandchildren, I occasionally like to go to the North Wales coast. I would like to be sure that the children could play in the sands and bathe, or paddle in the sea in safety.
When I have a complaint, I criticise the Ministers whom I think responsible, but in this case I do not blame the Minister for the position, for I think that he does not want to do other than 745 what is wholly right. I am considering this matter as an ordinary mortal wanting to eradicate a vast nuisance which is becoming a public nuisance. Everyone knows that on the beaches where effluent is found one can see not only the remains of human excreta, but other things which are obnoxious, which should not be seen by the young, and which are disgusting and disgraceful things to find on beaches. This problem, therefore, affects morality.
Here we have the Government saying that we have never had it so good, that there is full employment, that we have better wages, that we can eat more food and that we can have cars to go to the seaside. We have seaside corporations advertising the attractions of their towns, we have brochures and advertisements all over the place telling us to come to so-and-so; more people go and the result is that there is even more human excretia to be dealt with than there was before. That is a fantastic, ridiculous, silly situation which has to be dealt with.
I sometimes fish in the sea and I know that where there are seabirds there are fish. Seabirds can be seen in their thousands around sea areas into which the effluent is discharged—one has only to sail around the perimeters of such areas to see what happens. I do not intend to mention any names, because that would be unfair and would adversely affect the municipality concerned, but it is possible to see sea birds in their thousands collecting and feeding on what a few hours previously was human excreta—effluent not only from private homes, but from hospitals, from chronic cases in hospitals, from patients suffering from T.B. and cancer.
I am not a medical man, but I was very intrigued by the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett)—any in this matter we are all hon. Friends, because this is not a party matter but a matter of the decency of Great Britain affecting us all. I think that he will confirm that in the sort of areas which we have in mind one can see effluent floating in the sea, effluent which can be diagnosed as having come from hospitals in the area from patients suffering from such complaints as T.B., cancer and poliomyelitis.
746 I am not concerned with the argument that if it stays in the sea long enough it can be decontaminated or made decent. The question is: does it stay there long enough? It does not. One can see on these beaches material which has been inside human bodies within the previous 24 or 36 or 48 hours. It is a fantastic situation.
The Minister may say that it does not smell. Let me take him to places not far from where I live—I live not far from Liverpool—but I shall not name them, for "no names, no pack drill". I can take him to places where the smell is bad enough. I can take him to the Manchester Ship Canal, when there have been three days of sunshine. It stinks rotten. I have lived on the banks of that canal for thirty years, but have recently moved into the country and was glad to be able to do so. But there are thousands of workers in industry who have to get up at 5 a.m. to go to their mines and workshops and, on the way, feel as sick as dogs and cannot enjoy their food.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann) lives within a few yards of the place of which I am speaking. One cannot even catch rats there any more, for they have deserted the place. At one place on the canal there is a notice of a charge made in the 1800s for taking a duck across. No self-respecting duck would swim across now. Indeed, ducks get too far away from it now to fly across.
This is a serious matter, and we have not exercised our minds about it sufficiently. I am an ardent amateur gardener and I pay £2 a ton for muck. Yet go to Germany, Switzerland, Belgium or Austria and one finds that they do not allow to go to waste millions of tons of material than can be processed back into the ground from whence it came. Here we have one of the finest natural manures in the world.
I am not an engineer, but I am not a fool, either. Why can it not be brought in from the sea, processed and put back into the land. The hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bullard) knows that he could do with a few thousand tons of it at a cheap price. Go to Belgium, as far inland as one can get, and see what happens to human excreta. If one hires a house in Belgium one gets the bill reduced for "mist". I do not know what 747 that word means in Belgium, but that is what one gets and it mystifies me. But we do not do what foreigners do. No wonder they get two and three crops a year. No wonder they get from an acre more produce than we get. There is something in this. These Belgians and Dutchmen are not as "dutch" as some people think. They do not throw all this waste product away; they process it.
§ Mr. Jones
The Chinese are good farmers. Confucius said that if one wanted to be happy for a month one should smoke a pipe; if one wanted to be happy for a year one should marry a wife. But if one wanted to be happy for life one should get a load of muck and cultivate one's garden.
The Chinese have more people to feed with less at their disposal to do it with and they put their waste to use. China has done it. The Germans have done it. They use this to feed the fish, the fish feed the ducks, the ducks feed the people, and so it goes round again. The Committee may find all this humorous, but it is true. We do not do that. We feed the sea and the sea gives it back. Then we wonder where disease comes from.
There should also be more research into what this pollution does. Recently, a few hundred yards from this House, in the lake in the nearest park, tens of thousands of fish died through lack of oxygen because of a form of pollution caused by something that decayed and absorbed the oxygen.
We are entitled to be humorous about this, but it is nevertheless, a deadly serious matter—and I use the word "deadly" literally. It is no use scientists trying to "kid" the man in the street that millions of tons of excreta put out to sea and drifted by wind and tide back to the coast is a good thing for Britain. We are not fools. Even if it has been decontaminated and disinfected it is obnoxious. The atmosphere is smelly. I have made a small contribution as a father and as a grandfather of ten children. I hope that they produce ten each, but they will not be going to the seaside and saying, "Daddy, I wasted my money. The place stinks".
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter H. Loveys (Chichester)
I almost entirely disagree with most speakers this evening. The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) has given us one of the most enjoyable speeches that I have listened to during my period in the House of Commons. But I consider that we do a great disservice to the millions who enjoy our beaches and to the seaside resorts who depend on the holiday trade, if we fail to keep a sense of proportion and cause any completely unnecessary alarm.
