HC Deb 28 March 1973 vol 853 cc1278-9
3. Mr. Edward Lyons

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he can now announce his decision on the future of Operation Eyesore.

Mr. Graham Page

My right hon. and learned Friend has not yet completed his review of the scheme. He hopes to make an announcement in the near future.

Mr. Lyons

I appreciate that the scheme Operation Eyesore was meant to be a top-speed, grand slam attempt to deal with a serious environmental problem, but will the Minister bear in mind that in some parts of the country, including Yorkshire, local authorities and others were slow off the mark, and have had relatively little advantage from a very valuable scheme? Further, in view of the employment question, will the right hon. Gentleman encourage the Secretary of State to arrive very quickly at a favourable conclusion for a 12-months' extension?

Mr. Page

The hon. Member has been very assiduous in his questioning on this matter, and I am sorry still to disappoint him—because we have not yet reached a decision. The scheme has been very successful, but it was intended as a shot in the arm on environmental matters, and that has been its success.

Mr. Cant

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Stoke-on-Trent has spent £750,000 on SEA schemes—£3 per head of the population—but that despite this 20 applications per week are being received from the private sector, which is just waking up to the great advantages of the scheme? Does he realise that unless he makes a decision shortly it will be necessary for Stoke-on-Trent, at any rate, to call a halt to the programme?

Mr. Page

As the hon. Member knows, I am very jealous of his constituency, in that his constituency pipped mine on the post in a competition on this very subject, but it is gratifying that the Opposition are praising the Government for this novel idea, which has been successful. The difficulty now is competing for demands for expenditure, and we still have a number of matters to take into account before announcing an extension.