HC Deb 04 February 1965 vol 705 cc1361-5

Amendments made: In page 17, leave out lines 15 and 16 and insert: In subsection (1) for paragraph (c) there shall be substituted the following paragraph— (c) if he deposits on any land any solid refuse so that it falls or is carried into a stream"; In subsection (4) for the words from "(which consent" to "quarry" there shall be subtsituted the words "any solid refuse". In line 17, at end insert: In subsection (9) for the words from "the proviso" to the word "section" there shall be substituted the words "section 9(1) of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act 1965"; In subsection (10) for the words "subsection (7)" there shall be substitued the words section 9(1) of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act 1965". In section 23— in subsection (2) for the words "the proviso to subsection (7)" there shall be substituted the words "section 9(1) of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act 1965".—[Dr. Dickson Mabon.]

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I beg to move Amendment No. 18, in page 17, line 33, at the end to add: In section 29— in subsection (2) after the words "direct that" there shall be inserted the words "any of". This is a drafting Amendment. Clause 12(2) of the Bill applies some, but not all, sections of the 1951 Act—it does not apply Section 22—to those existing discharges controlled by the Bill and to "controlled waters". If the Secretary of State makes an Order under Section 29 of the 1951 Act applying the provisions of this Act to tidal waters, it follows, therefore, that his Order may direct that any of the provisions of this Act shall apply to any tidal waters …".

Amendment agreed to.

7.35 p.m.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

It has been a most pleasurable experience for me to be associated with this as my first-ever Bill in Parliament. I have for nine long years entered every Ballot and taken advantage of every opportunity, but have always been unsuccessful. So it is a matter of great gratification to be concerned with a Bill of this nature. It is not the sort of Bill that I ever thought I should introduce. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for allowing me this privilege. I am also grateful to my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite for the way in which they have received the responses which I have made to the Amendments which have been proposed. I think it can truly be said that in Committee we did a good job in improving the Bill. It is essentially a different Bill in some ways from the English Bill, and I hope that in practice it will prove to be a better Bill and that, indeed, it may be a model which will give the English second thoughts.

I am, naturally, concerned that industry shall not be afraid of the Bill but will see that it is a part of the modernisation of Scotland that must take place if we are to become a great nation again. The last thing I should want the Bill to do would be to impede industrial advance and the new industrial development which will be so essential to the growth of the Scottish economy. I am sure we are all united in that.

I know that the river purification authorities and boards, in considering applications for consents under this legislation, will continue with the same moderate powers and co-operative approach as they have hitherto done. If there are any doubts about this, I hope that hon. Members will be vigilant, and I also hope that the industries and dischargers concerned will not hesitate to exercise their full rights under the Bill so that Ministers will be aware of how things are working out.

It is the Government's intention that the factors affecting the operation of the river purification boards and authorities shall be brought to their notice in the administrative guidance which will be issued to them by the Department once the Bill is enacted. I trust that we have taken into account the representations that we have received from various persons, industry, agriculture, local authorities and fishing interests. I hope that we have made a good Bill.

I repeat the undertaking I gave on behalf of my right hon. Friend, that it is our hope that in this Parliament we shall introduce comprehensive legislation to implement the provisions of the Hill-Watson Report and which will include the sewerage purification so long overdue. I cannot go further than that at this stage. My hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite will realise that in this Parliament we are engaged in a very heavy programme of legislation. I can only hope that what future Bills we introduce concerning allied matters will be met by the good feeling and helpful efforts which all hon. Members have demonstrated so well during the proceedings on this Bill.

7.39 p.m.

Mr. G. Campbell

We on this side of the House have made clear our support for the principles of the Bill and that we will be glad to see it enacted soon. We have done our best to make some improvements in it and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we were particularly concerned about timing. We were, therefore, especially glad to hear him give an assurance today that the Government would use their discretion about deciding the date of the appointed day, bearing in mind the anxieties and difficulties not only of industry, but of local authorities and others who might be concerned. We also welcome his statement that he had given assurances direct to some of the representatives of the persons affected and of industry.

In seeking the co-operation of those who will have the task of carrying out the provisions of the Bill, the hon. Gentleman must also bear in mind that some of them may have to incur considerable expense in the general cause of preventing pollution. I emphasise that not only industry but local authorities will be affected by the Bill and will be much concerned about the expenditure that will have to be met by ratepayers.

I am sure that we all want clean rivers and beaches. I take the opportunity of reference to clean beaches to mention the far-reaching effect of Clause 8 in dealing with tidal waters. Power is granted to the Secretary of State to use his discretion in deciding when various tidal waters will be included, in two stages, within the provisions of the Acts concerning the prevention of pollution.

Whereas in the case of rivers it is possible to make calculations—some of them not very easy—based on the flow of the river and other factors, about the effects of certain concentrations of effluent, it is very much more difficult to work out the same kind of problems where tidal waters are concerned. I will name only a few factors. There are tides and currents; also the degree of salinity in the water and the effect of this on different kinds of effluent.

These are all highly technical matters and I understand that there is still a great deal of work to be done before we can pretend to know all the answers. In carrying out the provisions of Clause 8, we feel it important that the Government of the day and the purification authorities should bear in mind the fact that this science is still virtually in its infancy and that study of these factors must be taken into account before a local authority or an industry is penalised, perhaps unnecessarily.

I congratulate the Under-Secretary of State on piloting through so skilfully his first Bill and also thank him for the courtesy with which he has always treated our suggestions, a courtesy which has marked his dealings with us in general in handling the Bill. We fully support the principles of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

Forward to