HC Deb 01 December 1966 vol 737 cc615-6
Q4. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister if he will issue to all appropriate departments an instruction that the clearance of pit heaps and other industrial dereliction, especially in coal-mining areas, must be expedited.

The Prime Minister

The available powers to deal with dereliction will be further strengthened by the passage of the Local Government and Local Government (Scotland) Bills which are now before Parliament. As to safety, my right hon. Friends are doing all they can to ensure that those responsible for waste tips examine them as soon as possible in order to detect, and guard against, any threat to public safety to which they may give rise.

Mr. Hamilton

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that, even where no danger to life and limb exists, these tips and other derelictions are squalid and have been tolerated for far too long by industrial communities? Will he treat this as an emergency and get a crash programme going to get rid of these eyesores and help attract new industries to these areas?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend knows, under the Industrial Development Act, 1966, a capital grant is payable of 85 per cent, of the approved cost if the land in question is in a development area. I have not had time to study his words, but my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade made a statement last night on further help for the clearance of derelict land, including this kind of land.

Mr. More

Will the Prime Minister cast a critical eye on recent Ministerial answers on the subject of inspection of these tips? Will he ensure, through the appropriate Ministries, first, that these inspections actually are made and with the necessary technical assistance; secondly, that in all cases of doubt the necessary remedial works are put in hand before disaster supervenes; and, thirdly, that, where large expenditure is involved, appropriate Ministries offer freely the grants which, under existing legislation, they are entitled to make to local authorities?

The Prime Minister

Without going further than is justified by the facts in promising a critical eye, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that every step will be taken to see that there are inspections where safety is involved. With regard to the grants, I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said last night about the situation in development areas.