HC Deb 22 July 1963 vol 681 cc1036-7
14. Mr. Popplewell

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he hopes to approve the plans for the new public abattoir for Newcastle-upon-Tyne; and if he will expedite his decision.

21. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the reasons for the delay in the provision of a new public abattoir for Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

A great deal of preparatory work and consultation is necessary before a project of this kind can be put in hand, and I understand that town planning considerations have added to the council's difficulties. The council will have received by now my right hon. Friend's approval in principle of its sketch plans for loan sanction purposes. I know that it shares our view about the urgency of the situation.

Mr. Popplewell

There is real urgency about this scheme. Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that, owing to no land being available within the City of Newcastle, slum property has had to be condemned, people rehoused and the slums pulled down before sites and proposals could be submitted to him? Now that the hon. Gentleman has received the proposals, could he ensure that no avoidable delay takes place in his Department before approval is given to the scheme which is so urgently required within the City?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I will certainly give that assurance. We will do everything we can to help. As I say, we have already given loan sanction to the outline scheme. I am informed that the council hopes to have a contract for work to start in 1964. The council is well seized of the urgency of this scheme.

Mr. Montgomery

Is my hon. Friend aware of the great public concern in Newcastle about this matter? I think that he will confirm that this scheme has been mooted since 1958 and that, in fact, exploratory talks took place between the Minister and the corporation in June, 1960, which is over three years ago. May we know why this delay has taken place? Is it the fault of the Ministry or the fault of the city council?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

It is certainly not our fault. We have done everything we can to hurry this on. However, when one talks in terms of such an enormous scheme as this, obviously one must be certain—and, indeed, the council must be certain—that one is meeting the needs of the area and not wasting money. I assure my hon. Friend that the council and I fully realise the urgency of the scheme and are doing everything we can to expedite its completion.