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Renfrew District Council (Lead Pollution Control)

Volume 24: debated on Wednesday 26 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has received from Renfrew district council as to actual or proposed expenditure by it on dealing with the problem of lead in the domestic water supply in its area which may be eligible for rate support grant.

I have received no information of this kind from Renfrew district council.

Is the Minister aware that specific legislation limits the content of lead in paint and toys? In view of the serious effect that lead in water has on women, particularly pregnant women, and young children, is it not time that the Government, and the Minister in particular, considered the introduction of legislation specifically to limit the lead content in water in view of the EEC guidelines on lead in water? Having introduced that legislation, will he then give the House an undertaking to will the means to local authorities to implement the law?

We are willing the means. The net allocation of £2·2 million to Renfrew in 1982–83 includes £400,000 for lead plumbing grants. As the hon. Gentleman will know, we have increased relevant rate support grant expenditure for house-to-house surveys on the lead problem by £1 million in recognition of the need for additional expenditure.

Will the hon. Gentleman also take on board the wider implications of excess lead in water? Not only is lead involved in the conditions mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Adams); it is also implicated in diseases that cause mental illness in children, in heart conditions and in various forms of cancer. Will the hon. Gentleman therefore look at the whole problem of lead in water, both in my hon. Friend's area and in other areas of Scotland?

As I have indicated, we take this problem seriously in terms of resources. I understand that Strathclyde regional council, as water authority, is taking action in the light of the Renfrew reports.