HC Deb 24 May 1966 vol 729 cc268-9
12. Mr. Bessell

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if, in view of the fact that at present the responsibility for reducing oil pollution on beaches rests with the local authorities, he will introduce legislation to empower himself to provide grants to local authorities for this purpose.

Mr. MacColl

A discussion took place early this month between the local authority associations and the Institute of Petroleum, chaired by the Ministry. While these technical discussions are continuing, it is too early for my right hon. Friend to come to a conclusion whether any financial assistance is required.

Mr. Bessell

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask him to bear in mind the very serious consequences of oil pollution on the beaches around our coasts, particularly in tourist areas? Will he therefore treat this as a matter of real urgency, recognising that it is beyond the capacity of the local authority to bear the whole financial burden?

Mr. MacColl

The Institute of Petroleum has offered to set up a joint working party with the local authority. This proposal is at present with the local authority associations to decide whether they want to participate.

Mr. Peter Mills

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that only today I have received news of the heaviest pollution that has ever taken place on our beaches in North Devon, with lumps of oil the size of footballs? Will the hon. Gentleman please look into this as a matter of real urgency?

Mr. MacColl

If we have any communication from the local authorities, of course we will look into it.

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