HC Deb 02 February 1965 vol 705 c871
11. Mr. George Craddock

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in view of the latest progress report of the Standing Technical Committee on synthetic detergents, if he will take steps to compel manufacturers of detergents to use a softer basic material, which will more readily be decomposed by bacteria in sewage processes and rivers.

Mr. MacColl

The latest report records substantial progress in the production of a softer detergent and there should be further progress following the manufacturers' undertaking to cease using hard-base materials by the end of last year. My right hon. Friend thinks it is too soon to consider compulsion but he is keeping an open mind.

Mr. Craddock

Will the Minister be good enough to take the strongest possible measures to compel manufacturers to use this softer material which he has described? I think that this will have to be soon. Does he agree that it will have to be resolved at the top level in order to get a solution?

Mr. MacColl

I think that there are two points about this. First of all, the softer material is only now available in sufficient quantities for experiments to be undertaken to see how effective it will finally be. Secondly, if we were to introduce compulsion too soon, the danger is that it would become accepted as standard, whereas what we want to do is to see a steady improvement as technical progress goes on producing better and better materials for detergents. I do not think that this moment is the best time for compulsion.