HC Deb 30 October 1956 vol 558 cc1227-30
10. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware that Manchester's potential house-building programme is now having to be reduced because building sites outside the city are not available to the extent necessary; if he has completed his consideration of Manchester's housing problem ; and if he will make a statement.

11. Mr. W. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware that the Manchester Corporation has been obliged to reduce its house-building programme for 1956 to an estimated 1,350; that this reduction has been imposed upon it by shortage of suitable sites; and whether he will now say what sites he proposes to allow the corporation to develop to meet its urgent housing needs.

24. Mr. H. Lever

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he has come to any decision on the question of the provision of suitable areas for development designed to deal with Manchester's overspill problem.

Mr. Sandys

I am, of course, well aware of this problem. A few days ago I received a letter from Manchester Corporation stressing its need for one or more large sites for comprehensive development outside the city, and asking for my advice. I hope to be able to make a statement shortly.

Mr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who represent Manchester constituencies appreciate the very fair and thorough way in which he has gone into this difficult problem? At the same time, we are gravely disturbed at the way in which Manchester's housing programme is being slowed down through a lack of suitable sites?

Mr. Sandys

What my hon. Friend gave with one hand he took away with the other.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that slum clearance, about which he professes to be so concerned, is in fact being held up at this moment in the City of Manchester and in other great areas because of the inordinate time he is taking to consider this matter? Is he further aware that, despite what the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) says, there is mounting exasperation in the City of Manchester about the delays and dilatoriness that he has shown in the past?

Mr. Sandys

It is no use talking about "the delays and dilatoriness" which I have shown in this matter. It is a matter which involves agreement being reached between a number of local authorities—the exporting authorities and the receiving authorities, including both county councils and the local district councils concerned. I think everybody will agree that agreement is desirable. It is a very complicated business, and it has involved many discussions. I did not think it was right to rush matters.

I have been to Manchester and the various areas all around. I have had two or three meetings with Manchester and county councils and local authorities separately and together, and I have really explored this matter very fully. I think those efforts were necessary, for nobody has suggested that it is not desirable to try to arrive at agreement. We have now reached the point where I think it is right for the Government to state their view on the whole problem.

Lieut. - Colonel Bromley - Davenport

In settling this difficult problem, can my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will follow the principles and policy laid down not only by his predecessor but by Her Majesty's Government, that not one acre of good agricultural land will be destroyed where other land of less agricultural value is available? Will he also follow the Cheshire County Development Plan, which goes a long way towards housing Manchester's overspill? Above all, will he see that Manchester develops its own sites properly first?

Mr. Sandys

I will study my hon. and gallant Friend's statement in HANSARD. Meanwhile, I do not propose to lay down any broad principles in reply to a supplementary question.

Mr. Mitchison

Is not the right hon. Gentleman himself responsible for starting new towns? Is it not about time that he exercised that responsibility in order to relieve Manchester and other huge towns which have similar problems?

Mr. Sandys

This particular controversy has not been over the question of a new town but over the provision of some large site outside Manchester upon which comprehensive building could take place.

Mr. Lever

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that while he takes time to come to a decision Manchester's housing programme is necessarily held up? Will he bear this fact continuously in mind with a view to coming to an early decision upon the matter?

Mr. Sandys

That is just what I have said.

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