HC Deb 24 June 1965 vol 714 cc1932-4
30. Mr. John Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether there is an exchange of information between the Air Pollution Research Unit and similar research units in other countries; what harmful substances have been identified in air pollution by research workers in this and other countries; and what research has been carried out into the effect of all those harmful substances by this country.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Denis Howell)

There is very close contact and frequent exchange of information between the Air Pollution Research Unit of the Medical Research Council and other national and international agencies in this field. A great many substances, a few of which are potentially harmful to human beings, have been identified in air pollution and their relevance to human health is kept under constant scrutiny and examination.

Information about work being undertaken in this general field in the United Kingdom is available in a report of the Warren Spring Laboratory, entitled "The Investigation of Air Pollution"; the annual report of the Medical Research Council; and in "Scientific Research in British Universities and Colleges"; all published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Mr. Hall

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the evidence to date shows that the rate of lung cancer is greater in the metropolitan areas than in rural areas even where the rate of smoking per adult may be the same or greater in the rural area? Does it not show that air pollution must play a very prominent part in the development of lung cancer, and is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the amount of research now carried on is sufficient?

Mr. Howell

I am quite certain that this is a matter very much in the minds of the authorities concerned. I agree with the general tenor of the hon. Member's supplementary question, but as yet no direct relationship has been shown. We shall continue to give support to such research.

Sir G. Nicholson

What are the relations of the Department and other authorities responsible for administering the existing rules and regulations? Is it not patently obvious that there is much unnecessary pollution because many lorries—and indeed cars—are so neglectfully maintained that unnecessary pollution is caused? British Railways render the air offensive by lack of proper maintenance.

I hope the hon. Gentleman will not say that this is a matter for other Departments, but will tell us what liaison he has.

Mr. Howell

Two-thirds of that supplementary question was for the Minister of Transport, but I am happy to assure the House that there is constant and very close co-operation between all the Departments concerned.

31. Mr. John Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much has been spent in each of the last five years on research into air pollution by the Air Pollution Research Unit of the Medical Research Council.

Mr. Denis Howell

With permission, I will tabulate this information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Hall

It is a little difficult to comment until I see the figures published. May I nevertheless ask whether the amount is anything like the £1 million to be spent this year by the Tobacco Council to examine the relationship between smoking and health? If it is not so large, why not?

Mr. Howell

It is nothing like that. It has gone up from about £21,000 in 1960–61 by about 50 per cent. to £32,800 for 1964–65.

Mr. Hall

Is that not a grossly inadequate amount to spend on this important topic? Is the lack of research into this topic because it might throw up results which might be expensive to cure? Is that the reason why research is not being undertaken'?

Mr. Howell

I do not want to promise greater research on this question irresponsibly, but whether or not the amount was inadequate, it was the programme authorised by the previous Administration.

Following is the information:

1960–61 21,363
1961–62 21,681
1962–63 26,584
1963–64 31,340
1964–65 32,800