HC Deb 16 April 1957 vol 568 cc1738-40
35. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware of the difficulties being experienced by large cities that are unable to accommodate their increasing populations within their boundaries and where the surrounding areas are willing to assist by taking them in, but are unable financially to provide the houses, roads, and sewers because of the smallness of the grant and heavy interest charges; and what steps are being taken to deal with this problem.

Mr. H. Brooke

Exchequer grants towards schemes for relieving congestion in the big cities are by no means small. They amount to 50 per cent. of the cost of water and sewerage works, in addition to a subsidy of £24 per house per annum plus in some cases a further £8 at the outset. Several local authorities have in recent months agreed to undertake schemes for this purpose, and I believe that negotiations now proceeding will result in further agreements.

Mr. Awbery

Does the Minister realise the difficulties of the local authorities if they have not the land to develop for housing, and the over-spill population is going outside the city? The area outside is prepared to accommodate them if the Minister will help by making a grant and reducing interest on the loan. Will he do that to help in those cases?

Mr. Brooke

As I have said, the grants are already generous and the receiving authority may get further help from the exporting authority, and also the county council concerned in the receiving district.

Mr. Stokes

May I ask the Minister whether, in addition to the high cost of interest charges referred to in the Question, he has really examined the high cost of land, and is it not a fact that this is one of the biggest obstructions of all?

Mr. Brooke

So far as I am aware, that is certainly not an obstruction to town development.

Mr. Mitchison

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think there are some places, which would be useful in relieving the problem of the lack of building space in the big towns, that do not at present attract the subsidies he mentioned, and that he might reconsider this matter having regard to that shortage?

Mr. Brooke

If the hon. and learned Gentleman would like to put any specific cases of that kind to me, I will certainly consider them, but I think that the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) was raising the general question as to whether further help could be given with town development schemes for overspill, and I pointed out some of the possibilities.