The main difficulty in this problem is, as the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) said, to define accurately the degree of sewage contamination that is a danger. It would be so easy if we could only define the exact degree, because we could then lay down a standard below which no local authority would be allowed to fall. It has been tried in the United States, but unsuccessfully. I gather that the different States have laid down different standards.
We have heard all sorts of ideas in this Committee, but the report of the sub-committee set up by the Medical Research Council deserves more serious consideration than it has had here today. It was interesting and enjoyable to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) disdainfully criticising members of his own profession, but we should give this report very serious consideration. Its findings are stated clearly in the preface:The result of the investigations are reassuring. They should go a long way towards relieving anxiety about any presumed danger of contracting infectious diseases such as enteric fever and poliomyelitis from sea bathing.On pages 4 and 5 of the same report there is mention of a very remote possibility of minor gastro-intestinal illnesses, but they are nothing more than "tummy" upsets, which we can regard as occupational hazards. We are just as likely to get them from picking up a bit of dust when going through the doors of this Chamber.
When we talk blithely about the treatment of sewage, the first thing we must realise is that what is considered today as the complete treatment does not produce a pathogen-free, sterile effluent. Furthermore, even if human contact is 749 made with completely untreated sewage the danger to health is present only if it has originated from an infected person.
§ Dr. Bennett
My hon. Friend has put a very interesting point, which I have heard quoted by most town clerks and local authority people in order to resist the intentions of those who think as I do. It is true that a sewerage farm cannot be established which will trap and destroy all the bacteria, but there is a very simple addition which can be relied upon to do it. It is the very thing we use for our drinking supplies, namely, a filter bed of sand.
§ Mr. Loveys
I am not going into technical details. I am quoting not from any town clerk's report, but from the report of the Medical Research Council. My hon. Friend continues to disagree with, it and I must allow him to have his views on this matter.
Only if a person comes into contact with untreated sewage and then eats a sandwich without washing his hands is there a real danger of picking up infection. What we should be discussing today is the question of what reasonable steps we can take in the question of personal hygiene, not only on the beaches but in our everyday life. I know a lady who will not go on to a beach, but who, every afternoon, sits in her garden eating lovely clean sandwiches and snuggling up to and kissing her pekinese dog. The dog kisses her back, but only a few moments before it has been down at the bottom of the garden having a lovely time in the manure heap. That sort of thing is just as dangerous as bathing in the sea; indeed, it is more dangerous.
§ Mr. John McCann (Rochdale)
This may be a first-class argument, but on one occasion when I took my two children to the sea, on the last night of our holiday we were absolutely surrounded by human excreta. How does the hon. Member apply his argument to the physical aspect of the matter?
§ Mr. Loveys
The hon. Member should come to Bognor Regis.
I have said these few words, against the general feeling of the Committee, in defence of the majority of our beaches. I admit that there may be a few cases, such as hon. Members have mentioned, where local authorities 750 should lengthen their pipes further out to sea. That is the sensible answer. But I would not say that it was necessary to insist that all local authorities should go to the enormous expense of reversing the flow of sewage back inland, and building compost plants.
The hon. Member for Rotherham, who grows tomatoes so successfully, may know that compost of this type is useful for certain types of horticultural plants, but not for general agricultural use. An eminent authority has told me that it is considered that to eat tomatoes raised from this type of compost is probably far more dangerous than bathing from our beaches.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
It is also good for brassica. If we can get more sprouts on the stalk the housewives will get the benefit, because the prices will come down. Why should they not have that benefit?
§ Mr. Loveys
I will not answer that question just now, as many more hon. Members wish to join in the debate, but I would point out that in Bognor Regis the council is taking float tests all the year round, in varying tides and wind directions. If those tests show that there is the slightest necessity for it the outfalls will be extended. That is the sensible approach to the problem, and I hope that the Committee will not be carried away by any scaremongering talk, based on no proof at all, when there is no real danger from sewage pollution on the overwhelming majority of our beaches.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. J. B. Symonds (Whitehaven)
I am pleased to take part in this discussion, because I have, in more senses than one, a personal and very active interest in the matter. I agree that the pollution of our beaches has reached an alarming state, so much so that the major health resorts are being placed in a difficulty because of complaints from visitors and residents which cannot be ignored. If they are ignored there is an outcry. Some authorities have taken notice of this and have made their beaches very pleasant, but others are not in that fortunate position.
I agree with the Minister that some local authorities are remiss in the carrying out of schemes to prevent pollution of their beaches, but others which are desirous of carrying out such schemes are 751 not able to do so. Some authorities have shelved their plans because of the cost. Others have unsuccessfully submitted schemes to the Minister. A rural district council in my division was anxious to prevent further pollution of its beaches and wanted to enlarge is existing sewers. It wanted to carry the outfall further out to sea.
Its scheme has been submitted to the Minister and has been approved by his inspectors as being essential in the interests of the community. Many more houses are being built in the area and new factories are using many more gallons of water per day, which the sewers are having to take. The existing sewers are really not sufficiently large to take this amount of water. The Minister has said that grants are available, including the rate deficiency grant. If so, why was the Ennerdale Rural District Council application turned down? It wished to enlarge its sewer and extend it further out to sea.
§ Mr. McCann
The Minister has said that during the last two years no sound sewage scheme has been turned down by his Department.
