HC Deb 05 February 1963 vol 671 cc214-5
19. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what reply he has sent to the communication of the council of the county borough of Sunderland urging that grants be made towards the interest and sinking fund charges on loans raised to finance works costing up to £15,000 to alleviate unemployment.

Mr. Corfield

No reply has yet been sent. Legislation would be required and the council's suggestion will be considered together with others addressed to my noble Friend, the Lord President of the Council, and other Ministers. I may add that rate deficiency grant will be payable to the council in respect of any expenditure of this sort. Their estimated rate of grant for 1963–64 represents nearly 24 per cent. of their expenditure.

Mr. Willey

I am obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary for saying that the matter is under consideration. Will he expedite that consideration, as I am sure he will appreciate that it is very important to encourage this work immediately in view of current unemployment?

Mr. Corfield

I appreciate the urgency of the problem, but I think the hon. Member will agree that these matters are best not considered in isolation and should be considered in conjunction with other suggestions which have been put forward.

Mr. MacColl

Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that, if this requires legislation, to offer money at lower rates of interest would not? In view of the urgency of this problem, is it not desirable not to dither about it but to take some quick action to help these areas?

Mr. Corfield

I have taken the hon. Gentleman's point, of course. According to my calculations, about 20 to 30 schemes of this sort could be started by this authority on the product of approximately ld. rate in this year.