HC Deb 16 June 1969 vol 785 cc105-70

7.6 p.m.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

I beg to move, That this House, noting the evidence given to the Select Committee on Science and Technology on Coastal Pollution by the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, in which he stated: 'I cannot at the moment name a single Minister who has the responsibility for putting all these recommendations into effect', regrets that Her Majesty's Government have refused to accept the unanimous recommendations of the Select Committee on Ministerial responsibility for preventing and dealing with further cases of coastal pollution. Having been a member of the Select Committee on Science and Technology since it was first set up in 1967, I should much have preferred the debate to have been in Government time so that we could have avoided being as critical as we have been in this Motion.

I should like to make a few general observations about the Select Committee and, in particular, to pay a tribute to the clerk of the Sub-Committee of which I was Chairman and which dealt with coastal pollution. This clerk of the House gave very noble service. When he was clerk to our Sub-Committee he was also the clerk to the Agriculture Select Committee and to its Horticulture Sub-Committee and was having to attend to work for hon. Members at the Council of Europe and occasionally taking his turn at the Table of the House.

He was assisted half-time by one young lady who dealt with the typewriters in the office. The typewriter, a modern punch-tape machine, kept on breaking down, with the result that on one occasion the only way in which the work of the Sub-Committee could be furthered was by this young lady having to go to Buckingham Palace where the only available spare was in situ.

If the Government wish these Select Committees to do their work, they have to accept that now and again they must ensure that there is adequate staffing. I say that confirming our tribute to the clerk who served us.

I could also have wished that hon. Members opposite who were members of the Select Committee, particularly my Sub-Committee, did not have to be placed in some embarrassment tonight, as I am sure they are, as a result of the Opposition having moved a critical Motion. My remarks will not in any way exacerbate any feelings of bitterness which they may have. Here I should like to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer). Since its initiation, under his chairmanship the Select Committee has been able to work very cordially, and I shall say nothing which will upset that cordiality.

I propose to divide my remarks into four main parts. I shall first make a general survey of the Report and of the White Paper, No. 3880, which contains the Government's views of our report. Secondly, I shall deal with the second main recommendation which concerns the desginating of a Minister to co-ordinate research in this respect.

Thirdly, I will deal with the first main recommendation, which was the appointment of a Minister to be briefed in advance to take charge of major emergencies of a national kind.

Fourthly, I will say a few words about the future and what has happened since the "Torrey Canyon" disaster. I should like to emphasise that in this debate the Opposition do not intend to pursue the "Torrey Canyon" issue. We are looking to the future, because our report was directed to the future. Although we had to try to draw some lessons from what happened to the "Torrey Canyon", we are concerned with how to deal with present anxieties and future needs.

Before embarking on the first part of my remarks, I should like to clear up one misunderstanding which has arisen. It concerns what we say in paragraph 59 of our report dealing with an oil spillage in the Thames off Barking. The Committee went down to have a look at it. In making these arrangements, due to a purely inadvertent mistake over the telephone, it was assumed that the Ministry of Technology's chief officer in this sphere, Mr. Wardley Smith of the Warren Spring Laboratory, had not been informed of this spillage.

I should like to correct this misunderstanding, because it led to a great deal of concern and anxiety on the part of Mr. Townsend, the River Conservator and Principal Pollution Control Officer, of the Port of London Authority. We have heard from him, since the report was issued, that Mr. Wardley Smith had been informed. The mistake came about because the Ministry of Housing and Local Government had not been informed that he had been informed and our clerk got in touch with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. I should like to clear that up to ensure there is no breakdown in the happy relationships which have existed between the Port of London Authority and the Warren Spring Laboratory.

I should also like to pick up one other point that arises on Appendix 33 of our report which contains two statements, one from the Ministry of Technology, the other from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Concerning the Ministry of Agriculture, hon. Members will see at the end of Appendix 33 the date, 24th May, 1968. They might think that that date should also be attached to the report from the Ministry of Technology which precedes it. However, that report from the Ministry of Technology did not come in until 8th August, 1968, which was after our report had gone to the printers. I take full responsibility for having allowed this Appendix to appear at all. But, as the Sub-Committee had requested the answers to the questions which the Ministry answer in the Appendix, I felt it only right that the Appendix should be included in the Report.

I turn now to the first major part of my remarks. I have already emphasised that we are not dealing with the "Torrey Canyon". The report was never intended to be an inquest on the "Torrey Canyon". Indeed we were instructed by the House not to make it one. In the debate which took place in April, 1967, I think that was made very clear.

We have tried to assess future risks. Since our report I have had a very important letter from Mr. Kirby, the principal officer of the Shell Company responsible for introducing what is now known as the "load on top" system to ensure that oil is not discharged into the sea, save in minimal quantities, when tankers are having their tanks cleaned out on their way back to the source of the oil.

In paragraph 10 of our report we mention that although we see that logically it can be argued that the bigger the tanker the fewer there need be, nevertheless, it has been the case up to now that the number of tankers is still increasing every year and, therefore, the risk of collision must be increasing, too. But Mr. Kirby sent me a letter on 5th September last year, just after our report came out, in which he has given some important figures which I think the House might like to have. He shows that whilst in 1965 there were 72 million tons deadweight with 2,400 units—this is excluding ships up to roughly 2,000 tons—by 1975 it is estimated that there will be only 1,900 units; in other words, a reduction from 2,400 down to 1,900.

He then goes on to say, which I think is very important, that the improvement in the training of Masters and crew in ensuring that pollution is not caused on the sea is going to be very considerable. As a result, he says that perhaps the fears which we express in paragraph 10 of our report will not prove to be well founded by events. Let us hope that this is so. But we must take into account—I shall come back to this in the final part of my speech—that at present there is still plenty of cause for anxiety.

Having dealt with the risks—and I think that we must still recognise that there are roughly 2 tanker accidents of some kind every week of the year somewhere in the world—we moved on to talk about ways and means of reducing the risks, the immediate action which should be taken before help can be made available to a tanker in distress, the various forms of aid for tankers in distress, the organisation and treatment necessary in the event of coastal pollution actually occurring or becoming imminent, research projects and international co-operation, and the possibility of collision not only with oil drilling rigs but other hazardous cargoes, and sewage and industrial effluents. We received evidence from the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who I was glad to hear say that he still regards this as one of the most serious forms of pollution. I hope that there will be a very stringent tightening up of the measures designed to overcome this problem. It is a public disgrace that these effluents are being discharged into our rivers. They destroy the beauty of many of our rivers. The sewage, which still pours into our rivers and into the sea, is still far too high—high in more senses than one.

We then dealt with marine biology and the effects upon fauna and flora.

In particular, we finished up by talking about the "load-on-top" principle. Briefly, this ingenious system was introduced largely due to the initiative of Mr. Kirby of Shell. It simply means that when tanks are being cleaned of the sludge which clings to them after oil has been discharged at the receiving port this end, instead of that sludge being discharged into the open sea, it is collected in one stern tank of the big tankers and the next load collected from the oil sources comes in on top of that. This has saved over 1 million tons of oil being discharged into the sea every year. I very much hope that this process will go on until eventually we have 100 per cent. perfection. At the moment I think we are somewhere near 90 per cent. It is only the smaller operators—particularly the Italians—who are mainly responsible for what is still going on.

We made 21 recommendations in our report. Since its issue, the Government have published a White Paper, Command No. 3880, in which they have, to all intents and purposes, virtually accepted sixteen of those recommendations. They have made certain qualifications to them. However, I should like to thank the Government for at least having accepted sixteen of our recommendations in principle.

Their main disagreement arose over the first two recommendations, which dealt with the appointment of a Minister, and our suggestion about rechartering some of the major hazards in shipping, particularly those concerned with carrying oil. I accept that the chief hydrologist of the Royal Navy is an expert whom one would be unwise to challenge unless one were sure of one's facts, but I hope that the House will listen carefully to what my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price), who will wind up for the Opposition, has to say on this matter, because I think that there are some very important new processes available now, perhaps enabling chartering to be speeded up.

The Government also criticised to some degree our observations about Her Majesty's coastguards keeping constant watch. I appreciate that every coastal protection authority has paid tribute to Her Majesty's coastguards for the work they have done—and I am certain that no one on the Committee wished in any way to be derogatory of their work—but the fact remains that we have had a frightening incidence of coastal pollution around our shores since the "Torrey Canyon" disaster, and I still believe that we were right to ask in our report that further consideration should be given to the number of coastguard stations which should be kept on constant watch.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

The hon. Gentleman says that the Government have accepted 16 out of 21 recommendations. Where in all this does the Motion of censure lie? I do not see where the element of censure comes in.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

I have not a little respect for the hon. Gentleman. I hope that he will at least allow me to make my speech, because if he gives me a moment or two he will see why we have put this Motion on the Order Paper.

The other point which the Government particularly questioned was whether the Ministry of Transport was being complacent in its attitude to risks involved in drilling in the North Sea. When we see what has happened off Santa Barbara in California, where 20,000 tons a day of oil were discharged as a result of drilling, we have to recognise that that is a considerably larger quantity of oil than ever lit on the Cornish coast from the "Torrey Canyon". I find the evidence from the Ministry of Transport somewhat complacent, and I do not regret having said what we did about that.

There was one other matter which arose over Recommendation 11, and here again I have to refer to Mr. Kirby's letter to me of 5th September. We expressed some anxiety about this new process of transferring oil from large tankers to slightly smaller ones where the oil has to be brought into ports, where the draught of the ships which bring it from the source of the oil may be too great to enable them to get into the harbours. In this case Mr. Kirby has reassured me that an enormous amount of trouble has been taken to ensure that there will not be any spillage, and he goes on to say that one of the recommendations which we made, namely, that the receiving tanker should carry adequate stocks of detergents, is now in force. Whether we thought of it, or they did, I do not think matters very much. The important thing is that it is being done.

It is a very wise measure, and I recognise that both the Board of Trade and the companies concerned—I think it is mainly Shell that is involved—have taken a great deal of trouble to see that there will not be a spillage, but we have to recognise that when the "General Colocotronis" went aground a year after the "Torrey Canyon" there was a severance of a pipe transferring oil from one ship to another, and it always could happen. After all, squalls suddenly come up, and although the transfer process may not take place unless the weather is calm enough, one never knows what is going to happen, even in the English Channel.

The other matter on which there was some reservation was our recommendation that one of the four pieces of equipment with which every tanker should be equipped was v.h.f. The person who recommended that to us was Lord Geddes, and I hope that what the Government say about this in their White Paper, namely, the possibility of legislation, will be speeded up, because this is of considerable importance.

I turn, now, to the second part of my remarks; to deal with the recommendations in paragraphs 46 and 47. Paragraph 40 of Cmnd. 3880 says: The Select Committee did not have before them any memorandum on machinery of government, nor did they seek evidence from those directly concerned with the general arrangements for emergencies. I must ask whether whoever drew up that White Paper read the evidence, because if he had read it he would have found that the Ministerial Emergencies Committee was referred to by Mr. Broughton of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, by the then Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy, now the Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, at Question 410 on page 186 on 2nd April, 1968, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government at Question 691 on page 227. And if hon. Members look at Question 255 on this matter—I know it is confusing for hon. Members to follow this Report be- cause they will find double numbering most of the way through—they will see that I, too, was not entirely unaware of the existence of this Committee.

May I here say, I am sure on behalf of members of the Select Committee, that I have a great deal of admiration for the work which the present Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs did at that time. His was not an easy job, and I think that even he would recognise that it might have been advantageous to himself to have had a little more of the background and been more conversant with the vernacular in which one has to think and speak in these things before he had to take on this onerous task.

The hon. Gentleman said in answer to Question 464: I think I was involved because it was a disaster at sea; that is why the Navy Minister came in … I am not sure if it was a precedent The hon. Gentleman was very loyal to the Government about this. He saw no need to alter the present procedure of the Government's Ministerial Emergencies Committee, but if I had his job I know that I should have liked to have been told some months before that if ever one of these disasters occurred it would fall to me to take charge; and all we are asking in our report is that he should be given that opportunity, whoever it be. All these oil spillages will eventually, if not initially, involve the Royal Navy, and possibly the Royal Air Force, and it seems to me that there is a case for saying that that job should normally be handled by somebody from the Ministry of Defence.