§ Mr. Symonds
I was coming to that point. A scheme has been submitted and the Minister's inspectors agree that in any case the work has to be done. But the Minister has turned it down, saying he is not satisfied that a case has been made out, and no grant is provided. I wish to know why the Minister says that no satisfactory scheme has been submitted to him when the scheme submitted was turned down. I have given sufficient evidence to show that a scheme has been submitted——
§ Sir K. Joseph
If the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Symonds) is raising a specific case, which he has already discussed with me on several occasions, think it only fair that I should reply to his argument. There is a grant available to help new installations for rural sewerage services, but the Minister has to be satisfied that it is a new service and not the normal renewal of an existing service which might by that renewal be enabled to take more sewage. On that argument the hon. Gentleman and I have disagreed because there is no question of a general grant in this case.
§ Mr. Symonds
The Ministry inspectors agree that the work is vitally necessary because the sewage is polluting the beaches in the area of the Ennerdale Rural District Council. The Minister says that he is not satisfied that it would have to be renewed, yet he has told the House that no reasonable scheme has been submitted to him.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
The Parliamentary Secretary is saying that the scheme would be satisfactory if it were a completely new scheme. What the authority must do is to scrap the old scheme, however much value it may still have, and go ahead with a new scheme which will cost much more. The authority can have a new scheme, but it cannot improve the old one.
§ Mr. Symonds
The Parliamentary Secretary and I have argued this out for a long time and he agrees that I am right——
§ Mr. Symonds
—and that the Ennerdale Rural District Council is right. He says that we require a larger scheme and he is nodding his head in agreement. He also agrees that the beaches are being polluted.
§ Mr. Symonds
I have submitted evidence from the residents in the area indicating that the beaches are polluted. The fact that another 180,000 gallons of fluid will go down the existing sewers and that 600 new houses are being built in the area makes it vitally necessary to have an enlarged scheme as otherwise the beaches will be polluted to a greater extent. If the Minister has an interest in trying to prevent the pollution of our beaches, if regard is paid to the valuable work done by medical officers of health and the recommendations which they make, and if, where necessary, sewer pipes can be extended further out to sea, the Ministry will be doing a good job of work. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his decision in relation to the Ennerdale Rural District Council.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Browne (Torrington)
I am glad that an opportunity has been 753 afforded for an hon. Member representing a West Country constituency to speak during this debate. I appreciate what has been said by hon. Members opposite and by some of my hon. Friends about the state of our beaches, but I think that they are "going it a bit too brown."
I hope that hon. Members—some of whom do not represent coastal resorts—who have been criticising the state of our beaches will realise that overemphasis on this problem will do a great disservice to our holiday resorts. I think that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary was right and that it behoves holiday resorts to put their own house in order if they wish to attract the holidaymakers. We do not want any punitive action from the Government to force local authorities to do so. I believe that before long no holiday resort will be able to distribute brochures about the attractions of its neighbourhood unless it can also state that no untreated sewage goes into the sea near its beaches.
I wish to say a word—I had hoped to say a great deal more—on the subject of estuaries. I ask hon. Gentlemen to realise, when they suggest that local authorities should take action straight away, that in estuaries, where there may be steep hills and buildings coming down to the edge of the water, it would be very expensive to alter the flow of the sewage as has been suggested. There is a beach at our estuary and I have children who bathe from it, and I am as interested in this subject as any hon. Member.
During the debate on the clean rivers and estuaries legislation last November I suggested that it would be well to give the river boards power to force local authorities in the areas of estuaries to make alterations in their sewage outlets where necessary, but that the local authorities must be given a period of years in which to carry out the work. I suggested a period of seven years because that period is mentioned in the 1951 Act. I believe that that could be done, but only if there is better representation of local authorities on the river boards.
Over-emphasis of this problem will, as I say, do a great disservice to our holiday resorts and I suggest that everyone in the country should he made aware of the conditions of the beaches on the 754 Continent. From what I have seen of the sewerage arrangements on the Continent—the gurgling noises, the "footprints" and the condition of the plumbing—I cannot think that the treatment of sewage on the Continent is particularly good. I am certain that local authorities genuinely desire to provide better methods of sewage disposal, if only because it is in their own interests.
I ask hon. Members not to overemphasise the problem and to give local authorities time to deal with it. This debate and what we have read recently in the newspapers and what has been said by the British Medical Association will encourage them to take more immediate action. I hope that the Government will institute annual checks to ensure that local authorities are given a yardstick by which they can judge whether their beaches are polluted.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
I shall occupy the time of the Committee for only two or three minutes. The hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) seemed to imply that hon. Members on this side have been larding it on a little too much in their descriptions of the beaches as they are found in various parts of the country.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
The hon. Member shakes his head. I am glad to find that that is not the case. I thought that he had suggested that it was wrong to lard it on because that would do a disservice to the various municipalities which have beaches in their territories and would lose custom for them from visitors. I do not think that anyone on either side of the Committee would want to do any disservice which was not thoroughly deserved by the municipalities concerned, but the fact is that there is grave disturbance in people's minds about what is going on.
I want to stress a particular aspect. In my constituency there are very considerable farming interests. It is ludicrous for this country to pour this stuff out to sea when it is such valuable material which ought to be kept for use on the land. It is not as if ways and means for dealing with sewage were unknown. They are perfectly well known. There has been the experience in this 755 country, in Johannesburg, and in Jersey. Jersey has shown beyond all doubt that there are ways of treating sewage which can not only get rid of danger from sewage, but which are means that any civilised country ought to adopt. Edinburgh has been selling this stuff at £2 a ton. It is material which is needed in agriculture and we cannot afford to lose it. When, at the same time as we make a sickening mess of our beaches, we could be acting in this way and wasting such valuable material, it seems that we are just plain stupid.
