HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1205-6
60. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for Defence to what reasons is ascribed the recent eight-week period of westerly winds over this country, one of the longest periods in recorded meteorological history.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

In the British Isles, westerly winds are more common than other winds and the recent long spell of westerlies, which lasted with some breaks for 45 days, is not without precedent. The reasons for the persistence of particular types of weather over many weeks are not understood at the present time, but the Meteorological Office is engaged on research on the problem because of its importance to long-range forecasting.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

If the Government cannot give me an answer to this very simple question of why we had 45 days of westerly winds—which might help them over the "Torrey Canyon"—can the hon. Gentleman say whether the world weather watch and the putting up of satellites to examine the clouds will give us the answers to these problems and lead eventually to control of the weather?

Mr. Rees

We ourselves have a research team at work in this matter—but it is no good beating about the bush. The amount that anybody knows about this subject is very small. The hon. Member is falling into the same mistake as his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) on Monday evening in pretending that a Government can control the weather.

Mr. Ellis

Does not my hon. Friend agree that in a recent debate the fact that the wind was not westerly was given by the Opposition spokesman as the reason why the Government were saved over the "Torrey Canyon" incident? Does not this demonstrate that neither in the political nor in the meteorological field do the Opposition know which way the wind is blowing?

Mr. Rees

The right hon. Member who spoke for the Opposition got his winds going the wrong way.

Sir R. Cary

Can the Under-Secretary of State for Defence do something about today's weather? It is a wretched day.

Mr. Rees

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman brings that matter up at a meeting of the 1922 Committee.

Mr. Hector Hughes

As these persistent westerly winds have driven a lot of oil from the "Torrey Canyon" up into Britain's traditional shoals, what steps are the Government taking to protect Britain's fisheries from poison?

Mr. Rees

I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that I will defend to the death the chance of any oil getting to Aberdeen.