I turn, now, to the major part of my speech, and perhaps this will satisfy the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). Paragraph 45 of our Report refers to the co-ordination of research. In the report of his own Committee, Sir Solly Zuckerman listed at page viii the nine projects which he thought should be researched as the result of his inquiry into the "Torrey Canyon". These covered the speedier transferring of oil, methods of firing oil in stranded tankers and on the sea, movement and natural degradation and destruction of oil on the sea, sinking, scavenging and gelling agents, detergent toxicity and effectiveness, spraying and cleansing equipment, mechanical aids at sea and on the beaches, booms, and damage to marine life, sea birds and coastal vegetation.

Before Sir Solly appeared before us, we had asked some written questions. In particular, on page 141 on 27th February, 1968, we asked him what part he thought should be played by the Government, including Service and Civil Departments, in the research which he listed in his Report. He replied that the list had been … considered in the normal interdepartmental way, and discussion, about which departments should carry out the research, is still going on. This was over three months after the Report and 11 months after the "Torrey Canyon" disaster. I think that the Sub-Committee was greatly concerned at the somewhat leisurely tempo of this reply.

I now give some of Sir Solly's answers to some of our questions when he appeared in person: As to whether sufficient heat is being put on … it is a fact that the heat has been taken out of this matter. There comes a time when the state of national emergency disappears and when that kind of licence presumably has to be withdrawn even from Ministers. I certainly do not possess that authority now. Had I, for example, known that once the Torrey Canyon disaster was regarded as having diminished I still had responsibility for carrying through all the continuing work to avert some of the consequences of potential further disasters, I would have carried on, but I have not got that power. When a member of the Committee then asked him: Surely with direct access to the Prime Minister … you could suggest action which would result in a minute going round to various departments telling them to take the matter more seriously. I find it deeply disquieting that nearly a year after the disaster we do not know which Government departments are going to research into what. Sir Solly replied: I take the point and I shall inform myself … This led to our receiving Appendix 15, in paragraph 3 of which, on page 298, we got some interim answers a year after the "Torrey Canyon" disaster. Sir Solly's comments speak for themselves in answer to Question 250: … here are recommendations for further action on research. The easiest way to see this implemented would be to charge someone with the responsibility and with so much money, having made a preliminary review of the situation, to see that the work was par- celled out and carried out. Now, I am disclosing no secrets when I say that this is not the way we do things. He is telling us: Different departments with their responsibilities will undertake to do what they feel is appropriate to them. I ask the House to note the next words: Sometimes they might even try to push off jobs which are appropriate to them on to other departments. These things are always possible. I would agree that I, at this moment … do not know, I am not informed—there is no machinery to keep me informed at the present moment—about the process of negotiation between departments on matters of this kind. And this was said by the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser. That is white-hot technical revolution at its most purposeful and meaningful.

On this almost incredible reply, Sir Solly was then asked: Do you then feel there is a need for clarification of Ministerial responsibilites over the research which you recommend and list … in your Report? Yes", said Sir Solly, and so does the Committee. If one Minister were responsible then I would not have had to answer the Sub-Committee's question in the way I did, that discussions were proceeding in the normal inter-Departmental way. He went on to say that he had no right to take charge of the general provision of research which he had recommended himself; and later said: I cannot at this moment name a single Minister who has the resopnsibility for putting all these recommendations into effect or for arguing why they should not be accepted, but there is Ministerial responsibility in the field of hazards. It is this answer which we quote in our Motion. I have never assumed, as some newspapers apparently have, that Sir Solly meant that he did not know the name of a single departmental Minister. I think that he meant that he did not know one Minister responsible for overseeing all Departments.

Sir Solly was then asked whether he agreed or disagreed that there was a need for someone to be in a position to put down the accelerator, to find out what is going on and to report to the most appropriate Minister in the Cabinet or elsewhere? His reply was categorical: I would agree with that. Again—to refute any suggestion that we were not aware of the Ministerial Emergencies Committee—Sir Solly had been asked whether his list of researches went outside the responsibility of the Committee. He replied: These issues would go outside. He said this 10 months after the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Hazardous Cargoes had been set up, which is referred to in paragraph 21 of the White Paper.

Sir Solly exposed the real heart of the matter in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby), who asked, in Question 261: Would … it … accelerate things if one departmental Minister were put in charge of this, or … a Cabinet Committee … though that might be a little cumbrous? He replied: It is a matter for the machinery of government and in the end a matter for the Prime Minister himself to decide. Here is the nub of the matter, and it is upon the Prime Minister, particularly, I am afraid, that our main criticism must fall. It is he who is really responsible for the Government's failure to show that all the reassurances given by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, when Home Secretary, during the debate on 10th April, 1967, which led to the House referring coastal pollution to the Select Committee, would be fulfilled.

I do not want to quote all that he said, but he particularly stressed the urgency of this research, which was becoming more apparent every week. He pointed out that various spillages were going on even then. At present, there is another spillage off Southend. Last night, there was nearly a catastrophe to the latest and one of the largest new tankers, the "Esso Scotia" in Bremen, 228,000 tons. Mercifully, she had no oil aboard, but she was blown adrift from her moorings; what would have happened if she had been carrying oil and something had gone wrong with her recovery, I do not know.

However, this year, up to 27th May, there were oil spillages off the coasts of Suffolk, Essex and Hampshire in January, South Wales, Devon and Lincolnshire in February, Aberdeenshire, Durham, Yorkshire, Essex, Kent and South Wales in March, the Mersey estuary, North Wales and Lancashire in April, Humberside, Kent and Cumberland in May. In the present month, there have been at least two off Southend and in the Channel. Most of these, fortunately, have been but fractional when compared with the "Torrey Canyon" disaster, but elsewhere in the world there have been several severe tanker spillages and accidents, notably that off Santa Barbara.

I have recently seen a report of the Lancashire and Western Sea Fisheries' Joint Committee on the sequel to the collision between the German coaster "Hannes Knuppel", of 490 tons, with the 12,718-ton British tanker "Hamilton Trader". Having read this report, I hope that the Government will take it seriously, because this is the first major accident on the North-West coast since the new instructions went out from the Ministry of Housing, and they seem to be creaking a little.

I understand that the Ministry of Technology is arranging for various demonstrations to be given around the country. One is due to take place at Eastbourne on Wednesday to display various modern methods of handling pollution. I have been informed only this morning that one of the pieces of equipment which is being exhibited has been out of production and obsolete for three years and, what is more, that commercial firms have been deliberately told that they cannot attend because this is not a commercial exercise.

I beg the Under-Secretary to make it clear whether the Government want the co-operation of industry or not. My own belief is that they cannot do without it, that they should do everything they can to enable industry to co-operate in every way and that, when industry wants to attend a demonstration laid on through Warren Spring Laboratory or anywhere else under Government auspices, the Government should do everything they can to welcome the interest shown by industry.

Since the debate in April, 1967 we have had a new Home Secretary, a man with a fine record for taking an interest in preventing oil pollution. However, we are still saddled with a Prime Minister who has not even taken the trouble to give his chief scientific officer the right, let alone the power, to ensure the co-ordination of the very research which he was instructed to recommend. This is not government but pollution of a very crude kind in the corridors of power. The biggest load on top in Whitehall is not hydrocarbon but humbug. I remind hon. Members of this comment made by a former Minister of Education: 'Expert' would be better to be defined as 'x-spurt', where 'x' is the unknown quantity and 'spurt'—as everyone will know—is a drip under pressure". That reference is a particularly good one today.

7.41 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Elystan Morgan)

It may be helpful to the House if I try, first, to set in perspective the circumstances in which coastal pollution occurs in this country, and then describe the arrangements which are made, locally and nationally, to deal with it.

Disasters, when they occur, attract a great deal of publicity and each is the focus of much attention while it lasts. However, it will be agreed that it is our good fortune that large-scale physical disasters, which are beyond the capacity of local resources, are very infrequent in the United Kingdom. We do not have volcanoes, avalanches, earthquakes or forest fires, and even our worst floods are not comparable to those experienced in other countries.

In the years since the war, disasters calling for the employment of resources on a national scale can perhaps be numbered on the fingers of one hand; the East Coast floods in 1953, the dreadful tragedy at Aberfan, in 1966, the "Torrey Canyon" and the foot-and-mouth epidemic in 1967 and last year's floods. Certainly the use of ever-larger forms of transport by land, sea or air, the development of new forms of power and the movement of dangerous substances inevitably bring new hazards. But we should not base our plans on the premise that major disasters, natural or man-made, are frequent.

Another preliminary comment I wish to make is that if the possibility of a threat can be foreseen, the best course is to take steps to prevent it materialising. It is better to spend more on preventive than remedial measures, and there are already international agreements dealing with the pollution of the sea by oil.

The discharge of oil from ships at sea is controlled internationally by the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1954, as amended in 1962. The Convention was drawn up by an international conference convened on the initiative of Her Majesty's Government in 1953 and has been accepted by 39 countries. It is administered by the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation, I.M.C.O.

The Convention prohibits the discharge from ships of persistent oil into "prohibited zones" of the sea, extending generally for 50 or 100 miles from land. The whole of the North Sea and English Channel and a large part of the Atlantic Ocean are also a prohibited zone. Such discharges from new ships—that is, ships contracted for since 1967—exceeding 20,000 tons are prohibited anywhere at sea.

The Convention exempts from these prohibitions discharges for the purpose of saving a ship or saving life and discharges arising from casualties to ships or unavoidable leakage. It also contains provisions dealing with enforcement, the provision of reception facilities at ports for ships' oily residues and the recording of shipboard operations involving oil.

Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)

What are the penalties in the countries concerned for offences of this kind?

Mr. Morgan

I cannot answer that without notice. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that eventually an agreement of this kind must be translated into the legislation of each and every one of the 39 countries which have accepted it.

Mr. John Nott (St. Ives)

What are the penalties under the Oil in Navigable Waters Acts when there is pollution within Britain's territorial waters and when it is not a matter coming within an international agreement?

Mr. Morgan

I do not have copies of the 1955 and 1963 Acts with me, but I am prepared to correspond with the hon. Gentleman on the subject or, if necessary, obtain the information he requires during the debate.

I was about to point out that the provisions of the Convention have been applied to British ships by the Oil in Navigable Waters Acts, 1955 and 1963, which also make it an offence for ships of any nationality to discharge oil of any type and in any quantity into our territorial waters.

As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs told my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) in a Written Answer this afternoon, only last week an Agreement for regional co-operation between States bordering the North Sea and the English Channel, which was foreshadowed in paragraph 26 of the Government's White Paper on Coastal Pollution, was signed on 9th June by Her Majesty's Government. The other signatories are the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. We hope that the Netherlands will become a party to it in due course.

The Agreement requires contracting States to request shipping and aircraft to report major oil slicks. States will also be under an obligation to circulate to other contracting parties reports of the presence, extent and movement of slicks. If one State whose coasts are threatened requests assistance in disposing of the oil, the others must use their best endeavours to help.

Contracting States are also required to exchange information on new methods of dealing with oil slicks. In the North Sea, zones of responsibility for each contracting State have been established under Article 9 of the Agreement for this purpose. South of the Thames Estuary and in the English Channel there will be two zones of joint responsibility which will serve the same purpose. The Agreement should help Britain and the other signatories to obtain information about oil slicks which might endanger their coasts. It will also provide means of obtaining assistance, where possible, in the event of a major spillage for which individual national resources turn out to be inadequate.

As a result of other studies undertaken under the aegis of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation, understanding has been reached on a number of measures designed to reduce the possibility of accidental or deliberate pollution by oil. These cover, in particular, the adoption of traffic separation schemes, the carriage by ships of specific navigational aids, procedures designed to facilitate the detection and punishment of offenders and regional co-operation in the North Sea area. Work continues on questions affecting the design and construction of tankers carrying oil and other hazardous cargoes in bulk, on research into methods of dealing with oil pollution on the problems of pollution by other substances, and also on legal questions. On the last of these problems, a diplomatic conference is to be held in Brussels in November this year to consider draft conventions about the rights of a coastal State to take action to forestall pollution in the event of a casualty and on liability for damage arising from oil pollution. The Government are continuing to play a major part in the work of the organisation.

Now I turn directly to what I think is the essence of the problem we are debating this evening: where does responsibility properly lie in these matters? Most emergencies, of all sorts, lie fully within the capacity of local and other authorities, using their own services and resources, and calling as necessary on the services of neighbouring authorities and on the Armed Forces and the police. I am thinking of collapsed buildings and bridges, fires, local floods, accidents of all sorts, polluted beaches and so on.

Mr. Anthony Buck (Colchester)

Before passing from the reference to the Armed Forces, it is true that the Army must co-operate on all occasions, but is the hon. Gentleman aware that it also demands a complete indemnity against loss of equipment and so forth which occur? Will he deal with that point because it deters some local authorities calling the Army in to assist?

