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Hamble River (Pollution)

Volume 476: debated on Monday 26 June 1950

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asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that on the morning of Saturday, 17th June, large mases of semisolid tarry oil floated into the Hamble river, extensively damaging the paintwork of vessels, and fouling their gear so that it could only be thrown away, finally covering the foreshore so that visitors may not use it for a considerable time to come; and whether he will institute an inquiry into this nuisance.

I was not aware of this incident, but, as the mouth of the Hamble river is within the jurisdiction of the Southampton Harbour Board, I have been in communication with that board. They have informed me that they have investigated the matter and have not been able to trace the source of the pollution.

Is not the Minister aware that vessels lying in that river pay very heavy dues for the privilege of doing so, and does he not agree that they are entitled to a certain amount of active protection against this expensive menace?

This is, of course, very annoying indeed, but it is a matter for the Southampton Harbour Board, and, so far, they have been unable to give me any indication as to how the nuisance has arisen.

What action does my right hon. Friend contemplate taking should he find the source of the pollution in this particular case?

Could the Minister look at the matter rather more generally because there are constant complaints in Spithead and the Solent about masses of oil coming down and being deposited on the beaches, besides doing damage to vessels?

I will certainly pursue the investigations farther than I have so far been able to do at the short notice at my disposal.