HC Deb 21 June 1978 vol 952 cc448-9
7. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to what extent the water off popular beaches in Scotland is polluted; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gregor MacKenzie

The extent to which popular bathing waters in Scotland are polluted is limited. Where conditions are not as good as they should be, improvement is being pursued by the relevant river purification board and sewerage authority.

Mr. Galbraith

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why his Department is seeking to obtain exemption from EEC directives to create cleaner beaches? Surely a country such as Scotland which depends so much on tourism should be leading the way instead of dragging its feet. Will the Minister care to come on a fact-finding mission with me and engage in a bathing party to see and to feel the degree of pollution that now exists?

Mr. MacKenzie

First, it is not true that we are seeking to avoid the consequences of any directives. It would be necessary to decide whether a directive applies to any Scottish beaches and, if so, what improvements are required under it. As for the hon. Gentleman's kindly invitation, I assure him that I am well aware of what is happening off the Ayrshire coast. I should point out that the Strathclyde Regional Council is now engaged on a major sewerage scheme costing well over £50 million, which will be beneficial to Ayrshire beaches.

Mr. Watt

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that his Department is closely monitoring the insidious pollution that is taking place on both shores of the Forth? What is his Department prepared to do to stop oil constantly being spilt at Hunters Point?

Mr. MacKenzie

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Trade, is conscious of the problems and we have teams that are working closely with the local authorities.

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