asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what progress he is making in co-ordinating action with other Government departments with a view to devising a method of helping local authorities who suffer financial hardship from having to clean beaches polluted by the discharge of oil at sea and in the estuaries.
My right hon. Friend is proposing to discuss with the local authority associations certain aspects of the problem of oil pollution. But he has at present no evidence that expenditure on cleaning polluted beaches is imposing financial hardship on local authorities and he can hold out no hope of direct Exchequer assistance for this purpose.
But surely the Joint Parliamentary Secretary knows that a proposal has already been made to his Department on this subject by one local authority in my constituency, and it has been told that his Department agreed to co-ordinate action on this? As the Reply seems to contradict this, can he say what progress has been made?
Is my hon. Friend aware that many beaches are becoming polluted because of the discharge of oil too near to shores and that, because of the inordinate expense that it would take to clean them up, local authorities are not able to do so, and many bathing facilities are being lost?
My right hon. Friend is aware of the problems. He is also drawing the attention of local authorities to the offer of the Institute of Petrôleum to put their research facilities to the benefit of local authorities on the problem. It is not confined to oil tankers, nor to ships which are coming into port.