HC Deb 26 February 1975 vol 887 cc493-4
27. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration he has given to the creation of new villages as opposed to new towns.

Mr. Oakes

The consultation document on new towns, of which I informed the House on 15th January in reply to the hon. Member for Bromsgrove and Red-ditch (Mr. Miller), invites comments on the idea of clusters of new villages within travel-to-work distances of each other. I hope that the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) will be among those who comment.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

I welcome the Minister's comments, but may I make the point that new towns have failed in human and social terms because their size makes the creation of a sense of community almost impossible to achieve, and that for that reason the creation of new settlements the size of villages should be tried?

Mr. Oakes

The consultation document provides many interesting innovations. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that size is crucial and that we should be looking at the size of a community and all its social consequences.

Mr. Corbet

Before my hon. Friend gets on with looking at this interesting idea about new villages, will he bear in mind that white collar and manual staff employed by the Commission for New Towns are apprehensive about their jobs and about the future until his Depart-men sets a firm and early date for the transfer of assets to the elected local authorities?

Mr. Oakes

That is another matter, which does not arise on this Question. But there is still a very considerable job to do by the commission with special regard to industrial and commercial land.

Mr. Steen

Will the hon. Gentleman consider setting up also an old towns corporation in order to bring back prosperity to decaying inner city areas of the North-West?

Mr. Oakes

No Government have done more than this one in rate support grant aid to older local authorities in order to do precisely what the hon. Gentleman rightly asks us to do.