HC Deb 31 March 1971 vol 814 cc1495-6
35. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to encourage an increase in the slum clearance programme in London.

Mr. Amery

Our proposals for the reform of housing finance will provide greater incentives for local authorities to tackle slum clearance and increased resources with which to do so. In London the rate of progress in slum clearance is of course very dependent on the overall rate at which new housing can be provided. Here I look to local authorities, overspill arrangements, and the private sector to play their part.

Mr. Fraser

In the light of his previous reply, can the Minister say why in Lambeth no houses were demolished in slum- clearance areas in the first nine months of 1970, why in five other London boroughs no houses were demolished in slum-clearance areas, and why there are derisory totals in many parts of London?

Mr. Amery

The housing shortage is so pressing in Lambeth that the Lambeth authority has rightly been concentrating on overspill arrangements. When I visited Lambeth three days ago I was impressed by the arrangements it was making with Peterborough to get people from Lambeth rehoused in Peterborough, often in much better houses and much more cheaply than they were in Lambeth.

Mr. Gorst

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this urgent and important matter will be much more likely to receive urgent and successful treatment from a Conservative Government because of the economic policies which are being pursued and which have recently been announced? Would my right hon. Friend care to spell them out in detail for the sake of hon. Members opposite?

Mr. Amery

I agree with my hon. Friend. Indeed, I find it hard to think of any problem which would not be better solved by a Conservative than by a Labour Government.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Is not the greatest problem the lack of land in London? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that local authorities acquire such land, particularly public utility land, as does become available and do not refuse land in rich areas as the Kensington Borough Council did in neglecting the Campden Hill Water Works site?

Mr. Amery

As I have tried to explain in answer to earlier Questions, I have one meeting this week and another after the local elections with the London authorities to discuss all these problems and I hope that these will lead to action to solve a problem which has been left unsolved for far too long.