Mr. Morgan

That is an interesting tangent of this debate, but it is not really central to the main issue. I think the procedures whereunder a Government Department or a local authority can call in the Armed Services are well known.

Sir Charles Taylor (Eastbourne)


Mr. Morgan

I would prefer to proceed with my speech. I prefer not to give way at this stage. Local authorities have the experience, expertise and resources to adapt themselves rapidly to deal with these troubles, and very competently they deal with them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] I appreciate that this is a three-hour debate and one has to be fair to other speakers. More often than not local authorities need no help from Government Departments, but if they do, this can be provided by the Department primarily concerned. For example, in the foot-and-mouth epidemic in 1967, assistance was given by the Ministry of Agriculture, and in the floods of last year assistance was given by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

Sir C. Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman now allow me to ask a question? In my area of Eastbourne the local authorities do everything they can, but there is always the question of who pays. Some local authorities may hold back because they do not know whether the ratepayers or the local authority will be indemnified

Mr. Morgan

I shall be mentioning in a moment a circular issued by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Welsh Office which deals adequately and fully with the question of payment.

If there is a need for co-ordination over a wide field, the Government have well-established arrangements to come into operation. Responsibility lies with the Home Secretary for co-ordinating action to deal with major civil emergencies which cannot readily be dealt with by one Department. As has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke), he is Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Emergencies, which is responsible for dealing with civil emergencies that are of such magnitude that they affect supplies and services essential to the life of the community. The terms of reference of the Ministerial Committee on Emergencies specifically enables the Committee to undertake responsibility for the co-ordination of action in respect of any emergency of national importance which calls for such co-ordination.

It is essential, however, to emphasise that these arrangements do not alter the ordinary functions and duties of Ministers who are responsible for preparing plans for, and dealing with, all matters which fall within their respective spheres of responsibility. Delay and loss of efficiency would be the only result of appointing a Minister to take over the responsibilities of other Ministers whenever a particular emergency arose. Where in a particular emergency such as a flood or serious epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease responsibility for giving help to local authorities or other bodies of one or perhaps two Departments can be efficiently provided, there is no point whatever in introducing co-ordination by a separate Minister and staff. Any such appointment would not be an end in itself; it would be chosen only as a means of getting things done more efficiently and quickly.

It is this approach which the Government have followed in the case of coastal pollution. Most contamination from oil on our coastline is sporadic minor pollution which coastal authorities deal with. As indicated in the White Paper, Command No. 3880, each coastal authority has been developing its local organisation in the light of experience gained in recent years and submitting schemes to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Scottish Development Department or the Welsh Office.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

I am glad to hear that, but is the hon. Gentleman aware that whenever there is a spillage, as for example on the Mersey, there is panic telephoning and rush ordering of equipment but people are not there to answer?

Mr. Morgan

I am not willing to accept that that is the general pattern. The hon. Member must accept that there are many thousands of these occurrences when the Ministry is not called in at all. What we are discussing is the totality of all these occasions.

The aim is to ensure that there is a nation-wide plan for dealing with oil pollution whenever it may occur, and wherever they happen. The schemes will deal specifically with the allocation of executive responsibility for action between county and district councils, river authorities, dock and labour authorities and other bodies. Most of the schemes have now come in and are being examined and discussed by the Ministry with the local authorities concerned.

As regards the responsibilities of Ministers, the Minister of Housing and Local Government has the main task of building up the capacity of local authorities to discharge their responsibility for dealing with oil pollution of their beaches. This has included, as I have explained, negotiations with local authorities on the submission of schemes of organisation.

Supplies of detergent have been made available to coastal authorities and further stocks are being obtained, and every local authority on the coast has been provided with maps showing areas where the use of detergent might be harmful to fisheries or nature interests. Schemes of organisation include provision for consultation with the local District Inspectors of Fisheries and Regional Officers of the Nature Conservancy. Service commanders have been given a discretion to undertake, at the request of local authorities, reconnaissance of reported oil slicks at sea or action to deal with them up to a limit of £2,000 on each count for any one incident. Officers of the Ministry have been available seven days a week since "Torrey Canyon" to give such help as local authorities may ask for in the event of their beaches being threatened with or polluted by oil. Requests for help are rare, even when it is specifically offered. As for legislation the Government accepted the recommendation of the Select Committee that this should not be introduced until local authorities have put forward their schemes. However, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is drafting instructions for a Bill to clarify the powers of local authorities where necessary and to authorise grant which is now given extra statutorily. Consultation with interested organisations will follow.

So much for Ministerial responsibility for oil pollution on our coasts. As regards oil slicks at sea, under the Agreement that was signed in Bonn on 9th June, the United Kingdom, as I have already indicated, will be responsible for collecting reports upon any oil slicks within certain areas of the sea bordering our coasts, for keeping a watch on their movements and for passing information about them to other signatories who are likely to be affected. These responsibilities under the Agreement will be undertaken by the Board of Trade.

The Board of Trade will, therefore, extend the existing arrangements for getting reports of oil slicks at sea by seeking the co-operation of masters of ships and captains of aircraft in sending in immediate reports of any incident likely to cause oil pollution and of any oil slicks seen floating on the sea. This should enable the Coastguard more often to give advance warning to local authorities of any pollution threatening their beaches. In addition, arrangements are being made for the reports to be received and assessed centrally and, where necessary, the Board of Trade will arrange for an oil slick to be kept under surveillance, relying mainly on Service aircraft and ships.

These arrangements will be sufficient to enable us to fulfil our obligations under the international agreement. Reporting and surveillance will not be confined to the sea areas specified in the Agreement, however, but will be extended to all the areas bordering our coasts. Moreover, when it is clear that an oil slick threatens our coasts and that it would be advantageous to disperse it while it is still at sea, taking into account the effect on fisheries and other interests, the Board of Trade in future will be prepared in appropriate cases to arrange and pay for clearance action, whether by the use of Service vessels or aircraft, when available, or by any other means that appear in the circumstances to be suitable. The Board of Trade is working out procedures for initiating and organising such action, and for getting the necessary technical and scientific advice, in conjunction with other Departments and interests concerned, including local authorities.

Although the Government are thus prepared to meet the cost of quick action to deal with oil slicks at sea, this does not remove any liability incurred by the vessels which cause pollution. The Board of Trade is already responsible for taking enforcement action under the Oil in Navigable Waters Acts, and in the course of such action it will seek reimbursement of the costs incurred in dealing with an oil slick wherever the offending vessel can be identified.

These new arrangements do not change the responsibilities of local authorities. They will remain responsible, with grant assistance from my right hon. Friends the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales, for dealing with oil pollution on their beaches and with any oil on the sea which immediately threatens their beaches up to about one mile from the shore.

If the work of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Board of Trade requires to be co-ordinated with that of other departments and bodies, this can be done under normal arrangements or, as I have explained, by the Home Secretary and the Ministerial Committee on Emergencies if a particular emergency should reach national proportions as occurred with the wreck of the "Torrey Canyon".

In the field of research, a Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Scientific Adviser co-ordinates and reviews the whole field of the Government's scientific and technological policy, including progress on the research projects relating to oil pollution.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Since when?

Mr. Morgan

The hon. Gentleman will have seen the detailed statement in paragraph 47 of Cmnd. 3880.

The Chairman reports on this particular aspect of the Committee's work to the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Hazardous Cargoes, a key part of the machinery to ensure that Departments work in close collaboration and that the various spheres of activity are properly related. This Sub-Committee has invited the Chief Scientific Adviser to keep in touch with the progress of research, to co-ordinate the research work of individual Departments as required and to report to the Ministerial Sub-Committee what is needed in the light of research both here and abroad. The Sub-Committee will ensure that the knowledge so acquired is translated into appropriate measures, and the Home Secretary, as Chairman of this Sub-Committee, bears the general responsibility for co-ordination of these measures. As Chairman also of the Ministerial Committee on Emergencies, which is responsible both for preparing plans for major civil emergencies and for co-ordinating action when such an emergency arises, he is in a position to ensure that the Sub-Committee on Hazardous Cargoes receives all necessary support in its task.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Then how did it come about that when Sir Solly Zuckerman appeared before our Select Committee, after that official Committee had been set up, he told us that he had not got the powers the hon. Gentleman is now describing?

Mr. Morgan

In a moment I shall deal with the comments of the Chief Scientific Adviser.

We therefore come to the question—what is the criticism? In the executive field the suggestion made by the Select Committee was that a single Minister should be designated to take immediate charge of any major oil tanker disaster requiring emergency action by the Government.

I think I can fairly make the point at the outset—I am sure the hon. Gentleman will not object to this—that the Committee did not have before it evidence on questions of machinery of government or on the administrative arrangements for dealing with emergencies. It did not seek evidence from those concerned with these responsibilities, and it made its recommendation about Ministerial responsibility without obtaining such evidence.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)


Mr. Morgan

Not at all. I invite the hon. Gentleman to name any witnesses who were in a position to give this authoritative evidence.

Mr. Price

As the Under-Secretary has challenged me, my reply is that the Minister of Housing and Local Government played a very large part in the arrangements for dealing with the wreck of the "Torrey Canyon".

Mr. Morgan

I am not aware that my right hon. Friend specifically gave any evidence whatsoever on the question of the machinery of Government, and that is what we are talking about at this stage.

The White Paper properly described much of the criticism made by the Select Committee as "ill-founded" and in no respect is it more ill-founded than with regard to this particular recommendation. The reasons why are given in paragraphs 40 onwards of the White Paper and I have given further explanation in supplementation tonight.

It has been said by the hon. Member for Isle of Ely that 21 recommendations were made by his Sub-Committee of which 16 had been accepted by the Government. That is not quite an accurate way of putting it, because what is set out in the second Government White Paper is a record in most cases of work that was already going on. It is not as if the Government had looked at these recommendations and said, "We will accept a, c, d and g". It is a statement of what was already in existence in most cases before the Sub-Committee commented upon these matters.

In the research field the criticism is that one senior Minister should be given responsibility for the general supervision and co-ordination of the work in the field of research.

In voicing this criticism, use is made of evidence attributed to the Chief Scientific Adviser in discu+ssion with the Select Committee. It is generally wise to look a little more closely at the context from which quotations are taken, and the reference to the Chief Scientific Adviser's evidence to the Select Committee is no exception. Members of the Select Committee put a series of questions to him about the machinery by which the recommenadtions of his scientific committee could be considered and put into effect. The Select Committee wished to examine whether it was desirable to make one Minister responsible for the co-ordination of all research effort on this subject, and it was put to the Chief Scientific Adviser—Question 254 on page 150 of the Minutes of Evidence—that there was no overall central direction which could require that his committee's recommendations could even be considered, let alone be put into effect. Sir Solly denied this, saying that the responsibility rested with a Ministerial Committee as a corporate body and not with a single Minister.

A member of the Select Committee, however, returned to the point—this is Question No. 256—saying that there seemed to be no means whereby someone or some body could see that the work was carried through. I shall read the Chief Scientific Adviser's reply: I do not think it is as black and white as that. I cannot at this moment name a single Minister who has the responsibility for putting all these recommendations into effect, or for arguing why they should not be accepted, but there is Ministerial responsibility in the field of hazards. I imagine that were the case put firmly to them, that they were not a body concerned to decide whether these recommendations are accepted, they would cor- rectly say that this is not so and that there is a responsibility. The Government set out the position fully in paragraph 46 of the White Paper, Coastal Pollution, and in paragraph 47 they set out the arguments against making a single Minister responsible. The White Paper drew attention to the rôle of the Chief Scientific Adviser himself in the review and co-ordination of scientific and technological policy, and to the co-ordinating functions of the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Hazardous Cargoes. I have given further information tonight on how this machinery is operating.

The allocation of responsibilities throughout this field is clear-cut and can be summarised succinctly. Most coastal pollution is dealt with quickly and efficiently by local authorities without the need for Governmental help. This is illustrated by the most recent case of beach pollution at Southend on 25th May; the local authorities dealt with the pollution without requiring assistance from the Government. Behind these authorities stand the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Board of Trade. If we ever again need to deal with pollution on the scale threatened by the wreck of the "Torrey Canyon", the Ministerial Committee on Emergencies is ready to co-ordinate. I have dealt with the arrangements in respect of research.

Those are the arrangements for planning and action at the local and central level. I put it to the House that they are sensible and straightforward. They were carefully reviewed after the wreck of the "Torrey Canyon", and they have been kept under review during the last two years.

