HC Deb 02 May 1995 vol 259 cc162-3
10. Mr. Foulkes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had concerning the potential dangers of ordnance, chemicals and other materials dumped in the sea between south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland. [20085]

Mr. Freeman

The licensing procedure for the dump site between south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland involved the Department of Transport, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Scottish Office. My Department keeps closely in touch with other Government Departments on these issues.

Mr. Foulkes

Will the Minister confirm the information obtained by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) that the MOD has dumped 1 million tonnes of munitions, plus bombs and chemical weapons—including arsenic and nerve gas—in sites at sea including the Clyde and the North channel? Will he announce a monitoring scheme to ensure the safety of fishing boats, submarines and those of us who live around the coast in that area from harm from those highly dangerous substances?

Mr. Freeman

The hon. Gentleman is right about the North channel. After the war, in 1945 and 1946, rockets with phosgene were dumped in the channel, as has been publicly disclosed for many years. As part of their routine monitoring of coastal waters, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Scottish Office marine laboratory will be conducting standard water sampling tests in the North channel.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Has the Northern Ireland Office been consulted on that issue, bearing in mind the plans for gas pipe connections and electric connectors, and the movement of the sea bed?

Mr. Freeman

I shall ensure that the Northern Ireland Office is consulted.