I have been a little upset by the official attitude. I hesitate to use the word "complacency." I should like to hear from the Minister a speech which will persuade the Committee that it is not £ s. d. which will prevent the right thing being done about sewage. If the Government can give that assurance they can calm a great many of our fears. We are looking for that statement from the right hon. Gentleman in a reply which, we hope, will show that he is not discouraging local authorities from doing the right thing. The right thing, surely, is to use sewage in such a way that it increases our wealth instead of squandering it by putting it in the sea where, at the same time, it can do damage to our beaches and to health.
If that is not done, I warn the right hon. Gentleman that I shall be "on his tail" whenever I can be. I do not expect that he will mind that, but I shall be constantly harrying him, for he will be part of the conspiracy against the agricultural community of the country. The conspiracy is that the agricultural community has to buy fertilisers from a highly protected industry while this stuff, which might help them to produce the food we need, is thrown away. I suggest that that is plain folly and ought never to be done. So, please, when the Minister replies will he give us to understand for good and all that we are not to be regarded as pariahs when we go to his Ministry and ask that something radical should be done about sewage?
Not recently, it is true, but for quite a number of years I have had to spend far too much time in persuading the Ministry to allow expenditure to be undertaken by local authorities in the way of adequate provision for sewage disposal: and that 756 was so until fairly recently. Now, when we "have never had it so good", is the time when we should do something civilised about this matter. It is not just a question of the Ministry not doing something. It may not be actively discouraging local authorities to do this work; can we persuade it to encourage them to see to the disposal of sewage in a proper manner? If we can be persuaded of that by an assurance, the right hon. Gentleman will not have me "on his tail".
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
In the five minutes which remain open to me, I want first to contradict the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) and then to run to the sludge which they deserve the arguments of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher). When I have finished with that, I want to make two or three practical and scientific comments on the highly delightful speech which, as always, we have had from the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones).
First, we all want the same thing. In the all-party Tourists and Resorts Committee of which I am a member, I have considered in detail and have given a great deal of thought to this question. I see no sign of criticism which could be levelled against this Government or their predecessors in regard to past treatment of the resorts in this matter. What blame there is, as I shall prove, lies entirely at the door of a few local authorities and with no one else. It is grossly unjust to make a general attack in this matter on anything in regard to past treatment.
I have one or two suggestions to make for the future. The first is to see that these local authorities of which I have spoken get on with the job. That they can do, but the inspection requires no statutory powers. Where a local authority is small and cannot afford to do this job we should look to see whether it is a case of the "big brother" next door discharging muck into the land of the smaller brother and not paying his fair share for doing so. I am not prepared to accept the idea that we should not mention the names of local authorities in this matter. In the Isle 757 of Thanet there are Margate, Ramsgate, Birchington and Westgate. In Birchington none of this material goes into the sea.
In Margate the situation is first-class and there is not even a single complaint about Margate beaches. Its sewage goes through a rotary screen of a most modern type, the screenings being washed off the screen by hot water jets and discharged in the outfall on the upstream side. The holes in the screen are five-sixteenths of an inch diameter. The sewage is discharged to the outfall, which is 600 yards long, and goes out to Foulness Point where it is discharged in a north-easterly direction into the North Sea on a falling tide.
There have been no complaints about sewage on these beaches. I can produce a similar description in regard to Broad-stairs and Ramsgate. I turn to the difficulties of Peacehaven which are said to be due to the practice followed by Brighton. There are serious difficulties there and I quote from a letter of 8th March, 1960, from Peacehaven Parish Council which says that, following an earlier public inquiry by the Minister of Housing and Local Government, 99 per cent. of the sewage at Portobello was from Brighton, 11 million gallons being brought from Brighton against 180,000 gallons from the cesspit catchings from Telscombe and Peacehaven. The whole of this sewage is poured out 1,400 ft. from the cliff.
The local parish council says that it is not even sewage from its district but that which comes from its big brother next door. That is a case in which the Government ought to be the arbitrator. If the "big brother", as in the case of Brighton and other authorities, is not willing to pay its proper share, the Government should see that work is carried out satisfactorily, as is done in my constituency. If they need to take statutory powers to do so, let the Government take them.
May I deal with the health aspect? We all know that unless there is disease in the excreta which are sent into the sea, people will not get a disease from this sewage. In cases where there is already sewerage plant the problem does not arise, and where there is no sewerage plant it will not arise if the outfalls are properly sited.
758 Last December the Government sent a circular to all local authorities. Most of the local authorities which were then not in a satisfactory position are carrying out the requisite work under it. The Government have never refused a scheme anywhere in the country. There is no evidence as yet that there is a lack of finance, except in the case of Peacehaven, where there has been a battle between two local authorities.
Only two things are necessary to ensure the achievement of the objective which we all desire. The first is that inspectors from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government should go round the local authorities and make certain that the work is done. Secondly, although I doubt whether a grant will ever be necessary, if it is the requisite powers could be taken later.
We want to see clean, good water in the sea and clean beaches. We want to see that because our tourist industry is of great importance. It is not true to say that we are far behind other countries in sewage disposal. I have not time to show that in detail, but I could easily do so, for I have the proof in these documents. In many parts of the country we are as up to date as they are.
