HC Deb 17 February 1982 vol 18 c267
1. Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has now received the results of the national survey on river water quality carried out in 1980 by the National Water Council; and if he is satisfied with the conclusions reached on the quality of rivers.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Giles Shaw)

Yes, Sir. The survey shows an encouraging improvement in the quality of our rivers, especially some of the worst ones. But others have a long way to go.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Is the Minister aware that the chairman of the National Water Authority believes that we have reached the point of no return? Does he agree that, in view of the large scale unemployment in the North of England and the fact that sewers are collapsing in inner city areas, he should improve the time scale that he has announced? Is he not being a little complacent?

Mr. Shaw

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that in the North-West and on Merseyside there is a real problem of pollution. However, he should be aware that the North-West water authority has started a major 15-year project costing about £85 million in order to clean up one river. I assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend has very much in mind the need to proceed with such a development.

Dr. David Clark

What is the Minister's response to the part of the report that says that unless there is further investment there will be a deterioration in standards? In view of the breakdown of the sewerage system in some parts of Britain, will the Government commit more money to try to eradicate river pollution?

Mr. Shaw

I accept that there is a great need for further investment, but the hon. Gentleman will realise that all the water authorities have major investment projects to improve pollution and river control. It would appear from the report that the worst category of rivers has been halved in the 10 years between 1970 and 1980.