asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will prepare a regulation granting permissive powers to local authorities to establish smokeless zones, and thereby replace the present machinery of presenting a Private Bill before such zones can be set up.
I have no statutory power to do this.
Would the Minister look further at this to see if it is not possible to do something on the lines suggested? Is he aware that all local authorities would welcome this? Great interest is now being taken to try to prevent smoke pollution, and it is very necessary that local authorities should have some power in that regard. Is he aware that 3,645 tons of ash, grit, dirt, tarry matter and sulphur dioxide fell on Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1953? That is an average of 214 tons per acre, and it indicates the urgency of the problem. Will the Minister try to make it a little simpler for local authorities to adopt regulations?
Yes, Sir, but the hon. Gentleman knows as well as I that I have no statutory powers, that this requires legislation, that any question of legislation obviously has to await the report of the Beaver Committee, and that legislation has to take its chance with the claims of the many other things which this House is asked to do. I am only too anxious to help, but without legislation I have no power.
Can I take it that by that the Minister indicates his sympathy with this type of proposal, rather than that local authorities should have to promote Private Bills, and that when the opportunity presents itself he will endeavour to embrace this in a blanket formula?
Yes, Sir. I hope that my hon. Friend—if I may call him so in this matter—will try, if I should find it necessary to promote legislation, to facilitate its passage through the relevant Standing Committee.