I have conducted an examination of all the great beaches of this country, along the length of the East, South and West Coasts. Speaking in measured language, I say that if we rule out a few small cases and a few small artificial beaches, our beaches, broadly, are cleaner, better, sandier, or rockier as the case may be, and the sea is cleaner, than in most other countries of the world.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
The debate has illustrated the profound concern which the Committee feels about this problem. Hon. Members have referred to its two main aspects—first, the effect of the discharge of crude sewage upon our coastal amenities and, secondly, its effect upon health. What has also emerged from the debate is the Government's apparent inaction.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that the main problem is that of the location of the outfall. He said, in so many words, "Locate the outfall properly and the tide will do the rest". But what of all the existing outfalls which are totally 759 unsatisfactory and what of the unsatisfactory outfalls which are still being constructed by local authorities?
In this context the hon. Gentleman said that this is purely a local authority matter. There was no indication in his speech that the Government would do anything positive about it. That is not good enough. The hon. Member said that the power to obtain loans exists. He knows as well as others that local authorities are being discouraged from taking action in this, as in other matters, because of the high interest rates which they have to pay upon loans.
For six years the Government awaited the Memorandum of the Medical Research Council. When it appeared the Minister said that its conclusions were "reassuring". He then sent a circular to local authorities telling them that something should be done in cases of bad contamination—and that is all that the Government have done. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), who is not now in his place, said that he was satisfied with the Government's work. Apart from sending out that circular letter, I cannot see that the Government have done anything, except by raising Bank Rate from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent., to make it difficult for local authorities to do anything.
The two main questions which need an answer this evening are these: is the Memorandum of the Medical Research Council reassuring, as the Government claim? Secondly, what more should be done to improve the position? On the amenity side, everyone will agree that our coastline must be preserved and enhanced. It is not only the maritime local authorities which have a responsibility in this matter. We all have a trusteeship. As hon. Members have said, every year more and more people are using the beaches, and every year, too, the volume of coastal sewage increases. It is repugnant to say the least, that so many of the lovely beaches are spoiled by crude sewage and that bathers have to come in contact with it.
The Parliamentary Secretary referred to oil pollution. There has been a considerable improvement in that respect since the Act was passed, and severe penalties are imposed on those who break the law, but sewage pollution is 760 not only much more unpleasant but more dangerous. I have been on beaches and sat on oil, and it is extremely unpleasant, but I much prefer to sit on oil than on crude sewage. I think that even more urgent action should be taken to deal with it, although I accept that the problem of dealing with crude sewage is far more difficult and complicated. I know of one town in Wales where crude sewage flows across the beach, and I know of many more where it is regularly brought back by the tide.
I know that we are not dealing with rivers and that, therefore, I cannot talk about them, but I want to pay a tribute to the river boards, which take a particularly enlightened view in this matter and have done extremely good work since their institution. Recently, they have been given a certain amount of authority in estuarial waters, but that had to be done by a Private Member's Bill. The boards have had an enormous task and have done well.
But their problem has been made almost insuperable. I will give an example. A local authority submitted a scheme to a river board for discharging untreated or partially treated sewage into non-tidal waters, and the board rejected the scheme because it thought that it was damaging to amenity and would be a danger to health. The authority extended the scheme by 100 yards, thus taking it outside the board's jurisdiction into tidal waters. That sort of conflict between public authorities is undesirable, and it emphasises the need for a national policy. We boast a good deal about our amenities; we have our National Parks, our town and planning legislation and our green belt, but we continue with this primitive practice of discharging crude sewage into our coastal waters, and the Government approve it.
A more serious aspect of the problem is that of its possible effects upon health. I ask again: Is the report of the Medical Research Council reassuring? Are we entitled to say, "This is a nasty thing, but it is not injurious to health and, therefore, local authorities can take their time about it, and we need not worry about it"? Can we say that it does not matter whether the Bank Rate goes up, and there is a few years' delay in getting better schemes, because it is not damaging to health? I have read 761 the report as carefully as I can, although I am not an expert, as is the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett). I arrived at the same conclusions as the hon. Member. I thought that he made a most knowledgeable and forceful speech, which must have impressed everyone. I hope that the Minister will pay heed to it.
We must respect the work of the members of the committee who produced the report. But anyone reading it objectively must come to the conclusion that it is a negative document. Its arguments are based upon average pollution. Is there such a thing as "average pollution"? I do not think that there is. In many cases, there is gross pollution. My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) referred in his lucid speech to the problem in New Brighton. He produced graphic photographs of the position there. Where there is gross pollution there must be danger to health. The report also refers to the inquiry of the Enteric Reference Bureau. I was much impressed by the quotation which the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham made from it.
The report does not deal either with gastric and upper respiratory infections. One hon. Member mentioned that and said that such intestinal gastric illnesses were not really very serious and did not matter.
§ Mr. C. Hughes
I do not think that the hon. Member produced evidence to persuade the Committee that that was so. These things can lead to more serious conditions. My experience is that many general practitioners, during the bathing season, say that many children who bathe have constant throat infections. Surely that should be looked into.
At best, what can be said is that there is an acute conflict of scientific and medical evidence. I also read about the experiments in Canada, to which the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham referred. I have the paper to which he referred, although it was not passed to me directly. I read it with great care. It is rather frightening. It is small wonder that the members of the British Medical Association at their conference a fortnight ago said that they were flabbergasted with the complacency of the 762 committee. I am certain that they will also be flabbergasted at the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary in this debate.
