HC Deb 09 November 1937 vol 328 cc1610-1W
Mr. Grenfell

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of re- peated discharges of oil from vessels in the Bristol Channel resulting in damage to fishing and other interests, he will consider whether steps can immediately be taken to protect these shores from deposits of oil carried up and down with the tides in large floating bodies; and whether he has caused inquiries to be made to discover the persons responsible for polluting the sea and the seaside in this area?

Mr. Stanley

Inquiries are at once made whenever pollution of territorial waters by oil is reported to the Board of Trade. Such inquiries are being made into recent cases of pollution in the Bristol Channel, but so far no evidence has been obtained to indicate the source of the oil. As the hon. Member is aware, the discharge of oil within territorial waters is an offence under the Oil in Navigable Waters Act, 1922. The discharge of oil outside territorial waters cannot be dealt with effectively without the co-operation of the principal maritime nations. The League of Nations has issued a draft convention on this subject, which is under consideration by the Governments concerned. I hope that it will in due course be submitted to an International Conference.

Mr. T. Morris

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the growing oil pollution of home waters around the Southern Welsh coast; and whether he will call the attention of the shipping companies using these waters to the need for greater care in discharging refuse oil?

Mr. Stanley

My attention has been called to recent cases of oil pollution in this area. The Chamber of Shipping have from time to time issued circular letters to the shipping companies to ensure that oil is not discharged from their ships within 50 miles of any coast, and I am asking the chamber to call the attention of shipowners again to this. Whenever pollution of any part of the coast is reported, the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Shipping make all possible inquiries with a view to discovering the offender.