HC Deb 10 April 1975 vol 889 cc1388-90
4. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further steps he is taking in tackling urban deprivation.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

We are continuing to develop programmes which have already been announced.

Mr. Lane

When shall we see some real momentum behind the Government's urban drive? If the difficulty is resources, does not the Minister agree that several inner city areas could be transformed for a fraction of the money that is being wasted, for example, on some of the ill-conceived brainchildren of the Secretary of State for Industry? Will the hon. Gentleman consider this matter further?

Mr. Lyon

In the last two phases of the urban programme we have recently distributed something a little short of £7 million, and we are continuing with the community development projects. We are at present discussing ways in which they can be improved. As for the comprehensive community programmes, the programme for which was announced last year, we are in discussion with a number of local authorities to see whether they would be able to assist in the trial programmes we have projected, and we shall be making announcements as soon as we have hard decisions to make.

Mr. Lipton

While a certain amount of urban aid has come to Central Lambeth, may I ask my hon. Friend to look at the report recently produced by the Department of the Environment which shows that Central Lambeth has a higher proportion of low-paid workers than exists anywhere else, with 15 per cent. earning less than £24 a week?

Mr. Lyon

I share my hon. Friend's concern about the problems of Lambeth. Indeed, I have visited the borough on a number of occasions. We paid special attention to Lambeth's problems in the allocation of urban aid. But Lambeth shares—I agree, in a marked degree—with many other parts of our inner cities problems which need a major Government programme to finance. These are matters which we have under consideration.

Mr. Steen

What are the Government learning about urban deprivation from the work of the Urban Deprivation Unit, which has been in existence for two years and has not produced its report?

Mr. Lyon

The Urban Deprivation Unit was not set up to produce a report. It was set up to consider what initiatives would best pay off in the tackling of these very difficult and intractable problems. One of the initiatives has been the establishment of the CCPs, and it is that on which it is currently engaged.

Mrs. Hayman

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the largest and most vulnerable groups resident in inner city areas is one-parent families? Does he accept that the implementation of the Finer Committee's proposals would do a great deal to ease the strains of urban deprivation? If so, will he use his influence with his Cabinet colleagues who are responsible for the recommendations on income, housing and day care, to get the proposals implemented?

Mr. Lyon

I suspect that the major part of that question is well outside the Question I have to consider today and is outside my departmental responsibility. All I would say is that I will certainly try to exercise my influence with my Cabinet colleagues, such as it is, in the way my hon. Friend suggests.