HC Deb 20 February 1968 vol 759 cc221-2
17. Mr. Robert Howarth

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will set up an inquiry into the disparity in cost between various parts of the country for the disposal and treatment of sewage with a view to taking steps to equalise standards and costs to the ultimate benefit of domestic and industrial users.

Mr. Skeffington

No, Sir. Given the differences in the wastes to be disposed of and in local facilities for disposal of effluent and sludge, equalisation of either standards or costs would be impracticable.

Mr. Howarth

What justification can there be for the type of disparity which is reported, which places such a burden on particular domestic and industrial users? Is there nothing that the Government are prepared to do about this that would help?

Mr. Skeffington

I have already dealt with this point but we should be prepared to look into individual cases. They vary very widely in view of the nature of the effluents to be disposed of.

Mr. Peyton

In view of the paucity of information offered by the Government on this subject, why on earth are they resisting a request for an inquiry? Information is obviously required and they do not have it.

Mr. Skeffington

The legislation dealing with the subject, as the hon. Gentle- man knows, goes back over a great many years. The 1961 legislation is imposed on top of it all. We are carrying out investigations all over the country to see what are the total results, and if we find it necessary, further action will be taken.

Mr. Graham Page

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he has had the opportunity in two Questions now, of explaining the Government's policy, and there seems to be no policy at all? Would he give some assurance that new legislation is under consideration if the existing legislation is not sufficient for him to find out the cost of this scheme?

Mr. Skeffington

I shall be in a position to tell the House when we have had more experience of the working of the legislation passed by the Administration supported by the hon. Gentleman.