HC Deb 08 December 1971 vol 827 cc1281-2
16. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, what plans he has to strengthen the powers of the Alkali Inspectorate.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)

The Inspectorate's powers are adequate, but my right hon. Friend has recently extended their scope by applying the Alkali Acts to a number of industrial processes not previously scheduled. My right hon. Friend is also increasing the strength of the Inspectorate.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Can the hon. Gentleman say what improvements, if any, there have been as a result of the policy of voluntary co-operation between industry and the Inspectorate, and whether he is satisfied with the result?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, Sir. In spite of the expansion of industry between 1958 and 1970, the annual emissions of cement dust diminished from over 100,000 tons to about 36,000 tons; grit and dust from electricity works from over one million tons to about 200,000 tons; and solid emissions from the sintering of iron ore from 85,000 tons to under 40,000 tons. I doubt whether any country has achieved such a considerable improvement in its industrial clean air policy.

Mr. Leonard

While welcoming what the Minister said, may I ask him whether he will consider directing the Alkali Inspectorate to make available to the public the data which it gathers on air pollution?

Mr. Griffiths

No, the Alkali Inspectorate works with industry and achieves very good co-operation voluntarily. I think it would be wrong to coerce the Inspectorate into revealing commercial information which is given to it in confidence.