HC Deb 19 July 1995 vol 263 c1651
6. Mr. Ainger

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many monitoring stations capable of recording levels of PM10s or lower provide information for his Department. [33376]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. James Clappison)

There are currently 16 stations. Another nine will come on stream by the end of 1996. On top of that, local authority sites will be integrated to increase the coverage.

Mr. Ainger

I welcome the Minister to his new post, but I am extremely disappointed with his reply. Professor Seaton's report in The Lancet in January established a direct fink between the number and level of PM1Os in the atmosphere and high levels of death as a result of cardiovascular problems and respiratory disease. I understand that the expert panel on air quality standards will report later this year. Is not the number of monitoring stations wholly inadequate? Does the Minister agree that his plans do not address this serious problem?

Mr. Clappison

The hon. Gentleman should take into account the fact that, in addition to the automatic monitoring stations, there are 250 non-automatic stations around the country. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that particle matter causes concern. That has been recognised by the expert panel, which is taking the matter seriously. No doubt particle matter will be one of the pollutants that we shall aim to reduce as part of our national air quality strategy that will be put in place by the Environment Bill. That strategy will be taken seriously; certainly it will be put into force.

Mr. Congdon

I warmly welcome my hon. Friend's appointment. I am sure that he is aware that pollution causes particular difficulties for those with health problems such as asthma. What further action can his Department take to ensure that existing laws and those that are passed in this Session are used to try to reduce the number of lorries and buses that belch out filthy black smoke?

Mr. Clappison

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind comments, as I am grateful to the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Ainger) for his. My hon. Friend makes a valuable point. Diesel exhausts, buses and cars are responsible for a large volume of the pollution he describes. He will be aware that tighter standards are coming into force in 1996. They will result in a reduction of that type of pollution in the way that other measures, including the introduction of catalytic converters, have reduced other forms of serious pollution. All those measures will help to achieve the high standards for which we aim.

Forward to