HC Deb 09 July 1956 vol 556 cc35-157

3.31 p.m.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

There are a good many aspects of what we commonly call the housing problem. One is the better use, repair and improvement of existing houses; another is the building of new houses by local authorities in their areas; and another is the question of clearance and redevelopment. What I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government about today is another matter, and I think it is best put in his own Ministry's Report for 1950–51 to 1954.

In page 69 of that Report I find these words: In the continuous built-up areas of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and others of the great provincial cities, there is insufficient room to house the existing population. In making their development plans the authorities of these cities have all estimated the amount of 'overspill' likely during the twenty-year period; and, although there is an element of speculation in the figures, there is no doubt that very large numbers of people will have to be re-housed outside the existing conurbations. That was, no doubt, true a year ago. It is even more true now. In what are commonly called the conurbations, the type of place that has been mentioned in that passage, the need to export is growing, greater and more urgent, and by that I mean to export people whom a local authority cannot house within its own area.

In 1951, the London County Council estimated that it had 380,000 people to house, who would have to be, in that sense of the word, exported. The right hon. Gentleman agreed with that authority in substance and put the figure at well over a quarter of a million. Its housing list today is about 165,000 people, of whom 53,000 are in urgent need of a house and stand on the general need list—List A, as this part of it is called.

If we turn from that to look at another aspect of the problem, in England and Wales there are nearly 850,000 slum houses, and during the five years for which a slum clearance programme has been submitted by the local authorities it is proposed to demolish about 375,000 of those, to patch up 90,000 and to leave nearly 375,000 untouched. In some of the big towns the figures are staggeringly bad. Birmingham has 50,000 slum houses. In five years it is proposed to demolish only 6,000 of them. Liverpool has 88,000, of which it is proposed to demolish only 7,000. Manchester has 68,000 and it is proposed to demolish only 7,500 of them.

A large part of the reason is simply that there is no room to rehouse these people. London, of course, with its large resources can do better by way of demolishing—but at what a price! Next year, out of that housing list of 165,000 it is hoped to rehouse only 600 or 700 people on what I may call the £10 list—that is to say, the general need list. Just outside London one finds the same sort of problem. East Ham, for instance, with 2,580 slum houses, in the course of five years will be able to demolish only 300 of them. The fact is that the rehousing and the slum clearance programme at present is unsatisfactory largely because there is no room in these big towns.

This is a very old problem. It has been with us for a long time. In one form or another it has been the subject of many commissions and inquiries, and it was in order to make one effort to meet it, and to combine with that effort a magnificent social experiment, that in 1946 the New Towns Act was passed. In 1946, for the special relief of the difficulties of greater London, one new town was started; in 1947, three more; in 1948, two; in 1949 two, making eight in all. Four others in England and Wales have been started in other places, and the last of them actually was Corby, in my own constituency, in 1950, making twelve new towns. The outstanding fact upon which I shall have to comment in a moment is that no new towns have been started since 1949 to relieve the difficulties of Greater London, and none at all since 1950.

What is the present position? We had on 15th April, 1954—and I am referring to column 1395 of the OFFICIAL REPORT—an estimate from the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government of what could be done by moving people out of the big towns, not only by way of new town population but also by way of what is called overspill. Overspill, of course, refers to the arangements made under the Town Development Act, 1952, of which, some little time ago, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) claimed paternity, and the process of midwifery was carried out under the present Government. There is no doubt that the Town Development Act, if it worked, would make a very useful supplement to what has been done already and can still be done by way of new towns.

Taking those two Measures together, this is what we have. The then Parliamentary Secretary said: … over the next three or four years, the total number of houses that may be built to meet overspill requirements for both London and the Provinces, including the new towns, is not likely, at a rough estimate, to exceed a maximum of 14,000 or 15,000 houses in any one year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th April, 1954; Vol. 526, c. 1395.] Out of those figures, we must first take the right hon. Gentleman's own estimate of 26th June this year, which one finds in column 255 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, that the number of houses likely to be built in that way specifically to meet the needs of London—:I mean Greater London—would be about 10,000 in a year. Sure enough, if we look at the last reports of the development corporations, the total number of new houses there was between 10,000 and 11,000.

At the moment, London alone is looking for room for about 47,000 Londoners, apart from the particular schemes in progress under the Town Development Act. Middlesex has a waiting list of 100,000, when all the sites in Middlesex will be filled after that. The Manchester deficiency to the end of 1960—and I mean the deficiency of people whom one cannot house in the area because there is not room to house them—will be 4,000, and another 10,000 some ten years after that.

Looking at the total problem, we can, from this same Ministry's Report, take the figures of the average residential density in the county boroughs all over the country, not including London, many of them boroughs where this problem is not nearly so acute as it is in some of the ones I have specifically mentioned. Translating persons into houses—not a difficult thing to do—the ratio at present is about 19 houses to the acre, and their development plans propose to reduce that very high figure to 15½ houses to the acre, and to do it by moving out of their areas one-fifth of their total population of about 14 million during the course of the next 20 years.

That gives a figure of about 200,000 houses outside their areas needed by the county boroughs, not including London, each year. That is a staggering figure, the more staggering when one looks at the greatness of the need in the larger places. Proposals which at present envisage about 10,000 houses a year in relief of London, and which at the most, because this was a maximum figure, will provide 14,000 or 15,000 houses in a year, are totally and pitifully inadequate.

I say at once that I do not believe that this is a question of lack of machinery. There is plenty of machinery here under the Town Development Act and under the New Towns Act, but the latter has not been used under any Tory Government, and the Town Development Act is breaking down at present for reasons which are mainly financial.

Let us, first, consider London, which has been particularly active in this respect. There are town development schemes going on at present in Swindon and in Bletchley. The London County Council has been all round the country and it has tried, I should think, in very many places; I can deal with only some of them, but I think it is a fairly full list. Ashford turned down the proposals of the London County Council. Kettering and Wellingborough were turned down by the Ministry. Aylesbury, Basingstoke, Letchworth and Peterborough asked for more money.

Bury St. Edmunds, Haverhill, Huntingdon and Thetford have not yet reached the stage when they can ask for more money; I venture a bet with the right hon. Gentleman that unless some new arrangements are made, they will either fall out of the schemes or ask for more money. I do not know about two others. I have heard of Grantham and of Luton/Dunstable. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us how those two schemes are progressing, and the others I have mentioned.

Now I turn to Birmingham, which has not been idle either. Inquiries have been made, and I think I cannot do better, in order to give the Committee a proper picture, than to read what the right hon. Gentleman said on 12th June: I have had many discussions with Birmingham and the county councils of the surrounding counties about this problem. There are many difficulties, but I am hopeful that they will be overcome. I am certainly doing everything in my power, not only in regard to Birmingham but in regard to the other big cities with overspill problems, to try to bring about agreement between the export cities and the receiving authorities.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th June, 1956; Vol. 358, c. 244.] Manchester presents much the same sort of story. On 5th June, 1956, in what appears as a Written Answer, the right hon. Gentleman said that he was, of course, well aware of Manchester's serious housing shortage. Apart from the slum areas which are to be cleared, the city will before long run out of land for new house building within and around its boundaries. The excess population will, therefore, have to be accommodated further afield. I may say that I entirely agree, and so, I imagine, does the Manchester Corporation. Unfortunately, Manchester Cororation has (despite many discussions over a long period) been unable to agree with the councils of the adjoining counties on enough suitable sites to match the city's housebuilding programme. In view of this prolonged deadlock, I am now considering what action should be taken; and I will make a further statement in due course."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th June, 1956; Vol. 357, c. 40.] The right hon. Gentleman is treating these local authorities with somewhat excessive kindness. I am not saying that he should be hard on them, but this problem was here long before a Tory Government came in in 1951, and it has been getting no better since they came in. It has, in the nature of the case, been getting worse.

I agree with what the Manchester Guardian said in a leader this morning on overspill: The time has surely come for the Minister to overcome his modesty and take the initiative. I am not sure that that is quite the word I would have chosen. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman is modest, but this goes beyond modesty. Something ought to have been done about the question of the Town Development Act long ago by a Government who have conspicuously failed to use the New Towns Act. Their failure to do anything about it or to take any action whatever, under either the one Act or the other, results—I must be blunt to the right hon. Gentleman—in making a very large number of families in London, Manchester, Birmingham and suchlike places a great deal more uncomfortable and miserable than they need be if they had a more active Government to look after them.

I do not believe that the difficulty lies with the larger corporations. On 19th May this year, the representatives of London, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield met and agreed to ask for something to be done. They asked for a more satisfactory financial basis. The Government go one way and another. At times, usually Election times, the country is bursting with prosperity and going from strength to strength. We have had a General Election some little time ago and not quite enough by-elections yet to shake the Government's confidence in their ability to deal with the financial difficulties which came to their notice so soon after the General Election. That is the position.

Let us see what is happening. First, there is no doubt that under the Town Development Act the Government can make a much larger contribution to these schemes than they are doing now. They are, in fact, making a supplementary contribution in one of the only two cases at present where there is any scheme at all, and that is in Bletchley. The Government's general rule is that they go underground and provide 50 per cent. of the sewerage and water services, leaving the other 50 per cent. to be met by the local authorities.

Here comes one of those somewhat difficult promises, difficult from the point of view of a local authority which has to meet its own financial difficulties and face its own ratepayers; for the other Government contribution is that they will consider the receiving authority's position at the end of ten years, that being the time when the contribution usually made by the exporting authority will cease. If the Government find it too difficult they may, or they may not, do something about it.

That is what these small receiving authorities, of whom I have read out a list of the kind of place concerned—and I speak with knowledge of one of them and a fairly good guess about the others—have to face, and they must face it in the light of certain facts. Even their half of the sewerage and water services has risen in cost with the rise in the cost of building operations generally.

Then comes something far more difficult. Those receiving authorities are bound to have to borrow. They are bound to have to wait for their rateable value and when they borrow they will have to borrow now, under the present Government, at 5½ per cent. That means, among other things, that when they build their houses and have to fix the economic rents, which appear to be the beau ideal of a Tory Government, they will have to fix, for instance, on a £1,800 house, allowing for the £10 subsidy and allowing for the costs of maintenance, repairs and the rest, a rent which today is 41s. 6d. and which, 15 months ago, when the rate of interest was only 4 per cent., was 32s. 6d.

They will have to build these houses, charge what may be in most of these places phenomenally high rents for them, and make their peace as best they can, both with the ratepayers who are already there and with those who come into a new town. That kind of difficulty presents to a receiving authority trouble which will be not only financial, but also social. At that rate, they just will not accept these additions of population.

Moreover, it is they who take the risk. If anything rises in cost, those who are lending or contributing to them, whether the Government or the exporting authority, will, but for the doubtful 10-year provision, be quite comfortable. It is the receiving authority who will have to carry any increases.

Among the Estimates which we are considering today is one which I have not mentioned and which is, perhaps, not very germane to the subject I am immediately talking about. I notice, however, that among the queer things that the Minister does is to give special assistance to a local authority towards the cost of works to stabilise a mountainside, in Wales. If the Minister can stabilise a mountainside, no doubt he can also stabilise prices, but he is very cautious about it and the mountainside has not been stabilised yet, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer's plateau has not been stabilised yet. I am not at all surprised to see that local authorities, in those circumstances, are not willing to carry the risk, particularly when they are the smallish local authorities of whom I have been speaking.

I noticed in the Town and Country Planning Journal the other day that there was a merry meeting in Bletchley. A good lunch was had by all and at the end of it an experienced person was impelled to say: Town expansion is a fine thing, but not at 5½ per cent. He hit the nail on the head.

In those circumstances, one asks oneself what is happening about new towns. The prospect is thoroughly discouraging. Not only have successive Tory Ministers done nothing about it, but when the right hon. Gentleman was asked the other day whether, in view of the financial difficulties in developing expanded towns, he will designate further sites for new towns", all he produced was the somewhat dusty answer: Not at present."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1956; Vol. 554, c. 1232.] I happened to notice that the same cautious words have been used by his Scottish colleague. The Minister then had his attention called to the fact that the leader of the Conservative Party in the London County Council had called for a large expansion in the new towns programme as the only way of dealing with the overspill problem of London. The right hon. Gentleman was invited by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) to take advice from such a knowledgeable quarter, but he simply said that he was going to receive a deputation.

It is the new towns we want, and we have been waiting for them now for many years. My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) pointed out just that. The right hon. Gentleman's answer was as disappointing in its spirit as it was in its substance. He was told 14 new towns had been started between 1946 and 1950, and asked how he explained that there had not been a single one since, and his reply was: If fewer new towns had been started earlier there would have been a bigger case for starting more now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1956; Vol. 554, c. 1232.] That may be justifiable but it is not the sort of answer I should expect from the right hon. Gentleman to a question as real and as urgent as the new towns one.

Let us see what is happening to these new towns. I am not going into the picture in detail. The last reports are up to the end only of March of this year, and the others usually come out just before the House rises, towards the end of July, and we did not think it necessary to wait for them. It is abundantly clear that these new towns are being a great success, and that from two points of view. First, broadly speaking, they are being a great success as the social experiments they were intended to be. They were not intended to be just housing estates, and, to do the right hon. Gentleman justice, I do not think I need tell him so. Indeed, I see that he is nodding—

The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

But not in sleep.

Mr. Mitchison

Not in sleep. The right hon. Gentleman is awake as usual. He has been wide awake, but I wish he had been a bit more wide awake to this problem during the past five years or so.

They are doing exactly what was claimed for them, and more than was claimed for them. They are full of young people; they are vigorous: they are lively; and they are providing, so far as they go, a real contribution towards the solution of the problem we are dealing with today. If they are doing more than that, if they are being a fine Socialist experiment, too, so much the better.

They have one characteristic which the right hon. Gentleman may say, if he chooses, is not common to all adven- tures; they pay; and they pay remarkably well. More than that, they will pay more in the future. The best financial people are tumbling to this. I have two cases I want to put to the Minister. If the first I take refers to Scotland it is not because I imagine that the right hon. Gentleman has any Scottish responsibility or that we are discussing any Scottish Estimates today. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman has, I notice, a little valuable Scottish support on one side of him will not, I think he will know, deter me from saying what I propose to say.

In a letter from one of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Craigton (Mr. J. N. Browne), sitting beside the right hon. Gentleman, the answer was given to some inquiries about the town centre of East Kilbride. I summarise the contents of that letter, and I am sure that I shall be corrected if I do so wrongly. The contents come to this, that the development corporation at East Kilbride had at the time of this letter, 5th June this year, reached an advanced stage in its negotiations with a company which was going to take over the town centre for the purposes of developing it, which would charge rents for the shops and what not in the town centre.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland could not say what rents the company was likely to charge and said: No doubt these will be the best they can obtain on a competitive basis. He hoped that they would be substantial since the ground rent which the company would, in turn, pay to the development corporation would, subject to a minimum figure, be based on 20 per cent. of the net rents the company would get from the shopkeepers.

It may be said that that very curious transaction concerns only Scotland. Not so, for the letter says that the firm with which the corporation are at present negotiating have done this kind of work successfully, and to the advantage of the controlling bodies in other new towns. Notice the plural. There is only one other new town in Scotland and, unless somebody has made a mistake—and I feel certain that the hon. Gentleman who wrote the letter about a new town knows what a new town is—something of the same sort must apparently be going on in England. I have heard the most odd rumours about what is being negotiated at the moment at one new town, and that is Peterlee. This may be a matter of rumour only. This may be a Scottish idiosyncrasy which the right hon. Gentleman would not countenance, and which has no parallel in England, but certainly the matter requires some explanation.

For what is the effect of it? The effect of it is this. If we come back to our old friend "betterment", the town centre is going to become an exceedingly profitable place, and that profit will go over a term of years—I do not know how long—to a private company instead of to the development corporation, which was, I submit, the body clearly intended by the Statute to get any advantage of that sort. It is not as if the company were going to wait all the time without getting any money, for in the interval it will pocket four-fifths of the rents, while one-fifth goes to the development corporation. I earnestly hope that either I have misread the letter or that this is a purely Scottish affair with which the Scots will, no doubt, be able to deal in their own way, but for the moment it is unsatisfying.

The character of the company does not really reassure me. It is called the Ravenseft Properties, Ltd., and it seems to be one of the numerous subsidiaries of a company called Land Securities Investment Trust, Ltd., of which the Chairman and Managing Director is Mr. Harold Samuel, who recently had some dealings, I think, about hotels in London. This really is big business. Land Securities Investment Trust has £4½ million ordinary capital, £2¼ million preference capital, and over £10 million debentures. Two of its subsidiaries have, each of them, £4 million of debentures.

Anything it may get out of whatever the other new towns may be doing will no doubt be welcome, but will not represent all the money it receives in the year. But, seriously—and I speak very seriously about this—it really is wrong that private enterprise should be allowed to step in to take the benefit of the advantages which will accrue to the place by reason of a common effort and by reason of public enterprise.

Now I turn, not quite in the same critical spirit, to one other matter. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that Sir Richard Costain, who was until fairly recently the chairman of the development corporation at Harlow, in conjunction with Mr. Adams, who was the general manager, Sir Howard Roberts, who was former Clerk to the London County Council, with the technical assistance of the gentleman who did the planning at Harlow, Mr. Frederick Gibberd, is now starting what I may call a private enterprise new town at a place appropriately called All Hallows-on-the-Sea, in Kent. I have had this from one or two sources and the Town and Country Planning Journal has pointed out that special emphasis is laid on home ownership, the provision of social facilities and a diversified community. There is some industry there, and all is going to be perfectly well.

I am not prepared to criticise these gentlemen for making an effort of that sort, but I am prepared to say that they are using the know-how that they acquired at Harlow, are using their business experience and the administrative experience which they acquired both at Harlow and, in the case of the three I have mentioned, previously I do not deny that they acquired it in doing valuable public service, but I come to the conclusion that these gentlemen know perfectly well that more new towns are needed and more new towns will pay and, if the Minister and the Government will not build them, they will build them themselves.

I am not content to accept that reliance on private enterprise as a sufficient discharge of the grave responsibility that this whole problem of overcrowded conurbations, with no room to build in, presents to the Minister and to anyone who holds his office. I take All Hallows not as something bad but as something which ought to have been done by the Government and done by the people who have the know-how and have the experience and who were doing it under the New Towns Act, as they had done it before, for the Government.

It apparently required a Labour Government to start Harlow and these other places, to take the risks of starting and to see the adventure succeed and then, a Tory Government having come into office, to see some of the fruits of that experience and knowledge picked by those who, quite properly from their point of view, want to make money out of it. I do not regard that as a satisfactory basis. I tell the right hon. Gentleman that I do not in general like this use of public know-how for private purposes. I do not like the whole position, but I know that the right hon. Gentleman has not yet had this particular proposal before him, that it still has to be considered by the planning authority, the county council.

I am not on that side of the matter, but what I am on and what I repeat is that it is the clearest possible evidence of two things. It shows that the present Government and their Tory predecessors have failed in the discharge of their responsibility under the New Towns Act and that if they did discharge them they would not only be doing good to the community at large but also would be doing something which, to judge from what has happened, would pay them very well. And if a little less time were spent in cheeseparing and a little more on what ought to be a successful venture both financial and social, all the better.

I turn to a minor point which I will not take in detail. I am under the impression that there are two things mainly wrong with the administration of the present new towns. One is that there is a very great lack of amenities. There are complaints about it. There are complaints about the hall at Basildon where Sir Humphrey Gale, now advising the Minister, was chairman. There are complaints about garages at Stevenage and about swimming baths at Corby.

I should like to hand the right hon. Gentleman one bouquet, though a somewhat malodorous one. I had to remonstrate with him about turning down a proposal for public conveniences in Corby. I asked him whether that was a disinflationary measure and questions of that sort, but I hand it to him that they are now being allowed. There are limits even to a Tory Government. Corby is remarkably well trained and obedient apparently, because the corporation does not mention them in its Report. I hear of these things otherwise.

The Minister will be glad to know that my second question leads to what I have to say at the end of this rather long contribution. It is that these chairmen and members of development corporations are appointed at the Minister's discretion as to the time of their appoint- ment. I have an uneasy feeling that arrangements are being made at present, either expressly in the terms of appointment or by some understanding that runs alongside the terms of appointment, that none of them shall be there too long. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman looking puzzled. If he can tell me that there is nothing of that sort and no attempt is being made to keep these members of corporations on short tenure I shall be genuinely reassured.

I will tell the Committee why this matter troubles me. It was no doubt the intention of those who brought in and passed the New Towns Act that as soon as the new towns were ready, in whole or in part, they should go to the local authorities. There is not the least doubt about it. The reason for it was very well given from the Tory Front Bench at the time, when the Government spokesman said: On this side of the Committee"— that is, the Tory side— we are anxious—and I believe many hon. Members on the other side sympathise with us—that, when the purposes of these development corporations have been achieved, as little time as possible shall elapse in the handing over of the new community to a properly constituted democratic government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th July, 1946; Vol. 424, c. 2376.] I should have agreed with that at the time and I agree with it now.

Those were the words of the right hon. Gentleman who is now Mr. Speaker on 4th July, 1946. That is what we are anxious about. The local authorities have been continually expecting that these new towns would be handed back to them and they are gravely disturbed now by rumours that the Minister does not intend that to happen. I will not go into detail on the terms of the Act but there is no doubt, first, that that was the obvious intention of the Act and, secondly, that the right hon. Gentleman, without further legislation, has power to do something quite different—to wind up the development corporations and to hand over the new towns constituted by them to some other body.

The Tory Government have such a passion for making things pay, running them on commercial lines—private enterprise and the rest of it—that the mere existence of these rumours disturbs me profoundly. I want the spirit of what was then said from the Tory Front Bench, that is, a properly constituted democratic government, to be carried out as it was intended to be under the Act.

When the time comes, and the local authorities have to accept these new towns, they will be getting something valuable, but the value will depend upon the terms upon which they receive them. Those terms are somewhat at large in the Act. It seems that the choice will lie between treating the Treasury advances which have been made to these development corporations as what they are—loans—or, on the other hand, asking for the new towns to be taken over at a valuation. It would be a very great pity if, for Treasury or other reasons, the increased value of these new towns, due to the growth which has taken place, were to be made the subject of a windfall to the Central Government instead of being what it should be, the means of bringing new hope and new enterprise to the local authorities who receive the new towns.

I have already quoted the leader from this morning's Manchester Guardian. I quoted a passage about the Minister overcoming his modesty. The leader went on to mention bigger financial inducements to build for overspill; I have dealt with that. It then talked about the reorganisation of local government—we are not discussing that today—and concluded with the third way, as it called it, namely, of designating more new towns. If, in this vitally important matter, the Minister wishes to face squarely the human responsibilities which lie upon him of preventing unnecessary hardship and misery to people living in these crowded, bunged up, conurbations which constitute such a large part of our country, he must act by making the business of overspill work, and that means giving more financial help to the receiving authorities.

Above all, the Minister must act by continuing this magnificent venture of new towns. Both from the point of view of the problem which remains to be solved and the magnificent success which these enterprises have been, it is a disgrace that they should now be allowed to stay as they are, and that the Minister should say, "No more new towns for the present." I earnestly hope that he will be able to reassure us at long, long last upon these points.

