HC Deb 04 February 1974 vol 868 cc874-5
24. Mr. Golding

asked the Minister for Energy whether he will issue a general direction to the British Gas Corporation that in the interests of public safety external plastic gas pipes should include a strip of detectable metal.

Mr. Emery

No, Sir. On present information this is not technically practicable.

Mr. Golding

Is the Minister aware that it is absolutely essential that those digging trenches should be able to detect the presence of gas mains, which is most easily done by incorporating a metal strip or pipe? It would be most unfortunate were a severe explosion to occur because a plough was put through a plastic tube.

Mr. Emery

I accept that full and proper safety precautions should be taken by all people digging in an area where there are gas pipes and gas mains, but the introduction of a metallic strip in a plastic pipe as part of the extrusion process would inevitably reduce the mechanical strength of the pipe and introduce the risk of a running split if damage occurred.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Does the Minister not accept that since the introduction of the use of plastic piping the public utilities have made a careful record of all newly-laid plastic pipes? It would be nonsense for any public utility to dig willy-nilly without checking with the authority to find where the plastic pipes are laid.

Mr. Emery

I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman that it is absurd for anybody excavating in an area of pipes not to consult the necessary authorities to ascertain where pipes are laid.