The issues which we are discussing tonight are not party matters, and I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members opposite are not so low in political ammunition as to put them to that use. I hope that what I have said shows that they seek to put a gloss upon Sir Solly Zuckerman's words which those words will not carry, and that their criticism of the Government's action is based upon a fundamental misconception.

8.13 p.m.

Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)

If my right hon. and hon. Friends had not put this Motion down, we should have been deprived of the opportunity to listen to the speech of the Under-Secretary of State, which seemed to be a complete justification of the Motion. The complacent attitude which the hon. Gentleman adopted towards the criticism which is made seemed quite indefensible. If I understood him aright, he said that, so long as there was a major civil emergency, we had one Minister who was responsible and who could do all the necessary co-ordination. A major civil emergency very rarely arises, but, if it does, the Home Secretary will be the man to handle all these things. That is how I understood it.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

The Home Secretary, through the Ministerial Committee for Emergencies. It is a corporate responsibility.

Sir S. McAdden

Yes, but the Home Secretary would be the chap in charge in a major civil emergency.

The hon. Gentleman seemed to pooh-pooh the problem of what is happening around our coasts today as a result of oil pollution, saying that the local authorities are dealing with it easily. He paid tribute, I am glad to say, to the efficiency of the Southend Council and the way in which that authority promptly and capably dealt with the pollution of its beach. That is true, but, although it may seem a small incident to the Government, it is a very big incident for the people of Southend, and all the more so when it is repeated again today.

People will not be satisfied if the Government just sit back and say that we can leave it to the local authorities to deal with the problem, especially when in one important aspect, namely, the detection and punishment of offenders, nothing is done. I am surprised that not a word was said from the Dispatch Box tonight about new and vigorous steps being taken to detect and punish those who are responsible.

I expected something to be said, and hope that whoever is to wind up for the Government will say something about it. This is the point which worries local authorities. We have had a long list of agreements and arrangements made with other countries, but agreements are not much good if they are not enforced. These repeated breaches of the law are being committed without any evidence available to the public so far that anything lively is being done to detect and punish offenders.

After the recent occurrence at Southend over Whitsun, we were regaled with stories in the Press that scientific detection methods had advanced so far that investigators would be able to analyse the oil, find out from which oilfield in the world it had come, and be able to pick out the actual ship which had been responsible for discharging oil into the Thames Estuary. But the last reply I had from the Minister of Housing and Local Government was that he could hold out no hope whatever of finding the culprit.

When my right hon. and hon Friends put the Motion down, they were, I am sure, anxious to draw attention, among other things, to the fact that the Select Committee's Report, which was produced some time ago, had not been debated in the House. We were told that time was not available. The Government have had no difficulty in making Government time available for all sorts of queer things—if that is not the wrong word to use—certainly, they have found it possible to make Government time available. Yet this matter, which is of importance to all those of us in coastal areas, has been brushed aside, and when it comes to be debated it is dealt with, if I may say so, in a manner which seems to indicate that it is not being taken very seriously.

When these events occur at coastal resorts, they present a serious problem. One does not know who to get in touch with. To have a question satisfactorily answered, one has to put Questions down not to one Minister, but to several—to the Minister of Transport, the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Minister of Technology, for a start. If we had a Secretary of State for Air, one would have to bring him in too. It is astonishing to find the number of people who have to be brought into the discussion.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will ask those of his colleagues who have a real interest and responsibility in this matter to give more determined thought to the question of detection and punishment of offenders. I wonder whether his attention has been drawn to the idea which I ventured to put forward in The Times. One way which would lead to rapid detection of offenders would be the offer of a substantial reward. Not only would this be a means of detecting offenders, but it would probably prevent the commission of offences.

If the master of every ship sailing down the Thames Estuary knew that each one of his crew had the chance of a £1,000 reward for providing information if he disposed of oil into the estuary, he would think twice about doing it, and if he still did it and was denounced as the culprit, we need not worry about the £1,000 because that could be added to the fine.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

I assure the hon. Gentleman that this is one of the matters upon which an understanding is being reached in I.M.C.O., which, as the hon. Gentleman appreciates, is London-based. I am sure that his suggestion has not been lost upon it.

Sir S. McAdden

I am glad that notice is being taken of it. It would be a simple and effective way of doing it. I hope that the Minister will consult his colleagues. I know that the Home Secretary is interested in the problem of oil pollution around our coasts. The local authorities, in the main, are doing a good job—all praise to them—and I know that the Government are paying 50 per cent. of the cost of clearing beaches. But the ratepayers have to find the other 50 per cent.

I agree that that is right in principle, since I have never accepted the idea that the State should pay for everything that a local authority spends, otherwise it will be inclined to be more extravagant. But a local authority is entitled to expect the national Government to be thrusting in their endeavours to prevent oil spillages and the drain on ratepayers who, at Southend, had to fork out £2,000 at Whitsun and may have to find another £2,000 this week. I live in Southend, and I am a ratepayer. Naturally, I do not want to continue to see my rates rising due to the failure of the Government to detect and punish offenders who pollute our waters.

I hope to see some action, and I trust that we shall hear about a more firm drive on the part of the Government to prevent this taking place, rather than concentrating our minds upon great national disasters which probably will never happen. After all, this is now a day-to-day problem, and it is right that we should have immediate action to deal with it.

8.22 p.m.

Dr. Ernest A. Davies (Stretford)

In many ways, I agree with what the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) has said. When people go to the seaside, they do not expect to find that the beaches on which they want to enjoy their leisure are fouled with oil. Having said that, if the hon. Gentleman insists on going into a Division Lobby against the Government, I shall find myself at odds with him. My hon. Friend has made it clear that all the hon. Gentleman's suggestions are already in hand.

If I join the hon. Gentleman in his views, it is to impress upon my hon. Friend the need to push ahead with proposals for the control of oil spillage at sea and for penalties on people who are guilty of this kind of atrocity. I am satisfied that these matters are being pressed in international circles, and, clearly, they are international in character.

The hon. Gentleman also commented quite favourably on what the Government are doing to assist local authorities. A 50 per cent. grant towards the cost of cleansing a beach is no small support for a local authority faced with the problem when it is remembered that that includes 50 per cent. of the cost of the wages of local authority employees who are detached from their normal duties to carry out the cleansing operation.

I realise how important the problem of beach pollution is to a local authority on the coast. However, it must be borne in mind that there are inland areas who also have pollution problems, and derelict land, who would be only too pleased to have the same kind of grant extended to them.

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Government's conduct in these matters is reasonable and fair.

I turn now to the activity of the Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Science and Technology. I had the honour and pleasure to be a member and, together with my colleagues, I took a hand in conducting the investigation into coastal pollution. In his opening remarks, the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) was extremely generous. The Sub-Committee worked together very amicably on what was not altogether a suitable subject for party polemics. I was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman pay tribute to our staff and to some of the witnesses, and that he avoided conducting a post mortem on the "Torrey Canyon" disaster. We members of the Sub-Committee ourselves endeavoured to avoid that.

Towards the end of his opening remarks, he reached the point where he thought that some 16 or so of the Sub-Committee's recommendations had been accepted and acted upon by the Government. If any Select Committee thought that the Government intended to act upon so many of its proposals, it would be delighted to have been so successful. I would have thought that that was adequate repayment for one's endeavours.

The Motion quotes a passage from the evidence of Sir Solly Zuckerman, where he said: I cannot at the moment name a single Minister who has the responsibility for putting all these recommendations into effect. I had the doubtful pleasure of putting the question to Sir Solly which elicited that reply. As a result, I feel that I should take up this matter with the hon. Member for Isle of Ely.

The usual thing has happened. An argument has been propounded which covers two or three pages of fairly close print. To select from it an odd sentence does not give the matter anything akin to a true perspective. I will not put it any stronger than that.

Without quoting the whole passage setting out the exchanges between the Sub-Committee and the witness, perhaps I might endeavour to indicate what I believe to be an accurate account of the Sub-Committee's feeling on the subject. We had all seen the memorandum which Sir Solly submitted to the Government. It listed nine subjects for investigation which were thought necessary so that the required knowledge and expertise could be developed to tackle oil pollution, whether it be on the grand and catastrophic scale of the "Torrey Canyon" disaster or on the scale of the lesser but none the less serious oil spillages.

I was concerned that these projects would not be carried out fully, because there would be no means of checking whether they had been taken up, whether they had been funded, whether staff had been provided and whether projects were seriously in hand in the laboratory or elsewhere.

This was the general sense of the Sub-Committee. We questioned Sir Solly Zuckerman to determine whether he had some responsibility. We further questioned him to try to discover where Ministerial responsibility lay. We were endeavouring to produce evidence to show that these matters would be subject to adequate "progress chasing." For me, the question is not whether any particular or specific mechanism will necessarily give the right answer, but whether the objective which was in my mind, and no doubt in the minds of other Sub-Committee members, will be achieved.

It is a common practice for committees to recommend particular mechanisms when really what they are seeking to achieve is a certain objective. When the Government made their replies to our Report I immediately turned to the question of the conduct of research to see whether assurances of an adequate kind had been given that these research projects were being carried forward. In that connection, I would refer the House to the White Paper in which the Government made their replies and draw attention to paragraph 33 and subsequent paragraphs. Paragraph 36 includes a lengthy list of the research projects, a clear indication and that they are being carried forward, and a clear indication of which Minister is currently responsible for carrying them forward.

That seems to be an adequate reply, if not to the exact words of the Sub-Committee's recommendation, then certainly to what the Sub-Committee was seeking to achieve. Over and above that, the Sub-Committee made recommendations about research projects which were not listed by Sir Solly Zuckerman. I refer particularly to the Annex beginning on page 19. On page 22 item 14 deals with one of our recommendations to the effect that studies should be undertaken as soon as possible into the design of suitable fittings on board, and suitable equipment for blowing sinking powder on to the oil". This is one example of an experimental investigation for which the Sub-Committee asked, and we are told in the reply that the work is already in progress, that sea trials have begun. I cannot think that this evidence is not an adequate reply, sufficient to meet the Sub-Committee's intentions even if it does not do so by using the precise mechanism recommended by the Sub-Committee. I very much regret in the light of all this evidence of active Government response to the recommendations of the Sub-Committee, particularly with regard to research, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should have gone on to make this the subject of what appeared to be, however briefly, a personal attack on the Prime Minister. That was most regrettable.

There have been comments about the spillages off the English coast recently. These are only very slight compared with what we experienced when the "Torrey Canyon" went aground. They are, nevertheless very injurious to amenity and a source of public expense. I think that it was the hon. and gallant Gentleman who said that the local government system appeared to be creaking when it had to face these problems. That seems to be a rather curious cricitism, because the Ministry of Housing and Local Government would have moved more rapidly in organising the local authorities, and would perhaps have exercised a little more authority if it had not met the request of the Select Committee that we should leave the matter largely to the local authorities to formulate their own schemes—urge them to get on with them—because we appreciated that there were local differences on which local people had the best information.

It seems a pity to say that the local government system is creaking and to blame the Minister for it, when he is keeping in line with the recommendations of the Sub-Committee. I am delighted that the Government have responded to the extent that they have to our recommendations. I am satisfied that, although they have not followed the particular mechanism for pursuing research that we recommended, research is being pursued with adequate vigour. On the general question of Ministerial responsibility, I accept what my hon. Friend has said about the function of the Ministerial Committee under the chairmanship of the Home Secretary.

I still hold to the opinion that even if a Minister is not literally appointed in advance as we say in our Report, to take charge the moment such a disaster as the "Torrey Canyon" occurs in future, if it ever does, there is certainly a case for a Minister being the repository of the collective knowledge and wisdom of this kind of disaster, and who could present it to that Sub-Committee at short notice. This is a point that could be urge upon the Government.

In view of all this, it would be a very sad business if, in debating this Report, we feel obliged to divide the House on a Motion of censure against the Government. This is a most regrettable step. We could have discussed this Report without taking it in this manner. Having gone through the Government's reply to the Committee's recommendations, I do not find the slightest difficulty in going into the Lobby tonight in support of the Government.

8.39 p.m.

Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)

As someone who was not a member of the Sub-Committee, I add my thanks to the Committee for the work it did in preparing this massive report. Although, as the hon. Member for Stretford (Dr. Ernest A. Davies) said, some of the later incidents have been slight in national terms, for the local people concerned the problem of oil slicks is becoming increasingly important and serious. Not only did we have a very serious state of affairs in Southend over Whitsun but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) said, even today we have been threatened.

