HC Deb 25 February 1964 vol 690 cc225-6
24. Mrs. Slater

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what steps are now being taken to prevent the foam nuisance, at sewerage works and in rivers, caused by detergents.

Mr. Corfield

Most detergents are now far more readily broken down at sewage disposal works than those produced three or four years ago. More improvement is needed. But manufacturers are now developing still more oxidisable materials and are preparing to produce these in large quantities. The Standing Technical Committee on Synthetic Detergents will be reporting progress later this year.

Mrs. Slater

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that when travelling on a train and passing sewerage works and rivers, particularly if there is a wind, one sees that there is a tremendous amount of foam still in the detergents? Local authorities which try to break down this foaming agent are put to considerable expense. Is it not time that his Department made quite sure that the detergent manufacturers put in a material at the source which could break down the foaming agent?

Mr. Corfield

I understand that about 70 per cent. of the detergents now used are based on this softer base which reduces the foam by about 50 per cent. There are now signs of an even softer material proving commercially possible and, if this comes about, we will no doubt see an even further improvement.

Mr. Popplewell

Will the Minister have another look at this matter, because if he makes inquiries he will find that a town like Castleford has had as much as 6 ft. to 7 ft of detergent foam in the streams on one occasion? Will he also look at the implications of this on places like Doncaster, where the River Don has had a tremendous amount of this foam floating down it? Will the hon. Gentleman show a greater appreciation of the necessity for doing something constructive and at least expedite the publication of the report of the Committee which has been considering this important problem for a long time?

Mr. Corfield

This Committee reports every year. Its report for this year is still to come.