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Telecommunications Masts

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:49 am on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley North and Sefton East 9:49 am, 28th June 2005

My hon. Friend has made his point and I do not intend to respond; perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister will do so. However, given people's concerns, and given the uncertainty about the public health issues involved and the science behind them, there is, as my hon. Friend said, an argument for minimising the use of masts through mast sharing and roaming, to which the hon. Member for Cotswold referred. I imagine that we could minimise the use of masts to quite a large degree.

I do not have any data on the subject, but that seems to be the most useful way forward. However, if sharing and roaming is to happen, it cannot be driven by local authorities, because it will in part be outside local authority control. It cannot be confined within local authority boundaries. I would like the Government to take a fresh look at that, and to try to work out a system with the industry whereby the use of masts is minimised through mast sharing and roaming. However, that must be co-ordinated centrally; it cannot be left to local authorities, because they do not have the necessary powers or the scope to do so. If we adopt the appropriate precautionary principle, there must be an agreement between the industry and the Government and a definite plan and strategy to make it work.

In the absence of clear scientific evidence about the health effects, the appropriate way forward is to co-ordinate precautions nationally to minimise the use of masts. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister, who is always eminently reasonable, will think about my comments and consider whether we can deal with the matter better in future.