HC Deb 17 February 1972 vol 831 cc611-2
Q2. Mr. Pardoe

asked the Prime Minister if he will now appoint one senior Minister to supervise and coordinate research, and to implement research findings over the whole field of coastal pollution, as recommended by the Select Committee on Science and Technology in its report on Coastal Pollution in 1968.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is already responsible for co-ordinating work on pollution; and the Ministers concerned work closely together on the supervision of research and the implementation of research findings.

Mr. Pardoe

Will not the Prime Minister agree that recent events, especially the failure of the Department of Trade and Industry to give vital information to the Department of the Environment about the "Germania" incident for five weeks, the extraordinary conflict between the Department of Employment and the Department of the Environment about the need for an inquiry at Avonmouth, and the fact that the Department of the Environment had no plans for dealing with chemical pollution, all bear out the recommendation of the Select Committee? May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that it was, after all, his own party which indicted the previous Government for not accepting this very recommendation?

The Prime Minister

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's charges. There was an examination of this situation after the "Torrey Canyon" disaster. Action was taken by the previous Government and additional action has been taken by the present Government to deal with these matters.

The "Germania" incident was one which occurred nearly 80 miles off the British coast. What that illustrated was the necessity for an international arrangement to notify countries likely to be affected by an incident of this kind. This is what Her Majesty's Government are now pressing in I.M.C.O., and I hope that we shall reach an agreement about it shortly.