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Oil Pollution

Volume 477: debated on Monday 17 July 1950

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asked the Minister of Transport how many prosecutions have been brought by his Department against ships, refineries or other persons for discharging oil fuel or other such substances into the sea within Southampton Harbour and within the waters enclosed by the Isle of Wight, respectively.

As I informed the hon. and gallant Member on 15th May, I have no power to take proceedings under the Oil in Navigable Waters Act, 1922, for an offence which is committed within a harbour. My Department has investigated a number of complaints of oil pollution in Spithead and the Solent, but in no case has the evidence been sufficient to justify a prosecution.

Would the Minister not agree that, in the absence of any effective deterrent, it is not very surprising that we have had such consistent and repeated fouling of the waters in those areas?

This is a particularly difficult problem in which to fasten any evidence. We are continually warning ship owners and, under various arrangements, bring it to their attention. We cannot prosecute indiscriminately; there must be definite evidence.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether there will be any supervision over the discharging of oil from Fawley refinery and the tankers using it?

If the hon. and gallant Member will put that Question down I will endeavour to answer it, or to communicate with him.