HC Deb 31 July 1962 vol 664 cc396-8
23. Mr. Delargy

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will introduce legislation to compel all owners of disused quarries, sand and gravel pits, which are a danger to the public, to fence them adequately, and, wherever possible, to fill them in or tidy them up.

Mr. Corfield

No, Sir. Local authorities already have powers under Section 151 of the Mines and Quarries Act, 1954, to require the fencing of disused workings which are in places accessible to the public; and under Section 144 of the Highways Act, 1959, to deal with sources of danger adjoining a street. Filling in would generally be impracticable, but particular sites can be dealt with by local authorities under their powers for restoring or improving the appearance of derelict land.

Mr. Delargy

Is the Minister satisfied that this legislation goes far enough? He, or at least his Department, knows that several youngsters have been drowned in these pits recently. Is it right that people should be allowed to dig great monstrous pits and to get money out of it, and then to stroll cheerfully away, leaving them there for ever, a deadly danger to children and a blight on the landscape, leaving the land permanently unfit for normal use?

Mr. Corfield

My right hon. Friend takes the view that these powers are generally adequate, but I emphasise that the primary responsibility is with local authorities and, as these are local matters, in my view must be with local authorities. The hon. Member referred to these works being left as a source of danger, but he is aware that it is almost universal practice, when planning permission is given, to attach suitable conditions for rehabilitation.

Mr. M. Foot

Could not the Minister arrange to move some of these disused turnstiles to the quarries?

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will the Minister consult his right hon. Friend with a view to considering the advisability of sending out a circular to local authorities reminding them of their responsibility in order to minimise the dangers in this respect?

Mr. Corfield

I will certainly consider that suggestion.

Mrs. Slater

Does the Minister realise that local authorities do their best to get these private owners to fill in these pits but that they keep on resisting this proposal? If it falls back on the local authority, it becomes a very expensive job, which ought not to be the responsibility of the local authority. Will he look at that aspect of the problem?

Mr. Corfield

Very strong powers of enforcement are available to the local authorities. I do not think that that is a limiting factor.