HC Deb 26 April 1972 vol 835 cc1529-30
18. Mr. Laurance Reed

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many Operation Eyesore schemes, from how many local authorities in the North-West Region, have been approved by his Department; and if he is satisfied with the response.

Mr. Peter Walker

So far 110 schemes from 21 local authorities in the North-West Region have been approved. Many more have been submitted for consideration. This is a good start, but there is a great deal more to be done.

Mr. Reed

Is it possible to ask local authorities how many people are employed on these projects, and will my right hon. Friend be viewing some of the schemes so as to encourage others?

Mr. Walker

Rather than try to get a statistical analysis, I prefer to use the efforts of our regional offices to urge local authorities to submit many more schemes in the coming months.

Mr. Haselhurst

Will my right hon. Friend consider making flexible the terminal date of the scheme where local authorities have been dilatory in responding to this imaginative idea? If local authorities have put forward useful schemes which help both the environment and the unemployment situation, may I ask him not to be too rigid about the terminal date?

Mr. Walker

There is great advantage in sticking to the terminal date as this activates local authorities to act quickly instead of dithering in decision making.

Mr. Carter-Jones

In view of his interest in unemployment in the North West, will the right hon. Gentleman consider how unemployment in the area can be relieved and impress upon local authorities the importance of reducing unemployment?

Mr. Walker

I remind the hon. Gentleman that grants of 75 per cent. to 85 per cent. are available for the clearance of derelict land, the improvement of old houses, slum clearance and Operation Eyesore. Taken together these grants represent an injection of capital into the infrastructure which has never before been seen either in this country or any other country.