HC Deb 06 February 1974 vol 868 cc1202-3
10. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, in order to assist the cleaning up of Great Britain's waterways, and in view of the need to keep a close watch on sewage outfalls into waterways and the beaches round Great Britain's coastline, if he will seek powers to strengthen the system of monitoring all waterways and to publish reports thereon.

Mr. Rossi

Yes, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the Protection of the Environment Bill, at present being considered in another place, and to the published reports on the surveys of river pollution and of sewage discharges to coastal waters, copies of which are available in the Library.

Mr. Spriggs

What is the Department doing about the untreated sewage which has been pumped out on to some of our North-West Coast beaches? Will the Minister consider making a monitoring device available so that the public may keep themselves informed and act accordingly?

Mr. Rossi

My Department has initiated a harmonised monitoring scheme to ensure standardising the sampling of water and to establish long-term trends in changes of water quality. River authorities have begun work on these schemes. Under the Protection of the Environment Bill, which I have just mentioned, powers are being given to the authorities to take samples of all discharges into coastal and other tidal waters.

Mr. Evelyn King

Does my hon. Friend accept that this question is meaningful only in the context of a prosperous countryside? In Dorset and other counties throughout England, the price of milk and other foodstuffs is so low that farmers are losing on every gallon they produce. Prosperity in the countryside alone can answer many of our problems.

Mr. Rossi

I will refer that question to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Dr. Marshall

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that within the borough of Goole there are sewage outfalls into the rivers Ouse and Don close to residential parts of the town? Will he therefore assist and encourage the local authority to undertake a resewerage scheme for the town?

Mr. Rossi

This is primarily a matter for the regional water authority. I will draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of that authority.

Mr. Sydney Chapman

In view of the critical importance of controlling and containing pollution, particularly in our estuarial and coastal waters, would it not be a good thing if one Department instead of several Departments had overall responsibility for this matter?

Mr. Rossi

I thought that was the case.