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Motor Vehicles (Air Pollution)

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 17 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Transport what further progress has been made with the development of a smoke meter suitable for measuring fumes from diesel and petrol driven motor vehicles.

I have nothing at present to add to the Answer I gave the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Dr. A. Thompson) on 19th April.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is a very disappointing answer? Has not the Minister seen the statement of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, reported yesterday, that smoke and dirt in the air killed 50,000 people last year—30,000 from chronic bronchitis and 20,000 from cancer of the lung—and that 20 million working days were lost by dirty air? Is it not time that he took steps to do something about this problem of air pollution from motor vehicles? How is he getting on with his investigation of the two smoke meters—the Hartridge and the Dunedin—at which he has been looking? If he insists that smoke meters are really necessary in order to enable police officers or any other intelligent witnesses to determine whether or not a motor vehicle is polluting the air, which we do not think is necessary, will he assure the House that he will reach a decision in the near future?

The difficulty is to get a meter which will register the amount of smoke in the air in order to make for effective enforcement? No country in the world has yet succeeded in doing that, but the Warren Springs Laboratory of the D.S.I.R. is assisting me in developing a meter that will meet certain criteria.


asked the Minister of Transport if he will now amend regulations 21 and 79 of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1955, in order to deal with the growing danger and nuisance caused by fumes from vehicles with diesel engines.

I expect to make and lay before the House shortly regulations to supplement these provisions by requiring the excess fuel device to be so placed that it cannot be used while the vehicle is in motion and making it an offence to have the device in operation while the vehicle is in motion.

The Minister will be aware that that answer will give a great deal of satisfaction to a number of people who have been worried about the problem for some time.