I understand that, fortunately, none of the oil has reached the beaches. We have been faced with this problem twice in one month. This shows the state of affairs in the Thames Estuary and in Kent, where there have been rumours, and around our costs. The Government should give the highest priority to dealing with this situation.

I am delighted to support what my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) said. It is not so much the cost to the ratepayers of the town or to the national Exchequer which is so serious; it is the cost to traders and business people and hoteliers in coastal towns whose livelihoods can be seriously threatened when disaster of this kind strikes.

What can be done to prevent it? This is a different problem from the "Torrey Canyon" problem. In the Thames Estuary we are faced with the problem of the wilful discharge of oil by masters of tankers. That is not yet proven, but it seems to be almost certain. What action will the Government take more energentically to pursue people who act in this way? It is easy to say that it is very difficult to discover a tanker which has discharged oil, particularly when it is done at night. My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East suggested rewards. I hope that we can have some information on that point.

What is the situation if a foreign tanker discharges oil in the Thames Estuary or in coastal waters around our coasts and then goes to its own country? What action will be taken to bring the master and the company to book? What penalties are they likely to face? The Minister was unable to answer my question about penalities.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

It may assist the House if I give the answer to that question now. On summary conviction the maximum fine is £1,000. There is no limit on indictment.

Mr. Channon

I am glad to hear that there is no limit on indictment. This is in respect of an offence by someone who is prosecuted in Britain. But what happens when a foreign tanker does this and is caught but by that time is in Greece, the Lebanon or somewhere else? Will prosecutions be instituted in the country from which it comes? Will the British Government sue the owners of the tanker? I hope we shall have some more information on this matter.

Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Is the offence extraditable?

Mr. Channon

My hon. Friend asks whether it is an extraditable offence. In the case which I have in mind it would probably be a foreigner who was the master of the ship and not a Briton.

Should not there be greater surveillance by the Port of London Authority, particularly in the Thames Estuary? Why should there not be checks, not necessarily on every tanker, but spot checks as the ships leave the estuary? Why should there not be patrols? We are facing an increasingly serious problem in this part of Britain and it is not good enough to imagine that what worked well in the past will work well in the future. Far more energetic action must be taken. We know that it is very expensive for a tanker to stay in port and that it must stay extra time merely to have its tanks cleaned.

The Minister said that the maximum penalty on summary conviction is £1,000. That seems to be very small. It would be interesting to know what convictions there have been for this offence and whether there have been proceedings against people on indictment. Is the question of penalties one of the matters which the Government are considering in the review of legislation? I understand that legislation is delayed because the Sub-Committee decided that we should not rush ahead with it and made a recommendation to that effect. If we are to have legislation, may we be assured that the question of penalties will come into it? Why should not this be an offence for which a master might go to prison if he is caught? These days a fine is not necessarily a sufficient punishment for someone who commits this offence.

What has been done about oil slicks out at sea fairly near the coast? Do the local authorities have responsibility for them? I talk now about the area near the Thames Estuary. Whose responsibility is it to deal with oil slicks two miles or so out at sea and coming in? Is it the local authorities? Is it the responsibility of the Port of London Authority? Should there be some consortia of local authorities to deal with this question? What is going to happen? And is the Minister satisfied about safety regulations in the Thames Estuary? It is, after all, one of the most used of all the waters in the world. What a terrible disaster would occur if there were a collision with a tanker in the Thames Estuary. It would be a disaster 10 or 15 times worse than that which occurred at Southend at Whitsuntide.

I do not wish to detain the House because there are many other hon. Members who wish to speak in the debate, but I am convinced that since the "Torrey Canyon" incident, which was the first occasion to spotlight this sort of disaster in the public imagination, events have shown, and recently, particularly this summer, that this is a problem which is of the utmost importance and one which ought to have the highest priority for the Government.

I am not satisfied, even despite what the hon. Member for Stretford (Dr. Ernest A. Davies) said, and considering Sir Solly Zuckerman's answers, which I have read, with the Ministerial structure in this matter, and I am not at all satisfied that this matter is being pursued with sufficient energy and purpose by the Government. I only wish it were. I should much prefer not to be voting tonight but wholeheartedly supporting the Government in the efforts which they ought to be making. I want the Government to tackle this matter with far more energy and far more purpose than they have shown up to now. When they do they will deserve the support of hon. Members who represent coastal areas and who are the ones primarily concerned about the appalling disasters in recent years, but for the present—and speaking for myself—I shall have no option but to join my hon. Friends in the Division Lobby.

8.47 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)

I think that all of us appreciate the strong feelings and sense of responsibility which all hon. Members who represent coastal constituencies have in this matter of oil pollution, and if the debate were only about that it would be a very different debate altogether. But the Motion before us amounts in part to a censure on the Government for not adopting certain recommendations of the Select Committee on Science and Technology.

I have the privilege of being Chairman of the Select Committee, the main Committee which appointed a Sub-Committee which worked so very hard under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke). I propose, therefore, to deal with the work of the Select Committee on this subject, and with some of the considerations which arise because of the way in which this debate has been brought on tonight.

I would point out to the House that there was a majority of Government supporters on the main Committee. This is the normal practice of the House with all Select Committees. On our Sub-Committee which prepared this Report we had three Labour Members of the House, two Conservatives, and one Liberal, that is including co-opted members. The Report of the Sub-Committee, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out, was unanimous, and it was adopted unanimously by the main Committee.

Study of the evidence shows that Government supporters were as critical and as penetrating in their examination of the Executive as Opposition Members. The Government Members of the Committee let no consideration of party advantage or party defence stand in the way of discovering the facts and drawing the appropriate conclusions. This accords with the best practice of Select Committees and, as the hon. Gentleman was good enough to say, it has been my personal endeavour, as Chairman, to foster the good practice that Select Committees should recognise their responsibility to the House as a whole, provided that they are acting within their terms of reference.

Indeed, it was because we were anxious to stress the all-party nature of our work that we appointed the hon. Gentleman Chairman of the Sub-Committee. This has been the case with the inquiries into the nuclear reactor industry, defence research and carbon fibres and the inquiry of our Sub-Committee now looking into the work of the Natural Environmental Research Council. This has been our normal practice, not because we wish to search artificially for agreement at all costs, far from it, but because, given the nature of our work and the subjects under investigation, it is good sense to look at things from a practical, administrative rather than a party point of view.

It is not possible to have a Socialist science and technology or a Conservative science and technology; it is science and technology. I say this to emphasise how much I regret that this practical report should be the subject of a Motion of Censure with the Whips out on either side, presumably with a three-line summons.

As a good Parliamentarian, I do not challenge the right of the Opposition to treat a committee's report in this way; they have a perfect constitutional right to do so; but I challenge the wisdom of doing it, particularly if they want this new parliamentary experiment of Specialist Select Committees to work well and impartially, as I am sure, in their hearts, they do.

The Opposition cannot complain about the attitude of Labour members of the Select Committee in their contribution to impartiality. I do not wish to stress this more than I need, but it is particularly hard on the Labour members of the Select Committee and especially those who served on the Sub-Committee, my hon. Friends the Members for Stretford (Dr. Ernest A. Davies), and Newark (Mr. Bishop) and the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Dr. David Owen). They now see their once impartial leader on the Sub-Committee brandishing his partisan sword from the Opposition Front Bench.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

I take no exception to anything said by the hon. Gentleman up to this point, but I ask him to recall that the Government White Paper commenting on our Report is a Report to the whole House and, like every other hon. Member of the Committee, I am a Member of this House.

Mr. Palmer

I do not challenge the right of the Opposition to do this if they wish to; they are perfectly entitled to do so. Also, the hon. Gentleman can take what personal position he likes. I am not challenging the constitutional propriety, but merely the wisdom of doing so in relation to the work of Select Committees. Had I been in his position, I would have declined the opportunity to speak from the Front Bench and would have taken a more neutral stance and spoken from a back bench.

When reports of Select Committees are presented to the House it is desirable that there should be as much unity as possible of the members of the Com- mittee, and clearly, under these circumstances, unity is quite impossible. Also, when dealing with scientific and technical matters, if there can be a unanimous approach, it carries more weight with expert opinion outside the House.

As Chairman of the main Committee, I am in some difficulty on this Motion, as I am expected to represent the corporate view of the Committee, and I therefore intend to abstain. I do not feel that I have any right to do other than that. My hon. Friends will decide for themselves what to do and they may well feel that they have been absolved from any responsibility by the attitude of the Opposition, but the Chairman is in a somewhat different position.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind in his decision on how to vote that this is a censure Motion against the Government and that there may be those outside the House who are more than prepared to use his abstention on what he regards as perfectly valid grounds as an opportunity to say that even the Chairman of the main Committee abstained and may, therefore, be presumed to have been supporting the Opposition Motion of censure?

Mr. Palmer

I have already decided my own attitude, which is that I have a responsibility towards the Committee as a whole. I hope that I am not taking myself too seriously, but I intend to take that course, although as I have said, I do not think for a moment that it applies to my hon. Friends, who have clearly been absolved by the partisan attitude of the Opposition from any kind of responsibility for the unity of the Committee.

What I have said in criticism of the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely does not mean that I do not admire his hard work and that of other members of the Sub-Committee. At the beginning of the Report there was a preamble to say that the Committee wished to express their deep gratitude to those of their members who, although already engaged in another major inquiry, so willingly undertook to carry out this additional inquiry, asked for by the Government, over a period of some 15 months as members of the Sub-Committee on Coastal Pollution. At that time we were investigating the nuclear reactor industry.

I am opposed, generally speaking, to the Executive via the House referring subjects to a Select Committee which are outside the Committee's choosing, because if too much of that kind of thing is done, it means that the Government are determining the work of the Select Committee and not the Select Committees themselves. But the question before us tonight is whether the Government should carry out a particular recommendation. I have no doubt on the evidence given of the technical soundness of the recommendation. But the responsibility for adopting the recommendation is the Government's. I have never argued that every recommendation of a Select Committee should automatically become Government policy, because if that were the practice, a Select Committee would be the Government.

But if the Government cannot accept a recommendation of a Select Committee, the Select Committee and the House as a whole deserve a full explanation of why a recommendation cannot be applied. In fairness to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, he has gone to the trouble to publish a White Paper about our Report. This is not often done. On the hon. Member's own showing, out of 21 recommendations 16 have been accepted. He took a more favourable view than I, for I made it 15 only. I tend to read these things without the optimism which he displayed. I do not think that the circumstances on any showing justify the whole ponderous mechanism of a Motion of censure being brought into action. By doing this, the Opposition make the House look ridiculous, and they are certainly not helping the Select Committee system to work well.

Naturally, I should be much happier if the whole 21 recommendations had been adopted. We would have been in a much stronger position to have got the Government to accept the outstanding points in due course if it had not been for the way that the House and the Committee are to be divided tonight. I appeal to the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely, with the influence which I know that he exerts on his own leaders, not to press this matter to a Division. Logically, if he and his right hon. and hon. Friends take it to a Division, they are really saying that the Select Committee and all the work that it has done and all the work that the hon. Gentleman has done has not been successful. In fact, it has been extremely successful. The hon. Gentleman should acknowledge this by withdrawing the Motion.

9.1 p.m.

Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

I support the Motion, and I wish, briefly, to explain why.

I am sorry that it should have become a matter for party political conflict, because in the Sub-Committee, of which I was a member, there was a total degree of all party agreement. But the Government have only themselves to blame for this Motion being put down. I, and many other members of the Sub-Committee, have on several occasions over many months asked the Government to provide time for a debate on the Report. It is months since their own White Paper appeared. Yet, we have not debated either the Report or the extremely important principle and subject which gave rise to it, namely, the whole problem of oil pollution. One can hardly pick up a paper, whether a regional or a daily one, any day and not find a reference to oil pollution somewhere or other.

In passing, I say to the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke), who I much admired as Chairman of the Sub-Committee, that I think his position on the Opposition Front Bench somewhat strange. I hope that it does not become a precedent that chairmen of Select Committees—which, after all, represent back benchers to a large extent—immediately step up to the Front Bench when their own Report is debated. This would be a grave error of judgment.

The debate this evening does not concentrate on the "Torrey Canyon". Nor, indeed, did our Report. We were discussing and investigating the broad issues of oil pollution in the light of the "Torrey Canyon" incident. Not only through being a member of the Committee, but representing a constituency which was very much affected by the "Torrey Canyon" oil, I remember wading through what seemed like thick chocolate over some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. But the "Torrey Canyon" episode is not the primary point at issue tonight. The issue is the Government's reply to our recommendations.

