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I understand that the National Rivers Authority recorded 238 salmon in the river in 1994, confirming the marked improvements achieved in recent years. The actual number of salmon returning to the river in that year is likely to have been greater.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in days gone by sittings of the House were suspended because of the stink from the Thames in summer? Do not the increased numbers of salmon swimming up a clean river to spawn prove beyond doubt that the Thames can rightfully claim to be the cleanest metropolitan river in Europe?
As ever, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. He may be interested to know that in the past five years the average annual return of salmon to the Thames has been 214. The actual number has tended to vary quite significantly year by year, the highest number recorded being 338 in 1993 and the lowest number being 59 in 1991. My hon. Friend is absolutely correct: the Government's success in cleaning up the rivers, and particularly the Thames, is proved by the fact that he and I can risk opening a window in Committee.