HC Deb 16 June 1964 vol 696 cc1113-6

The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:

47. Sir R. CARY

To ask the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will now make an announcement in regard to the Manchester new town.

48. Mr. C. MORRIS

To ask the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will now make a statement indicating the location of the new town to meet the housing needs of the City of Manchester.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir Keith Joseph)

With permission, I will now answer Questions No. 47 and No. 48.

To help Manchester and their neighbours to carry out their slum clearance programmes I have decided to propose the designation of a new town of about 50,000 people to the east of Warrington.

Its general location would be between the Mersey and the East Lancashire road, and the M.6 motorway and the Glaze Brook, including the former Admiralty Stores Depot at Risley; its precise location and area must depend on a detailed survey which I am arranging.

The local planning authorities are aware of this proposal and they will be consulted further on the draft designation Order.

I propose, also, that a planning study should be made to identify the relationships between this new town, the County Borough of Warrington and the new town of Runcorn, so as to promote a balanced development within this general area, and I shall be consulting with the local planning authorities and the Runcorn Development Corporation about how this might be carried out.

Sir R. Cary

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that announcement will be received with the greatest satisfaction in the City of Manchester, particularly as the site at Risley falls within the frontiers of South Lancashire, where there are already good transport facilities by rail and the East Lancashire road into the city? Would he care to name the exact authority which will be discharging the task of developing the new town?

Sir K. Joseph

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. If the new town finally gets the approval of the Government after the due processes, it will be administered by a new town corporation specially set up for the purpose.

Mr. C. Morris

Is the Minister aware that after 13 long, frustrating and vacillating years, reasonable people will accept that today he has arrived at a not too hasty decision? Is he aware that this location will make almost total the urbanisation of the whole of the South Lancashire area between Liverpool and Manchester? Is he aware that in the area indicated in the statement 1,100 people were recently declared redundant at the British Transport Commission's Viaduct Works at Earlestown? Can he give me an assurance that, as this is the first of the new towns to be designated since the publication of the Buchanan Report, the principles adumbrated in that Report will be borne in mind by the planners of the new town?

Sir K. Joseph

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's comment that this will mean total urbanisation of the whole area. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade has set up a planning team to work out a regional study for the whole of the northwest area which should be published early next year and within which this new town must be seen. Employment prospects in the area will undoubtedly improve if the new town goes there. All Government new towns will be designed with close attention to Buchanan principles.

Mr. Lee

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Risley is in my constituency, but that Warrington Rural District Council has never been consulted about the matter until today? Is he further aware that every railway station in this area is due for closure? Is it not a little difficult to know how to plan a new town while making quite certain that new industries cannot go there because they would be unable to transport their goods?

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Gentleman is being very inaccurate.

Mr. Lee

I am not.

Sir K. Joseph

Some relatively minor railway lines are proposed for closure by the Railways Board under present plans, but, of course, before making any decision on these proposals my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport will take into account the new situation brought about by the proposed designation of the new town.

Mr. Gardner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, whatever may be the state of the railways in the North-West, serving new towns which are to be built, when the party opposite planned Basildon new town in my constituency it did not plan a railway station, and that there is no railway station in Basildon new town? Is he aware that it is the view of the majority of people, industrialists and others, who live in Basildon new town that there is no need for a railway station?

Sir K. Joseph

I think that my hon. and learned Friend is quite right to point out that industrialists take their road communications extremely seriously. Of course, they might need freight railways and there might be a need for passenger railways, too, and this will be taken into account by my right hon. Friend. But the Risley area will have superb road communications.

Mr. W. T. Williams

What consultation has the Minister had with Warrington Council about this developing new town? Has he considered the effect of the creation of this new town at this time upon Warrington's wishes to expand its own boundaries? Will he keep in touch with Warrington, bearing in mind its need to expand, before any further procedure?

Sir K. Joseph

The local authorities concerned have been informed of the Government's proposal, but the next stage, after the ground survey which I have described, is to make a draft designation Order, when I am statutorily bound to consult all the local authorities in the area. That is the stage at which they will be fully consulted.

Mr. Lee

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Atomic Energy Authority now has an establishment of 5,000 people at Risley and that the whole area, including Croft, is now far more heavily populated than ever before? As British Railways has closed down a huge wagon works in the same area, and there is no alternative employment, other than in areas outside Newton and Risley, people are now travelling by the railways to go to work. Does the right hon. Gentleman consider it to be antisocial that people who are rendered unemployed should try to get work outside the area? Will he ensure that Dr. Beeching does not prevent them from getting such work by closing the local railway stations?

Sir K. Joseph

These are all considerations for my right hon. Friend before any decision is made.