4.23 p.m.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

First, let me say that I am also prepared to hand a bouquet to the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), who spoke on behalf of the Opposition; they have rendered a service in choosing this subject for debate today. Whatever slight criticisms the hon. and learned Member has thought fit to make, I have no hesitation in saying that I welcome the debate, because urban congestion, or overspill, as it is often called, is one of the most difficult planning problems. Incidentally, I wish that some hon. Member could find a decent name for this problem, because it is really not one of overspill; if we could get it to spill over the problem would be solved.

I am very glad to have this opportunity of giving the Committee and the country some report upon the progress which has been made. I am not in the least ashamed of that progress; I regard it as something with which we can be well pleased, although anybody who cares about this subject—and I believe that I care about it as much as any hon. Member opposite—would naturally like to see everything going a great deal quicker still.

The hon. and learned Member raised a number of points, and I shall try to answer as many as I can, leaving the others to be dealt with by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. The evil effects of the over-concentration of population, industry and commerce in certain limited areas is clear for everyone to see. It results in overcrowding; slums; longer journeys to and from work every day; traffic jams; rush hours; waste of time and effort; strain upon health and nerves, and a general lowering of efficiency all round.

It is difficult to measure precisely the size of this problem; it is a matter of opinion and of the standards adopted. But I do not think that the precise measurement of the problem really matters. We all know that it is a big problem, and that we have still a long way to go before we have dealt with it.

Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)

What about the London Plan and the Greater London Plan?

Mr. Sandys

Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to make my own speech.

Mr. Sparks

I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was saying that there was no plan, and that it was very difficult to evolve one. Surely he is aware of the Greater London Plan and the London Plan, which deal precisely with this problem, and offer a remedy.

Mr. Sandys

The hon. Member will have an opportunity to make his point later on, no doubt. I am saying that it is a matter of opinion, and of the standard one adopts. Nevertheless, that is not of very great importance, having regard to the fact that we all recognise that there is a big problem to be dealt with.

However—and this may deal with the hon. Member's point—the estimates which have been made for planning purposes between local authorities and my Department give some indication of the magnitude of the task. I made that reservation beforehand only because I am not prepared to defend the precise figures. They give some indication of the size of the problem. It has been agreed to plan upon the basis that the excess population or overspill in Birmingham is about 200,000; in Manchester, rather more; in Liverpool, 150,000, in Leeds, up to 70,000, and in Sheffield, about the same. It is specially difficult to measure the overspill problem of London, but for planning purposes over the next 15 years the excess population for which provision must be made has been reckoned to be rather over 400,000.

The hon. and learned Member spoke about the shortage of land in connection with the long housing lists and slum clearance programmes. The shortage of land is the practical problem of congestion. The big cities are bursting at the seams. They are short of land for almost everything—housing, schools, and recreation, as well as the necessary expansion of industry and commerce. The question arises, where can the land which they need be found? Should we enlarge the cities by building out further into the countryside? I think we are all agreed that that would only make matters worse. The journey to and from work would become longer still. I am sure that we are all determined to prevent the unrestricted sprawl of urban areas. That is the purpose behind the idea of the green belts.

In my opinion, the establishment of green belts is an absolutely essential precondition for the pursuit of any large-scale policy of dispersal or overspill. The whole area must first be confined before it can be decided where the population is to overspill. But while most people have paid lip service to the idea of green belts for a long time, little had really been done, except round London, to make it a reality. A year ago, apart from the Metropolitan Green Belt, there was no formally defined green belt around any other city in the country. That is why I decided to send a circular to local authorities expressly asking them to establish green belts wherever appropriate. I am greatly encouraged by the response. Preliminary plans for green belts have already been submitted for Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester and the south-east Lancashire conurbation, Merseyside, Derby, Nottingham, Oxford, South Tyneside and the Hertfordshire towns; and other proposals will be reaching me very shortly. I think that is a big advance.

Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)

Surely, the right hon. Gentleman is not proposing to take too much credit for that? He is leaving the responsibility and the financial cost to the local authorities.

Mr. Sandys

We on this side of the Committee believe in local government being run by the local authorities.

Mr. Lindgren

So do the local authorities, but they like some financial help for non-productive services.

Mr. Sandys

I am talking of the demarcation of green belts round great cities. I do not know to what services the hon. Gentleman refers. All I am saying is that in these past few months we have, for the first time, received plans for green belts round most of the important urban areas of the country; and I have no doubt that the proposals for remaining areas of that kind will be reaching me very shortly.

The precise demarcation of these green belts will take time to settle. But I am determined that in the interval further encroachment shall be prevented. Therefore, I have advised local authorities that pending confirmation of their proposals, they shall act on those proposals exactly as though the proposals had already been approved. The position is, therefore, being held in most places where the threat of urban sprawl exists.

I think hon. Members will feel that, compared with a year ago when, as I say, there was not a single green belt round any town in the country, apart from London, we are making progress in an important aspect of town and country planning, and one essential to the success of any policy of overspill. Once the green belts have been established they must, of course, be vigilantly guarded against encroachment and erosion. That means that, apart from infilling on the fringes of the cities, any movement of overspill population must leap-frog beyond the green belt.

We are all agreed on the policy of overspill or dispersal. It is supported by the Government, the Opposition and local authorities. But often it is easier to agree on a general policy than to carry it out in practice and detail. As we go forward fresh practical problems of all kinds arise, to which solutions must be found. Solutions to practical problems of administration are not always simple and straightforward issues in black and white, especially matters relating to local authorities and planning. It is often a matter of trying to reach a compromise between two different interests, both of which are of public importance.

We are seeking to achieve dispersal by two methods, and they formed the main subjects of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering, namely, new towns and town expansion. Let me first deal with the question of new towns. Parliament passed the New Towns Act in 1946 with the support of all parties. I do not think that new towns are a party issue. We all believe in new towns and wish to see them a success.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

The right hon. Gentleman never started them.

Mr. Sandys

I will come to that point in a moment.

In all, Parliament has voted about £250 million for new towns to date. In view of some of the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering, I would point out that £200 million of that sum has been voted by Parliament since the present Government took office. I think that a relevant point to mention. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained that while the Labour Government started 12 new towns in England and Wales, the Conservative Government have started none. That is quite a legitimate debating point, and I will endeavour to answer it. I can assure the Committee that the Government are not opposed in principle to the creation of more new towns, where they are satisfied that new towns are desirable. I think that is proved by the decision of the Government to start the new town at Cumbernauld for the overspill of Glasgow.

Mr. Lindgren

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will say why he cancelled the designation of Congleton as a new town? It was started by the Labour Government to deal with the overspill from the Potteries and Manchester.

Mr. Sandys

I am not prepared to deal with that issue at the moment, but I will explain our general attitude towards new towns.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering quoted me as saying something to the effect that if fewer new towns had been started earlier, there would be a bigger case for starting more new towns now. That is sufficiently near to what I said, and I will not trouble the hon. and learned Gentleman for the precise quotation. I think that is a reasonable point of view, and I said it on the spur of the moment in answer to a question. If the hon. and learned Gentleman insists on indicating to me the actual quotation, it is: If fewer new towns had been started earlier there would have been a bigger case for starting more now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1956; Vol. 554, c. 1232.] That is pretty well what I said.

Mr. Ede

A great thought.

Mr. Sandys

I do not say that it was a great thought, but it is pertinent to the practical consideration of the problem.

Having inherited 14 new town projects from our predecessors, 12 of them in England and Wales, and some still in the embryo stage, we felt it right to concentrate first upon translating these already existing plans into bricks and mortar rather than start a lot of new plans. Here I come back to the point I made in the answer which has been quoted. If hon. Members opposite had not started any new towns, I do not think that they can suggest that we should not have started any. But having inherited 14 schemes of this kind, some of them little more than paper plans, we thought that the practical thing to do was to carry them through and bring them to fruition. That is what we have been doing during the last four and a half years. As I shall show, a very great deal of progress has been made.

In November, 1951, only about 2,700 houses had been completed. I am not criticising; I am just stating what the figures were when we inherited the job. Today there are over 40,000 houses completed. In November, 1951, when the change of Government took place, 27 factories had been built. Today there are about 220 factories already employing nearly 30,000 people, and a further 50 factories are under construction, which will employ another 7,000. In addition, there are now some 70 new schools, 25 churches, over 500 shops, not to mention 23 public houses, and many other amenities which go to make up the pattern of a self-contained township.

Last year the new towns completed about 8,900 houses. This year we are expecting to build 10,000 and perhaps more. I mention these figures just to show the progress that is being made. The important thing is that houses should be going up and that we should be making arrangements to accommodate people from the big cities, London in particular. Whether they are accommodated in the new towns that were planned and projected by the Labour Party, or in additional new towns planned and projected by the Conservative Party, is really not very important so far as the people are concerned.

Mr. Mitchison

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon having shed his modesty very successfully. The question that I ask him was not whether he was following in the footsteps of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) about green belts, nor whether he was assassinating the new towns which the Labour Party had started, but why he had not designated any new ones. I hope that he will come to that point soon.

Mr. Sandys

I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) did about green belts. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about London?"] So far as London is concerned I have already said that. That was the exception. I will not go into all that again. I have explained it to the Committee. It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) to laugh.

Mr. Wilfred Fienburgh (Islington, North)

Stop squabbling.

Mr. Sandys

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will address his remarks to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison).

I have explained that we felt that the right thing to do was to make as rapid progress as we could with the task already in hand, and 14 new towns constitute quite a task.

Mr. Mitchison

The right hon. Gentleman has annexed Scotland.

Mr. Sandys

Very well, 12 new towns if the hon. and learned Gentleman is so parochially minded.

Mr. Mitchison

The right hon. Gentleman must not say that. I am considering the Estimates that we are now discussing.

Mr. Sandys

Twelve new towns represent quite a big job, and we are getting on with it, as I have indicated. It has been asked: how long will this rate of house building be kept up? Will it not slow down as the new towns reach completion? Eventually, of course, it will slow down. I do not know whether by that time new schemes will be under way, whether town expansion schemes or new towns, but of course eventually the rate will slow down.

I want to make it quite clear to the Committee that we have still a very long way to go with what we have already in hand. Despite the good progress already made, we have not yet built half the new houses that have been planned, and even more may be needed. The combined target population of all the 12 new towns in England and Wales is 550,000, and it may not stop there. I am at present considering whether the planned target figures for these towns should not in certain places be increased. In some cases, the geographical position and other local reasons make that undesirable, but I can inform the Committee that the corporations of several of the new towns have expressed to me the view that the town centres, industrial facilities water supply and other services which they are providing, would be capable of catering for a larger population than is at present proposed.

Lord Balniel (Hertford)

Would my right hon. Friend specify the new towns which he has in mind?

Mr. Sandys

I think I should not do so, for various reasons. First, I am still engaged in discussions with the corporations concerned, and before making any announcement I think that it would be a good thing for me to consult the local authorities which might be affected. All I would say is that if without upsetting the balance of the town plan and after making allowances for the natural increase, we find a somewhat bigger population could be supported, then undoubtedly a good deal of time and also expenditure on overheads could be saved. I am looking into this, and when I have consulted the local authorities concerned I shall, in due course, make a statement to the House.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering asked me about the chairmen and members of the corporations and their terms of appointment. I can assure him that there is no intention on my part to ensure that they shall serve only for a short period. So far as I can remember, I have only changed one chairman since I have held my present office, and while I think that in important offices of that kind it is my duty and responsibility to keep those appointments under regular review, it is not my intention to chop and change the members all the time. I have introduced a certain number of new members because I think that after a period of years some new blood is a good thing for every board and, so far as I know, the appointments that I have made have been generally welcomed by all concerned.

Mr. Lindgren

There are two points which I should like to ask. First, in reply to a Parliamentary Question a little time ago, the right hon. Gentleman rather contradicted an assertion which I had made that chairmen of corporations are being given a term of appointment which virtually amounts to their being on a basis of a month's notice. That the right hon. Gentleman denied. I have been assured since then that the terms of appointment are on that basis. Secondly, why does the right hon. Gentleman, in his new appointments—and one does not agree about the new appointments—seem to be taking the step of nibbling away any local representation?

Mr. Sandys

I have not the exact terms of appointment with me. I did not know that this point would be raised but I shall be glad to go into it in detail with the hon. Gentleman. So far as local representation is concerned, I know of no reasons whatever for the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman that I am nibbling away at local authority representation. I am not aware that local authority representation has been reduced—

Mr. Lindgren

What about Welwyn Garden City?

Mr. Sandys

—during my term of office. I will look at the point; but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will find that it is so. The hon. Gentleman may know of one corporation where there is one fewer representative of some local authority on the board, but it is certainly not my policy or intention, and I do not believe that it is my practice, to reduce the representation of local authorities on these boards. I will have the matter looked up before my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary winds up the debate tonight.

The second part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech was devoted to the Town Development Act. He said that his right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) claimed to be the father of that Act. It is always a doubtful thing to claim paternity in political matters. So far as I know, the right hon. Gentleman was really responsible for two things in the field with which I am concerned. One was the "People's House" of which he now denies paternity. The right hon. Gentleman is very choosey about which of his offspring he is later prepared to recognise, but the "People's House", though it did not have that popular name at the time, was publicised in a circular which the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland sent to all local authorities. As for his paternity of the Town Development Act, he never breathed a word about it while in office, but claimed paternity for it afterwards. We do not deny his share in the matter. It is no doubt another case of virgin birth.

Mr. Mitchison

My right hon. Friend is not here, but I understand his line to be that he deposited the other baby, the "People's House," on the doorstep, but that he was not its father.

Mr. Sandys

I know nothing about those processes, but we are prepared to give the right hon. Gentleman credit for any of those schemes for which he claims paternity, for the simple reason that I do not regard these as party issues. We are all trying to pursue, by steady stages, a policy which is supported on all sides of the Committee. The Town Development Act was, in effect, a Measure designed to do much the same as I was talking about a moment ago when I said that we might consider the expansion of the target figures for the new towns because that gave us the opportunity of building more around an existing centre. The Town Development Act was inspired by that same idea of building more neighbourhoods around a town which already existed.

Mr. Sparks

Will the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Sandys

I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman, and he made a point which was not a very valid one.

The complaint, again, has been made by the hon. and learned Gentleman that we are not making sufficiently good progress with the Town Development Act. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will recognise that it was always clear from the beginning that it was going to take time to get these expansion schemes under the Town Development Act under way.

One essential feature of the Act was that the expansion schemes were to be carried out, not by the Government, but by local authorities. To do that, of course, the local authorities concerned—and there are always several of them concerned in all these schemes—have to reach agreement among themselves. That always takes time. Triangular negotiations have to be entered into between the exporting cities, the councils of the small towns to be expanded and with the county councils in their capacity as planning authorities for the receiving areas. These negotiations are by no means always plain sailing.

We have come up against two main difficulties. The first is the natural hesitation of the receiving town, which has to be convinced that to be expanded is really to its advantage. It is not always easy for the authorities of big cities like the London County Council and the Manchester and Birmingham Corporations to sell the idea of expansion to the council of a small town. That is why I decided to appoint Sir Humphrey Gale, the Chairman of the Basildon New Town Corporation, to help where necessary in the negotiations. His appointment was universally welcomed as a sign that the Government were really in earnest in their desire to make headway with town expansions, and his advice and experience have proved most valuable.

The second obstacle is the reluctance of both exporting and receiving authorities to take on undefined financial commitments for the future, and, furthermore, their difficulty in reaching agreement among themselves as to how this financial burden should be shared. To remove that uncertainty, I informed the local authorities a year ago that in all approved schemes they could definitely count on a 50 per cent. Government grant for the expansion of water and sewerage services, which represent the biggest item of capital expenditure involved in these schemes.

At the same time, I recommended that the exporting authority should normally accept responsibility for paying the rate contribution for housing during the first 10 years. I said that if, after that time the receiving authority could show that it was not able to take over this commitment, Exchequer assistance would be made available. That clarification of the financial position was welcomed by the local authorities, and has undoubtedly simplified the further negotiations. Later, under the Housing Subsidies Act, a special increased subsidy of £24 was provided for houses built under the Town Development Act.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering referred to the question of rents being unreasonable in these areas of town expansion. Of course, the rents will be above the average. But I would say to the hon. and learned Gentleman that, assuming there is no pooling, because we do not expect the local authorities in these areas to raise the rents of their existing houses for their local residents for the sake of the new schemes which may be out of all proportion, in size, to the house building programme which they normally undertake for themselves, the rents which can be charged for these houses should not be out of line with the rents being charged in the new towns. There is no shortage of applicants for houses in the new towns, and it is with the new towns that these schemes must be compared.

It has been pointed out, of course, that the interest rates have been going up. Nobody denies that. They have gone up ½ per cent. since the introduction of the Housing Subsidies Bill about nine months ago, when we discussed this whole matter. It would be quite absurd for me to pretend that the rise in the interest rates has not made these negotiations more difficult. Of course it has. Town expansion, like any other capital project, is obviously easier when money is cheap. All I would say to hon. Members is that the high rates have not been introduced just for fun. They are part of the Government's measure to curb inflation. If we failed to take vigorous action to deal with inflation a lot of worse things than this would be happening to us.

At the same time, it would be quite wrong for anyone to have the impression that financial difficulties have brought the policy of town expansion to a standstill. It is quite untrue. Schemes already approved are rolling forward, and quite a number of new schemes are in an advanced stage of negotiation. It is, of course, the progress of negotiations which is the test of whether the financial conditions have made these schemes impossible.

Mr. Mitchison

Let there be no misunderstanding. That is exactly what I meant to say; that, since the Town Development Act was passed in 1952—and we are now in 1956—the existence of two not very large schemes in operation is not enough to justify the claim that the operation of the Act is satisfactory. It has in fact broken down because of the lack of Government assistance, and, before the right hon. Gentleman leaves this question, may I ask him why, if he is really encouraging these matters, he killed the proposed agreement between Kettering and Wellingborough on the one hand and the L.C.C. on the other?

Mr. Sandys

I will give the hon. and learned Gentleman some account of what is going on, but I absolutely deny and refute the suggestion that everything is now at a standstill as a result of this increase in interest rates. That is the story that is being put around, and it is not true. It has made things more difficult, and I have admitted that; of course it has. If money were very much cheaper, things would be very much easier so far as these negotiations are concerned. All I am saying is that promising negotiations, some of them in a very advanced stage, are going forward, despite the higher interest rates.

I am dealing now with schemes already in being. Apart from the scheme for overspill at Worsley, for people from Salford, schemes to accommodate overspill from Manchester have been approved under the Town Development Act at Hollingsworth, 1,000 houses; at Whitefield, 1,150 houses; at Heywood, 1,715 houses; and at Hattersley 4,000 houses. Manchester Corporation has also informed me that it is ready to engage in expansion schemes at Macclesfield and Glossop, and that it will be willing to pay the rates contributions on any houses occupied by Manchester families at other places further afield, such as Crewe, Leyland and Chorley.

The hon. and learned Gentleman talked about Birmingham. The Birmingham Corporation has been negotiating overspill schemes with the neighbouring counties, such as Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, and to some extent also Herefordshire. I expect that before very long agreement will be concluded involving as many as 7,000 houses in Staffordshire, and I am hopeful that agreements with the other counties will follow later. I am only mentioning these points to show that negotiations are not at a standstill. A number of other cities, including Liverpool, are having similar discussions with neighbouring authorities.

The hon. and learned Gentleman also spoke about the London County Council. Parallel with all this, the London County Council is negotiating town expansion schemes with authorities in most of the Home Counties, and in some cases even further afield. I do not wish to anticipate the decisions of the L.C.C. I can do a lot of harm to negotiations if I start talking about them before the cat is in the bag, but I would say that I shall be very disappointed and surprised if satisfactory agreements in a number of places are not concluded in the near future.

Meantime, the scheme to accommodate 10,000 people is going forward at Bletchley, and about a quarter of these people have already moved in. There is a big project going forward at Swindon to accommodate 20,000 people, and I opened the house for the thousandth family from London only the other day.

Ultimately, the success of any policy of large-scale dispersal depends upon our ability to export industry as well as population. After initial hesitations, manufacturing concerns of various kinds are setting up in the new towns as fast as they can be absorbed. In the case of town expansion schemes, there may be already, in some places, an unsatisfied local demand for labour, but even so, in almost all cases, there will be a need for additional industry to provide employment for the newcomers. I have been at some pains to convince the councils of the big congested cities that if they want a small neighbouring town to accept this overspill population, they must be prepared actively to encourage a certain amount of industry to move out also.

Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)

What can they do about that?

Mr. Sandys

They can do a great deal to encourage industry to move out. Otherwise they will merely find that, when people move out, they are replaced by others who come in from elsewhere to fill the jobs which they have left behind.

With this point in mind, I will tell the House of some of the action which I have taken, with the co-operation of certain local authorities. I have made certain important amendments to the development plans of the London County Council and the Middlesex County Council, and in those of some of the other big cities. In particular, I have asked them to restrict the amount of additional land allocated to industry, and to ensure that that land is not made available for industries coming in from outside. I have also encouraged local authorities to buy wrongly placed factory premises when they become vacant. That is one of the things the local authorities can do, and I am glad that this year the London County Council has decided to double the amount which it can allocate for that purpose.

I am also very glad that the Manchester Corporation has now formally adopted the principle that as population is exported from Manchester, employment in the city must be reduced by a corresponding export of industry. The other great industrial centres, though perhaps rather more reluctantly, are likewise coming gradually to accept the idea.

Mr. W. R. Williams (Manchester, Openshaw)

Will the Minister tell us how that can be done? I have in mind an area in North Wales—the Nantlle Valley—where everybody was of the opinion that industry ought to go there, because of the high incidence of unemployment. No industry at all has yet gone there. Will the Minister tell us how it can be done?

Mr. Sandys

There are areas where we all know it is not easy to persuade industry to go, and that is why we have to be so extraordinarily careful in the choice of the places where these expansion schemes are to be carried out. As the hon. Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams) has rightly pointed out, it does not follow that because we build a large housing estate somewhere industry will go there and provide employment for those people, and that is one of the reasons why these expansion schemes take so long to work out. I assure the hon. Member that he is on a very sound point there, and that we have it very much in mind. I hope he will convince certain of his hon. Friends that care must be taken in the choice of the right places, and that it does involve careful planning, and very often, I am afraid, rather long and tedious negotiations.

London, of course, presents our most intractable problem of all, but I hope that now, if we steadily persevere in the policy of dispersal, we shall make an appreciable impression upon it. Apart from the town expansion schemes, the new towns in the Home Counties have already absorbed more than 100,000 people from greater London, and by the time these new towns are completed, they may be expected to take some 200,000 more people.

Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)

Are these new towns allocated solely to people from London and Middlesex, or do the people come in from anywhere else, from the North, from Wales or Scotland?

Mr. Sandys

No. The purpose of the new towns is to provide an outlet for the excess population of greater London. I am talking about the eight new towns for greater London. There are instances where key-men who are necessary to keep industry going come in from elsewhere, but, by and large, the new towns are being used for the purposes for which they were created.

Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)


Mr. Sandys

I would rather get on with my speech than give way to the hon. Member.

Congestion in London is as much a traffic problem as a housing problem. During the last three years, the resident population of greater London decreased by more than 70,000, but in the last two years for which figures are available, 1953 and 1954, the number of insured workers increased by more than 100,000. It seems, therefore, that while the population moves out, the number of jobs in London continues to increase.