Many local authorities have excellent records, and tribute should be paid to them. Poole and Llandudno, have praiseworthy records. There are many other local authorities which deserve the highest praise. The Committee must face the point that inland authorities have to spend money on sewage treatment. They are bound to do so. All coastal authorities should follow suit. Where it is clear that they are unable to afford it, the Ministry should assist them. Where there is a potential danger to health, where the evidence is inconclusive, as it is in this case, it is the Government's duty not to wait for an epidemic, but to take all possible steps now to minimise the danger.
We realise that this cannot be done overnight. It is the sort of problem which calls for an overall national policy and long-term planning. That is what is lacking. We have heard one stonewalling speech from the Parliamentary Secretary. I hope that we shall not hear another from the Minister. As far back as 1898 a report was produced which said that sewage should be clarified before it is discharged. Sixty-two years later we are debating this problem. How much progress have we made in that period? We may as well face the fact that we have made very little progress indeed. We say that the Government's indifference in the face of this national problem is reprehensible, and that is why we propose to divide the Committee tonight.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)
Various hon. Members during the course of the debate have said that this is a subject which could and should be debated on non-party lines. However, the Opposition do not intend to do that. They wish to turn it into a motion of censure on the Government. I must therefore, unwillingly, defend the Government against these party shafts, because to my mind there should be no difference of party policy on this.
In my judgment, all Governments have taken this problem seriously, though unquestionably we have many 763 years of neglect to overtake. We are making good progress, but it cannot all be put right by the waving of a wand; nor, if we still have many years work in front of us, should any one Government of the day be charged with having failed to solve what is essentially a long-term problem.
Three years ago when I first became the Minister I said that I should like to get myself known as the "Minister of Clean Rivers". I am grateful to the river boards for the support which they have given, and are giving, me in that aim. I should dearly like to be known as the "Minister for Clean Beaches". I am glad to say that the state of our beaches is improving. A number of beaches—it is not a great number— are repellant, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said. That is the only word for them. We may argue till the cows come home about the precise element of health risk there is in them, but nobody in his senses, nobody with any feeling for the decencies, would wish to bathe there. They must be tackled, and until a few minutes ago both sides of the Committee accepted that the prime responsibility rests with the local authorities.
In the Public Health Act, 1936, Parliament placed responsibility for effectively dealing with the contents of their sewers squarely on local authorities. That responsibility has always been accepted by local government and very large sums have been spent on sewerage, sewage treatment and sewage disposal, by both inland and coastal authorities.
I do not believe in the idea of now offering subsidies to local authorities which have been tardy in discharging duties which others have discharged willingly, efficiently and without subsidy. I was glad that the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) did not make the point, which has been made in some quarters of the Press, that this is a question which depends upon Government subsidies. Those whose financial resources are limited will receive rate deficiency grant.
The point at issue between the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Symonds) and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary was not whether a scheme is being held up by my Department. It 764 is not being held up at all. It is purely and simply a question whether the scheme comes within the provisions of the Rural Water and Sewerage Acts to qualify for the grant which is available for new sewerage schemes in rural areas. It is nothing whatever to do with the question whether the scheme should be carried out. My Department is perfectly ready for the scheme to go ahead.
There is no evidence of authorities being financially unable to do their duty of cleaning up their beaches. If work needs to be done which has not been done, it has been because a few coastal local authorities have not been willing to find the money, and I trust that the debate will help. I welcome the debate. I want the influence of Parliamentary debate to come into play on those local authorities which are laggards, because ultimately local government must be operated through public opinion.
I detected in some Opposition speeches the suggestion that local authorities were bodies which simply dangled at the end of a string from Whitehall and did not act unless Whitehall motivated them. That is a totally untrue picture of local government. Generally, we could not keep our system of local democracy working unless there was strong public opinion which, when a local authority was failing in its duty, showed its opinion at the next local election.
It is not true to say that the situation on our beaches is worsening, and I hope that that message will go out from this House. I was grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) for refuting the dangerous allegation that all the beaches round our costs were disgusting, and that nothing was being done about it. That is totally untrue. Nobody need be afraid to come to this country and to bathe off our coasts, but I quite agree that there are certain places where, as I say, bathing conditions are repellent. There are a few such cases, and those should be rectified as soon as possible.
The river boards are now reporting year after year an improvement in the condition of the rivers. A number of coastal authorities that have old-fashioned sewage disposal arrangements are tackling their job. Mention has been made in this debate of certain local authorities which have schemes now 765 projected or in process of being carried out. Though we are debating beaches today, I should be very happy if, on another day, the Committee decided to debate the condition of our rivers. We are debarred by the terms of the Motion from going far in that direction but, frankly, as the responsible Minister I regard the many miles of grossly-polluted rivers as an even higher priority for me than the relatively few badly-polluted beaches. It is the beaches that attract the attention of the Press, but in the rivers there is far less water to dilute the effluent going into them than is available when the effluent goes into the sea.
It has been suggested that virtually nothing is being done about this. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) mentioned a sum of £19 million. I should tell the Committee that the total amount of expenditure authorised by successive Governments on sewage disposal and sewage treatment work since the end of the war amounts to about £300 million. That has not all gone to the coastal authorities, of course—I speak of the whole—but one cannot draw a dividing line, and think of the pollution of the beaches as being entirely separate from the pollution of rivers or estuaries.
As I say, £300 million has been authorised so far, and hundreds of millions of pounds more certainly need to be spent. I candidly welcome the pressure of public and Parliamentary opinion in helping to get them spent, and spent in the right place first, but it cannot be done by magic. Strong, continuous pressure is required, both from the Minister concerned, from Parliament and, above all, from local public opinion itself local public opinion, or the complaints of visitors who, if they find a town complacent about the state of its beaches, speak out and tell the town that it will lose its holiday trade unless it does something.
