The information is not available, since local authorities are empowered to defer the coming into operation of confirmed smoke control orders for up to 12 months without reference to my right hon. and learned Friend. However, the shortage of solid smokeless fuel inherited from the previous Government was ended during the summer of 1971. Since then all authorities have been urged to press forward with smoke
|SMOKE CONTROL ORDERS|
|1973 to end April||…||National||…||132||73,479||207,419|
|1973 to end April||…||National||…||183||67,022||258,260|
Is the Minister aware that there is considered to be surplus capacity for producing solid smokeless fuel and that serious consideration is being given by the National Coal Board and others to closing down about £10 million of public investment in this business? Does not the Minister think that it is now the duty of his Department to give instructions to local authorities, or at least to advise them, to press ahead with the declaration of smokeless zones wherever possible? Does he not think that at this moment it would be a retrograde step to cut back stocks of this fuel when there is such a grave need to improve the quality of the air we breathe?
At present, stockpiles of solid smokeless fuels are adequate for foreseeable needs. There is, therefore, no need for anxiety in that respect. But I stress that the Government regard the policy of extending smokeless zones as of great importance and are doing everything possible to encourage local authorities to adopt such schemes.