I thought it right to bring these figures to the notice of the Committee. If this trend continues, the results will be that still more people will have to make still longer journeys to their work and home again each day, and that the evils of the rush hours and of traffic jams will be worsened and not lessened. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that as people move out of London, the volume of employment, particularly at the centre, shall be correspondingly reduced. More than 1 million people work in the business areas of the City and West End. Half of them travel in daily from the suburbs and beyond.

In London, office employment and not industrial work is the crux of the problem. In the City of London, 6 million more square feet of office space are at present under construction, and planning permission has been given for a further 4 million square feet. I want to bring these figures out. I think that people should face up to the issue. This additional 10 million square feet will accommodate nearly 70,000 office workers in the City of London alone. The London County Council recently carried out a survey of the rest of central London. The indications are that the position there is equally disturbing.

Without paying heavy compensation for revoking planning permissions there are limits to the action that can be taken. Within those limits, I claim, with all modesty, that I have done as much as is possible to check the growth of offices in London. Last year I amended the County of London Development Plan so as to forbid, except in very special circumstances, residential property from being turned ito offices. I also added a provision that temporary permissions to use dwelling-houses as offices should not be renewed when they expire in a few years' time. That will ensure that a considerable number of buildings in Mayfair and elsewhere, now being used as offices, will revert to residential use. I know that these measures are a severe disappointment to the owners of the land, and I am grateful to them for the very responsible manner in which they have accepted the necessity for them.

In addition to these restrictions, I am doing what I can actively to encourage the dispersal of London offices over a wider area. It is the great concentration of office employment in the City and the West End which makes the traffic difficulties particularly acute. London is one of the greatest commercial centres of the world; the headquarters of many businesses have to be in London. On the other hand, I do not believe that it follows that they have all to be concentrated in one very small area. Even a move to the South Bank or anywhere else away from the City and the West End will help to relieve the congestion at the centre.

I hope that the lead given by the Shell Company in deciding to move its headquarters offices to the South Bank will be followed by other prominent firms. For the same reason, I welcome the decision of the London County Council to redevelop the area around the Elephant and Castle as a district for high-class Offices.

The principle of spreading office employment in London more widely applies also, though in a different way, to housing. It is not really desirable from any point of view that certain areas should be entirely denuded of resident population. The City of London is a characteristic example; and parts of the West End are tending to develop increasingly in the same direction.

I hope that in any new scheme of office blocks in central London, the possibility of including a few floors of flats on top will be considered, especially in the City of London. I cannot believe that it is good for the City to be choked by day and deserted by night. A better balance between commercial and residential use would benefit everybody, in the long run.

That leads me to express the view that we should not rely solely upon new towns and town expansions to solve the problem of congestion. Delightful as the new towns are, we must accept that the big city has an undeniable attraction not only for business firms but for countless individual families. It is a very major decision for a family to decide to move out. Habits and outlook do not change overnight. Old associations, the circle of friends, amusements, cultural facilities, the accustomed place of work, all play an important part in deciding people where they wish to live. A house with a garden at Crawley or Hemel Hempstead may be the ideal, but there are undoubtedly many Londoners who would much prefer to live in a twelve-storey block of L.C.C. flats overlooking Wimbledon Common.

While we must vigorously press ahead by all practical means with the policy of dispersal beyond the green belt, we have to ask ourselves whether we ought not to provide modern living conditions for rather more people within our cities. That might involve building rather higher and in certain places at a somewhat greater density. In districts where that is appropriate, local authorities will no doubt consider building rather more well-sited high blocks of flats, particularly on the inner fringe of the green belt, where people can get out into the country without difficulty. This is a matter of policy which each local authority will have to decide for itself in the light of its local circumstances.

The problems of overcrowding, slums and general congestion in our cities involves something much more than town planning. Important social, psychological and economic factors play their part. No one who has been privileged to take a hand in the creation of the new towns can help feeling thrilled. There is an element of idealism in this whole project which I find most inspiring. At the same time, we must constantly remember that we are engaged on an essentially practical and urgent task.

I know full well that this same spirit animates the members of the new town corporations, whom, on behalf of us all, I should like to thank for the devoted and skilful manner in which they are discharging the important responsibilities placed upon them by Parliament. Those, like myself, who have for many years been actively interested in these ideas will also, I am sure, recognise the debt we owe to the early thinkers and pioneers who have pointed the way which we are now following. The policy of new towns and decentralisation, a revolutionary idea in the past, is now universally accepted, and all of us are sincerely trying to carry it out.

It is true that the party opposite say that the Government ought to go more quickly. That is about the mildest form of criticism which a self-respecting Opposition can make.

Mr. Mitchison

I must correct the right hon. Gentleman. We do not say that he should go quicker, but we say that he ought to move. We do not expect him to move fast.

Mr. Sandys

I think I have given sufficient indication to the Committee of the progress already made. We do not at all resent the prods of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering; we are glad to be spurred on by all men of good will who believe in this policy.

Nevertheless, having regard to the many practical difficulties, I honestly feel that in these last few years we have made pretty good progress. I doubt very much whether a Labour Government would have done better; it is even just conceivable that they might not have done so well. Be that as it may, hon. Members may be sure that we shall continue ceaselessly to press on with this job, knowing, as we do, how much it means for the health and well-being of so many people.

5.23 p.m.

Mr. Wilfred Fienburgh (Islington, North)

At the outset I must say that I am absolutely appalled by the complacency with which the Minister has approached the problem. His soppy and pappy peroration on the principles of town planning did not discuss the fact that he has done practically nothing about the urgent problem of rehousing people in the larger conurbations.

We can amuse ourselves by discussing the aesthetics of town planning as such, the desirability of green belts, and the pleasantness of having open vistas. All that is relevant, but I am not concerned with it today. We can discuss the aspect of efficiency and amenity, the need to avoid long journeys to and from work, and the need for dispersal of industry. All that is relevant and important, but I do not want to discuss that today. I want to discuss the human problem of the people of London who are getting an appallingly raw deal over rehousing compared with their relatives in the length and breadth of the country.

Make no doubt about it, there are two nations in this country in rehousing. There are those who live in the larger conurbations, of which London is the largest, where the land has been used and further internal development is not possible. There are also the people who live in smaller provincial towns who are streets of houses better off and are happier in their housing in every possible way. Every Friday evening I attend the "surgery," as we call our meetings with constituents, in Islington, which is an area with a population of more than 200,000 without a single half acre of open space. Friday night after Friday night I hear of the housing cases of my constituents—thirty or forty every Friday evening. These are people who have been on the housing list for ten years and more, people living four and five to a room in this day and age.

At weekends, as all politicians do, I go to address meetings, trying to convert the more prosperous country towns to Socialism. I find that many of those areas can say they have no housing problem for the larger families. In some areas—let us be frank—they have broken the back of the problem. That is why I say there are two nations, the residents in the larger conurbations who at present have very little prospect of being rehoused in the foreseeable future and those in the smaller provincial country towns who at least have hope. In London people have neither homes nor hope at the moment.

This problem is beyond local government. Its magnitude is so great that neither London County Council nor the Metropolitan Boroughs in London—or indeed the authorities of the other large conurbations—can possibly cope with it. This is a national, not a local, problem. The country as a whole draws great wealth and prestige from the work of the people of London and the work of the people of Birmingham, Sheffield and other large towns. It is a national responsibility to ensure that those people have at least as fair a deal in the matter of rehousing as do the residents of other parts of the country.

We have been given the figures about London's problem, but I will state them again. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) gave 160,000 as the total figure of housing needs. Let us break down that figure—52,000 odd are cases of extreme urgency. Cases are not labelled as extremely urgent—the appellation is not given easily—unless there is real urgency. There are cases of dire and distressing overcrowding, of tubercular families crowded in semi-tenement houses with every danger of spreading tuberculosis, people who have been on the housing list for a considerable time hoping all the time, but no hope ever seems to fructify. There are 52,000 of them. How many will be rehoused in the next year? Not through any fault of London County Council, the number is 1,000—1,000 out of 52,000 cases of extreme urgency.

In part that is because the Minister himself has imposed a value judgment on London. He has practically forced London to concern itself primarily with slum clearance. Admittedly, slum clearance has to be done, but the real value judgment should have been left to the people of London themselves to decide whether slum clearance was of greater priority than the provision of homes for people on the general housing lists. The Minister has exacerbated the problem by imposing on London authorities the need to rehouse people at present in requisitioned property. In the result only 1,000 out of 52,000 cases of extreme urgency are likely to be rehoused in the forthcoming year.

This is not a problem which may be dealt with by rehousing in London. Over the period of the development plan, 160,000 houses will be needed outside London and that problem is being made more and more serious year by year by the possibly very desirable—certainly very desirable—programmes of slum clearance, because slum clearance programmes on site do not cater for the people who are displaced. Only about 60 per cent. of the people who live in the original slums can be rehoused on site.

Taking London's figures, the problem is that during the present programme of slum clearance about 19,500 houses are to be demolished and only 10,000 to 12,000 families will be rehoused on the sites. In terms of actual figures, London alone will need one complete new town to rehouse overspill, not from the normal accretion of London's population, not to deal with existing housing lists, but to rehouse overspill from slum clearance alone in the five-year programme which London County Council has launched.

What can be done about London's problem? The Minister has just indicated the possibility of increasing densities in some areas in London. There may be areas in London where that is possible, but as a general policy it is most undesirable. The Minister should know that merely by increasing densities one does not get a directly proportionate increase in the number of people housed. By increasing densities in a certain area, one has to increase the provision of schools and open spaces. Therefore, to increase densities is not only a retrograde step from the general sociological aspect; it is not even an economic step from the point of view of dealing with the housing of large numbers of people.

The Minister suggested building London higher still. That is a most uneconomic way of setting about the problem. It is an extremely expensive way. The figures for Birmingham show that the newer and higher blocks of flats cost about £4,000 per flat, whereas to build a cottage house with a garden costs £2,000 or £1,700. From a Government interested in economising in the use of the nation's resources the suggestion that we should build ever higher is a most wasteful, expensive and uneconomic proposition.

The real answer—and surely it should be clear by now—lies in the provision of new towns. All that the Minister had to say on that topic was that he has been carrying on, chugging along with the steam generated by the last Labour Government. All he has done is, with two exceptions, to continue—

Mr. Græme Finlay (Epping)

The hon. Member spoke of steam generated by the Labour Government. Is he aware that practically no houses whatsoever, only paper plans, were produced under the Labour Government.

Mr. Sparks

What absolute nonsense.

Mr. Fienburgh

That is a most stupid interjection, and if the hon. Gentleman thinks about it he will agree. That is an issue to which I shall return later. The plans, proposals, initiation and generation of the scheme for the provision of the new towns took place under the period of the Labour Government.

The right hon. Gentleman has done nothing at all, as it were, to stoke up the fires for the next operation which is now becoming necessary. These things take time. Perhaps it could be argued that in this period of economic stringency the large programme of capital investment involved in the building of new towns cannot be faced by the nation. But surely it will be understood that if new towns were designated now—if the Minister were so to energise himself that within the next month, two months or six months, he were to designate new towns around the periphery of London and other large conurbations—it would be at least two years before any actual measure of capital investment were needed.

Does the Minister say that he dare not, in the economic circumstances of the nation, designate new towns now, because he does not feel that after a further two years of the present administration capital investment resources will be available to fulfil his plans? The new town propramme—and we all admit this—has been going ahead with a reasonable degree of speed during the last few years. We are concerned that the speed should be maintained in the future. We are all agreed that there is no possibility of rehousing the enormous London waiting lists and coping with the increase in London's population which may be expected, without the designation of new towns now, so that in two or three years' time the first bricks can be laid and the process of continuing the expansion of new towns can be maintained.

One of the feeblest arguments which the Minister put forward was his suggestion that it might be possible in a few years' time further to expand the existing new towns, that the new towns at present designated and in course of expansion could be further expanded. He has forgotten that the natural processes of procreation go on in new towns just as much as anywhere else and even more. The populations of the new towns are very young populations. Within five, ten or fifteen years there will be the problem of housing the children who went to the towns as youngsters, and five or ten years after that there will be the problem of housing the children now being born in the new towns.

It is ridiculous for the Minister to assume that he can continue his programme of dealing with London's overspill by continuing to expand the existing new towns. In their terrific fecundity, the new towns are creating their own problems of expansion. The areas around the new towns will have to be developed for the next generation and nothing will be left in the areas around the new towns for further export from the London area.

The real answer is that at least four new towns should be designated now. Preparatory work should be going on over the next two or three years, and after that the continuing process of capital investment for the new towns should be undertaken. If the Minister is not prepared to do that, he is in a very sorry state. We are not asking him to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask for an extra penny. We are not asking him to make a further claim on the capital resources of the community, but to have faith in his own Government that in three or four years' time resources will be available for further building.

All we are asking him to do at the moment is to plan and designate new town areas so that, should an unlikely miracle happen and this country reach a fairly viable and economic position under the present Government in two or three years' time, they will be able to go ahead. We are not asking for a penny piece, or that the Minister should involve himself in inter-Cabinet rows over priorities. All that we say is that he should try to plan ahead because long-term planning is needed.

Finally, I want to refer to the problem of town development in the expanded towns. There are many reasons why the programme under this head has failed. One is snob resistance on the part of the towns which could have been designated as receiving areas and which did not want to be bothered with receiving large numbers of Londoners. The main reason is not that it is difficult to conduct tripartite discussions, not that there has been excessive difficulty in bringing together the different points of view, the counties, the receiving and exporting areas. The real problem is that the financial provision which the Government are prepared to make in assisting the expended town programme is totally and absolutely inadequate.

The Government can point, roughly speaking, to two possibly successful schemes. The Minister himself mentioned Swindon. As a result of the rise in the interest rate and the increased rents which that has dictated in Swindon, I have people in my constituency who, after waiting for a long time, have finally been offered the chance of a house there. They have had to turn down the chance because the high rates of interest have forced the rents to a level which they simply cannot afford to pay. Surely, this is the final irony; that after all this long wait the spark of hope suddenly appears in the form of a letter from the London County Council, but when the economics of the Government are translated into the economics of the family purse and are finally worked out, it becomes clear that the family cannot afford the increased rent. It is, therefore, going very far to suggest that this scheme is being successful. The main reason for the fact that it is failing is that the Government are not prepared to put in enough money from national resources.

As I said earlier, this is not a local problem. It is not London's problem, or Birmingham's, Sheffield's or Clydeside's. It is the problem of the nation as a whole, and it is the responsibility of the Minister, representing the nation in this field, to ensure that the nation as a whole fulfils its rôle in housing those people in the less fortunate areas of the country—these monster conurbations where the people have no hope of being rehoused within their own boundaries, but whose hope lies only in a positive policy in the designation of new towns and the extension of the existing ones. Our charge against the Minister is that he has shown by his speech not only that he is singularly unaware of the tragic need of the people in these areas but that he has no plans at all for taking care of this need in the future.

5.41 p.m.

Lord Balniel (Hertford)

Like the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh), I should like to look at this national problem from the point of view of the London overspill, and, in particular, that of the new towns in Hertfordshire. The Hertford constituency is, I think, unique in that it contains within its borders two of the new towns which we are now discussing—Hatfield, and Welwyn Garden City, which was commenced before the war but was taken over by a development corporation after the war. Also, running right up to its borders is a third of Hertfordshire's new towns—Stevenage. I think this fact of the close proximity of the various new towns in central Hertfordshire—and there is, of course, Hemel Hempstead, which makes four—emphasises the point which I want to make.

Under the New Towns Act, 1946, these new towns were specifically designed to help the overspill problem in London and in this respect are different from others such as Corby, Peterlee, Newton Aycliffe, and Glenroathes in Scotland, which have been designed specifically to assist certain industries, such as coal and steel. The idea was that these new towns should be developed as balanced communities, that decent accommodation and fine living conditions should be provided in very large numbers for Londoners, that industry should be attracted to the area and encouraged to establish itself in the new towns and grow up within them, and also that amenities which anyone living in a town has a right to expect should be provided concurrently with the building of the houses.

I think it is fair to say that the rate of house building in central Hertfordshire is today keeping pace with expectation. There are, of course, criticisms about specific hold-ups and projects, about densities, and about the quality of some of the houses that have been built in the past, but, undoubtedly, the rate of house building can be regarded as a very considerable achievement indeed. I confess that I was surprised by the remarks of the hon. Member for Islington, North, who said that practically nothing had been done. At the end of 1951—five years after the New Towns Act was passed—only 51 houses had been built in the new town of Hatfield.

Mr. Lindgren


Lord Balniel

For instance, in Welwyn Garden City, where the hon. Gentleman lives, five years after the passing of the Act only 123 houses had been built, yet this year alone 740 have been erected.

Mr. Lindgren

I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord too much, but surely he is not so simple as not to appreciate that from the designation of a town to the actual commencement of building takes, as my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North said, at least three years. He talks of 1951, and the Act was passed in 1946. It takes three years to do the survey, to make the master plan, to enter into negotiations with all the owners, etc.

Lord Balniel

As a matter of fact, the hon. Member for Islington, North gave the period as two years. Even so, I should have thought that five years from the passing of the Act to the building of any houses was an excessive period, and I should imagine that the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. G. Lindgren), who is interested in new towns, would also think it excessive.

We can be satisfied, I think, to a certain extent with the rate of building. In addition, in the new towns of central Hertfordshire we have been reasonably successful—or, perhaps, fortunate—in attracting industry, not only in adequate numbers but also of the kind which we want. The success of the policy can be gauged from the fact that in this area there are at the employment exchanges 11 vacancies for every unemployed person in that area.

When we consider the provision of amenities, however, I would echo the words of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). I agree that they have lagged behind the provision of houses rather excessively. This is probably due to the fact that at the Ministry it is still not appreciated how extraordinarily difficult life is in the new towns unless these amenties are provided very early on.

The problem in the new towns is in no way similar to that which is faced in extending already established towns. In the new town areas there is not even a skeleton service. It is not a question of attaching telephones to telephonic communications already existing, or of temporarily overcrowding existing classrooms. In the new towns, nothing exists at first, and if we are to create in any way a sense of community feeling, and to develop a sense of civic awareness and of civic pride, these amenities must be provided at an early stage in the life of a new town.

For example, in Hatfield new town, where there is already a population of about 14,500, we are still without a new town centre and shopping facilities which are anything like adequate. I appreciate that my right hon. Friend has this question of the Hatfield town centre under very urgent consideration, but I should like to emphasise yet once again how incredibly important it is to the persons living in Hatfield that the new town centre should be built at the very earliest opportunity.

I should like to look at the general problem from a rather different angle in relation to the Greater London Plan. Under that plan, as my right hon. Friend has already mentioned, it was intended that the Metropolis of London should be surrounded by a green rural and agricultural belt. I think that it is reasonable to say that perhaps that the most important part of the green belt is situated in Hertfordshire. That is not said purely from a parochial point of view, but from one with which I think that the London County Council would agree.

It was also intended that around each of the new towns which are going up there should be local green belts. I feel that the chances of maintaining these local green belts, or indeed, so far as Hertfordshire is concerned, the chance of maintaining even the larger green belt for the Metropolis of London, are perhaps nothing like so good as is generally thought. Only a few weeks ago, for instance, planning approval was given for the building of houses covering an area of 40 acres within half a mile of the designated boundaries of a new town—in fact, slap in the local green belt of Welwyn Garden City.

There is an even greater danger, and that is that the industrial expansion of central Hertfordshire is proceeding at such a pace that unless we are very careful it will outstrip even the planned housing development. We shall find that industrial development and advance is so fast that when, for instance, the development plan period comes to an end in 1973, industry will be demanding houses for a greater number of employees than can be housed under the plan. Either we shall have to be prepared to see people commuting to the new towns from London, or they will have to be housed in the green belts.

An indication of how great has been the expansion of industry in this area can be obtained from the fact that before 1948 there were about 7 million sq. ft. of factory space in central Hertfordshire. Since 1948 a further 1,500,000 sq. ft. have been developed and have come into use, a further 2 million sq. ft. are under construction, and the development of a further 1,500,000 sq. ft. has been approved but not yet been started. The position is that during the past seven years industrial expansion in central Hertfordshire has increased by 70 per cent. In spite of that very rapid expansion by industry, there are large areas which are allocated in the new towns for industry but which have not yet been taken up.

If we consider the industry which is already established in central Hertfordshire and do not even include the industry for which approval has been given, or even industry which is planned for inclusion in the area, then we can estimate that the natural growth of that industry by 1973 will need the employment of more than the total planned population of central Hertfordshire. If, on the other hand, we take the new industry which is planned in the development plans, then a still greater demand for houses will fall on the area, and the local planning authority—the county council—has estimated that by 1973 the new towns in the area will need an increase of two-thirds in their residential areas.

I am afraid that, unless we are very careful in limiting the amount of industry coming into that area, we shall see new towns gradually merging into each other. Hatfield will be merging into Welwyn Garden City, and Welwyn Garden City will be merging into Stevenage. In fact, I have stated the case rather modestly, because the local planning authority, which is the Hertfordshire County Council, puts the matter this way, in its Report "The Industrial Future of Central Hertfordshire": The labour demand that could eventually arise … from the full development of all land now held or zoned for manufacturing industry … is 220,000 workers—equivalent to a population five times the planned 1973 population. In the view of the Hertfordshire County Council, if all the land which is zoned for industry is in fact used for industry in central Hertfordshire, the planned population will be exceeded by five times.

In view of my right hon. Friend's very active interest in the new towns and in the green belts in particular, I would ask him to look most carefully into this question of industrial expansion in central Hertfordshire. If the estimate of the county council is correct, it would be most tragic and indeed disastrous if we failed to learn the lesson of Middlesex, and allowed the elimination of the rural background of Hertfordshire. In our case, there would be no possible excuse to advance. In the case of Middlesex it was the result of haphazard speculative building. In the case of Hertfordshire it will be the result of deliberate planning.

It is not only a local passionate desire that we should keep what remains of our countryside free of building. It is extremely good farming land—

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

It is politically unwise for the Tory Party to support the extension of new towns.

Lord Balniel

Not at all. These views are held by the local planning authority and I believe also by the new town development corporations themselves.

In addition, from the point of view of finance, immense sums of money have already been spent on the new towns— for instance, on the trunk sewerage schemes—on the assumption that the population will only reach a planned level. If, in fact, the population should reach a level five times greater than is planned, that money which has been spent by both Governments will be largely wasted. Also the whole concept of a new town would disappear, and in its place would be what I should have thought all hon. Members on both sides of the Committee would regret, namely, a suffocating sprawling suburb which everyone abominates.

I trust that my right hon. Friend will maintain a firm policy to preserve the green belts. I should like to put in a plea on behalf of those who live in the green belts. The designation of an area as a green belt means that very often the local authority in the area finds it impossible to do any building at all. All that the local authority can undertake at the most is the infilling of its villages. The people living in a green belt are often only a few yards away from a new town, and they are naturally resentful if they cannot be housed in the new town—especially if they work there. Their own chances of receiving a house from the local authority are considerably diminished by the preservation of the green belt. I suggest that my right hon. Friend should authorise the development corporations to allocate, as a regular practice, some of their houses to those who have been living in the green belt area.

5.50 p.m.

Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

The hon. Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) has made some interesting comments on the effect on the new town areas and the rural areas of industrial development. I fear that my approach to that problem is entirely opposite to his, because we happen to represent different types of areas. I represent an industrial area where there is too much industry, and my plea to the Minister will be the exact opposite to the plea of the hon. Gentleman in that I beseech the Minister to put an end to the present trend in industrial development.

