HC Deb 21 March 1963 vol 674 cc550-1
16. Mr. Boyden

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what increases of grant he is making to local authorities for the reclamation of derelict industrial land.

17. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is yet in a position to make a statement on the increased scale of financial assistance available to local authorities for the clearing of derelict sites under the terms of the Local Employment Act.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I hope it will be possible to make a statement shortly.

Mr. Boyden

Win the right hon. Gentleman give very serious consideration to making a 100 per cent. grant? Does he not agree that generally the muck which has been left behind which the ratepayers and the taxpayers have to clear up has led to considerable profits by the firms which have left the muck? Is it not, therefore, just that the national taxpayer should pay a very high grant towards relieving local taxpayers?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

There is certainly a very serious case to consider for increasing the rate of grant, though I am inclined to differ from the hon. Gentleman as regards 100 per cent. grants, which I think in principle are not generally very sound.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the considerable degree of urgency required here? The Answer I received yesterday to a Question I put to the Secretary of State for Scotland revealed that there are 15,000 acres of derelict sites in the industrial belt of Scotland alone. So far only 11.5 acres have been cleared. This is a trifling attack on the problem. Clearly the grant is wholly inadequate to encourage local authorities to get on with the job.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It is just those matters which my right hon. Friends the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Scotland are going into at the moment, and I do not think that there will be very much delay.