HC Deb 26 April 1972 vol 835 c1515
3. Mr. Meacher

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will establish a commission to examine the implications of the control of pollution on general growth strategies.

Mr. Peter Walker

The Government have constantly under attention the effects on growth of all their policies. I see no case for a commission concerned specifically with the effects of pollution control.

Mr. Meacher

Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate what international consultations he may have had about whether existing national growth rates are compatible with preserving an "ecosystem", even with social cost accounting and the recycling of resources being widely adopted, which is not the case now, or whether national growth rates need to be reduced at least in some respects by international agreement?

Mr. Walker

I have consulted the United States and most European Governments and this matter will, of course, be the theme of the Stockholm conference later this year. In general, it is not so much stopping growth which is important, but the nature of the growth which takes place. It is essential, if we are to remove a great deal of poverty, distress and ugliness, to obtain economic growth.

Mr. Crosland

While I am strongly in favour of all possible international discussion, I hope and believe that the right hon. Gentleman will not fall into the appalling trap of lecturing the impoverished nations from a position of comparative affluence on our part on the evils of economic growth and prosperity.

Mr. Walker

I very much agree with the right hon. Gentleman. If we are to remove the terrible areas of poverty and distress in this country, the one way to do it is by economic growth.