I should like to direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to a matter of considerable concern in the London area, and in the West Ham area in particular. This is the nature of the problem. When a firm moves from the London area to a factory in a new town, usually the premises which are vacated are immediately reoccupied by another firm, generally from the London area itself.

There is nothing illegal about this re-occupation of industrial premises in these overcrowded areas, because usually the land concerned had an established industrial user when planning control came into force and, accordingly, the landowner is entitled to continue that industrial user. But, of course, this "Box and Cox" arrangement, where premises are vacated by a firm going out and a new firm comes in, is quite contrary to the aims of good planning. After all, the purpose and intention of the new towns was to relieve the pressure on the great centres of population like London. I personally find the word "conurbation" extremely unattractive. I prefer to say that the purpose was to relieve pressure upon the big centres of population. Part of that conception was that industry should be created in the new towns to attract the dwellers in the crowded centres of population to those new places of habitation, relieving the pressure in that way. Reasons of health and amenity also require the cutting down of the number of industrial premises in crowded areas like West Ham, where it is the fate of generations to be brought up in the shadow of factory chimneys.

That intention of good planning is not operating at the moment. I am glad to see that hon. Gentlemen opposite agree with what I am seeking to say. May I give an illustration from West Ham? Recently, the firm of Mitchell Bros. manufacturers of steel structural members for prefabricated premises, moved out to the Debden Estate. The industrial user of their premises did not end, but, on the contrary, a new company moved in straight away. The same thing happened when a company moved out to the Hainault Estate, and when another moved out to Harold Hill, the premises in each case being taken over straight away by other companies which used them for the purpose of industrial undertakings.

At present, local authorities are quite powerless to deal with the situation. It would seem that the only effective method of control of such premises is by purchase, either compulsorily or, preferably, by agreement. I appreciate that this would be a rather expensive business, especially in the London area where I understand that an acre of this type of land may cost as much as £100,000. If we are to be realistic about the intelligent planning of decent conditions in which the populations of our great cities may grow up, we must pay this price, the community indirectly and the Treasury directly. The time has come to give local authorities powers compulsorily to purchase in circumstances such as I have outlined, and to give them grants from Treasury funds to meet the cost.

I hope that the Minister will say what is being done about this problem. It is not a new one. I know that it has been under consideration for a long time, and I should like him to say what action the Ministry is taking. I hope that he will remember, in any scheme which is contemplated, that it will be essential to include provisions requiring a firm intending removal to give adequate advance notice to the local authority, for obvious reasons, and for compulsory purchase to become effective as from the date when the premises are vacated. I do not wish to wander at large through the fascinating issues of new town development. This is a limited point, but one of very great importance to my constituency, where the whole purpose and idea of new town development is being frustrated at every stage.

6.4 p.m.

Mr. Græme Finlay (Epping)

It is a pleasure for me to follow the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones), for some of his constituents, if not in the course of becoming my constituents, have already become such. I am entirely at one with him, as I suppose most hon. Members are, in condemning the perfectly awful jargon used by town and country planning people. It is about time somebody thought of new words, if possible, for "conurbation", "overspill" and "decanting". These things simply ought not to happen to human beings, and something should be done to describe these processes in better English.

The hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South has raised a point which I have often raised on the Floor of the House, namely, this problem of the "Box and Cox" arrangement. It is the primary objective of the new towns to effect decongestion. I did discuss this matter when the Slum Clearance Compensation Bill was being considered by the House, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government was able to give a reply to which I shall later refer.

If we look at the matter as objectively and judicially as we can, what is the result of totting up the credit and debit sides of the new towns' account? On the credit side, we have, on the whole, decent, good-looking, even handsome, houses going up, with well-thought-out architectural layouts devised by some of the most distinguished architectural thinkers in the country. We have better working conditions, so much so that industrialists in the new town areas say that they are reflected in increased production, which in itself is a substantial matter. There is less tiring travelling, often practically none at all, and there are no expensive fares.

There is also that matter to which the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) referred, the financial success of the new towns. This latter item applies only to a majority of them, not to all; some new towns, such as Cwmbran, cannot be included in that category.

On the debit side, we have, first, the loss of agricultural land. It is one of the primary objectives of good planning to preserve first-class agricultural land, but there is no doubt that much land has been lost in that way. Secondly, there has been a number of expropriations which, no matter how some hon. Gentlemen opposite may try to describe them, are of a harsh character. It is not a question of some snobbish country area resenting these schemes, but the fact is that these people are genuinely hurt; no matter how one may seek to compensate them, it cannot be done.

Then there is the sharp impact—because new towns do make a sharp impact—upon the country areas, the old story of the "town mouse" and the "country mouse". We should not seek to disguise from ourselves the realities of the situation. Having said that, however, I do come, on a judicial balance, to the view that the new towns are going on reasonably well, and that we should proceed.

The important question, which was touched on by the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South is this question of whether the process of decongestion is really working. It would be largely futile if a kind of merry-go-round were to go on, so that as soon as one business went out another one went in, or if there were in the result more people commuting for longer journeys, as happens in London, as I understand.

London, for which eight of the new towns are designed to cater, is in a rather special category, as the Minister has said. Each city, be it Manchester, Liverpool, or Glasgow, must be considered in its own special circumstances and on its own special merits. I raised this matter during the Committee stage of the Housing Subsidies Bill last February, and my right hon. Friend was able to assure me that various measures were being taken to tighten up the arrangements to stop this process of one business moving out and another moving in in its place. He said that energetic efforts were being made by local authorities and himself to stop new industries coming into the greater London area.

My right hon. Friend went on to say that he had struck out many acres of land which the London County Council, in its development plan, had proposed to allot to industry. He said, furthermore, that he had taken steps to prevent the conversion of residential property to industrial or commercial use, and he added that the London County Council was sterilising industrial property by buying it up in increasing measure.

Since I received those assurances, however, I have learned some facts which were rather startling to me. In The Times of 18th June, 1956, I read the conclusions of Mrs. Ruth Glass, who said—this is impressive—that the whole of the dispersal policy was initiated, not upon the basis of statistical evidence, but simply upon impressions of London's growing congestion. Mrs. Glass now relies for her case on statistical evidence published in a report on the 1951 Census of Greater London and five other conurbations, and she finds some extraordinary facts.

In the first place, there is still the same concentration of employment in the central London area as in 1921. In 1951, 1¼ million men and women went to work there daily. The county of London has lost many residents but has kept up its employment level, and a considerable increase in the daily migration has become inevitable. Commuting has become more widespread and journeys to work have become longer.

Mr. Gibson

What is commuting?

Mr. Finlay

Commuting is travelling from a place on the outer perimeter of London to work in the centre of London and back again at the end of the day, thereby bogging down the transport arrangements of the Metropolis.

After considering this statistical evidence, which was not available when the new towns programme was initiated in 1946, shortly after the war, Mrs. Glass has come to the conclusion that decentralisation, whether planned or spontaneous, has so far made matters far worse than they were before and that London needs more homes, not fewer jobs. I take it that Mrs. Glass is writing about conditions in the light of evidence tendered in 1951, which became known only in 1956. It leaves out of account the fact that the new towns did not really start to be built until the present Government got into their stride.

As I see the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) back in his place, I am delighted to take up what he said. He said that I had made a stupid intervention. Had he known a little more about things, he would not have said that. I happen to remember the physical facts in 1951 of the constituency I now represent. Had the hon Member been listening to my right hon. Friend's speech, he would have heard him make the position quite clear. The 1946 Act was a Measure common to and accepted by both parties. When the Socialist Government left office in 1951, however, only 2,700 houses had been built. There are now 40,000 houses. Therefore, it is true—

Mr. Lindgren

The Act was not passed until 1946. We then had to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of land, designate the area and hold a public inquiry. It took three years before we could start to do anything at Harlow. In addition, of course, water supplies and sewerage had to be planned and provided. I issue this challenge to the hon. Member. I will come with him to Harlow and show him with pride what the Labour Government did there, but he will have shame at what is happening there now in regard to standards of housing and density.

Mr. Finlay

I know my constituency far better than the hon. Member knows it, and he had better be a little careful before issuing challenges of that kind. Of course, the initial surveys and plans had to be carried out—everybody accepts that; they are matters of course. The hon. Member for Islington, North, however, was saying that the Government should get up a bit of steam. In fact, this Government were building 300,000 houses a year within a year and a half of being returned to office, when, apparently, the best that could be done by the party opposite, had they been returned to power, was 200,000 houses.

Mr. Percy Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

The same old story.

Mr. Finlay

It is the same old story, but it was of great importance to the inhabitants of Harlow that so many more houses were completed there.

I come now to some of the outstanding problems in the new towns which cater for the London area. First, there is attraction of offices, to which my right hon. Friend referred. It is quite apparent that the new towns are not getting sufficient offices. Crawley has the Lloyd's Register of Shipping, but it is one of the very few towns which is attracting any of the central London offices. In view of what Mrs. Glass has written in The Times, the movement of offices to the new towns is obviously something which should be encouraged.

Daily journeys and movements over long distances cannot be appreciably reduced without reducing employment in the central area. Mrs. Glass suggests that something like 600,000 jobs would need to be taken out of the central area to afford any appreciable relief.

Places like Whitehall, the Stock Exchange, Oxford Street, Piccadilly, the theatres and London University are part of the prestige of London. They are so closely connected with London that it is difficult to export them. It might, however, be possible to move some of the more routine work which is done in Whitehall out to the new towns, which would be a good thing—

Mr. Lindgren

The hon. Member will, no doubt, be interested to know the history. The Labour Government arranged for Government Departments to go to new towns—the Ministry of Civil Aviation, for example, was to go to Hemel Hempstead—but it is the Tory Government who have cancelled that.

Mr. Finlay

I do not know anything about that. I was saying that in principle it might be a good idea to consider the possibility and that perhaps certain sections from Whitehall could go to the new towns. In the same way, possibly part of the University of London could go there. That should not be beyond the educational compass. After all, Wye College, which is part of the University of London, is in the heart of the country. Why should not one of the colleges of London University be moved out? It might even gain something in the process. At any rate, one would like to see more of the Lloyd's Register type of thing going out to the new towns.

Mr. Frederick Gough (Horsham)

I had not interrupted my hon. Friend before because I wanted to dwell on this matter if I had the luck to catch your eye, Sir Rhys. That part of Lloyd's Register which has moved to Crawley is merely the printing press section.

Mr. Finlay

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that intervention. In that case, it is all the more desirable that some of the administrative aspects of Lloyd's Register should be moved out to Crawley or elsewhere.

I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Minister say that he recognises not only the need for considering an increased population in the new towns, but that it will be necessary to cater for more homes in London, which he envisages in terms of blocks of flats going up to a height of 15 storeys, situated near the green belt, rather on the lines of some of the flats which are now to be seen near Putney Heath. I know the arguments about expense which were used by the hon. Member for Islington, North and the social arguments also. I appreciate the hon. Member's sincerity and the force with which he spoke for his constituents who are living in bad housing conditions but, when weighing all these things, we must remember that certain kinds of development take up valuable agricultural land which, once it is taken, can never be replaced. It has been taken out of agricultural production for ever. A Parliamentary Question of 1953 elicited the fact that there had been a loss of some 89,000 acres of agricultural land then, and the process has been going on since.

Mr. Fienburgh

There was an interesting series of figures issued some time ago relevant to this matter. They showed that the value of produce per acre from people's gardens in a new town exceeds the value of the produce per acre of that same land when it was agricultural land.

Mr. Finlay

I am aware of that argument, but, of course, there are many postulates, such as that house owners in a new town cultivate their little gardens with the best possible husbandry.

Mr. Fienburgh

That was a fact, not theory.

Mr. Finlay

There are, as I said, many postulates, and this could become a long argument, for which I have not now the time.

There is the saving of transport to be considered. Just think of the tremendous amount of money which has to be spent by these commuting millions in travelling to and across London by train. Hon. Members are incessantly calling on the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to provide better facilities on the Central London line, on the Northern line, and on other Underground lines, and to provide better bus services. This is an extremely expensive business. We have to consider the best and most economical use of the land in the centre of London and upon its outskirts.

There is the social aspect of the matter. It is said that everybody likes to live in a house with a garden, and I can quite understand that, but have we exhausted all the efforts of our imagination? In America all sorts of things are done to make life amenable for families, and I do not think that we in this country have done as much as we could. I am not asking for anything in the nature of High Paddington, but that more imagination be used in considering this problem.

Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)

Would the hon. Member say what he has against High Paddington?

Mr. Finlay

I am not saying anything against it. I agree with the hon. Member that somebody has to take some action in this matter. In some circles where an interest is taken in it, it is accepted as a tradition that one must live in a house with a garden, and that is one way of dealing with the problem, but I agree with the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) that we should, perhaps, think more in terms of High Paddington, although that is an expensive way of solving the problem, very expensive, and beyond our economy at the present time. Perhaps it is a little too ambitious for the present, but that is not to say we should, so to speak, sit back and do absolutely nothing about it. What about our attempting one or two less ambitious schemes? I was trying to indicate pilot schemes of a smaller, less ambitious kind than that of High Paddington.

The acquisition of agricultural land has gone very far, and we have to weigh very seriously indeed the question of acquiring any more. We have also to consider that local authorities have become very big estate owners. For example, London County Council alone has acquired compulsorily some 9,900 acres since 1945 at a cost of nearly £40 million. It now owns about 27,000 acres, and of those approximately 11,000 are in the county and 16,000 are in out-county estates. They comprise a formidable estate to own, and we have to weigh very carefully the question of how far this business of the acquisition of agricultural land is to go, when we are deciding whether to build high or out in the new towns or in any town development schemes.

There is the question of the destination of assets. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering expressed some views on this, and called in aid a passage from a speech of Mr. Speaker in a debate on, I think, the Second Reading of the New Towns Act of 1946. They were words to the effect that the apparatus of democracy should proceed in these new towns as soon as possible. So it has. Since I have sat for my present constituency we have had a new urban district council created there, and it exercises the full franchise of local discretion. In the same way my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Gough) has, I think, seen the emergence of a new urban district council in his constituency.

To accept that is one thing, but I am sure that the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) will not expect me to accept his view of the matter, which is that local authorities should own all the houses. I regard that as a measure of sovietisation.

Mr. Lindgren

I should not worry about that at all, but the hon. Member and his hon. Friend to whom he referred are very worried, because those authorities are Labour authorities.

Mr. Finlay

Despite the hon. Member's glee, I sit here today, and that is the answer to him, and I sit here long after the time the Labour council was created in the urban district of Harlow. One can never tell. The hon. Member ought to be a little more careful, because one cannot be too sure.

We do not want to see the local authorities owning all the houses. That would be a step backwards.

Another consideration is that we have not yet seen a completed new town. We must remember that when we are considering whether to build more new towns. My own new town is the most advanced of them all, but it is still at most only half built. The new towns have not yet town centres, and we cannot properly see what they will look like from the aesthetic point of view. We have not yet been able to decide what lessons there are to be learned from building new towns. We have not yet a complete result. It is, therefore, wise to consider, as my right hon. Friend is considering, whether, instead of adding to their number, we should complete the existing ones, or extend them, before building new ones.

We have not yet realised all the objects of the new towns. One object of a new town was to obtain a completely composite social structure within it. The figures available make the position clear. There is not in any new town as yet a balance of the professional and the clerical and all the other classes of society which go to make the leavening of the whole society, the composite society which it was one of the initial intentions the new towns should comprise.

The new towns development corporations have made steady progress, and it is desirable they should make more. It may be thought that we should increase the number of the new towns, but I think that to start upon more new towns before we have finished one and learned the proper way of making a composite whole would be premature.

6.28 p.m.

Mrs. Freda Corbet (Peckham)

I would start by paying a tribute to the Minister, because I think that probably no one has given more thought to the problems which beset us when dealing with this question of overspill. If he has not given the thought to the matter I credit him with, then he certainly ought to have done, because he is in a central position from which to deal with it. He is, of course, beleaguered by all the large authorities with overspill problems. He has been approached by them many times. I know of deputations which have gone to the Minister, and gone repeatedly, and those deputations have always said that he was fully seized of the problems facing the local authorities.

When the Minister claims that he is as interested in solving this problem as any of us, I think he is sincere. However, he has struck a very bad patch. Things were proceeding rather satisfactorily, at least so far as my local authority could see. We were in process of concluding a number of satisfactory arrangements with receiving authorities. We were quite excited at the prospects, and then, as everybody knows, along came a crisis and a restriction of capital expenditure, coupled with the rise in interest rates to a very high level. The receiving authorities who had been quite prepared to have Londoners began to hesitate, and their hesitation finally became a complete refusal in some cases.

Ashford, where we had great expectations of being able to put up many thousands of people in the course of the years, has completely refused to carry out the arrangement. Other local authorities have talked the matter over with the London County Council and the county council has offered every incentive that it can offer. It has gone as far as to say to the receiving authorities, "We will provide the capital moneys for you to start your scheme free of interest until you are actually receiving rents from the tenants and subsidies from the Ministry".

We in the London County Council have also discussed with these authorities the possibility of asking the Minister for further financial assistance. We are discussing that possibility with Sir Humphrey Gale and the Ministry. However, the local authorities fear that, having embarked on schemes the costs of which will be excessive because of the high rate of interest, they will not be able to recoup themselves adequately from the rents paid by tenants from London. Negotiations apparently are going on in a number of cases, and I was glad to hear the Minister say that he hoped they would be fruitful. Nevertheless, the delays that arise because of these negotiations are very serious indeed. We have had matters held in abeyance since as long ago as last November. They are matters which we should have liked to have settled so that we could have proceeded quickly with our schemes.

Many other matters worry us on the London County Council. We are very anxious that things should be speeded up because of our enormous housing problems. These have been mentioned in so much detail in debates today that there is no need for me to discuss them further. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) has referred to our slum clearance programme. He was not quite correct in one respect. The London County Council owes nothing to any Minister in the matter of beginning its slum clearance programme. That was something which it started long before anybody else had thought it was necessary. Thousands of houses were to be cleared when the war broke out, and the L.C.C. was ready to start a programme as soon as possible after the war.

Like the authorities of many other big cities, the London County Council, however, has come to the end of its available sites, and it has to clear slum property to make way for new houses. London County Council is not an authority that would allow its housing programme to be held up because of high costs. It is a comparatively wealthy authority—though I must be careful in saying that, because some of my colleagues might not agree. The council does not have to abandon its programme, as is the case with many other smaller authorities, because of the stringencies of Governmental policy.

Apart from the question of slum clearance. London County Council has also the responsibility of being an authority in the capital city. Hon. Members frequently ask how road programmes are progressing. They may think that all that matters in connection with a number of major schemes in London is money, but I assure them that that is not so. For instance, 1,104 families are involved in the Cromwell Road extension programme. They must be removed elsewhere and rehoused in new properties. In every road improvement scheme a large rehousing programme is involved, and London County Council has to solve that problem.

The same applies to opening up congested areas in the city. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North said that there was not a single acre of open space in the whole of his borough. I might have reminded him that on the northern outskirts there is Finsbury Park, which belongs to London County Council Areas like that, however, involve serious rehousing obligations. In addition, new standards for schools and an increase in transferred population make it necessary for London County Council to find new sites for public buildings. All these problems are in addition to the problem of providing people with fresh air, open spaces, and a glimpse of greenery where they live.

The Minister has given a great deal of thought to these matters. I was pleased to hear him say that it may be that he will not be able to send all the overspill out of London. We might be able to accommodate some of our overspill population in flats on the tops of offices in the centre of London. London County Council has the notion of opening up congested areas by erecting taller buildings. This would allow for the provision of open spaces between them. It could transform the appearance of central London and make it a pleasanter place to live in.

At the moment there is great need for new housing, and it cannot be provided within the County of London. Therefore, it must be provided outside. I hope that the Minister will do his utmost to expedite negotiations, as I am sure he will, and that he will not abandon the idea of expanding existing towns. During my travels through the small country towns I have frequently thought how much better it would be if those towns were expanded to such a size that their populations would be content with the amenities that could be provided for them in a larger community. How much better it would be to keep them in the country than for them to be attracted interminably to the vast area of London. The continued flow of immigrants to our city is another of our problems. I hope that the Minister will continue with this expanding town programme with that fact in mind.

I should be pleased if he could be induced to give very serious consideration to a proposal which is not unheard of by him, namely, that the London County Council—which has built not 40,000 houses in five years but over 100,000 in the 10 years since the war; and one really should not count the first two of those years—should be given the necessary financial and Ministerial consents to enable it to proceed with the building of a new town in which Londoners might be housed. If he agreed to that proposal we might find a reasonable solution to the terrible problem of London housing.

We have collected a piece of land at Edenbridge, and during the debate upon the Housing Subsidies Bill we asked the Minister whether he could make available for us the same subsidies as were available in the case of new town development and expanding town development. He was not able to see his way to do that. If he will not assist us in that respect, we shall go on with the scheme as it is. We shall not allow him to stand in the way. If he could find it in his heart to entrust to the London County Council an operation which a private body is apparently now about to begin we should be able to do a very good job.

Naturally, we must have industry. Industry can be persuaded to go out of London. One of my hon. Friends, or it may have been the Minister, mentioned how much a little suggestion can do with some firms. They are not averse to the idea of going away from London. If they want to expand, it is rather difficult to do so in London anyway, owing to the town planning requirements, and many feel that a good place to expand might be in one of the new towns. Those that have gone out have been very successful. Only if the local authority forces a firm out does that authority have to pay. Therefore, we do not want to buy anything compulsorily if we can find another way of getting what we want. Millions of pounds are involved in decentralising industry and taking it away from residential areas. We always want to use persuasion if we can.

At this moment, however, with financial restrictions and interest rates as they are, not only the receiving towns but the industrialist are boggling at any such change. This is slowing up our prospects of moving industry out of London. I hope that the Minister will do all he can about the financial restrictions and interest rates in relation to this aspect of the problem. I remember hearing a very thoughtful speech by an hon. Member opposite, who is also a member of the L.C.C. He pointed out that these high interest rates did not have to be imposed in the case of local authorities because the Minister was always in a position to say "Yes" or "No", just as he did the other day in the case of my borough council, which wants to build a new convenience in the place of some temporary ones in a little park. I have written to him upon the subject, and I hope that he will agree to the proposal after he has heard my speech.

The hon. Member to whom I have just referred then said that high interest rates were not needed in regard to local authorities, nationalised industries and various public bodies, because they all had to receive sanction for their proposals. Perhaps the Minister will ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to examine this question, and let him know that we do not want high interest rates any longer than is necessary.

At the same time, the Minister might also realise that we have landed ourselves in trouble with regard to excess office accommodation in London largely because building restrictions were removed. There was nothing which the L.C.C. could have done once those restrictions were removed. It possesses only certain town planning powers, and it could not say, "Oh no, you cannot build any more office accommodation because there is already enough", in an area designated for office accommodation. So long as plans conform to requirements in respect of such matters as garage space, light and air, and height, we must give planning permission.

The work of the London County Council Town Planning Committee is never over. The number of documents with which it has to deal makes a very thick pile. Constant work is being given to the authority. If there is no case for the granting of building licences for anything else, there is surely one in respect of office building in the centre of London. I know that the Minister is greatly concerned with this question. If anybody has thought more about it than he, I should like to know that person.

