HL Deb 21 June 1956 vol 197 cc1222-5

4.27 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to signify to the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Clean Air Bill, has consented to place Her Majesty's interest, so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

My Lords, I now beg to move that this Bill be read a third time. I do not think the House will expect me on this occasion to make any lengthy remarks on the final stages of this Bill. I should however, on behalf of my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, like to give an assurance that before any orders are made under Clause 17 (2) of the Bill which deals with the Alkali Act, consultation will take place with the industry. In fact, my right honourable friend would not make an order solely on the application of a local authority without further inquiry. I thought it necessary to make that brief observation to the House at this late stage of the Bill, so that the intention of my right honourable friend might be put on permanent record. Accordingly, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3ª.—(The Earl of Monster.)

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, in agreeing to the Third Reading of this Bill, I think one is entitled to say that we all hope that it will help towards solving the problem of air pollution, but I think I should be justified in saying that a number of us are not altogether satisfied with it. It makes a start on a very difficult subject, but, as we have mentioned in Committee, in one or two instances it is rather retrograde—for example, in the matter of the emission of black smoke, where on proof that that emission constitutes a nuisance, prosecutions may follow. The various defences set up in the Bill will, in the opinion of those best fitted to judge, probably make it difficult to make full use of the Bill and ensure that its intentions are fully carried out. One hopes that there will not be many offences and that all will collaborate in making the Bill a success. It is thought that offences will be difficult to prove and that sanitary inspectors and others to whom the operation of the Bill will be confided will have some difficulty in making full use of it.

One hopes that the Minister, to whom a good many powers are given in this Bill, will make full use of them. In particular, it is hoped that he will go a good deal into research. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in this department, in the matter of appliances which are now available and which can be made use of if brought to the notice of the public, and in the way of making the various fuels available. In all these matters the Minister has been given wide powers, and I am sure we all hope he will use them to enable the Bill to operate satisfactorily and the authorities to deal more effectively with, in particular, the emission of sulphur fumes, the exhaust gases from internal combustion engines, and obnoxious industrial pollution, which are matters to which not sufficient attention has been given hither- to. One hopes that every effort will be made to make this Bill work satisfactorily, and that, if necessary, the Government will not hesitate to bring in further legislation on the same lines as soon as the various researches which we hope will take place offer other means of doing away with the present air pollution. Having made those few remarks, I would add that we on this side of the House have no objection to the Third Reading of the Bill.

4.33 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to say two things very briefly. I was sorry not to be in the House for the Report stage of the Bill, more particularly as the noble Earl in charge of the Bill was so kind as to deal with one or two points which I raised on the Committee stage. I am most grateful for the trouble he and the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack took in dealing with some of my Amendments. I share the view of the last speaker. I hope that when this Bill receives the Royal Assent it will be a useful first stage in dealing with a serious social evil. Those of us who are still of the opinion that the Minister chiefly responsible for the Bill has been a little timid in his legislation would like to express the hope that when it comes to administration he will be resolute, if not militant.


My Lords, perhaps I might say a few words before we send this Bill back to another place for them to approve the Amendments your Lordships have inserted. Let me say at once that Her Majesty's Government hope, with the noble Lord, Lord Milner of Leeds, and the right reverend Prelate, that all local authorities and industries will collaborate to make this Bill an outstanding success. I would go one stage further. It is a start on a very difficult subject, but that by no means precludes further legislation from arising in the future if the powers which my right honourable friend has sought and obtained in this Bill are not sufficient for the purpose in the future.

As the noble Lord, Lord Milner of Leeds, knows, my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, dealt at some considerable length with the defences which are embodied in the first clause, and I hope he will not expect me to go into them to-day. He referred to the question of research and trusted there would be continual research into all these complicated and difficult matters, I would refer the noble Lord to the discussion we had on this very subject on the Committee stage of the Bill, on an Amendment moved by the right reverend Prelate. I told the right reverend Prelate on that occasion that there would be continual research into all these matters. I went so far as to say—and I would emphasise it again—that research is vitally important if the whole principles and purposes of the Bill are to come to fruition. I would add these words in conclusion. I am grateful to the noble Lords who have taken part in the discussion since we had the Second Reading for their help and assistance in steering the Bill so carefully and to well on its way to the Statute Book.

On Question, Bill read 3ª, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.