In this connection, coastal towns have their advantages and their difficulties. The difficulty is that whereas an inland town can put a sewage treatment works anywhere around its perimeter, a coastal town can only put its sewage treatment works inland. That will necessarily mean pumping sewage uphill—because the ground rises from the sea coast to the inland area. If there are hills immediately behind the coastal resort, it may 766 be extremely hard to find any suitable land for a sewage treatment works. A sewage treatment works is not always a good neighbour to a residential district already built up, one cannot pump sewage and, in any case, one should not pump sewage to the tops of hills——
§ Mr. Jack Jones
Surely, it can be taken out to floating lagoons and then either taken further out, or brought back to be processed. The problem is not insuperable.
§ Mr. Brooke
These things can be done, but I was pointing out the essential difference between the problem facing the coastal town and that facing the inland town.
The advantage that the seaside town has is that the sea is there for the disposal of effluent. There will always be effluent, treated or untreated, and there is far more water in the sea to dilute effluent than there ever is in any river. Untreated sewage, poured out on the beaches, is foul. Untreated sewage, taken to the Atlantic, can obviously be discharged without harm to anyone. The question is whether one can so plan an outfall for untreated sewage that it will go out on the tide into the deep water, and will not wash back. That has to be determined by the best qualified engineers, helped by float tests and other scientific experiments.
Where beaches are now foul it is, perhaps, because of old outfalls, badly sited many years ago, or sewers that have become overcharged by growth of population, or because the sewer is fractured, or leaking. Those are the places where the work needs to be done, and it is an engineering job. What I deeply regret, I confess, are those cases—and I know of one or two—where nothing is being done and the pollution is continuing because, though the local authority has worked out a scheme, with expert advice, that will effectively do the job, the scheme is being held up year after year by local opponents who try to stop anything being done that does not involve complete treatment of the sewage.
I must speak of the Medical Research Council's report, though I do not think that this is simply a question of determining whether there is a health risk or not. If it was proved 100 per cent. that there was no health risk whatever, I 767 should still say that there was work to be done in clearing up these disgusting beaches——
§ Mr. Brooke
In certain places, local groups are holding up schemes that have been worked out with expert advice, simply and solely because the schemes do not include full treatment of the sewage. It is that local argument that, I believe, is so harmful to the improvement we all desire.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett), who is a medical man himself, described some of his fellow doctors as deceitful, and grossly unscientific. Clearly, therefore, I must be careful about coming between eminent and professional men. The report was produced by a committee set up by the Medical Research Council—a body that normally, I think, commands the respect of the House of Commons. As the Parliamentary Secretary has said, 18 of the 21 members were doctors. They worked for six years—it had to be an investigation over a prolonged period—and reached a unanimous report.
Neither I, nor the Committee, nor anybody can ignore and wipe away a responsible document like that. I certainly do not intend to be complacent about the health aspects of the report, and I shall certainly not say that there is no risk at all but, until another group of doctors has made an equally scientific investigation of the subject, I must, broadly, accept the findings of that report as against other individuals who say that it is complacent, unsatisfactory and unsystematic. I certainly have not the slightest desire to encourage complacency. I want to get idle beaches cleaned up. At the same time, I do not want to go about exaggerating either the number of beaches that need treatment or the extent of the health risk. Although there almost certainly is some health risk when conditions are bad, it would be a pity if everyone in the country started to get it on his mind that bathing in the sea around our coasts was something dangerous and liable to give him polio.
We started late. I hope that the Committee will forgive me if I continue for a minute or two beyond 7 o'clock. The 768 subject of composting was mentioned and it was suggested that that might be a valuable and useful method. I should like hon. Members who are interested to refer to the Report of the Committee known as the Natural Resources Technical Committee of 1954, under the chairmanship of Professor Zuckerman. It is a somewhat discouraging document on the subject of the economic possibilities of composting. Various experiments are being made in different places but, quite frankly, the product of composting sewage sludge with household refuse is not easy to dispose of.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu
The Minister has suggested that we refer to a document of 1954. Would it not be better to look at the practice in 1960 and see how successful it has been?
§ Mr. Brooke
I have authorised certain local authorities to carry out this work. Nevertheless, it remains true that it is not easy to induce farmers to buy the ultimate product. Unless farmers will buy it, that method of getting rid of sewage sludge is really very expensive.
It has been suggested that I should make a black list by calling for returns from all local authorities which need to take action. Let us be practical about this. If the Minister is to ask local authorities whether they are on the black list, how many will say so? That is not the best way of approaching the matter.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
The Minister says that the farmers will not buy the compost. Then let every visitor to the seaside, as a quid pro quo, take a couple of bags of the fertiliser back with him as a present.
§ Mr. Brooke
Everyone has greatly enjoyed the hon. Member's contribution to the debate.
In reply to a request from me, local authorites are not likely to reply and say, "Our beach is aesthetically revolting". We shall not acquire the information in that way. I am studying the information in my possession, with the help of my engineers. I know, broadly, where the complaints come from. It is a travesty to say that the Government did nothing for six years while we were waiting for this report. We were working all the time.
