HC Deb 07 May 1968 vol 764 cc187-8
15. Mr. Dance

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he expects to be in a position to make a statement about the confirmation of the green belt to the south of Birmingham.

Mr. MacDermot

I cannot add to my previous Answers to the hon. Member on this subject.

Mr. Dance

Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman must have some idea when we are to get this information? In view of the rapid progress of the development of the new town of Redditch, is it not essential to have a permanent breathing line between Redditch and the City of Birmingham?

Mr. MacDermot

I am not sure what information the hon. Gentleman is referring to. The study being made by the Standing Conference of the long-term pattern of development around conurbations is bound to take a considerable time—about two years. It would be wrong to try to pronounce upon the green belt and confirm it in advance of that study.

Mr. Speed

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, with the continued erosion of the green belt around Birmingham by both overspill and new installations of the nationalised industries, this problem will eventually solve itself, because there will be no green belt to confirm?

Mr. MacDermot

I do not agree. I am anxious that as much as possible of the unspoiled area should be kept free from development, but the best means for doing this will have to be considered in the light of the study.

Mr. Julius Silverman

Will the Minister of State bear in mind, when this inquiry is being made, the acute need of Birmingham's overcrowded population with its great waiting list for more houses and the demand of all political parties in Birmingham for more land in this area?

Mr. MacDermot

Yes, I am very well aware of that, and it is for that reason that the Standing Conference has set up this study to find what is the best way from a planning point of view in which that need can be met.