The town planning committee of the county council has also given the matter very much thought, and I am sure that its mind is running in a similar direction to that of the Minister's. We cannot exercise a very effective control because we cannot pay the millions of pounds necessary in order not to have to give planning permission—which is the only way in which we could have control. I would impress upon the Minister that this interruption of our programme; all these long waits and protracted procedure; the waiting for months to settle such matters as a sewerage grant scheme, is very disturbing to us. We hope that the Minister will give the problem very serious thought.

6.48 p.m.

Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester, Blackley)

I feel sure that the hon. Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) will forgive me if I do not refer to much of what she has said, because she has been dealing with the problem of London, upon which she is such an authority, while I want to say something about Manchester.

It is not necessary for me to stress the gravity of the subject which we are now discussing. It would be quite true to say that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee would be generally agreed that if conditions were favourable and we had plenty of room in which to move about—I stress that point—we should like to see the creation of new towns or the expansion of existing ones in order to provide full amenities and so enable people to lead happy lives. At the same time, we should all probably feel that industry should accompany the movement of populations to the new towns.

It is very important that such industries should be varied and relatively small. We do not want to see new towns springing up which are wholly dependent on one industry, and, of course, we do not wish to see this great sprawl of our cities over the countryside. We do not want to build new dormitory areas from which our people will have to travel day by day to their work; and we would all agree with what has been said by my right hon. Friend about Green Belts.

Although we may agree about these things, in dealing with such matters we at once come up against some fairly considerable problems. The first and, I think, by far the most important is the desperate shortage of building sites. Secondly, there is the problem of persuading people to move out to the new towns and of persuading industries to move as well. Probably it is easier to persuade people to move, provided that houses are found for them. Moving industries is a little more difficult.

If, for example, I had a factory in Manchester where I employed a few hundred people, I should be very reluctant to move out 20 or 30 miles away to provide work in a new town. I should feel that I was providing work where my factory was in Manchester, and that I might lose some of my own employees. I should need fairly considerable inducements to persuade me to move. I think that there is a great deal in what was said by my right hon. Friend, and I was glad to hear what he had to say about Manchester agreeing that, when people move out of the city, the number employed in the city is to be reduced. If one industry goes out, another one cannot come in to take its place.

Here I wish to raise a point, although perhaps it relates more to the general housing policy, about the mobility of labour. That is a problem very much before us now, in view of what has been happening in Coventry about the motor industry. It is not a new problem. If people are losing jobs in Coventry, they can find other jobs in and around Manchester, but they cannot find houses. I am wondering whether we ought to try to produce a pool of unoccupied or under-occupied houses, so that people might move about more easily. I realise that that is looking a long way ahead and that we could not keep houses unoccupied at present with the housing situation as it is. But in all this development, it would be as well to bear in mind the possibility of building more hostels where people could stay during the week while they were working and move back to their own homes at the weekend.

I realise that that is an unpopular idea, but a great many people, including Members of Parliament, have to spend the week away from their homes. It should be borne in mind that it is surely better to have to go away for a week to a job and come back home at the weekend than to stay at home all the week and have no job. It is not an ideal solution, but in my opinion it is one worth bearing in mind. There are bound to be fluctuations in trade and consequent demands for mobility of labour.

It is all very well to discuss these theories and what we would like to do, but in practice we are faced with the problem of lack of sites. That is the trouble. I believe that to some extent it is a financial trouble. I do not propose to go into detail about it, but I believe it is largely a physical problem and not a political one. In Manchester we are as much aware of this problem as any other part of the country. I do not want to quote a lot of figures, but at the beginning of the year we needed between 83,000 and 84,000 houses. We have 68,000 houses which are unfit for human habitation, so that it will be appreciated that we have a big problem, and to show how urgent it is I would point out that the average rate at which houses in Manchester fall down, or have to be demolished, because they are dangerous, is 700 a year.

The Manchester City Council has comprehensive plans for dealing with this matter. We hope to plan for the building of 17,000 houses and that programme, which was started in 1955, is to continue until 1961. Then there are 31,500 more houses planned to be built up to the middle of 1971, which is a total of 48,500 for which we have plans. But I ask the Committee to bear in mind that even though that plan is carried out, there will still be, in 1971, about 19,500 people living in houses which have been condemned as unfit, and we are making no provision for the estimated growth of about 7,000, nor for the 13,000 people who are now living in lodgings and desire houses.

That is one side of the picture. On the other side is the question of sites. We found at the end of last year that, in the city itself, there were sites available for only 2,480 homes, and we have a further 2,000 available outside on the Langley Housing Estate in the borough of Middleton. We want to build on all the available sites which result from slum clearance, but this depends entirely on being able to obtain sites outside, because we must have somewhere to put the people when we move them before we start rebuilding. We have had the offer of sites. I do not intend to go into detail about them, but the fact remains that, even though we use all the sites which have been offered and which would become available, we should still he short of 4,000—I think the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) gave that figure—for the period up to 1960 and a further 14,000—I am taking a rather longer period—up to 1971.

Manchester has been criticised in some quarters for not making use of enough sites in the city. It has been said that we should look round and build here and there in twos and threes. That may be so. I dare say that there are some sites which could be used. But I do not accept that as a valid criticism, because it is merely playing with the problem. We have been told that we ought to build more flats. A great deal has already been said about flats. My right hon. Friend referred to them, as did the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) and other hon. Members. I am not sufficiently well informed on the technical aspects of the matter to be able to say anything about the cost of flats, but I understand that the cost mounts extremely steeply the higher the block is built; and I do not know whether building flats would be making the best possible use of available sites.

Mr. W. R. Williams

It is true that Manchester has already built some very large flats in the Miles Platting area and it is contemplated that more will be done. So as much as possible has been done in that direction.

Mr. Johnson

The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right. I was proposing to allude to the flats which have been built in my constituency.

I do not know much about the technical side, but I know something about the human side of this problem. There are a large number of new houses and a considerable number of blocks of flats in my constituency where are housed many people who have been moved out of overcrowded slum houses. They all tell me how much they like the flats, but most of them express the wish that they could have a house. It is true to add that when I have asked them whether they would rather live in a flat in Blackley near their work, or move to a house some 30 miles outside the city somewhere in Cheshire, many say that they would rather live in a flat near their work. I suppose that the idea is to have more houses built, but that again comes back to the question of room. The hon. Member for Islington, North has referred already to the question of density. I am not going to say much about that, but for anyone to say that in Manchester we ought to build at a greater density than we are doing is, in my opinion, quite wrong.

We are already planning to build on a density of 90 habitable rooms per acre, and that, I would have thought, was close enough in all conscience. If we build—and I think that this has been mentioned already—to an increased density this does not solve the problem, because the corresponding increase in the number of habit-table rooms does not go up in proportion to the density, for the obvious reason that provision has to be made for more schools, playing grounds, open spaces, shops and so on.

It has been said also, in criticism of Manchester's policy, that we are reluctant to make use of the sites offered to us outside the city and that we want more than we have been offered because the sites offered are relatively small and scattered, which makes it necessary to build piecemeal and prevents any large-scale planned development which the city council would like.

We have a Socialist city council in Manchester, and in general I am not a great believer in large-scale planning by public bodies, but I feel that this is not a party matter and—I am sorry to have to say this to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke)—that in this respect I think that the Manchester City Council is perfectly right, unless we are prepared to say that we are quite ready for Manchester people to go into scattered dormitory areas around the neighbourhood, with very few amenities and that they shall travel increased distances to and from work in the city day by day.

I think that if we did that it would destroy my right hon. Friend's conception, with which I am glad to agree, about the green belt. We want to jump over the green belt and get a new town or develop a town outside. That is what Manchester thinks is the real solution to the problem. Negotiations have been going on with various local authorities round and about for a long time, and I think, although we seem to have reached a deadlock in some cases, that my right hon. Friend has said enough today to show that that is certainly not Manchester's fault.

I have no intention of being drawn into battle between Manchester and the surrounding local authorities. It may be an over-simplification of the situation, but it seems to me that, in the long run, a decision has to be taken between growing as much food as we can in this country and providing the best accommodation for our people if we are determined to maintain our present population on its present level. I do not think that we can have it both ways.

We cannot say that we will preserve all the existing agricultural land in the country and, in the same breath, say that we will, build a lot of new towns as well. That just cannot be done. I am not at all sure that we are not all of us trying, when we talk about housing and overspill, to put a quart into a pint pot. I am not at all sure that we are not casting our eyes over too narrow a field when we in Manchester talk about moving people into Cheshire or Derbyshire or wherever it may be. It might be better for us and for the whole country to consider whether our people would not live fuller, better and happier lives if they went to countries in the Commonwealth, like Canada, Australia or New Zealand, and whether there would not be greater opportunities for our industry, too, in those countries. But this is an entirely different topic from the subject of the debate, and although it may be interesting to discuss it at some other time, this is not the occasion today. I think, however, that it is a thought that we ought to bear in mind.

I do not want to go into the argument about whether we can grow more food in gardens or on farms. But at first sight it would certainly appear to be better for the economy of the country if we could grow more food at home and import less. I may get into trouble with some of my hon. Friends on this side in saying this—but that depends to some extent on what price the consumer is being asked to pay for the food which we are growing at home, and I wonder if we get full value for this heavily protected and subsidised industry.

I do not accept the argument that we must preserve a very large agricultural industry in this country in case there is another war, because it seems to me, from what we now know or have been told about nuclear weapons, that the risk which we are likely to face in a war is mass destruction in a matter of hours and not starvation in a matter of weeks or months. Besides, if our ports were put out of operation, we would starve anyway because we could not grow as much food as we should like to. I do not minimise the importance of farming, but I think that the time has come when my right hon. Friend ought to consider, not whether he is going to kill the sacred cow of agriculture, but whether it would not be right to milk it a little more than he has done.

I hope that Manchester will get a little more co-operation from her neighbours than she has had so far in trying to solve this problem of overcrowding. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering referred earlier, and I think a little unkindly, to the statement made in answer to a Question on, I think, 5th June, in which my right hon. Friend referred to the deadlock between Manchester and the surrounding county councils and local authorities and said that he was considering what action should be taken and that he would make a statement in due course.

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

My hon. Friend has raised the question of the surrounding authorities to Manchester. I represent a number of them. Does he realise that if Manchester had been a little more co-operative and not so dogmatic in wanting to have its own way in every little thing, the surrounding authorities would perhaps have been willing to help a little more?

Mr. Johnson

I did say earlier that I thought that my right hon. Friend had showed already in his speech that Mancester had gone a fairly long way, but I also said that I was certainly not going to be drawn into any argument today, and I hope that I shall not be at any other time, as to who is right or wrong, but we would like greater co-operation, and maybe the surrounding authorities would like it as well.

The hon. and learned Gentleman rather criticised my right hon. Friend's attitude, and I would make two points about that. He seemed to suggest my right hon. Friend was unduly slow. I do not like to say this, but I feel that I must in the circumstances: it is my sincere belief that the position would have been much worse today than it is if the rate of house building had not been increased very considerably since 1951, and I do not think that the party opposite did an awful lot in this matter when it had the opportunity and was in power. I also think that my right hon. Friend is perfectly right to give the various local authorities and Manchester plenty of time in which to reach some agreement. We all hope that we shall reach agreement, because I am certain that agreement is very much better than any question of compulsion on either side.

Some progress has been made, and I hope that we shall soon hear that all these negotiations have been completed. I would say, in conclusion, that whatever decision, and it will be a difficult decision, my right hon. Friend makes in regard to the problem of Manchester's population, I am afraid that it will not be one that will please everybody, but I am sure that we would agree that what would influence him when he comes to that decision is not the interests of Manchester or Cheshire or anyone else separately but the nation as a whole.

This has been a most valuable and interesting debate, and what we have discussed is not a party matter. It is one we all have at heart, namely, that something should be done to provide the best possible housing conditions for our fellow-citizens.

7.10 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Delargy (Thurrock)

I will not follow the remarks made by the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) who, in the intervals of talking about gardening, agricultural produce and nuclear warfare, devoted only a few minutes to talking about Manchester. Although Manchester is my own native city, I am glad that I have no responsibility for it whatever. My responsibility is concentrated about 200 miles to the south-east of it. I would rather refer briefly—and so I hope set an example to everybody else—to the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet). She spoke of the grievous and peculiar difficulties of London and the measures which are taken to alleviate them.

She complained, and I am sure she has grounds for complaint, of the lack of cooperation of authorities outside London. It is a complaint which certainly cannot be levelled against my own constituency, in which the London County Council has already built more than 5,000 houses. Nevertheless, some time ago, with one or two of my colleagues, I objected to the London County Council (No. 2) General Powers Bill. Indeed, we objected three or four times, and just when I was looking forward to a debate in the House I was told, to my astonishment and disappointment, that my objection had been out of order all the time. I thought that it might have been discovered a little earlier rather than about a month after I had made my objection. I was sorry that that debate did not take place.

I have no desire to withhold any powers from my friends on the London County Council, but I wanted gently and fraternally to criticise some of the powers that they already hold and perhaps give them a little friendly advice on the powers which they hoped to assume. I cannot refer to all the things I wanted to say in that debate because I would be out of order, something to which I am most unaccustomed. I can refer, however, to the action for which the Minister and the London County Council have a joint responsibility, namely, the incidental work which is necessary after houses have been erected and which must have the approval of the Minister. It can only be carried out under conditions approved by him. I refer to road improvements, widening of bridges and all other things of that sort.

When people arrive from London into these outlying areas, they at once miss many of the amenities and even some of the necessities to which they have been accustomed. These estates are not towns and not villages, but merely dormitories. They are very clean, very trim and orderly, but still only dormitories. The residents sometimes have a sense of frustration, or rather of isolation. They feel that houses have been provided for them and they have been directed to them, but they seem to be left without any further thought being given to them. I could give two examples. They may appear to some hon. Members to be small, but they are significant of the existence of this problem.

Most of the people who live on the Belhus Park Estate have to travel every day to London on the very worst railway in all England and Wales. The trains are slow and uncomfortable and very often not even clean. Successive Ministers of Transport have promised us over the years to electrify this line. Plans have been approved, but we have not yet been told the precise date for the starting of electrification. Several hundred residents have their own cars, but they have nowhere to park them. Every month they are hauled into court by hundreds and fined for parking without lights. The magistrates are very reluctant to impose these fines and over and over again have expressed personal sympathy with the car owners; but, under law as it stands, they have no option. This need for parking facilities should have been foreseen. It is one of the incidental works to which I referred. Now that the need has become so evident it should he met, and met immediately.

Here is another example. People living on the Aveley Estate sometimes find it necessary to travel to South Ockendon. To do so conveniently they need a footbridge over the railway. That is also incidental work. The Thurrock Urban District Council has approached the Essex County Council, the British Transport Commission, and the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, and has asked them to contribute to the scheme. Because of lack of support from those authorities, the provision of this very necessary footbridge has had to be deferred.

There is the vital question of the whole future of these housing estates. When a house becomes vacant it is filled by people from London who were on the London County Council's housing list. Even the grown-up sons and daughters of the present tenants are not accommodated and become the responsibility of the local authority, which already has the enormous problem of rehousing thousands of people who have always lived in the area. The time has come when we must seriously consider the future ownership and the administration of these housing estates.

I have been mildly critical of the London County Council. I am by no means unmindful of the very good work it has done, and I praise the Council for it, but I ask it to do even better. I am convinced that the London County Council has built these estates, not in order to be a landlord or to collect rents, but primarily for the benefit of the people. But these people no longer belong to London. They belong to Thurrock or in whatever areas the estates are built. They are now our citizens, and they live among us. They are very welcome. They are excellent people. We believe that we can take care of them better than the administrators in faraway County Hall.

7.20 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Gough (Horsham)

The hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy) started his speech by telling us that he would set a good example. I should like to congratulate him on doing so and on the brevity and punch of his remarks, which he put swiftly. Having listened to most of this debate, I wish to be the first to follow that example. I wish it had been the example set by the speakers from the two Front Benches.

The hon. Member confined his remarks to the London County Council estates. In my short speech I want to confine my remarks to what I hope never will be estates, the new towns. First, I wish to convey thanks, as my right hon. Friend did, to the Opposition for making this debate possible. Also, I should like to thank the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) for stating that the new towns have become a great success. As he probably knows, I represent the new town of Crawley and we consider Crawley the greatest success of them all. I shall not take up the cudgels with the hon. and learned Member, who said that the new towns were a Socialist experiment, but I disagree with him entirely on that.

The hon. and learned Member referred to the chairman of Harlow New Town Corporation and his private enterprise at Allhallows, inferring that that chairman, who is a great friend of mine, was using his public know-how for private interest.

Mr. Mitchison

Certainly I used those words, but I hope that the hon. Member and Sir Richard Costain will both understand that that was not a personal criticism in any way. I hope I make it quite clear that my suggestion was that the public know-how ought to be used by a public body.

Mr. Gough

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member. I was going to say, lightheartedly, that perhaps those on both sides of the Committee who were responsible for introducing the new towns should pay tribute to many people—Sir Richard Costain is one and Sir Thomas Bennett is another—who for many years have used private know-how for the public benefit. It was merely a play on words.

I wish to say how glad I am that the Minister has continued closing the bolt-holes. I have referred to this matter before, and several hon. Members have referred to it in this debate. We in Crawley have been delighted to welcome newcomers from London, but we are always rather disappointed and disillusioned when we find that no sooner do they leave London and their factories than those homes and factories are newly-occupied and the situation is then no better. In other words, the original conception of the new towns has not been fulfilled. I hope that the steps which my right hon. Friend has taken and is taking will be really effective. Otherwise, all we shall do is to make a vaster London, and eventually the whole of the Home Counties will be one gigantic estate, such as those to which the hon. Member for Thurrock referred.

Another great step was announced by my right hon. Friend with reference to green belts. He referred to some of the major cities, but I should like to underline what my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) said, and hope that my right hon. Friend will insist on green belts round the new towns. I have had occasion to comment in the past on one lapse in regard to Crawley. I think it absolutely vital to decide on the final size of new towns and to create green belts round them. If I may be a little parochial for a moment, I would say that we in Crawley are rather concerned about the development, on the one hand, of Gatwick Airport, and, on the other hand, the adjacent town of Horsham. Beyond Gatwick there is big development in Surrey. We are rather afraid that unless Crawley is contained by a green belt, eventually there will be an enormous sprawl which will ruin a particularly attractive part of Sussex.

The Minister has made certain comments about the building of offices in London. I think that if the new towns are to play their proper part, they must be balanced communities. They must be balanced between industry, commerce and business. When one of my hon. Friends referred to people going into the new towns and commuting, an hon. Member asked what commuting was. It is an American expression. There are some dreadful planning expressions being coined and I hope that we shall not eventually have "urbo-locomotion".

We are rather frightened and worried that unless we can get large businesses offering their offices to new towns such as Crawley, we shall have a situation in which a large number of people will utilise the new towns to live in and travel to and from London by train, thus making the situation in London as bad as it was before. I was a little worried by the figures given by my right hon. Friend. Although I believe that the number of people living in London and Greater London has decreased, the number of people working in London and Greater London has risen.

Quite a lot has been said on the question of amenities. I do not think that we in Crawley have much to worry about in that respect; we have been more fortunate than other places. I would, however, ask the Minister to have a word with his right hon. Friends, because by no means all the amenities of a new town or overspill area are directly under his control. For instance, in Crawley we are extremely concerned about our new hospital. Plans have been approved, and I ask my right hon. Friend to use his influence with the Minister of Health, because in a community increasing as rapidly as Crawley is, the rebuilding of the hospital is a matter of vital importance.

Another matter, which very often is overlooked is the question of roads and the danger on roads as a result of a rapidly increasing population. We have been strongly urging the Ministry of Transport to impose a speed limit on a certain section of road known as Manor Royal, where people have to cross a main road to get into the industrial area. I admit that that happens only twice a day, but on those occasions the place is a seething mass of bicycles, children in prams and other traffic. It is vitally important to see that the safety of people is looked after in the new towns.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering referred to a matter which I am sure we shall be discussing again and again, the future ownership of the new towns. In the short time I am allowing myself, I do not intend to do more than to ask the Minister whether the Government could make an announcement fairly soon on that subject. Much as those of us who really think about the problem would like to keep it out of party politics, I am afraid there is every indication that it will become a highly controversial matter. In Crawley this question is occupying everyone's mind. Whatever was said on either side of the Committee when the new towns were conceived, the position has altered as it was bound to alter.

I would certainly take up the cudgels with the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) who, incidentally, referred to the fact that now there is a Labour majority on our urban district council. That is just the point I want to make. Every three or four years there are elections, and the one thing I do not want, as I am sure no hon. Member wants, is for the actual ownership of these houses to become the cockpit of local party politics. Then "Mr. Bloggs" would say, "Put me on the council and I will reduce the rents", and his opponent would say, "Put me on the council, and I will reduce them still further". This is a vast problem and concerns by far the largest ownership of houses in the country. We should think carefully before we put that great responsibility into the hands of what, by comparison, is a very small local authority.

I promised that I would be brief and to the point. I want to make this plea: I think that if we really want to make the new towns successful, we must if possible keep them out of the realm of party politics and study the issues which I have put to the Committee this evening. Those of us who are connected with the new towns must be assured that the original object is being achieved, and we must also be assured that where we need amenities and help, that help will be forthcoming. If that happens, the measures which my right hon. Friend has already taken will proceed apace, and the new towns will continue to develop as successfully as in the last few years.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)

I am sure that the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Gough) will forgive me if I do not follow him. I want to deal with a problem of an entirely different nature. I want to put before the Committee the problem of Birmingham. In some ways it is not dissimilar to that of Manchester which was expounded a few minutes ago by the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson). It is a national problem, but I believe that Birmingham's problem is much more acute than that of any other provincial city, and today is even more acute than that of London.

What is the problem? Today Birmingham has a register of 64,000 homeless families. Apart from those people who must be rehoused, at least 50,000 slum houses are unfit for habitation and will have to be demolished in due course. A problem is created, as they are demolished, of decanting the population, and, even then, it is calculated that out of every five families displaced only three will be rehoused on the same site. That means that two families out of five will be surplus and will have to be found new land on which to be rehoused. That is altogether apart from lodgers and sub-tenants who are displaced at the same time. That creates a housing problem which will demand sites for at least 20,000 dwellings in spite of the fact that Birmingham is building quite a number of flats 12 storeys high and the bulk of its housing efforts is going into flats.

Birmingham calculates that all its available virgin sites, which will be used for the building of a few thousand houses, will be completely exhausted within the next two or three years. It is calculated that, at the lowest estimate, it will be necessary to provide more than 50,000 dwellings outside the confines of the city. That is the equivalent of a population of more than 150,000, which is the population not merely of the town but of a substantial city. That is the problem.

What is the present position? The advice which we are receiving from the Minister is to negotiate. Birmingham has negotiated and has done its best to come to arrangements with the surrounding county and local authorities. Some progress has been made, but it has been entirely inadequate. The Minister mentioned our agreement about 7,000 houses, in the Staffordshire area, and we have made some progress with the Worcestershire area. The plain fact is that certain county and local authorities are not anxious to have the Birmingham overspill. They do not want people from Birmingham, and the matter is not likely to be solved merely by negotiation. Some of the difficulties are purely snobbish, but others are admittedly on substantial financial grounds.