769 We cannot obtain a proper assessment of the condition of a beach by a test inspection. It depends on the tides, on the weather and on many things. It is not something which one engineering inspector can do in a short visit. We can form a shrewd opinion from our engineering knowledge of the age, the condition and the place of outfalls, but, ultimately, we must depend upon public opinion exerting itself on the local authority of the place. It is public opinion which must stir the local authorities locally into action, and I hope that this debate will stimulate that.
By my circular, I have encouraged the authorities to act. There is no backlog, as was alleged, of sound schemes put forward by local authorities which are being held up in my Ministry. The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) was entirely at fault when he suggested that. I have no wish to make the subject of pollution a party matter, but, in view of what has been said and in view of the insinuation that the Gov-
§ ernment are indifferent, that their policy is hampering public services and that we stand for private affluance and public squalor—I am quoting hon. Members opposite—I intend now to give the Committee some figures. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The Opposition cannot escape from this.
§ For all schemes of sewerage and sewage disposal and treatment work in the last five years of the Labour Government, the total authorised was less than £10 million a year. In 1957–58, we authorised £28 million. In 1958–59, we authorised £33 million, and last year, 1959–60, the figure was £40 million. It is for that that the Opposition wish to censure us.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
I beg to move, That Item Class V, Vote 1, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, be reduced by £5.
§ Question put:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 156, Noes 206.771
|Division No. 136.]||AYES||[7.5 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Marsh, Richard|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Grimond, J.||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Beaney, Alan||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Millan, Bruce|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Bence, Cyrll (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hannan, William||Morris, John|
|Benson, Sir George||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Moyle, Arthur|
|Blackburn, F.||Hayman, F. H.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Boardman, H.||Healey, Denis||Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Henderson, Rt.Hn.Arthur(Rwly Regis)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Boyden, James||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Oram, A. E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hilton, A. V.||Owen, Will|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Holman, Percy||Padley, W. E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hunter, A. E.||Paton, John|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Callaghan, James||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Peart, Frederick|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Janner, Barnett||Pentland, Norman|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Cronin, John||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Probert, Arthur|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Davies,Rt.Hn.Clement(Montgomery)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Randall, Harry|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, J. Idwal, Wrexham)||Rankin, John|
|Deer, George||Kelley, Richard||Reid, William|
|Dempsey, James||Kenyon, Clifford||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Diamond, John||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Dodds, Norman||King, Dr. Horace||Silverman, Julius ([...]ston)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Lawson, George||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Ledger, Ron||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lipton, Marcus||Small, William|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Evans, Albert||McCann, John||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Fitch, Alan||Mclnnes, James||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Fletcher, Eric||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Forman, J. C.||Mackie, John||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mahon, Simon||Stonehouse, John|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Stones, William|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Manuel, A. C.||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mapp, Charles|
|Swingler, Stephen||Wainwright, Edwin||Willey, Frederick|
|Sylvester, George||Warbey, William||Williams, Rev. Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Symonds, J. B.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Weitzman, David||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Woof, Robert|
|Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Thornton, Ernest||White, Mrs. Eirene||Zilliacus, K.|
|Tomney, Frank||Whitlock, William|
|Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Dr. Broughton and Mr. Redhead.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Alport, Rt. Hon. C. J. M.||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Arbuthnot, John||Goodhart, Philip||Morgan, William|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Goodhew, Victor||Morrison, John|
|Balniel, Lord||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Neave, Airey|
|Barlow, Sir John||Green, Alan||Noble, Michael|
|Barter, John||Grimston, Sir Robert||Nugent, Sir Richard|
|Batsford, Brian||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Page, Graham|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Partridge E.|
|Bidgood, John C.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Peel, John|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hay, John||Percival, Ian|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pitt. Miss Edith|
|Bishop, F. P.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Pott, Percivall|
|Bossom, Clive||Hendry, Forbes||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Box, Donald||Hiley, Joseph||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Braine, Bernard||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Ramsden, James|
|Brewis, John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hobson, John||Renton, David|
|Brooman-White, R.||Holland, Philip||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Bryan, Paul||Hornby, R, P.||Roots, William|
|Bullard, Denys||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Burden, F. A.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Sharpies, Richard|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Shaw, M.|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Shepherd, William|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Iremonger, T. L.||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Jackson, John||Smithers, Peter|
|Channon, H. P. G.||James, David||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Chataway, Christopher||Jennings, J. C.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Cole, Norman||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Collard, Richard||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Cooke, Robert||Joseph, Sir Keith||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Kirk, Peter||Temple, John M.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Kitson, Timothy||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Costain, A. P.||Leather, E. H. C.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Leavey, J. A.||Tlley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Leburn, Gilmour||Tliney, John (Wavertree)|
|Cunningham, Knox||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Turner, Colin|
|Curran, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Litchfield, Capt John||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Longden, Gilbert||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Loveys, Walter H.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Duncan, Sir James||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Eden, John||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Wakefield,Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Elliott, R. W.||McAdden, Stephen||Wakefield, Sir Warell (St. M'lebone)|
|Emery, Peter||MacArthur, Ian||Wall, Patrick|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Macleod Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Watts, James|
|Farr, John||McMaster, Stanley R.||Whitelaw, William|
|Fell, Anthony||Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maddan, Martin||Wise, A. R.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Maltland, Cdr. Sir John||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Marshall, Douglas||Woollam, John|
|Freeth, Denzil||Marten, Neil||Worsley, Marcus|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Gammans, Lady||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Gardner, Edward||Mawby, Ray||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Mills, Stratton||Colonel J. H. Harrison and Mr. J. E. B. Hill.|
§ Original Question again proposed.773
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again—[Mr. Whitelaw]—put and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.