HC Deb 22 February 1982 vol 18 cc265-6W
Mr. Ernie Roberts

asked the Prime Minister, further to her reply to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) on 9 February, Official Report, c. 854, if Her Majesty's Government will study the claim by Amoco Oil Co. Ltd. to have produced lead-free petrol which is compatible with current motor engines; and, if Her Majesty's Government are satisfied with the accuracy of the claim, if she will bring in earlier controls on lead in petrol.

The Prime Minister

The oil industry could produce lead-free petrol at reduced octane rating now; with additional plant, which would take time to build, it could produce lead-free petrol at maintained octane. However, not many cars in the United Kingdom have hardened valve seats, and very few have low compression engines. Cars without hardened valve seats could not use lead-free petrol in any form, and those with high-compression engines could use it only at maintained octane rating.

I saw press reports that Amoco could have produced lead-free petrol for sale here some years ago. The reports in question contained no evidence that the majority of cars in use here at present could operate on such fuel. The company has written to me confirming that it has no plans to produce unleaded petrol in Britain.

The Government have decided to require the introduction of petrol with the lowest lead content acceptable for use in existing cars. This is the quickest effective way to reduce lead emissions from cars.