The extraordinary reflex action which seems to make any Government, when criticised, immediately run for cover fills me with abject despair at the whole process of government in this country. We were not even bitterly critical of this Government, or, indeed, of any Government. We made some critical comments about the machinery of government and also about the lack of preparations. These were not criticisms of any Government of a particular political persuasion, but of successive Governments. These criticisms were not made in any political way; they were made, if at all, of perhaps some of the faceless men behind all Governments.

It was, unfortunately, these people who were offended and these, I suspect, who wrote into the White Paper that much of the criticism is ill-founded. It is the kind of reflex action that is found whenever there is criticism of any Government. To all Governments, criticism is ill-founded.

I want to concentrate my brief remarks on the recommendations concerning administration and co-ordination, but particularly the first: that one senior Minister be given the responsibility for general supervision and co-ordination of the work in the field of research including international co-ordination and that a highly qualified scientific officer be put in charge of the continuing scientific effort. The Government's reply to this is contained in paragraphs 40 to 47 of the White Paper. Basically, they say that the provisions for co-ordination and supervision are adequate. With the deepest respect to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, I think that his presence here shows just how lacking the Government are in a Minister with complete specialist expertise in this field. I am not quite sure why this comes under the Home Office, and, with due respect to him, I think that the hon. Gentleman's speech showed that he was not at all sure, either.

The Government are condemned, not only as a result of the hon. Gentleman's speech, but out of their own White Paper, because it was desperately at pains to point out what was being done, and who was doing it, but when one goes through the list of things that have been done, and the list of the various Departments that are doing it, one finds that the various Ministries, committees and Departments involved make up a veritable tutti-frutti del mare. They are spawned in these pages about as prolifically as a lobster spawns her eggs, and with as little chance that many of them will hatch. I do not doubt that the research is being done. Of course it is. What I wonder, and what I wonder about the whole of our recommendations is whether this research, or our recommendations will ever be used or implemented.

On looking at the White Paper, starting at page 9, I make it that in the following eight pages there are no fewer than 18 different organisations, committees and Departments mentioned. I am by no means sure to whom all these people are responsible. I hope that the Minister might tell us. For instance, I still cannot find out exactly who is responsible for our relationship with I.M.C.O. We are told in paragraph 24 that representatives of the United Kingdom are taking a prominent part. I am told that it is the Foreign Office who appoint them, so we can start from there.

On page 10, we have a reference to negotiations between the countries bordering on the North Sea. I suppose that this again is the Foreign Office. In paragraph 26, there is mention of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Scottish Development Department and the Welsh Office. That makes five. Later, in that paragraph there is a reference to the Armed Services, so that makes six, bringing in the Ministry of Defence. In the following paragraph, paragraph 27, we find No. 7, Nature Conservancy. I am sorry to be ignorant, but I am not sure who is responsible for that, either. We then go on on page 12 to the eighth, the Committee of Scientists under Sir Solly Zuckerman. The Minister of Power comes in on the act with his Ministry's chief scientist. Then there is the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Hazardous Cargoes. No. 11 is the Ministry of Technology, and then we have the Ministry of Agriculture as well.

Then there are the Natural Environment Research Council, the Marine Biological Association, the Rocket Propulsion Establishment, the Ministry of Technology's Hydraulics Research Station, the Co-ordinating Committee on the Prevention of Sea Pollution, and the Working Group on Pollution of the North Sea. I think that I have the lot and, frankly, I do not see how anything good will come out of that mish-mash.

It is because I believe that there is a desperate need for co-ordination in this field—and this was why we made our first recommendation—that the Government are at fault in not accepting our recommendations. The fact is that there are many cases of oil pollution all the time. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely mentioned two coastal tanker incidents every week. He listed some of the incidents which have been seen off the coasts of Britain in the last months, but he missed one event, because, incredibly enough, on 12th May the unladen British tanker, the 1,178-ton "Hemsley I", went aground in dense fog near Padstow, very near where the "Torrey Canyon" landed up. It was bound for Antwerp to be broken up for scrap. The crew signalled that they were on the Lizard, and it was several hours before it was discovered that they were off Padstow. Oil was leaked from the tanker—although, luckily, it was basically empty—over several days and a great cleaning up job had to be done.

Very little of this appeared in the national Press. I do not know whether that shows the good public relations of the Cornwall County Council. Little damage was done, but the ship might have been full. From the arrangements that I have seen—this is no criticism of the local authorities, which did a good job—if there had been a great deal of oil, there would have been the most hopeless chaos, at least as bad as with the "Torrey Canyon".

The Government should think again. I hope that the fact that the Opposition have put down this Motion does not mean, as the Chairman of the Sub-Committee thought, that the Government will not shift their opinion. If we ran the country so that, whenever the Opposition suggested anything, the Government promptly did the opposite, we should get nowhere.

Mr. Palmer

I was saying that if the members of the Select Committee could all have worked together to cut pressure on the Government in a practical field the chances of success would have been greater.

Mr. Pardoe

There is no reason why these pressures should not have been brought several months ago in the debate on Government time, but we did not have the opportunity.

We are now probably reaching the point at which we need a Ministry of Oceanology. There is a vast scope here, with a host of problems from all departments of Government. They include fish farming, where we are on the threshold of a tremendous expansion over the next 25 years, mineral developments and the whole problem of pollution. There are tremendous opportunities in the development of oceanology because of our large Continental Shelf and the North Sea which is rich in food. Pollution is only part of the job. I hope that the Government will take into account what has been said tonight and bring together these 18 disparate elements under one senior Minister.

9.12 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

I could agree with the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) in one thing—that it is a pity that time was not found to debate this matter before. We could go into this in great detail, but I would only put this view, which is widely shared in the House—that there should be a time limit beyond which reports by Select Committees should not go undebated. I should have thought that that would be reasonable, because these things must be fresh and a great deal of work is put into them, that no Select Committee Report should be undebated after 40 Parliamentary days. That would seem a reasonable time limit; if it had been done in this case, much of the misunderstanding might not have arisen.

I was also interested in the hon. Member's view that we need a Minister of Oceanology, as he put it, or, without being too pedantic, of the Marine Environment, as I would put it. This also has been widely supported in the House. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy, who is present, should have this portfolio. Since it is dangerous to proliferate Ministers, it is the Navy which often has the ultimate responsibility and it is to the Navy that major responsibility should be given perhaps in these matters, Ministerially diverse by their very nature.

As one who represents a coastal area, where there is and has been for many years serious oil pollution opposite Rosyth, I could sypmathise with both hon. Members from Southend in their constituency worries. I have one reflection—if any penalties are to be imposed, let them by penalties of compensation rather than of fines, because, so often, these things are at least excused as attributable to accidents and fines are often small fry in relation to the damage done. One suspects that if it were a question of compensation there would be pressure from the insurance companies to make skipper and others responsible more careful, and active about preventing pollution.

Many hon. Members still wish to speak and I will, therefore, be brief. I have sat listening to the debate for two-and-a-quarter hours becoming more and more bewildered and puzzled about how on earth, on the basis of the speeches made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, we should be faced with a Motion of Censure. What is this all about?

The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) was, as usual, apparently honest in the views he presented and the interesting detail he went into. He was generous and courteous enough to accept that 16 of the Select Committee's recommendations had been accepted. Then I got the suspicion. Perhaps there was a rather bewildering and devious explanation about why we should be faced with a Motion of Censure. Following the speech of the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely I listened with interest to the speeches of other hon. Gentlemen opposite, but they did not make the reason for the Motion any clearer.

It suddenly dawned on me, and the cat had been let out of the bag. I am now of the opinion that this is not quite as easy of explanation as it looks on the surface. I feel much less charitable about what I regard as a far more sinister explanation; that it was decided by the powers that be on the benches opposite, the hierarchy of the Conservative Party, that it would be a good thing to give the general impression that the Opposition were active and keen about pollution problems while the Government were being lazy and inert over them. Thus censure.

If this is not the truthful explanation, why should we be faced with a Motion of Censure, since the substance of what has been produced so far has been purely frivolous? [Interruption.] We have merely had a devaluation of the whole system of the Motion of Censure because nothing substantial has been said to warrant the use of one of the most serious acts by an Opposition in our Parliamentary democracy.

I am, therefore, led to the conclusion that this is nothing but a squalid political manœuvre. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] What other explanation is there for it? I will willingly give way to any hon. Gentleman opposite who will explain the basis for this Motion of Censure. I have listened carefully to the arguments put forward by way of censure by hon. Gentlemen opposite and their comments have been frivolous and trivial in the extreme. I can only assume this to be a squalid political manœuvre to which the hon. Members for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) and Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) should not have lent their names.

9.18 p.m.

Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)

It is a pity that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) should have polluted the debate by the use of such extreme language. This has not been a frivolous debate and if the hon. Gentleman thinks that it has been, he cannot have been paying attention to it.

Mr. Dalyell

Why the Motion of censure?

Mr. Buck

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), for example, pointed out that there were 18 authorities dealing with oil pollution matters and that the Government had not taken any steps to bring them within one organisation. That is a matter of grave concern which warrants the House being disturbed over this matter. It is, therefore, absurd for the hon. Gentleman to use such extreme language; and he should not be so thin-skinned about matters of this kind. This is an appropriate issue for a Motion of censure, particularly when a Select Committee has made important recommendations which have not been acted upon.

It seems a very thin-skinned attitude for the hon. Member to take up.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

He has never grown up.

Mr. Buck

I agree with my hon. Friend. Sir Solly Zuckerman was asked: Am I right in assuming that you as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government have no power or even right to attempt to take charge of the general supervision of the research that you have recommended? He replied: At the moment, I have no right. So far as I know he has not been given that right, which he clearly wanted and ought to have had. The general case has been made for the Government to have acted, but they have not done so and that is a pity.

My constituency has a certain amount of coastline and I am desperately concerned about reports which we have almost weekly of oil pollution. Our neighbours in Southend twice in the last few weeks have had to cope with this problem. I have a constituency interest because, as was revealed in the Report, inland waters and those which are enclosed are particularly vulnerable to pollution. As far as I am aware no estuary where there are oysters, shellfish and inland fish has been contaminated to a considerable extent and we hope that this will not happen. It would be a tragedy if a bad slick were to go into the Blackwater and the surrounding oyster beds near Colchester, in the Pyfleet Channel and around Mersea Island.

I doubt whether the Government are tackling this matter with proper energy. I hope that in the Minister's winding-up speech we shall be given a great deal of information about the result of current programmes of research. What are the latest figures concerning prosecutions under the Oil in Navigable Waters Act, 1955? How many prosecutions have there been on indictment and how many by proceeding summarily? What have been the penalties imposed over the last convenient period? We need to know that the Government are pursuing the matter with energy.

It is a tragedy that our beautiful coastlines should be desecrated by oil so frequently. We as an island community feel this very deeply. What energetic action has been taken within the framework of the Act? Is the Minister satisfied that defences given to masters of vessels do not give them too much right to defend actions brought against them?

What is the latest position on research? One of the tragedies is that in a constituency such as mine the waters are so vulnerable. They are enclosed and the worse thing that could happen would be to use detergent in them. As was pointed out in paragraph 74 of the Report: Detergents do not destroy oil—they merely disperse it. Once the oil is emulsified, it ceases to be merely a surface layer, and becomes instead an actual part of the aqueous environment, where it may be taken into the gills of fish or ingested by filter-feeding organisms. Thus, where marine life is concerned in shallow or confined water, the use of detergents constitutes a 'cure' worse than the 'disease' itself. What is to be done if an oil slick occurs near Mersea Island? What is the result of experiments on the use of booms? My information is that booms are effective only where there is a low wave level, but there have been experiments recently about this and I should be pleased to know the results.

A recommendation was made about co-operation with the Army. My constituency is a garrison town. On all occasions, when on a local matter, the Army has been asked to co-operate it has done so fully. Such, indeed, would be the case if we were to have the disaster of an oil slick on the beaches of East Mersea or West Mersea, or coming up the Colne or into the Blackwater.

The negotiations already conducted by the county authorities show that the county authorities will have to indemnify the Army against all costs and against any damage or injury. One of those who is in command of the county services relative to this matter said that, if he borrowed a helicopter to go and see what the position was concerning an oil slick, and if the helicopter crashed, the county council would have to pay for another.

I have little doubt that the Army would not, in fact, call upon the county authority to pay. Why is there the necessity for this indemnity, because the county authorities are concerned about the whole matter of paying for the use of Army services. What is the position about the recommendation made by the Select Committee regarding the training of Army personnel? It was a specific recommendation which is neither adopted nor discarded in the White Paper.