One knows the difficulties of receiving authorities, difficulties which have been accentuated by increases in rates of interest. We are now faced with the situation that some local authorities in the first place agreed to accept Birmingham nominees in their housing estates, but at an interest rate of 5½ per cent. the financial burden they will have to bear and the rents they will have to charge will be very much more than they are prepared to face. Some of them are already endeavouring to withdraw from such tentative agreements. But even assuming that all the agreements go through, such schemes will be quite inadequate to house a substantial proportion of Birmingham's overspill.

We are entitled to ask what the Minister intends to do. It is all very well for the Minister to say, "It is Birmingham's responsibility. I will look on benevolently and bless any negotiations which you enter." That is all he is doing. We say that it is the Minister's problem. It is a national problem and not merely a problem for Birmingham, just as the problems of Manchester and London are national problems which have to be solved by national planning. Birmingham has had an influx of population to swell Birmingham industry. Is it right that Birmingham should face the headache and foot the bill?

We talk about Birmingham industry, but Birmingham citizens do not get the benefit of that industry, except in so far as they obtain employment in it. For the most part, the people who own that industry live outside the city and contribute in rates to the surrounding local authorities and not to Birmingham. Some of those are the receiving authorities which do not want to take the Birmingham overspill. The factories in Birmingham, under de-rating, pay only 25 per cent. of what their rate contribution should be. So it is not Birmingham which gets the advantage of the profits of its industries. The nation gets the benefit of their production and we therefore say that the housing problem is a matter for the nation to plan.

Apart from that, with the best will in the world, even if Birmingham is prepared to make the whole of the financial contribution, the problem cannot be solved on a city basis. And we calculate that by the time we have dealt with all Birmingham's overspill, assuming that the negotiations continue and Birmingham pays a ten years' rate contribution, Birmingham will have payed from its rates towards the rehousing of a population which has been swollen by an industrial influx a total sum of no less than £4 million. That is a very large sum, a very heavy burden, even for a city the size of Birmingham. Even if that were done, we cannot get authorities to take the overspill population.

Birmingham says that there is only one way to solve the problem: there must be a new town in the West Midlands. We say that a new town must be provided under the New Town Act. We do not think that the provisions of the 1952 Act are quite good enough to meet the case. True, the Minister has suggested that Birmingham should tell him of an area which should be designated for development under the 1952 Act, but that is not Birmingham's responsibility. It puts the city in an impossible position. Birmingham has only to say, "This is an area we should like", and the local population will say, "There you are—Birmingham's out to grab us." As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fien- burgh) said earlier, the Minister has to do the planning and the designation, and should indicate where the new town is to be.

Industrial planning has been mentioned by many speakers, many of whom have dealt with the same point, namely, that if industry moves out of the city the local authorities at the present time have no power whatsoever to deal with the vacated premises. Birmingham has had the same experience as have other authorities. A factory employing 2,000 people recently moved outside the city, and before the council learned that was being done the premises had been leased to another industrial concern, with more people coming into the city as a result. It is therefore obvious that it is of no use telling local authorities that they must do something about it. They have no power at all to do anything about it. That power must be provided.

It has been pointed out that inducements must be offered to the owners of industrial concerns to move out of the big cities. It is no good just encouraging them and saying, "Will you please go?" They must have a financial inducement to take the risk, to move their factories, to look for new resources of labour and to incur new capital expenditure. I know that the Government prefer budgetary devices to physical controls, but I can suggest a budgetary device which I hope the Minister will seriously consider.

The Minister says that he is at present reviewing our rating system and derating. I hope that, for the most part, derating of industrial concerns will go, but there is a case for the preferential derating of industrial concerns in these receiving areas, and I hope that, as part of his review, the Minister will seriously consider that as a method of inducing owners of factories to move out of the congested industrial areas into these receiving areas where it is desired that they should go. In that limited case I think that derating could be justified.

I have placed Birmingham's problem before the Minister and the Committee. It is a very serious human problem, and Birmingham expects the Minister to do something about it. The city itself is doing what it can out of its own resources, but not sufficient—in fact, little if anything—has been done by the Minister to assist Birmingham and other cities to solve this problem. In our view, it can be solved only by direct Government intervention and assistance because, as I have said, this is a national problem and not one which should rest for its solution simply on the populations of the large cities.

7.45 p.m..

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

I should probably not have spoken at all but for the fact that I heard my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) cast some mild strictures on the attitude of the districts surrounding Manchester. I happen to represent one of those districts, and we have views that differ, perhaps, from his. I do not think that it can be said that many of the Cheshire authorities are unreasonable in their attitude towards Manchester. Most of them are anxious to help, and the local authority in my own constituency—the Cheadle and Gatley Urban District Council—has been extremely helpful to the Manchester authority.

We have not been too pleased with the response which that spirit of helpfulness has evoked. That is why I intervened when my hon. Friend was speaking. It is, of course, one thing to say—and, indeed, to admit—that Manchester has a very real problem, and quite another to say that the desperate need resulting from that problem should allow the Manchester authority to engage in what, to many of us, appears to be an attempt to browbeat the surrounding authorities. That will not bring results, and I hope that those advising Manchester will impress that fact upon that authority.

When we go into Manchester and look at it—and many of us have to do that—many of us feel that not enough is being done inside the city to deal with this problem of rehousing. I know that there are tremendous problems, and that we cannot, perhaps, get all the rehousing we want within Manchester, but we think that perhaps a higher density should be accepted and more effort made to rehouse the population within Manchester.

I do not think that overspill is in any way a satisfactory solution. I say so because I have had what might be called two experiences, in that, although I now represent an area of Cheshire which surrounds Stockport and Manchester, I did for five years represent one of the largest overspill areas in the country—the Wythenshawe Estate. That gave me an insight into what really happens when these overspill areas are established. I admit that I represented Wythenshawe at a time when matters were extraordinarily difficult. That was so, not necessarily because hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power—though that did not help, of course—but because, from 1945 to 1950, there were many problems associated with the war years. Nevertheless, I felt that the Wythenshawe Estate as a sort of overspill area was nothing like a solution to the problem.

One cannot escape the fact that individuals put outside a city's boundaries and yet held responsible for rates, etc., to that city really do not get a satisfactory deal. There is always the feeling that the amenities are not so great as they ought to be because the city wants the people to come back and spend their money there. There is always a feeling that, being outside the ambit of the city's activities, they do not get the consideration to which they are entitled, and that those in the city are getting the real benefit of the rates.

All these thoughts occur to people placed as were the people on the Wythenshawe Estate, as I remember it from 1945 to 1950. We should, therefore, think very seriously indeed before we allow of arrangements that are socially unsatisfactory. There is no doubt at all that an arrangement like that of Wythenshawe is socially unsatisfactory, and even today, with more amenities provided, the objections which were present from 1945 to 1950 remain, in part if not in whole.

In reference to the question of co-operation between Manchester and the surrounding districts, I have at the moment a particularly difficult example of the relations between Manchester and the Cheadle and Gatley Urban District Council. Manchester wanted to build some houses on a site in Heald Green which had been partly filled by bungalows. Along came Manchester with a plan to build two-and three-storey buildings on that site, adjacent or very near to the building line of the bungalows. When it was represented to the Manchester and Cheshire county authorities that that sort of building adjacent to bungalows was not a sound idea, Manchester replied that this sort of building had been done at Wythenshawe, and that if it was all right for Wythenshawe it was all right for the estate in Heald Green, despite the fact that bungalows are not a feature of the Wythenshawe estate at all.

If the City of Manchester wants co-operation from the surrounding authorities it must go out of its way to accept, in whole or in part, the views of those authorities when the type of development which should be permitted is decided. I am not pronouncing on the minor details of this development, but it was wholly unsuitable from the point of view of the people living there. Those people were not objecting to the idea in its entirety; they were objecting to the type of development that was envisaged.

If Manchester is to get good relations with the authorities around it, it should pay a little more attention to the wishes of those with whom it is going to associate, instead of saying "This is it; take it or leave it. It was good enough elsewhere. It must be good enough for you". I know that desperate problems make people impatient, and probably if I had the job of the Manchester City Council I should be impatient too. Nevertheless, this is essentially, basically, and almost wholly, a question of human relationships. We shall solve this problem only by getting a good relationship between the authority which wants to dispose of some of its population and the authority which is to receive that population.

I urge upon the Manchester City Council and other cities to try to cultivate a little more tolerance towards the receiving authorities, and realise that a little less of the big stick and a little more keenness to appreciate the difficulties of the receiving authorities will bring about a situation in which there will be much more co-operation, which is the only way in which this problem can be solved.

7.52 p.m.

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)

It is not only because I lack the qualifications to speak on the general matters that have been raised in this debate, but also because I have no desire to stand in the way of other hon. Members who have greater qualifications and who are anxious to speak, that my intervention will be of a very brief character.

As it happens, I am interested in this matter because I represent, among other places, the town of Peterlee, one of the new towns. It is a very fine town, fast developing, though perhaps not as rapidly as some of us would desire. But there is a problem in that area which, no doubt, exists elsewhere, to which I should like to direct attention. Indeed, there are two fundamental problems, in my judgment.

The Minister said in the course of his very interesting speech—and I make no criticism, at any rate, of 95 per cent. of what the Minister said—as indicating the enthusiasm with which the new towns were accepted, that there was no shortage of applications for the houses. That applies to the town of Peterlee, but the reason is that there is not sufficient accommodation of a satisfactory character available elsewhere.

That is why the people in my area apply for accommodation in the town of Peterlee, in spite of the fact that the rents are far too high in relation to the incomes they receive. I believe—but I am open to correction—that the greater number of the tenants in the town of Peterlee pay rents exceeding 30s. a week. It may be that in the South people are accustomed to paying rents of that sort, but that does not apply in the North.

There is considerable discontent because of what the people regard as high rents. The result of paying those rents is that many are incapable of providing themselves with a sufficiency of the necessities that they require, and certainly they have not the ability to provide for other amenities.

There have been several disputes about the matter, and considerable discontent has been expressed. I have received several deputations upon the subject, and I have made representations to the corporation responsible for the administration of the town of Peterlee, as well as to the Minister, all without avail. We are told that these are the economic rents and that they have got to be paid. I believe this applies also to the new town of Aycliffe.

I do not know whether the Minister can do anything about this. The Corporation cannot do anything because of the financial situation, but certainly some attention must be directed to this problem because sooner or later the corporation may be faced with a considerable accumulation of rent arrears, and people will come into the town, pay their rent for a time, find themselves in financial difficul- ties and then seek accommodation elsewhere. If there is any change in wage rates—as there may be in due course; one cannot tell—or some changes in the family income because of young people leaving the parental home, clearly they will find themselves in a position of considerable difficulty.

There is another problem which is equally important. It is the provision of industries in the area. It is a remarkable fact that in the town of Peterlee, although it was begun about eight or nine years ago, there are only two industries. One is a clothing factory which was opened recently, and the other is a textile factory which is working with only a limited number of employees because it is not possible to obtain the machinery required.

I should like to explain what has happened in that connection. This firm, which is a Bradford firm, decided to go to the town of Peterlee, quite rightly, and certainly this decision was received with great favour in our area. It was thought that it might be possible to obtain a considerable volume of female labour. The labour is available. But in order to produce all that the firm requires—and, incidentally, it exports 74 per cent. of its products and, therefore, the matter becomes even more important—the firm wished to provide itself with machinery which was not available in this country.

Application was therefore made to the Board of Trade to obtain machinery from the United States, which of course would mean an expenditure of dollars. But the application has been refused and the firm has been told to wait until the British machinery is available. The result is that instead of employing about 400 persons—and it might eventually be possible to employ more—only about half the number are employed.

That is the kind of problem with which we are faced. It is no use the Minister expressing his desire—which I believe is quite sincere—to proceed expeditiously with the development of these new towns and provide for expansion and for housing accommodation, if he does not try to bring pressure to bear on his colleagues in order to provide the industries so that at any rate the people can find a measure of employment within the area, instead of travelling elsewhere.

There is one further matter, which has been mentioned during the course of this debate. Sooner or later the Minister, in conjunction with the local authorities and the various corporations in the new towns, will have to face the problem of democratic administration. At present, Peterlee, the only place of which I can speak from direct experience, is administered by a corporation; but there is no representation on that corporation from the people who live in Peterlee.

There is consultation between the local authority and the corporation from time to time, and no doubt representations can be made by people who are aggrieved by the action, or inaction, of the corporation. Nevertheless, this procedure is not democratic in character. Now that eight or nine years have expired since the inception of these schemes, it seems to me that the Minister must tackle this matter of local authority administration, providing a democratic content. I should be glad to know whether the Minister intends to make any proposals in this connection.

Those are all matters of importance in my area. There are others concerning amenities and the like, but I excuse the Minister and the corporation because there are physical, financial and other difficulties in the way, which are apparent to those of us concerned about the town of Peterlee and which are, no doubt, familiar to those associated with the other new towns.

Finally, may I say that I am a little surprised that the provision of housing and the expansion of the new towns, the development of further new towns, the need for mobility, the obvious need for removing traffic congestion, the need for enabling people to live near their work, and so forth—all social, human problems affecting the whole community—have not attracted greater interest in the House of Commons this afternoon. I should have thought they would have done. However, there may be reasons why the Committee has been poorly attended. Nevertheless, the problems which the Minister has raised and which have been dealt with by my hon. Friends are prolems of great human, and indeed national, interest, and the sooner we reach a solution of those problems the better it will be for us all.

8.4 p.m.

Mr. Martin Maddan (Hitchin)

I wish to speak about two matters which arise in this debate, one relating to new towns and the other relating to expanded towns. In my own constituency, the Hitchin division of Hertfordshire, we have the new town of Stevenage, and in another town in the division, Letchworth, where negotiations with the London County Council are going on with a view to expanding that town to take some of London's overspill. One could speak for a very long time on both these problems, but I wish to focus my attention, and the attention of the Committee, on two particular problems. One of them relates to new towns in general, though I shall cite examples from Stevenage, which I know, and the other relates to expanded towns which are intended to take overspill from large towns and cities in a particular area, the example I have in mind being Letchworth.

Before I go further, I shall pay a tribute to the people in the areas receiving these large immigrations from surrounding cities for the way in which they receive them. Certainly in North Hertfordshire around Stevenage, despite the very bitter controversy which raged before that town was finally set on its way, all the people now, both in the original town or village of Stevenage and in the surrounding countryside, do all they can to make the newcomers to Hertfordshire feel welcome, and I am certain that any other developments which may occur in North Hertfordshire will find that same spirit prevailing. It is very important that it should.

I have always thought it a pity that we should speak about "new Stevenager", "new" this, that or the other. What we are trying to do in the new towns, and more particularly in the expanded towns, is to graft something new on to something which already exists. There are very few new towns which are mushrooming up from nothing. If these towns are to have a good social basis and spirit, it is vital that a feeling of comradeship between all people, new and old, should exist. Therefore, I deprecate the use of the terms "old" and "new" when referring to the original and the growing part of these communities.

In Stevenage, there are very many things about which I could grow eloquent and to which I could pay many tributes, but I suppose it is in the nature of these debates that we should talk about the things we regard as wrong and which we wish to see remedied. The most disappointing thing to me in Stevenage is the "one class" character, if I may use that expression, of the development of the new Stevenage. I have tried to collect some figures, and, from the information I have, it appears that there have been finished somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 new houses under the aegis of the new town corporation. When we come to look at the number of houses built for occupation by managers in the factories, technicians, professional men, doctors, solicitors and those in all the other professions we must have to keep the modern community going, the numbers arc falling far behind the proportion there might be to match the influx of people doing other forms of work.

The result, of course, is bound to be an unbalanced community, unless we can put it right. I do not in any way criticise the corporation, which started off, I fear, under a considerable disadvantage, if I may put it in this way, from the nature of its first chairman, Miss Monica Felton. After the discontinuance of her association with the corporation, there were many difficulties left, and we are still trying to resolve them; but the pattern which has been set does not make their solution easy.

Mr. Lindgren

For the sake of the record, I think the hon. Member for Hitchin has made a slip. He said Miss Felton was the first chairman, but she was not the first chairman of Stevenage New Town Coporation by any means; there were three before her, unfortunately.

Mr. Maddan

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. She was not the first chairman.

Mr. Shinwell

She happened to be the first chairman of Peterlee New Town Corporation.

Mr. Maddan

She was the first chairman of Peterlee. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) mentioned some of the difficulties of Peterlee, though I am sure that he did not attribute those particular difficulties to Miss Monica Felton.

The point I wish to make is that in Stevenage we have 4,000 or 5,000 houses built. There are some blocks of flats which one might reckon were designed and built for the sort of person I am talking about, managers and other professional people, and there are something over 100 of those flats. There are about a dozen houses which one could describe as having been designed for this sort of person. There are a score or so of other houses which might or might not be designed for such people, and a contractor, in association with the corporation, is building a few more houses privately. When all these are added together and one takes the most optimistic view of their use, however, the proportion that they represent of the total population of the new town of Stevenage is much below the proportion of people who will be needed to provide the industrial leadership and the professional services for a town of that size.

What happens, therefore, to these people? Many of them, when their factories move out to Stevenage, move into the blocks of flats. Whilst in many respects they are very pleasant flats indeed, they serve rather the purpose of a transit camp, for many of the people move out of them to live in the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, therefore, as a result of the development of the new town, Stevenage is becoming a rather unbalanced community.

It is certainly optimistic to imagine that people who move into the country—and perhaps one of the reasons why they come away from the middle of London is that they hope to be able to live a country life—should settle down in great blocks of flats put down very much in the middle of the town close to where the new town centre is being built and feel that that is the kind of place in which they can make their home for many years. It is not working out that way and, therefore, people are leaving the town of Stevenage and going into the surrounding countryside.

Two houses have been privately built by people who intended to live in them—certainly it is a tiny number—but this arrangement has not worked out successfully. In addition, the other houses to which I have referred are being built. They are quite pleasant and fairly well sited, and they might well be regarded as houses in which managers, technicians and other experts of industry might choose to live near their work and among other people who work in their factories. We have yet to see how this works out, however, for the houses are still under construction. Whether they will in fact serve that purpose, I do not know.

The corporation itself has built houses specifically for these people but has encountered the difficulty that by the time it has paid the cost of building the houses and has added the cost of overheads and development, people who contemplate buying the houses find that the money they can get from a building society is not sufficient to meet the price. A building society's idea of valuation is naturally rather different from that of a development corporation, which is under a statutory and quite proper obligation to meet the cost not only of building the houses but also of developing all the amenities, including trunk sewers, lighting, water and the rest.

There has been started, therefore, in Stevenage the experiment, which, I believe, has been tried elsewhere, of having a private contractor to build houses for sale privately. It is an interesting fact that the contractor, who has put his money down on this basis, considers that he can build the houses and sell them on a more attractive basis than the corporation is able to do. It may be that he has certain advantages. If so, it is a happy arrangement that he should exploit them.

If this method succeeds, I very much hope that the corporation will have the support of my right hon. Friend the Minister. I am sure that it will, because my right hon. Friend has on many occasions expressed his concern that the new towns should be developed as balanced communities. I am certain that the corporation will have the Minister's support in pressing ahead with a scheme which will have the effect of keeping all the various sections of the people who are working in the town of Stevenage living there. That is most important if we are to avoid transplanting to these new areas in the countryside the same kind of onesided social set-up from which people who come to these towns have suffered in the areas which they have left.

One of the unhappiest features of the industrial revolution was the way in which the people in the various walks of life were segregated, not only at work but also in the places in which they lived. In the villages, such a set-up was quite foreign to anything we had ever seen before and we do not want to repeat it in the new areas which we are now developing.

I quite understand that my right hon. Friend cannot subsidise these people in some special way. It is curious that those who are, one imagines, the better-paid people in the firms in which they work find it impossible to live in the new towns according to the standards which are their wont, while the people who draw a weekly wage packet can do so. Certainly, it is a topsy-turvy world. I do not suggest that my right hon. Friend should give these other people a special subsidy but if a solution such as is now being tried in Stevenage, and which, I believe, has been tried elsewhere, of letting out to private contractors the building of houses for these people can be put through successfully, it would be a happy outcome to the problem.

If an arrangement of that kind does not succeed, we must devote ourselves to finding some other solution. It is not something that we can let go by default. We should be criticised, and rightly so, by coming generations if in building the new towns, with all the benefits of planning and thought and deliberate decisions, we simply repeated the same mistakes as happened haphazardly under laissez faire a century ago after the industrial revolution.

I should like now to turn my remarks to Letchworth, the first garden city, of which we are very proud. Other garden cities have, perhaps, carried out more assiduous public relations campaigns and may be better known, but Letchworth nevertheless is the first garden city, not only in this country but in the world. A few weeks ago it celebrated its 50th birthday and held an exhibition. It was extremely well attended and showed the great interest taken by the people of Letchworth in their town.

The town of Letchworth has been negotiating with the London County Council to build an estate of about 1,500 houses to take some of the excess population of London when its densities are reduced to a more proper figure. The town does not do this only for philanthropic reasons, of course. Whatever regrets we may entertain about change—and all of us, on both sides, are inclined to have misgivings about change—we in our part of the world firmly believe that the people can be much better housed, their standard of living more easily maintained and the health of the nation much better advanced, by developing fairly small communities in place of huge agglomerations like the conurbations of London and those which are to be found in the Midlands, in the North-West and in Yorkshire. Though it may mean an upset in our local way of life, we are prepared to face it for the common good. Certainly that is the opinion of the elected majority of the Letchworth Urban District Council.

Mr. W. R. Williams

As the hon. Member has had a long connection with Manchester, he will be pleased to know that that is the view of Manchester, too.

Mr. Maddan

I thank the hon. Member. I have indeed a long connection with Manchester, having been born within eight miles of Manchester—I will not say exactly how many years ago, but long enough to justify what the hon. Member has said.

Naturally, the local authority has to safeguard the interests of the people who live in its area. It would not otherwise be doing its job by the people who elected it. At Letchworth, the council is in the control of the political friends of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I make no quarrel with it or with them on that account. Indeed, I think the great majority of the people of Letchworth would welcome the development to which I have referred.

Certainly the industrialists would. We have many new factories being opened there, and old factories being expanded. Later this month a large factory is to be opened to make automatic transmissions for motor cars. It will have a colossal output. It has an extremely modern layout and modern mechanisation, so that its labour force will not be anything like as great as one would suppose from the contribution it will make to the motor car industry and also to our exports. Nevertheless, it will need men. There are other factories there in heavy and light industries which are, I am glad to say, prospering, but which are in great need of more people to work in them.

How is the need to be met? Certainly, men cannot be drawn from the surrounding countryside. The farmers in the neighbourhood are already hard pressed for labour. I do not believe their case is any worse than that which is general throughout the country, but the problem of obtaining people to work on the land is, throughout the country, fairly acute. It is made more acute for us by the fact that over the border, in Bedfordshire, there are towns like Luton, which has a large motor industry, and Dunstable, which is developing a large motor industry, which are drawing away from the countryside people who would normally have expected to have lived their lives working on the farms. Mechanisation on the farms is helping to meet the difficulty.

However, because we cannot draw any more people from the countryside, and because the industry of Letchworth is expanding, the urban district council pursued with the London County Council a scheme to build 1,500 houses in Letchworth. Those negotiations so developed that it was generally believed the scheme would come off, but it has now foundered because the urban district council thought the high interest rates and, in particular, the risk that they might get higher, and the risk that building costs might also get higher, made it difficult for a small community such as that of Letchworth to bear an expansion of the sort which was contemplated.

I am afraid I was not able to hear my right hon. Friend's opening remarks today, and so I do not know whether he referred to this subject or not. I can see that this difficulty could be a deterrent in the thinking and planning by a fairly small local authority in concluding a negotiation to commit its people to expenditures directly on behalf of other people, as a consequence of which bargain they might have to pay a greater share than originally contemplated, because of rises in interest rates or in building costs.

I think the local authority could be fortified by the fact that in the new town at Stevenage only four or five miles away there is no difficulty at all in getting people to come to live there despite the high rents, which were referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington when speaking of Peterlee, and as generally obtaining in the new towns. People go to them prepared to pay them. They go to live in very much better conditions than those they have been used to, and they pay for a basic amenity, and they enjoy that amenity. I do not think there is much resentment about the level of the rents which they are called upon to pay. I believe that the authorities responsible for towns which may be expanded to take overspill from London could well be fortified by the experience of the new town corporations in obtaining comparatively high levels of rents without deterring people from coming to the new towns. Certainly, in Stevenage we have no trouble at all in filling the houses.

It may be that in the expanded towns this would be equally true, but it would, of course, lead to a slightly different problem. In a town like Stevenage there is a large new part being developed by the corporation, and there is a comparatively small old part. There are council houses, a comparatively small number, of which the rents are much lower than they are in the new town. At Letchworth, people from the L.C.C. area, in the part to be developed, would see in the town of Letchworth as it exists today a large number of people paying for council houses rents very much less than they would be paying if they were paying at the same rate which the people pay in the new town.

So the council is faced with this problem. Is it to raise rents all round? That would hardly be fair. Is it to have a large development right in its midst where some people will pay very much higher rents than are being paid for other houses whose occupants work in the same factories as themselves in the town? I can see that there is a very real problem in these expanding towns when wondering whether or not to undertake a development in conjunction with a large city in the locality. The authorities in these expanding towns may be rather more fearful than they need be. I also believe that the exporting authorities and the Ministry could go some way towards meeting their fears and, between them, probably overcome them. If that came about we might see the very great surge forward in these expanding towns which is needed to relieve the congestion in the old cities that are left to us from the days of the Industrial Revolution.

In north Hertfordshire one type of this development has gone ahead after a rather dubious start, and we might well see another development taking place a few miles away. It will be extremely interesting to see how they compare. We must ensure that both types of schemes succeed, because we cannot rest in the country while we have the old towns developed out of the Industrial Revolution, with their high densities of population and poor conditions of living which cannot but be a drain on the health, the spirit and the whole feeling of our people. If England is to continue as a nation, with homogeneity of feeling, solidarity and the same roots, we must see to it that the most basic social service of all—housing—is of the highest standard that the country can possibly afford.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)

The hon. Member for Hitchin (Mr. Maddan) has made a long and interesting contribution, and I would wish to take up briefly only two points that he made. I am glad he is aware that the Government's policy of high interest rates causes very serious problems to local authorities. I hope that he will make that point plain to the Government on every occasion.

The hon. Member also made an interesting comment about the difficulty of persuading middle-income groups to stay and live and mix with lower-income groups in the new towns. I believe that is true of Stevenage and that it is the case with other new towns. I do not think that the Minister can do much about it. It is deep-seated in the inequalities of our society. Where-ever the right hon. Gentleman goes, whether to new towns, old towns, city or countryside, he will find that inequalities of income result in a class division which will take Governments a long time to overcome.

I think that we have found in this debate general agreement that the new towns are a success. We must agree that when the Labour Government took this step of bringing the New Towns Act into operation it was the first bold, practical attempt to deal with the problem of overcrowding in our cities and the dispersal of some part of our material assets. We are glad to know that, as he has said today, the Minister and the Government are not opposed in principle to the creation of new towns.

We on this side of the Committee are pleased to accept that as the Government's intention. The Minister also said that if the Labour Government had not started a new towns programme it should not be assumed that the present Administration would not have done so. It is a pleasure to know that a Conservative Administration supports collective enterprise. If the Government move along that path, we on these benches will have achieved some of our purposes.

Though the new towns are successful—and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) also said that they were financially successful — I am in some doubt as to whether, with the added interest rates over the last 12 months, they will not run into serious financial difficulties. The rents are already beyond the reach of many people who would like to live in these new towns. The Minister has yet to feel the impact on new town rents of the Government's financial policy. When those higher interest rates find their way into the rents of the new buildings being erected in the new towns, we may find that the present rate of growth will have a setback.

I look at this matter mainly from the point of view of London, representing as I do a London constituency, and also being a Londoner. When I consider it, I think of the eight new towns surround-the Metropolitan area. I have visited them and studied them to some extent, and I want to make two detailed points about them. I hope that the Minister will be very careful that these new towns do not become mere extensions of the greater Metropolitan region. There are signs that that is already happening. Information has been given to me that too many people are moving to and fro between the Metropolitan area and the new towns. They are working in London during the day and using the new towns as dormitories. If that process develops the problem of the over-large conurbabation will be made even worse. It is essential that the new towns should be kept as free as possible of persons who wish to use them merely as dormitories.

We must also be very careful that the green belt between the Metropolitan area and the London new towns is not urbanised. Again, there are already signs that that situation is developing slowly. Some of the new towns themselves are throwing out urban scatterings into the green belt area. We must see that that process does not develop further, so that the whole Metropolitan area becomes twice its present size.

The Minister said that he was not concerned to state the precise number of persons who should be dispersed from the County of London. I agree with him. I am not over-anxious to lay down a precise figure. The County of London plan mentions a figure of 618,000; the 1951 development plan mentions one of 380,000, and in the same year the then Minister of Housing said that at least 250,000 people from London should be provided for outside the county area.

We have made some progress. The London County Council has done a remarkable job. Since the end of the war it has made provision for 125,000 persons outside the county boundary, which is a remarkable achievement by a progressive administration at County Hall. The new towns have also made a contribution, but not such a large one as we might have hoped. The Minister said that 100,000 persons had gone from the greater London area to the London new towns since they had begun to be built. I accept that figure, but when we break it down and see how many came from the County of London we get a different picture. I believe I am right in saying that only 25,000 of those people have come from the County of London. The London County Council estimates that only 28 per cent. of the houses in the London new towns go to people from the County of London. The proportion seems to be about one-third from the County of London and two-thirds from greater London and other parts of the country.

Sir Frederick Messer (Tottenham)

How do they get there?

Mr. Evans

They have to be nominated under the industrial scheme which operates. No one local authority can claim any proportion of the houses, and a new town has to house people who have jobs in it. That is the first test.

We have made substantial progress. Perhaps 150,000 people have been dispersed from the County of London since the end of the war. But we have now reached the stage when that process is slowing down. The London County Council will be unable to build much more on the periphery of the county. The sites are used up. There is no longer room for out-county estates. It may be argued that that development on the periphery has been overdone and that too many people have been rehoused too near London.

The position in London is difficult. Over the next eight or nine years new towns will not take more than about 75,000 people from the County of London. There is no hope that we shall be able to solve the problem of London's overcrowding within the foreseeable future. Contrary to what the Minister appears to think, the schemes under the Town Development Act are stagnant. Negotiations have ended. The Minister said that a year ago he raised the grant for drains and sewers by 50 per cent. I wish to know what he has done since, during the time of the abortive negotiations between the London County Council and outlying authorities. Since the grant was raised, interest rates have gone up 2 per cent. My information is that development schemes have stopped, and I should like reassurance on that point. Only the Minister can reorganise the financial arrangements for receiving authorities.

According to official figures, the London County Council has a waiting list for housing accommodation of 150,000. I assume that there are another 150,000 people on the waiting lists of the Metropolitan boroughs, making a total of 300,000 people requiring accommodation. If we make allowance for duplication, and reduce the figure to a minimum, we can say without exaggeration that there are 100,000 families in need of accommodation. Responsible councillors are telling people that there is little hope of them being rehoused within a reasonable period. Undoubtedly the position is worse now than it has ever been since the beginning of the war, and that is serious. Today people expect better accommodation than in the past.

Let us examine what the Government have done over the last four or five years. The Minister has not started a single new town. Because of the refusal of the Government to face the financial obstacles, the Town Development Act has become inoperable. Furthermore, they have forced the local authorities in the London area to derequistion property and rehouse displaced persons before providing for those in urgent need. They are pressing local authorities to clear the slums without making adequate provision to rehouse the people displaced. The Minister, in due course—quite soon now—will abolish the housing subsidy for general need. All these were contributions by the Government to help the London authorities to solve their problems. Interest rates had been pushed up to such an extent that a London flat built at the present time at a cost of £2,800 has to be let at about 50s. a week, 35s. of which goes in interest charges.

The final thing which the Government have promised to do to help London to solve its problems is to amend the Rent Restrictions Acts. The Minister has stated that he proposes to do that, and presumably the rent of all controlled properties will rise. The only glimmer of sense about their policy of allowing the rents of controlled properties to rise seems to be in the idea which the Minister has that at present in London there is much under-occupied accommodation, and that by allowing the rents to rise that accommodation will be brought into use.

It may be that a certain amount of under-occupied accommodation would be let if the rents allowed were sufficiently high. If it is the Minister's policy in future to amend the Rent Acts and allow the rents of controlled properties to rise, we shall be back to the old practice of the 1930s, which was called doubling up. That meant that the married son or daughter had to take one of mother's rooms. We shall be back to the time when people will be crowded together even more than at present.

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)

The hon. Member is now dealing with legislation.

Mr. Evans

Yes, Sir Rhys, that is so. I was discussing the statement which the Minister has made that he proposes to amend the Rent Acts, and I realise that that is outside the confines of this debate.

The Deputy-Chairman

That subject is outside the limits of this debate.

Mr. Evans

I apologise, Sir Rhys.

I will conclude briefly by saying that the Minister and the present Administration, despite all the things that the Minister has said today about the fine purposes of the new towns and the need to help to rehouse the overcrowded population, must be judged by the actions which have been taken during recent years. When one examines all the steps that have been taken in relation to this problem of overcrowding and overspill, we find that the Government's contribution to this problem has really been a negative one.

8.49 p.m

Mr. Richard Body (Billericay)

It is perhaps appropriate that I should follow the hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans) because many people from that borough come to live in Basildon, which will be the largest of all the new towns, with a population of about 90,000, and which I have the honour to represent. The hon. Gentleman referred to several problems affecting the new towns and those who go to live there. Although he and I sit on opposite sides of the Committee, I found myself agreeing with some of the points which he made.

The hon. Gentleman did not refer to one problem which is causing very great concern to many who are now coming to the new towns or, more important still, are thinking of doing so. That is the problem of unemployment. If there is one thing that will deter someone from going to live in a new town it is the thought that if he goes there he may later be out of work.

I asked the Minister of Labour recently how many people were unemployed in the new town of Basildon. The answer was that there were 40. In an old-established town of ordinary size that might present no problem at all, but in a new town, where all those who go to live in it are able-bodied men, anxious and willing to work, such a number is serious, small though it may appear, because the opportunities of alternative employment are very few.

Many of those 40 may have great difficulty in finding other employment, although I understand that some have been able to find other work in the last few days. I ask my right hon. Friend to consider the problem, and I suggest three steps which might alleviate the difficulty in future. Taking the new town of Basildon as an example, there is a lack of balance between the industries. The engineering industries are predominant. That is inevitable, as nearly all of them have come from East London, where there are many small engineering works. I suggest to the Minister that a better balance should be aimed at. I fully realise that that will present difficulties, but I maintain that it is something which ought to be aimed at, in view of the serious consequences which might otherwise arise.

Secondly, I suggest that when industrialists apply for factories in new towns they should be asked to give some kind of guarantee not to declare redundant more than a certain number of workers at the same time. Of course, the ideal would be for them to guarantee that no one would be declared redundant, but that is beyond the bounds of practicability. On one occasion in Basildon a company discharged quite a number of people at the same time, and the local employment exchange could not cope with the position immediately. My third suggestion is that, so far as possible, priority for these factories should be given to those industrialists who have reasonably full order books for the foreseeable future.

I should like to deal briefly with what the hon. Member for Islington. South-West said about high rents. He commented that the rents in new towns were often too high. When overtime is being worked, the rents such as those charged a few months ago were reasonable; but since then many rents have been increased, and at the same time overtime has ceased in many factories. Tenants with large families experience great difficulty and hardship in having to pay a rent, sometimes of more than £2 a week, when no overtime is being worked.

The position of some of the middle-income groups is, in a way, worse. I can think of several examples of young professional men, young executives in the factories, and young schoolmasters, with a wife and one or two children, who cannot afford the rent in their new town and prefer to live outside, although they would be great assets to the communal life of the new town.

Not long ago a deputation, representing the shop stewards of building sites in the new towns, came to see me here. When I went to meet them I was not too sure what they were going to say. I was very interested indeed to learn that they had come to tell me that, in their opinion, as building operatives who had worked on building sites all their lives—their total building experience aggregated some 30 years—there was far too much waste by some of the architects and designers on the new town corporations. Many of the architects were young and full of fanciful ideas and continually changing the plans after the work had been started. Those variations added to the price of the houses, and the increases were passed on, inevitably, as higher rents to the tenants.

Although that may not be the immediate concern of my right hon. Friend, I suggest that there should be tighter control and supervision of those responsible for the design of houses in the new towns, and that an order might go out on the subject of variations after the work is commenced. The shop stewards had no doubt that £30 at least could be saved on each house erected in the new town of Basildon.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mr. Maddan) referred to private development. I have been told again and again by builders that they could build houses of similar types to those in the new towns at a lower price. Of course, we all realise the danger of indiscriminate private development in a new town, and that there must be considerable supervision over such private development, but I suggest to my right hon. Friend that more use should be made of private builders in the new towns. They could be invited to submit designs of different houses. One of the major complaints, particularly of people in the middle-income groups, is that so many of the houses in the new towns look alike. Architects on the staff of the new town corporations have tried to vary the design so far as they can, but unfortunately they have not always been successful.

I make a suggestion on a much more minor matter, but a matter which is causing some concern in nearly all the new towns and will cause greater concern later, small though it may be. I refer to the question of garages. I understand my right hon. Friend has sent out an order that the ratio of garages to houses should be only one to two. That is all right at the moment, but the number of cars being bought by tenants in new towns is growing every year. Already there are signs in Basildon of cars having to be parked in the road all night, and that tendency is bound to increase. I suggest that the ratio should be varied.

I fully realise that it would be a mistake and a waste for garages to be built and left unoccupied, but there is no reason why garage space should not be left so that garages could be erected later when the need arose. Surely that would be worth while, for the alternative in a few years' time may be that roads, which are narrow enough already, will be cluttered up with cars left out all night, as happens in so many London streets at present.

As I have only a few seconds left, may I briefly ask my right hon. Friend to consider the question of local democracy in the new towns. So often changes are made in the administration of the new towns affecting all the tenants, yet little or no consultation takes place. By "tenants" I mean not only those who live there but also industrialists. I suggest that that problem should be looked into and an effort made towards creating a greater atmosphere of democracy in the new towns than exists at the present time.

9.2 p.m.

Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)

I am sure the Committee will agree that we have had an interesting debate. I am afraid I shall have to repeat quite a number of things mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), because, to say the least, the opening speech of the Minister was very disappointing. The right hon. Gentleman hardly dealt with any of the material factors mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend. I was surprised that the Minister seemed to have no appreciation whatever of the problem.

We have to see what the problem is and how this Government have been dealing with it. A number of hon. Members have mentioned figures in relation to towns in their constituencies. We express the position in terms of families registered on the local housing lists. They are a little startling. In London, the number is 160,000, in Manchester, 22,000; in Birmingham, 64,000; in Leeds, 25,000; in Newcastle, 15,000; in Liverpool, 42,000; in Hull, 16,000; in Sheffield, 20,000; in Bristol, 12,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which Newcastle?"] Newcastle in the Tyneside conurbation. That is by no means the whole of the problem, but hon. Members will see that there is a total of 376,000.

As has been pointed out by a number of my hon. Friends, even if the Minister is serious about slum clearance—and I have my doubts about that—he does not seem to have appreciated the fact, which should be evident, that on the site one rehouses only 50 per cent. or, at the maximum, 60 per cent. of the number previously living on the site. So at least 40 per cent. and perhaps 50 per cent. of persons rehoused from slum clearance must be added to those figures.

What have the Government done about it, and what do they intend to do about it? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering quoted the previous Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister. I will quote the Minister in a more favourable light. During consideration of the Housing Subsidies Measure, the Minister spoke of a desire to deal with 20,000 families per annum in new and expanded towns. Even on that basis it would take 20 years to deal with the problem. The Minister knows that he cannot deal with anything like that number, and I shall show why in a few moments.

For all the airy fairy phrases which the Minister used, there are some plain facts and, in a debate like this, it is as well to state them. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite did not like the New Towns Act, 1946. They did not have the courage to vote against it, but they have done everything humanly possible by intrigue and by financial and legal methods to prevent its working. The Tory Central Office was very active in the early stages of the development of Stevenage. Hon. Members opposite have done their best to kill the development of the new towns which we started.

The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to know the origin of the Town Development Act, 1952. I can tell him, because I had something to do with it. It was on the stocks when the 1951 General Election took place, and the first Minister of Housing and Local Government in the Tory Government of 1951 found it and brought it to the House of Commons. When we were dealing with it in Committee, I had the audacity to say that the Government did not intend effectively to operate it. It was not so audacious, because I was proved correct. I have in my hand a copy of the Greater London Plan, Memorandum by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning on the Report of the Advisory Committee for London Regional Planning, dated 1947. From that emerged the Town Development Act and the proposals for expanded towns, which the Minister has tried to destroy.

Let us compare the records of the Labour Government and the Tory Government in dealing with the human problem of housing the people of this country. In spite of all the immediate post-war problems which faced the Labour Government in 1945, we passed the New Towns Act and started 14 new towns. Since the Tory Party came to power in 1951, not a single new town has been started. During the Minister's speech I interjected—and to pay a compliment where compliments can be paid, he is always very generous in giving way—to ask what had happened to Congleton, which was the one new town which the Labour Government had designated but not started. His Government did not proceed with it. He did not develop just why they did not deal with it. Congleton was intended to deal with the overspill from the Potteries and Manchester.

Some hon. Members opposite, even though they represent new towns, do not seem to appreciate what is necessary in the starting of a new town. After all, the Minister has not even had the machinery at his disposal or, if he has, has not used it, to find a site for Birmingham. He has thrown back, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) mentioned, on the Birmingham City Council the responsibility of surveying, from its own resources the surrounding countryside and finding a suitable site. As a Labour Government we took the responsibility of Government. We had a Department at our disposal which we used. We surveyed the countryside around London, and after considering very many sites made a decision.

I must repeat that, from deciding on the site and designating the area of a new town, three years elapses before the first house can be built. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have been remarking on the fact that when they came to power in 1951 in some of the new towns only the first few houses had been started. That is perfectly true in some of them, but when the party opposite came into office the plans were already laid, so that the new towns would be building houses at a rate of a thousand a year. When the Tory Government took office in 1951, the new towns were progressing on a balanced development. There were a thousand houses coming off the housing lines, together with the development of schools, factories and social amenities, so that the community could really be built up together. The interest rate was then 3 per cent. The houses that were built were of good standard—first-class standard—and were built at a density of ten to the acre. What is more, they were at reasonable rents.

I am glad that a number of hon. Members have mentioned that the new towns have been a success. They have been a tremendous success, socially and architecturally. They have been a financial success. I would not put that first, but it is really remarkable that, within ten years of the passing of the Act, all the new towns are showing a surplus. They are a very good financial investment and something of which the country can be proud. One of the most interesting features has been the number of foreign visitors to the new towns to see how we are developing them.

Now let us look at the record of the Tory Government since they came to power. In spite of all that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have said, that record is that the first thing the Tory Government did—apart from deciding that there would be no more new towns—was to upset the balance of development in the new towns. They cut the educational programme; they cut town centre development, and they cut social amenities. The problems which some hon. Gentlemen opposite have been mentioning today are the direct result of the Government's policy of preventing the development corporations, which are the agents of the Government, from carrying out what they originally intended to do, and what was already planned they would do, and what, in some cases, sanction had been given to them to do.

I see the hon. Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) sitting there. He represents the new towns in Hertfordshire. As he knows, the Hertfordshire County Council has been straining at the leash with plans for 14 new schools. His Government is holding up the county council—but he did not mention that. Now we are faced with educational problems in the new towns.

It is true that we cannot deal with a new town on the same basis as we can deal with an existing town. One appreciates the problems involved. As an hon. Member opposite said, when building a new town one starts from scratch. But the previous Minister of Housing and Local Government, who was much more concerned with statistics than he was with human suffering, cut those programmes.

Mr. Gough

The hon. Gentleman referred to educational facilities in new towns. I can speak of my own new town, and I can tell him that there is absolutely no ground whatever for his criticism of Crawley. The hon. Gentleman also spoke of the failure of my right hon. Friend to look after human misery. Surely to build at the rate of 100,000 houses a year is not neglecting human misery.

Mr. Lindgren

The hon. Gentleman is privileged to represent a new town which was the first to be started. Crawley was fortunate in as much as its development had proceeded so far before the Labour Government fell in 1951. As a result, the education programme was completed.

The Tory record in housing, even in Crawley, is not creditable. Interest rates are now at 5½ per cent. There has been a lot of talk about rents. One result of a Tory Government has been that, on the increased interest alone from 3 per cent. when they took office to 5½ per cent. as it is now, the rents have been increased by 16s. a week, and by a reduction in the subsidy there has been a further increase of 4s. As a result of the reduction of the subsidy and the increase in interest charges, there is an extra £1 a week on rents.

No wonder my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) spoke of housing rent difficulties. If I may say so to him, if any residents in our new towns in the London area read his speech in which he referred to a rent of 30s., their mouths will water. The development corporation in the London area cannot build a house to let at an inclusive rent of less than £2 to £3 a week.

Mr. Shinwell

I said that the rent exceeded 30s. a week.

Mr. Lindgren

Rents exceed that amount by a great deal in this part of the country. In addition, although the houses are now costing over £1 a week, they are not a patch on the houses which were built by the Labour Government. They are smaller in floor area and the ceilings are lower. In the constituency of the hon. Member for Hertford, I went into a house during the weekend and saw a building trade worker whitewashing a ceiling while standing on the floor. The ceiling was 7 ft. from the ground. That is a result of this Government's cutting of housing standards. In that constituency where under the Labour Government houses were built at 10 to the acre, they are now being built at a density of 16 to the acre. The Labour Government built the biggest, the best planned and the cheapest houses, and at reasonable rents. The Tories have put up smaller and shoddier houses at a greater density.

The hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Finlay) referred to the use of agricultural land. It is not building houses at 10 to the acre in new towns that eats up agricultural land. It is the middle-class houses built at a density of one, two, three and four to the acre which eat up agricultural land. Never do I hear from hon. Members opposite that their friends should live at a density of 16 to the acre. There is never any talk of squeezing agricultural land for their type of development. It is only the worker in factory or workshop, living in a new town, who is to have crowded living conditions.

I will go to any of the new towns about which hon. Gentlemen opposite have expressed interest. Let us visit the houses built under the Labour Government, and let us see the density at which those houses were built.