We should be glad to know also what is the position concerning the use of dispersants other than detergents? What is the current state of play relative to the experiments which have been going on into other ways dispersing the oil and disposing of it?

Finally, if the Government are pursuing the matter with the urgency with which it should be pursued, what is the state of negotiations with other nations, particularly France? This matter is mentioned in the White Paper, but we should like a progress report on it.

If satisfactory answers can be given to all these matters, if the Government announce tonight that they are prepared to put all these matters under one Minister so that they can be properly co-ordinated instead of there being 16 or 18 different authorities, and if the Government will also co-ordinate research, I should not dream of voting against the Government. However, unless they do that, with a heavy heart, for this should not be a party matter, but none the less convinced that I am right, I shall vote against the Government.

9.27 p.m.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

On behalf of the whole House, I congratulate and thank our colleagues on the Sub-Committee who conducted this thorough and extensive inquiry into the problems of coastal pollution. It is a major report which any Government would be well advised to take seriously.

I delayed attempting to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so that this short debate could be continued a little longer by other hon. Members. I want straight away to answer the general question which has been asked from the other side of the House—why have the Opposition tabled this Motion? The answer, briefly, is the inadequacy of the reply given by the Government in Cmnd. 3880 dated January, 1969. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) gave some of the reasons why we find that reply inadequate. In the time available to me I shall develop my hon. Friend's argument further.

Before doing so, however, I want to reply to a point which has been made by the Under-Secretary and a number of other hon. Members with whom I have the honour to serve on the main Select Committee. They have argued that the Report of a Select Committee should only be noted and should never be voted upon. That can be argued. It can be argued that thus the spirit of all-party Select Committee is maintained and that that spirit is broken if the Opposition of the day table a Motion in support of a Select Committee's recommendation and critical of the Government's reply.

I disagree profoundly, particularly in view of the terms of reference that the House, in my view rightly, gives to Select Committees nowadays, enabling Select Committees, not to do a sort of hindsight audit, but to look at the future. I find nothing wrong in such action. I go further. I find everything to commend itself in such action. If the reports of Select Committees are only to be noted, Governments will know that they need not take such reports any more seriously than they are minded to do at that moment of time, because they know that they can never be hooked on those reports.

I do not believe that the object of Select Committees is merely to find work for energetic back benchers. Our Select Committees are an important part of the machinery of the House. In particular, in the great field of science and technology, the Select Committee is able to inquire into complex matters which do not lend themselves readily to general debate in the first instance and thus provide the basis, we hope, for better informed debate in due course.

If such debate is to have meaning in terms of influencing the Government, it is entirely right, in my view, that debate should take place on Motions critical of the Government when such criticism seems justified to the official Opposition or, indeed, to any group of hon. Members. That seems entirely proper, and on this occasion we on this side—I am glad that the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) agrees with us—consider that our Motion is entirely justified.

We are delighted that the Government have accepted a substantial number of the recommendations, but that in no way alters our view that those which they have not accepted are the most important in the whole Report. Recommendation (1) is: that one senior Minister be given the responsibility for general supervision and co-ordination of the work in the field of research, including international co-ordination, and that a highly qualified scientific officer be put in charge of the continuing scientific effort". The Government reject that recommendation on the ground that the diversity of scientific fields involved means that research projects have to be carried out in a wide range of establishments, which are the responsibility of different Ministers or Research Councils. Perfectly true. But the Select Committee was not suggesting that the single responsible Minister should himself carry out the research within his own Department. The recommendation spoke of "general supervision and co-ordination". So the technical fact of diversity of project is no answer to the recommendation. The observations of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North supported the case for the need for such a single Minister with powers of general supervision and co-ordination.

The Government themselves recognised that that was no answer because, later in the same paragraph of their Observations, paragraph 46, they said: … there is a Committee, also under the chairmanship of the Chief Scientific Adviser, which meets regularly to co-ordinate and review"— I ask the House to mark these words— the whole field of the Government's scientific and technological policy". No doubt that is true. But I ask the House whether a general review of the whole field of the Government's scientific and technological policy—everything from radio astronomy to medical research and the rest—is a substitute for the supervision and co-ordination of research work directed to the particular problem of oil pollution. Nor is the chief scientific adviser in any position to supervise or co-ordinate the research work, as he himself made abundantly clear in his replies to a number of questions, notably Question No. 257. Clearly, the chief scientific adviser cannot supervise and co-ordinate the research work on oil pollution.

Later, in paragraph 46 of their Observations, the Government tell us that the Home Secretary, as chairman of the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Hazardous Cargoes, has "general responsibility for co-ordination". I assume that that includes scientific co-ordination; I concede that point to the Government though they did not spell it out. Do I take it, therefore, that in practice the Government accept recommendation (1) and that the Home Secretary as a senior Minister has been given responsibility for the general supervision and co-ordination of research projects in oil pollution?

If the answer is yes, I ask the Government why they rejected the recommendation. If the Home Secretary has this responsibility and has accepted it, I ask him, through his Under-Secretary of State, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will continue to do to supervise research and co-ordinate work in some of the following problems: research into means for speedy transfer of the cargo from a stranded tanker; research into methods of firing oil in stranded tankers and on the sea surface; research into the effects of natural factors on the movement, dispersal and destruction of oil at sea; research into oil sinking, scavenging and gelling agents; research into more effective but less toxic detergents; research into detergent spraying and other cleansing equipment; research into mechanical methods of removing oil both from the sea surface and from beaches; research into cheap and effective booms, primarily for protecting harbours and inlets; research into effects of pollution on marine life, seabirds and coastal vegetation and on ways of minimising them. The House will recognise that I have been reading the list of major projects for further research suggested in the Zuckerman Report.

Is the Home Secretary in charge of and supervising such research? If he is not, who is? Sir Solly certainly is not in charge, and he made that clear in his evidence. He was asked, in Question 253: Am I right in assuming that you as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government have no power or even right to attempt to take charge of the general supervision of the research that you have recommended? His answer was: At the moment I have no right". Who has the right?

It is clear that the Select Committee was correct to recommend single Ministerial responsibility for general supervision and co-ordination of research work into these problems. It is equally clear that the Government were wrong to reject that recommendation.

The second recommendation which followed the first, namely, … that one Minister be designated to take immediate charge of any major oil tanker disaster requiring emergency action by the Government". Apparently, this recommendation caused great offence to the Government. I do not know why. It is a perfectly simple and obvious recommendation.

We find a very stuffy comment in paragraph 40 of the Government's observations: The Select Committee did not have before them any memorandum on machinery of government, nor did they seek evidence from those directly concerned with the general arrangements for emergencies. That was quoted again by the Under-Secretary of State today.

The latter observation is false, as the Sub-Committee took extensive evidence from the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy, both of whom played a key part in dealing with the consequences of the wreck of the "Torrey Canyon" and with the general arrangements. In addition, the Sub-Committee took extensive evidence from many of the officials most closely concerned in the events.

Listening to the Under-Secretary of State and to the Government's replies, there are times when I doubt whether the authors of that Report studied the evidence presented to the Sub-Committee. Furthermore, the Government's observation is unctious and patronising. If the Government feel this, the Prime Minister must not be surprised if future Select Committees and sub-committees summon him to appear before them.

On the substantial issue, the Government seem satisfied with the existing arrangements whereby general responsibility remains with the Ministerial Committee on Emergencies under the chairmanship of the Home Secretary. Is that sufficient? I cannot believe that anyone who has studied all the evidence presented to the Sub-Committee could doubt that in the case of a major oil wreck it is essential that one pre-designated Minister must be put in charge and that he and his staff must be given a proper opportunity to plan for such an emergency.

Perhaps I might remind the House of what the Sub-Committee said in paragraph 47 of its Report, because the Under-Secretary of State made no effort in his speech to deal with the arguments deployed in that paragraph.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the hon. Gentleman say precisely what he thinks is unctuous in the Report?

Mr. Price

The hon. Gentleman, who has given me a lot of his attention, must have missed the point when I quoted the paragraph. However, I have not time to repeat it now. He will be able to read it in HANSARD.

As the Under-Secretary of State seems to be reluctant to accept my comments on the importance of paragraph 47, I will read it to him: The Under Secretary for Defence, Royal Navy, told us on 2nd April 'If one is looking ahead to the future as to where authority should lie, this would open up a wider field of the involvement of Central Government and Local Government and the extent to which the armed forces are there to complement initiatives taken locally or as a substitute for them'. He went on to point out that the Ministry of Housing and Local Government had already started a whole series of negotiations with the Local Authorities to this end. The progress since May has been considerable. We note, however, that no decision appears yet to have been taken regarding the appointment of one Minister with general over-riding powers to act as General Director of Operations to deal with future major disasters. Bearing in mind the desirability of such a Minister having some comprehension of the expertise required, we consider that one Minister should be designated to take immediate charge of any major oil tanker disaster requiring emergency action by the Government. That Mr. Foley was able to act so effectively in the case of the Torrey Canyon points to the importance of his having been given authority by the Prime Minister to take decisions and make recommendations on the spot. It is in support of the hon. Gentleman's experience that the Select Committee recommended the designation of one Minister and that we on this side of the House cannot understand why the Government have turned down that recommendation. That is why we have tabled the Motion. That seems to be quite straightforward.

In view of what the Government said in their White Paper and the whole tenor of the speech of the Under-Secretary of State today, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Government have answered Ogden Nash's famous question in the affirmative. The House will recall the question: Why did the Lord give us so much quickness of movement unless it was to avoid responsibility? Recommendation (9) of the Report says: that national action be taken to rechart by modern methods the comparatively few known major hazards which lie within or closely adjacent to the main seaways along which tankers normally ply. The Government reject this recommendation as being unrealistic. They state that its cost would be prohibitive, that sea-bed movements, sedimentation in most areas, would require constant re-surveys all for hypothetical purposes of salvage.

In my view, the Government have ignored two important facts. The first is the evidence of Mr. Flett, the Chief Salvage Officer, Royal Navy, and particularly his answers to Questions 497 and 525, in which he concurred with the view that charts are not accurate and that ultrasonic techniques, modern Asdic equipment could well be used.

The second fact the Government have ignored is that the recommendation referred to modern methods. I have in mind particularly the hydrographic hovercraft developed by Hovermarine in conjunction with Decca. This, many of us believe, could revolutionise the scale of work undertaken by the Naval Hydro-graphic Department and vastly increase its cost effectiveness. I suggest that the Home Secretary talks to the Navy Department and to the Ministry of Technology about this.

Dr. Ernest A. Davies

The hon. Gentleman is making a point about the charting of hazards. I hope that he will make it clear that there is no dispute about the position in the sea of the hazards, and that what Mr. Flett was talking about was the accurate, detailed profile, measured perhaps in inches and feet across a piece of rock over which a vessel would normally never attempt to cross. He says this is an important distinction.

Mr. Price

I accept that. It in no way invalidates my argument.

The real test of the criticisms of the Government's action is a simple one of practice. How well do the Government's arrangements work? We had the recent case of the "Hamilton Trader" before us, where 700 tons of oil escaped from this tanker after a collision with a German coaster, when the "Hamilton Trader" was anchored near the Bar Light in Liverpool Bay. Compared with the "Torrey Canyon" this was a small incident, but it could, nevertheless, have had serious consequences upon the coasts of North-West Lancashire and Cheshire, and only a fortuitous combination of easterly and south-westerly winds saved those coasts.

But Cumberland was affected—40 or 50 miles of its coastline. I draw the attention of the House to the report of the Lancashire and Western Sea Fisheries Joint Committee on the lessons to be learned from the incident of the "Hamilton Trader". First, it shows in a number of serious omissions in the circular of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government giving guidance or help on technical matters, fishery or biology. It goes on to say: In the event of any oil spill from a known source, the company concerned will take all possible steps to alleviate damage or pollution.… It does not know how to get in touch.

The Report talks about early warning and praises the part played by the coastguards, but it goes on to say: … the provision of a co-ordinating centre which could deal with communications on a 24-hour basis would be most desirable and relieve the Coastguards of a considerable burden. It goes on to deal with the problem of the reconnaissance and tracking of slicks and the whole question of the responsibility for treating oil at sea.

The Report says: At the moment very little guidance exists as to whose responsibility it is to tackle oil slicks at sea. It points out that the Ministry of Housing and Local Government guidance about the local authority having to be ready and responsible to deal with oil within, say, a mile of the coast, is quite inadequate.