Lord Balniel

Hardly any at all were built.

Mr. Lindgren

The noble Lord has not represented that constituency for very long; I have lived there for 30 years.

Lord Balniel

I have already pointed out that during the five years when hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible for the building of Hatfield New Town, only 51 houses were built, and during the five years when they were responsible for building houses in Welwyn Garden City, only 200 houses were built.

Mr. Lindgren

The noble Lord really ought to be a little more knowledgeable, at least about his own constituency. He talks about a period of five years. His mathematics are a bit at sea. I went to night school and, even at this hour, I can still count. The New Towns Act was passed in 1946. Hatfield New Town area was not designated until 1949, and I opened the first house there when I was Parliamentary Secretary in 1951. I will go to Hatfield with the noble Lord and visit with him those houses which were built in that period in both Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City, houses which are a credit, in which we have pride, more especially when we compare them with those now being built at a density of 16 to the acre, which are not creditable at all. No Tory could really take any pride in either the standard of building or the density at which those houses are being built.

Mr. Finlay

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the inhabitants of those houses, the standard of which he professes to deplore, have expressed themselves as highly satisfied?

Mr. Lindgren

Not only do hon. Gentlemen opposite not know their own constituencies, but they do not appear to know anything of working-class life. Of course, if a man has been stuck in Walthamstow, crowded in one room with three kids, and he then gets a three-bedroom house in Harlow, it seems like heaven. The fact is that the party opposite have been debasing housing standards. The Tories were worried during the war because of the low standard of pre-war council development; they set up the Dudley Committee to say what housing standards should be in post-war years. Even the Coalition Government accepted the Dudley Committee Report.

The Labour Government implemented the Dudley Committee Report, but the Tories are now building houses in Harlow, in Welwyn Garden City and in Hatfield at standards which are not only below the Dudley standards, which were accepted during the war when the men were fighting, but which are below the standards of houses being built by local authorities in 1938 and 1939. There is nothing to be proud of there. What hon. Member opposite goes to bed in a bedroom with a ceiling 7 feet high? What wife of an hon. Member opposite is there who works in a kitchen with a ceiling 7 feet 3 inches high? Those are the standards being forced on people in the new towns, and that is what we are protesting against.

After all the talk about development from hon. Gentlemen opposite representing new towns, there is one startling fact which remains. The rate of development of new towns is now very rapidly slowing down. In Welwyn Garden City and in Hatfield no new civil engineering contract or new housing contract has been let since last October. Of course, if hon. Gentlemen opposite really knew something about estate development and building, they would know that in order to maintain continuity in the completion of houses, contracts must be planned well ahead. Yet, within about 10 months from today there will come a time, unless contracts are let very quickly, when there will be no new houses at all produced in the new towns.

This is the result of high interest rates and charges. Development corporations now faced with the necessity to charge rents, as I mentioned just now, of £2 10s. to £3 a week for an inclusive rent just will not take the risk of letting contracts and trying to let houses on that basis.

Time is short, but I have a number of points still to make. I want to ask the Minister one or two direct questions. They have already been asked by my hon. and learned Friend, but the Minister did not answer them. I repeat them so that the Parliamentary Secretary will have no excuse for not dealing with them. My first question concerns town centre development. It is the population which comes to a town which creates the value. When a population of 20,000 comes, a shopping site is worth £x. When there are 40,000 people, it is worth at least £xx.

So far as the development corporations were concerned, the policy of the Labour Government was that the values created by the community in the town centre should be used by the development corporations to provide easier housing facilities for the people in the town—in other words, that the values created by the people themselves should flow back to the people. The new town development corporations were to be encouraged, as they were doing at Crawley and elsewhere, to provide the town centre.

It is rumoured—perhaps it is a little more than a rumour—that the Government are now encouraging private finance to come in and take over new town centre development. This means, not that the development corporation will get the benefit of the values which are created, not that the benefit of these values will go back to the people in the shape of greater amenities, lower rents and the rest, but that the finance corporation which comes in will take the profit. We do not like that. Profit is the one thing which the Tories are concerned about. If they see some activity which gives a measure of private profit, they will make the most of it. I address this direct question to the Parliamentary Secretary. Will the development corporations be allowed to develop their own town centres or are the Government pressing on with the idea of private finance corporations in regard to town centre development?

I wish to refer also to the new town which has been suggested in Kent at Allhallows-on-Sea. With my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering, I do not take any exception to Sir Richard Costain or Mr. Eric Adams or the others being associated with a private company—they did a first-class job in Harlow New Town; but they are taking advantage of their private enterprise because the Government are lacking Government enterprise.

This Government have made planning permission a marketable commodity. Land which is purchased for a new town at £150 to £200 an acre can, with planning permission, easily go up to a figure of £2,000 to £3,000 an acre. It is that planning permission and the accretion of values which goes with it which these people are picking up as a result of the activities of the Government.

Similarly, a number of hon. Members have spoken about what will happen when the existing new towns come to the stage when the development corporations cease to function as such. When the New Towns Bill was going through the House, from the Government side and, as my hon. and learned Friend has proved, also from the Opposition side of those days, it was generally accepted that ownership should pass to the local authorities; and during the whole time of the development the local authorities have been anticipating that this should happen.

Rumours are already abroad that the Minister has other ideas for the future ownership of new towns. It is true that rumour is a lying jade, but frankly, I do not trust a Tory Government. They would sell any national asset we have if they can make a profit out of it. We want to be sure that this national asset is not a sell-out in the same way that we lost the Trinidad Leaseholds, road transport and the rest. Will the Minister make a statement about what his future intentions are about ownership in the new towns?

I will help him out. I am generally noted for my generosity towards the Minister and his Department. If he is in a jam, I can help him out. [An HON. MEMBER: "A friendly society."] Some of us on this side did more for friendly societies than anyone opposite—

Mr. E. Partridge (Battersea, South)

Including selling them out.

Mr. Lindgren

—because hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite lacked in the past concern for the welfare of men when they were down and out.

New towns came into being not only as the result of propaganda about Letchworth and Welwyn in pre-war days, but also as a result of the work of the Reith Committee set up during the war. I put this question to the Minister. If he has not decided about the future of the new towns, will he set up a committee with the status of the Reith Committee to examine and recommend what the future of the new towns should be?

I want to emphasise again what has been said during the debate about the failure of the Government to cope with overspill, and their failure to work the Town Development Act as well as the New Towns Act. When the Government came to power in 1951 the arrangements for Bletchley were already well under way. The arrangements for Swindon were already well under way. Financial arrangements had been made with Bletchley. It is interesting to note that Bletchley is the one which has a supplemental payment, and that was agreed by the Labour Government in 1951 before they fell. General arrangements were made with Swindon. Not another single one since 1951 has come to fruition.

I have a list here of places with which the London County Council have negotiated. These are the ones to which my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) referred. These are the places with which the negotiations have, as she rightly said, fallen through. The Minister should review the information service within his Department if he does not know the cause.

We had to wait from 1952 till April, 1955, before the Minister made any statement at all to local authorities about what sort of financial provisions he was prepared to make. Then in April, 1955, he made his 50 per cent. grant towards additional costs of water and sewerage attributable to expansion. When the Minister made that statement in April, 1955, the rate of interest was 3½ per cent. It is now 5½ per cent. The effect of that is that on a 30-year loan there is an extra £11 10s. per annum for every £1,000 of capital expenditure; on a 60-year loan an additional £13 16s. per annum additional interest on every £1,000 of capital cost.

Consider that from the point of view of some of the local authorities to which my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham referred. On a capital expenditure of £100,000 the local rateswould have to find an extra £1,150. It is not an attractive proposition to local authorities. The reason why they do not co-operate with the London County Council under the Act is simply and solely that the financial provisions are not making it sufficiently attractive. They are willing to undertake town expansion but there is a natural reluctance on their part to undertake it to an extent that would mean an additional burden on their existing townsmen and ratepayers.

Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)


Mr. Lindgren

No. I cannot give way. It would not be fair to the Parliamentary Secretary. We have only 25 minutes left as it is.

My last point is a constituency one. Wellingborough Urban District Council was prepared to take London overspill and the London County Council was anxious that it should do so. They came to an agreement, but the Minister turned it down. One Government Department does not know what the other is doing. The Minister said in a letter that he was turning the proposal down because the Ordnance Survey Department was moving from Southampton and Chessington to Wellingborough, but within 48 hours of his saying that another Government Department announced that the Ordnance Survey Department was not moving to Wellingborough.

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman turned Wellingborough down on a basis that subsequently proved wrong, will he now consider allowing Wellingborough to take London overspill? I have the authority of Wellingborough Urban District Council for saying that the council is willing and anxious to carry out the bargain as it was left with the London County Council if the Minister will allow it to do so.

I am afraid that the debate has been most unsatisfactory from the point of view of my hon. and right hon. Friends. Because of the Government's incompetent handling of the new and expanding towns, I give notice that, with your permission, Sir Charles, I will later move an Amendment.

9.37 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)

It is clear from the last words of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) that I can scarcely hope to persuade him or his hon. Friends by what I succeed in saying in the next twenty minutes; but, apart from any party division, I think that it has been recognised that the problem which the Committee has been discussing is a very real and great one. The incapability of our great towns and cities to solve their living problems within their own boundaries has been the point of departure on which we all agree; but I can scarcely concede that it is a problem which has become more serious during the last five years, in which the number of homes in the country has increased by nearly 1½ million.

The spread of built-up areas is a phenomenon which has long excited anxiety and caused serious troubles. As my right hon. Friend and others have pointed out, it means a constant increase in the distance between workplaces and homes, it means that the average distance between homes and open country becomes ever greater, and it means that agricultural land which, even if it is not always the best agricultural land, is always exceptionally valuable when it surrounds great centres of population, is constantly eroded and eaten into. Our own generation has therefore embarked upon a policy, so often tried in the past, of setting a limit of "thus far and no farther" to the growth of continuous urbanisation.

This policy, which we know as that of the green belt, is undoubtedly popular and accepted, but it too brings with it new problems and new conditions. If people are to live beyond the green belt they must work there as well. In other words, work must move, as well as workers and their families. Moreover, the emigration of work must be a net emigration; for if the old workplaces are occupied by new firms their employees will maintain or re-create the old congestion.

This was a matter upon which anxiety was expressed by several hon. Members—including the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) and my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Finlay)—but it is not one in respect of which nothing has been done. My right hon. Friend mentioned that the development plans which he has approved for the counties of London and Middlesex provide specifically for the progressive buying up of wrongly located industrial sites. The London County Council has an annual budget for this purpose, which it has recently increased, and the loss upon these transactions of buying industrial land and devoting it to some less profitable use attracts a 50 per cent. Exchequer subsidy. This is not restricted to the development plans of local authorities in the London area, so that local planning authorities everywhere have at their disposal the means of gradually extinguishing places of employment as populations and work are exported beyond the green belts.

I should also like to mention that the Government themselves are taking a part in moving employment to the new towns. Emphasis has been laid, notably by my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Gough), upon the importance of the provision of office-type employment in the new towns and its corresponding reduction in the London area. My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury recently told the House that the Stationery Office is moving its duplicating services to Basildon, and the Meteorological Office is to have a new headquarters at Bracknell. Those are typical cases where the Government themselves, having office staff to dispose of, are locating it in the new towns. Thus not only are powers in existence and being used to extinguish workplaces in congested areas, but there is a movement, to which the Government are directly and indirectly contributing, of work of all kinds to the new towns.

The disadvantages of the old type of overspill development, in which work was divorced from homes, were drastically explained and described by the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy) and, from another point of view, by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd).

The great charge levelled against the Government this evening is that there have been no more new towns, or, at any rate, no more in England and Wales. Some hon. Members have gone so far as to say that the provision of more and more new towns is the only solution to the problem of urban congestion. It is very curious that this point of view should be put forward this evening, when the Labour Party has just published what I might call the "Black Book of Housing", in which an entire section is devoted to "Town Planning and Overspill". Would you believe it, Sir Charles?—in the whole section there is no suggestion that if the Labour Party were now in office it would be building more new towns. On the contrary, where it refers to the importance of town development schemes, it says that these schemes: will become increasingly important as the new town programme nears completion. So it is quite a new idea of the Labour Party—in fact, it is less than a fortnight old—that the solution for the overspill problem is the creation of more and more new towns.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough asked me why, if the Government supported the new town principle, they had killed the scheme for Congleton. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will get more particulars from his right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) but that scheme had been dormant for two years before the Labour Party went out of office. As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, there are at present developments in that locality which prevent the establishment of a new town.

In the existing new towns there is still immense scope for the accommodation of population from greater London. My right hon. Friend reminded the Committee that the eight new towns which serve London have so far attained only one-third of their capacity. I say "so far"; but I might mention an elegant compliment paid by the Labour Party to the Government's attention to the new towns, when it refers to them as "growing at maximum speed"—that is a quotation from the policy statement. But even "growing at maximum speed", as it is considered they are doing, they have attained only one-third of their intended size, and another 200,000 Londoners can still find accommodation in the eight new towns alone.

My right hon. Friend referred to the possibility that the eventual population of those new towns might well be, in some cases, larger than was originally envisaged. I understand, however, the anxiety expressed on this score by my noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), and certainly the natural growth of industry and population in the new towns themselves, and the effect of their further extension upon the surrounding area, would be factors seriously to be taken into account before deciding to increase what are called the target populations.

New town corporations are not the only agencies of new town development, although it is quite clear that most hon. Members opposite wish that they were. Reference was made by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) to the Allhallows project in the Isle of Grain, and he wished it well. His objection was that it was not being undertaken by a State agency. It is no surprise that the Socialist Party, whenever it finds private enterprise engaged on a laudable project, should say, "What a pity that it is not being carried out by the State". But the Committee would do well to remember that the earliest pioneers in the creation of new towns were private enterprise. It is not for nothing that Port Sunlight and Bourneville are honoured names in the story of the new towns.

Mr. Mitchison

And Robert Owen.

Mr. Powell

We could go back to the Mogul emperors.

Those, and other projects of this sort which private enterprise will undoubtedly organise and carry through, represent a valuable parallel development to the new towns developed by the State corporations. There is no reason either why local authorities should not do this work themselves. The interest of Manchester in this type of development is well known, and the hon. Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), who made so valuable a contribution to the debate, pointed out that it was an activity well within the scope and power of a great authority like the London County Council.

Mr. Mitchison

Would that not require legislation?

Mr. Powell

There is no reason at all why development similar to development for the purposes of a new town to quote the words of the Housing Subsidies Act of this year, should not be carried through by a local authority, and should not attract the subsidies provided in that Act. This is really one of the answers, or it may be, to the problem of Birmingham. If the other alternatives fail or are inadequate, why should not Birmingham be able to do what London and Manchester are prepared to envisage?

The progress of the new towns has also come under review in this debate. Reference has inevitably been made to the fact that progress upon the provision of amenities has necessarily been slowed down, in common with the provision of similar services by local authorities, under the current financial restrictions. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) put that matter very correctly in its context.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering asked me about the development of town centres by private enterprise, and in particular what was to be the situation in the new town of Peterlee. The intention of Peterlee Development Corporation is that about 30 per cent. of the town centre should be developed by private enterprise, and it is in negotiation for that purpose with not one but two firms.

Mr. Mitchison


Mr. Powell

The hon. and learned Gentleman asks "Why?" The development corporation, as a prudent manager, has here a choice of possibilities, development by itself or upon lease to developers. On the one hand, there is the prospect of higher profit, and on the other there is the likelihood of increased risk. There has to be balanced the provision in the one case of public capital and the provision in the other case of capital at private risk. Therefore, many of the corporations are deciding on a mixture—to do some of the development directly themselves and to entrust other development upon lease to private developers. This is, after all, a matter in which the initiative and decision rests with the corporations themselves, which have been entrusted with the job of management and of making the best bargain in the public interest. To them, I think, we ought to leave it.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough, in winding up the debate for the Opposition, asked me about the future of the new town corporations when their work is drawing to a close. My right hon. Friend is well aware of the importance of a clear understanding as to the manner in which these great enterprises will at that stage be dealt with. He is in consultation with the corporations themselves on the subject and it is his intention, in due course, to make a statement.

The other modern aspect of overspill is, of course, town development. It is quite absurd to say, as the hon. Member for Wellingborough did, that the present Government are trying to destroy it. It is equally absurd to say that the present financial circumstances have killed town development. In the nature of things, town development is a different process from the creation of new towns. It requires the co-operation of two if not three local authorities. It means a gradual growth and a gradual movement of population which will be embodied more or less naturally into an existing nucleus.

That finance is not a decisive factor in the present slow development of these schemes can be judged by the fact that not only are the housing subsidies payable the same as in the case of the new towns, but for town development the Government shoulder 50 per cent. of the cost of the maintained development services. Nor have the financial conditions prevented Manchester from securing agreements for several large development schemes—at Heywood, Whitefield, Hattesley and Hollingsworth. They have not prevented Birmingham from bringing to a very advanced stage negotiations with a number of Staffordshire towns for town development schemes in that county. Although the financial situation must clearly affect the prospects and calculations of risk of the receiving authorities, it is absurd, in the face of these facts of progress on town development, to say that this instrument of development has been killed.

This debate has shown that the problem, the recognition of which is our common point of departure, is not capable of being dealt with by one instrument alone. No one seriously believes that new towns, valuable though their contribution is, can alone deal with the

overspill from our great cities. No one really believes that town development alone, though a desirable and natural process, can cope with the population which must move and be decentralised. There must also be new developments in the treatment of our existing towns and in the redevelopment of the slum and congested areas. But I do not think that the progress over the last five years should lead us to despair of being able, by using a combination of all the available methods, to secure improved living conditions for the inhabitants of our great cities.

Mr. Lindgren

I beg to move, That Item, Class V, Vote 1 (Ministry of Housing and Local Government) (Revised Estimate), be reduced by £5.

Question put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 180, Noes 226.

Division No. 255.] AYES [9.57 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Albu, A. H. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Lindgren, G. S.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Fienburgh, W. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Finch, H. J. Logan, D. G.
Awbery, S. S. Fletcher, Eric MacColl, J. E.
Bacon, Miss Alice Gibson, C. W. McKay, John (Wallsend)
Balfour, A. Gooch, E. G. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mahon, Simon
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Grey, C. F. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Benson, G. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mayhew, C. P.
Beswick, F. Hale, Leslie Mellish, R. J.
Blackburn, F. Hamilton, W. W. Messer, Sir F.
Blenkinsop, A. Hannan, W. Mikardo, Ian
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Mitchison, G. R.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Hastings, S. Moody, A. S.
Bowles, F. G. Hayman, F. H. Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)
Boyd, T. C. Healey, Denis Mort, D. L.
Brockway, A. F. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Moss, R.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Herbison, Miss M. Moyle, A.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hewitson, Capt. M. Mulley, F. W.
Burke, W. A. Hobson, C. R. O'Brien, Sir Thomas
Burton, Miss F. E. Holman, P. Oram, A. E.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Holmes, Horace Orbach, M.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hoy, J. H. Oswald, T.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hubbard, T. F. Paget, R. T.
Champion, A. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Chapman, W. D. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Chetwynd, G. R. Hunter, A. E. Palmer, A. M. F.
Coldrick, W. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pargiter, G. A.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Irving, S. (Dartford) Parkin, B. T.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Peart, T. F.
Cove, W. G. Janner, B. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Probert, A. R.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jeger, George (Goole) Proctor, W. T.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.) Pryde, D. J.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Randall, H. E.
Deer, G. Johnson, James (Rugby) Rankin, John
Delargy, H. J. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield) Redhead, E. C.
Dodds, N. N. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Reeves, J.
Donnelly, D. L. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Reid, William
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Dye, S. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Lawson, G. M. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Sylvester, G. O. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Shurmer, P. L. E. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Taylor, John (West Lothian) Wigg, George
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Wilkins, W. A.
Skeffington, A. M. Thornton, E. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Slater, J. (Sedgefield) Tomney, F. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Snow, J. W. Turner-Samuels, M. Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Sorensen, R. W. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Sparks, J. A. Usborne, H. G. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Warbey, W. N. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Weitzman, D. Zilliacus, K.
Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Wells, William (Walsall, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Swingler, S. T. Wheeldon, W. E. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. McLaughlin, Mrs. P.
Aitken, W. T. Garner-Evans, E. H. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Alport, C. J. M. George, J. C. (Pollok) McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Amory, Julian (Preston, N.) Gibson-Watt, D. Madden, Martin
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Glover, D. Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)
Armstrong, C. W. Godber, J. B. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Astor, Hon. J. J. Gough, C. F. H. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Atkins, H. E. Gower, H. R. Marshall, Douglas
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Mathew, R.
Baldwin, A. E. Green, A. Maude, Angus
Balniel, Lord Hall, John (Wycombe) Mawby, R. L.
Barber, Anthony Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Barter, John Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Medlicott, Sir Frank
Baxter, Sir Beverley Harris, Reader (Heston) Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Moore, Sir Thomas
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Nairn, D. L. S.
Bidgood, J. C. Hay, John Neave, Airey
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Bishop, F. P. Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Black, C. W. Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Nugent, G. R. H.
Body, R. F. Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Oakshott, H. D.
Boothby, Sir Robert Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Bossom, Sir Alfred Hirst, Geoffrey Osborne, C.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Holland-Martin, C. J. Page, R. G.
Boyle, Sir Edward Hornby, R. P. Partridge, E.
Braine, B. R. Horobin, Sir Ian Peyton, J. W. W.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Brooman-White, R. C. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Pitman, I. J.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Pitt, Miss E. M.
Bryan, P. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Pott, H. P.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Hulbert, Sir Norman Powell, J. Enoch
Butcher, Sir Herbert Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Campbell, Sir David Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) Raikes, Sir Victor
Channon, H. Hyde, Montgomery Ramsden, J. E.
Chichester-Clark, R. Iremonger, T. L. Rawlinson, Peter
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Redmayne, M.
Cole, Norman Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Remnant, Hon. P.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Renton, D. L. M.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ridsdale, J. E.
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Rippon, A. G. F.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Joseph, Sir Keith Robertson, Sir David
Crouch, R. F. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Roper, Sir Harold
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Kaberry, D. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Currie, G. B. H. Keegan, D. Russell, R. S.
Dance, J. C. G. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kerr, H. W. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Deedes, W. F. Kershaw, J. A. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Dighy, Simon Wingfield Kimball, M. Sharpies, R. C.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Lagden, G. W. Shepherd, William
Doughty, C. J. A. Lambert, Hon. G. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Drayson, G. B. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
du Cann, E. D. L. Leavey, J. A. Soames, Capt. C.
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Stevens, Geoffrey
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Errington, Sir Eric Linstead, Sir H. N. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Erroll, F. J. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Farey-Jones, F. W. Longden, Gilbert Studholme, Sir Henry
Fell, A. Low, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Summers, Sir Spencer
Finlay, Graeme Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Fisher, Nigel Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Fletcher-Cooke, C. McAdden, S. J. Teeling, W.
Foster, John Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Freeth, D. K. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Vosper, D. F. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.) Wade, D. W. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.) Walker-Smith, D. C. Wood, Hon. R.
Touche, Sir Gordon Wall, Major Patrick Woollam, John Victor
Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Vane, W. M. F. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Vickers, Miss J. H. Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Wills and Mr. Hughes-Young.

Question put, and agreed to.

Original Question again proposed.

Mr. Philip Bell (Bolton, East)


It being after Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.