It deals with the whole question of the use of aircraft and who pays for aero-reconnaissance, which is obviously the best way of dealing with oil slicks before they reach our coasts. It deals too with the problem of sampling and identification, which again ties up with the research problem. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us who is responsible there.

I conclude by inviting the House to vote for the Motion tonight. It supports the unanimous recommendations of the Select Committee on the matter of Ministerial responsibility. It rejects the Government's refusal to accept those recommendations. I cannot believe that any hon. or right hon. Member, except those on the Treasury Bench, could find anything controversial at all in the Motion. It is a statement of the blindingly obvious. It is, therefore, a straight issue of supporting our own Select Committee or supporting "the thoughts of Chairman Jim".

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

I do not wish to waste time, and certainly not the time of the Under-Secretary of State, but I put it to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that in a debate of only three hours in which the Under-Secretary has spoken for 33 minutes it would have been much more helpful to you and to the House if he had made an intervention as an example—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

That is not a point of order. It is a matter for the Minister.

9.50 p.m.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

It was only in answer to specific exhortations by hon. Members that I decided to reply to this debate. I respectfully point out to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) that the sum total of time taken by his hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench was in the region of one hour.

As someone who has the honour of representing a maritime constituency, I am well aware of the exasperations and persistent problem presented by oil pollution. Tonight's debate deals with the whole span of possibilities. I referred to in- cidents caused by the action of the masters of ships in clearing out the tanks of ships returning to the oil field as minor. I appreciate that for the beach which receives clods of oils the size of cricket balls it is anything but a minor incident. However, compared with an emergency calling for the deployment of national resources and causing complete dislocation of the life of a wide community, in that sense only would I distinguish it from the other type of incident by calling it minor.

The Opposition wish to include in their consideration not only local incidents which give rise to national hazards. They have put forward the argument that these hazards constitute so unique a circumstance as to demand that they should be dealt with in a very special way, in a way which they have not proposed for dealing with any other hazard in any other field, irrespective of the threat to life or damage to property. They say that oil pollution, whether it be minor pollution or a major national disaster, is such a problem as to demand that it should be dealt with in a unique way. It is for the House to decide whether they have discharged that very substantial burden of proof.

I wish to deal briefly with one or two specific points. My hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Dr. Ernest A. Davies), in a very fair and balanced speech, said that the collective wisdom of researchers and the fruit of their studies should be made available to the Ministries concerned with this problem. That is exactly what takes place. The Government's Chief Scientific Officer is a member of the Ministerial Committee on hazardous cargoes and therefore is able to feed back to this Ministerial Committee, which has corporate responsibility in this field, a report of the co-ordinated activity of the various research departments operating in this field.

The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) raised many questions—and I have not time to reply to all of them—dealing with the problem of the detection of masters of ships who are responsible for deliberately causing spillages. He asked who was responsible for this matter. It is the overall responsibility of the Board of Trade, except that harbour authorities are responsible for bringing prosecutions for offences committed in their own waters. I understand that in practice most of the 50 or so prosecutions which take place annually are brought by harbour authorities because the evidence is usually readily available and facts are very rarely in dispute.

However, the Board has arrangements whereby it receives reports of ships suspected of oil pollution offences at sea. If a ship is bound for a United Kingdom port, arrangements are made for it to be inspected on arrival by a Board of Trade surveyor. If the ship is British it is prosecuted if sufficient evidence is available. Foreign ships are reported to their own Governments under the Convention of 1954, if the Government are one of the 38 Governments which are parties to the Convention. Within the last few months convictions have been secured against the Liberian-registered ship "Australis" and the Indian-registered ship "Adi Jayanti" for oil pollution offences in our territorial waters. Apart from inspections connected with specific reports, Board of Trade surveyors carry out many routine inspections of ships for evidence of oil pollution offences, and I understand that about 2,500 inspections a year are carried out altogether.

The hon Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) mentioned a demonstration which is to take place, understand, on Wednesday of this week, and said that certain equipment which will there be put on show is obsolete. I understand that this is certainly not the case. I can only tell him that that is my very specific instruction in this matter.

I was asked to deal with the number of prosecutions. Instead of going into detail there I would merely say that they tend to average, as I have said, about 50 a year.

Time will not permit me to deal with the very interesting point which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), but I take his point that unless negligence or deliberate action can be shown the question of absolute liability is one which could, in theory at any rate, lead to far more substantial compensation being made possible.

The case which is made by the Opposition is that in so far as research projects are concerned it is necessary for a senior official or a senior Minister to be given executive responsibility. I put to hon. and right hon. gentlemen opposite this consideration, that by the setting up of such a system a new Ministry, of necessity, would be created, a Ministry which would cut completely through the existing Departmental responsibilities of other Ministeries. If they say that that is not the case and that they do not want to vest such a senior Minister with executive responsibilities, then we would have the exact co-ordinative responsibility which the Home Secretary has in relation to the Ministerial Committee on hazardous cargoes and emergencies.

Then the second leg of their case is that it would be proper beforehand to designate a subordinate Minister who should be responsible for a particular emergency in this field. There are two points I want to make very briefly here. First, it is impossible for any Government to prognosticate the exact type of the emergency which might occur in this situation; and second, the emergency itself will develop through many different stages, and in such circumstances it might be necessary to have a succession of junior Ministers responsible.

In my innocence I was wondering how a Motion which was set out in such strident terms could be justified, but when the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely mentioned the Prime Minister I recognised that this was another squalid attempt to hurl a clod of mud at his reputation.

Question put:That this House, noting the evidence given to the Select Committee on Science and Technology on Coastal Pollution by the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, in which he stated: 'I cannot at the moment name a single Minister who has the responsibility for putting all these recommendations into effect', regrets that Her Majesty's Government have refused to accept the unanimous recommendations of the Select Committee on Ministerial responsibility for preventing and dealing with further cases of coastal pollution.

The House divided: Ayes 232, Noes 280.

Division No. 266.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Astor, John Baker, Kenneth (Acton)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Awdry, Daniel Batsford, Brian
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Bell, Ronald Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Nott, John
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Onslow, Cranley
Berry, Hn. Anthony Harris, Reader (Heston) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Biffen, John Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Biggs-Davison, John Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Page, Graham (Crosby)
Black, Sir Cyril Hastings, Stephen Pardoe, John
Blaker, Peter Hawkins, Paul Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W) Hay, John Percival, Ian
Body, Richard Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Peyton, John
Bossom, Sir Clive Heseltine, Michael Pike, Miss Mervyn
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Higgins, Terence L. Pink, R. Bonner
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hiley, Joseph Pounder, Rafton
Braine, Bernard Hill, J. E. B. Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Brewis, John Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Price, David (Eastleigh)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Holland, Philip Prior, J. M. L.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hooson, Emlyn Pym, Francis
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hordern, Peter Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bryan, Paul Hornby, Richard Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M) Howell, David (Guildford) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hunt, John Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bullus, Sir Eric Hutchison, Michael Clark Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Burden, F. A. Iremonger, T. L. Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ridley, Hn, Nicholas
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Robson Brown, Sir William
Carlisle, Mark Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Royle, Anthony
Channon, H. P. G. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Russell, Sir Ronald
Chataway, Christopher Jopling, Michael Scott, Nicholas
Chichester-Clark, R. Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Scott-Hopkins, James
Clark, Henry Kaberry, Sir Donald Sharples, Richard
Clegg, Walter Kerby, Capt, Henry Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooke, Robert Kershaw, Anthony Silvester, Frederick
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Kimball, Marcus Sinclair, Sir George
Cordle, John King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Corfield, F. V. Kitson, Timothy Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Costain, A. P. Lambton, Viscount Speed, Keith
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Stainton, Keith
Crouch, David Lane, David Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Crowder, F. P. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Stodart, Anthony
Cunningham, Sir Knox Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Currie, G. B. H. Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'dfield) Summers, Sir Spencer
Dalkeith, Earl of Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Tapsell, Peter
Dance, James Longden, Gilbert Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry McAdden, Sir Stephen Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Dodds-Parker, Douglas MacArthur, Ian Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Doughty, Charles Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Temple, John M.
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Drayson, G. B. McMaster, Stanley Tilney, John
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Eden, Sir John McNair-Wilson, Michael van Straubenzee, W. R.
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Emery, Peter Maddan, Martin Waddington, David
Errington, Sir Eric Maginnis, John E. Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Eyre, Reginald Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Farr, John Marten, Neil Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Fisher, Nigel Maude, Angus Walters, Dennis
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Mawby, Ray Ward, Dame Irene
Fortescue, Tim Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Weatherill, Bernard
Foster, Sir John Mills, Peter (Torrington) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Gibson-Watt, David Miscampbell, Norman Wiggin, A. W.
Cilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Monro, Hector Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Glover, Sir Douglas Montgomery, Fergus Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Glyn, Sir Richard Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Woodnutt, Mark
Goodhart, Philip Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Wright, Esmond
Goodhew, Victor Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Wylie, N. R.
Gower, Raymond Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Younger, Hn. George
Grant, Anthony Murton, Oscar
Grant-Ferris, R. Nabarro, Sir Gerald TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grieve, Percy Neave, Airey Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Gurden, Harold Nicholls, Sir Harmar Mr. Jasper More.
Hall, John (Wycombe)
Abse, Leo Ashley, Jack Barnett, Joel
Albu, Austen Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw) Baxter, William
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood
Alldritt, Walter Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Bidwell, Sydney
Anderson, Donald Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Binns, John
Archer, Peter Bagier, Cordon A. T. Bishop, E. S.
Blackburn, F. Harman, William Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Booth, Albert Haseldine, Norman Morris, John (Aberavon)
Boston, Terence Hattersley, Roy Moyle, Roland
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hazell, Bert Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Boyden, James Henig, Stanley Neal, Harold
Bradley, Tom Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Newens, Stan
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hilton, W. S. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip
Brooks, Edwin Hooley, Frank Norwood, Christopher
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Horner, John Oakes, Gordon
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Ogden, Eric
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) O'Malley, Brian
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Oram, Albert E.
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hoy, James Orbach, Maurice
Buchan, Norman Huckfield, Leslie Orme, Stanley
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oswald, Thomas
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hynd, John Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Cant, R. B. Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Paget, R. T.
Carmichael, Neil Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Park, Trevor
Concannon, J. D. Janner, Sir Barnett Parker, John (Dagenham)
Conlan, Bernard Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pavitt, Laurence
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Crawshaw, Richard Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Cronin, John Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pentland, Norman
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham. S.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Judd, Frank Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Kelley, Richard Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Kenyon, Clifford Probert, Arthur
Davies, Dr, Ernest (Stretford) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Randall, Harry
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Rankin, John
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lawson, George Rees, Merlyn
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Leadbitter, Ted Richard, Ivor
Delargy, Hugh Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dell, Edmund Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Dempsey, James Lee, John (Reading) Roberts, Gwliym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Dewar, Donald Lestor, Miss Joan Robertson, John (Paisley)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Dickens, James Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dobson, Ray Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Roebuck, Roy
Doig, Peter Lipton, Marcus Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Dunn, James A. Lomas, Kenneth Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Dunnett, Jack Loughlin, Charles Ryan, John
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Luard, Evan Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Sheldon, Robert
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Ellis, John Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
English, Michael McBride, Neil Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Ennals, David McCann, John Silverman, Julius
Ensor, David MacColl, James Skeffington, Arthur
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) MacDermot, Niall Slater, Joseph
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Macdonald, A. H. Small, William
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) McGuire, Michael Snow, Julian
Faulds, Andrew McKay, Mrs. Margaret Spriggs, Leslie
Fernyhough, E. Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric (Islington, E.) Mackie, John Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mackintosh, John P. Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Foley, Maurice McNamara, J. Kevin Taverne, Dick
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) MacPherson, Malcolm Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Ford, Ben Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Forrester, John Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Thornton, Ernest
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Tinn, James
Gardner, Tony Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Tomney, Frank
Garrett, W. E. Manuel, Archie Tuck, Raphael
Ginsburg, David Mapp, Charles Urwin, T. W.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Marks, Kenneth Varley, Eric G.
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Marquand, David Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Gregory, Arnold Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Wallace, George
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mayhew, Christopher Watkins, David (Consett)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mellish, Rt Hn. Robert Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Mendelson, John Weitzman, David
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mikardo, Ian Wellbeloved, James
Gunter, Rt. Hn, R. J. Millan, Bruce Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Whitaker, Ben
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Whitlock, William
Hamling, William Moonman, Eric Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.) Wilton, William (Coventry, S.)
Williams, Clifford (Abertillery) Winnick, David TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A. Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Williams, W. T. (Warrington) Woof, Robert Mr. Joseph Harper.
Willis, Rt. Hn. George Wyatt, Woodrow