HC Deb 30 January 1980 vol 977 cc1318-9
2. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment who are to be appointed as the chairmen of the two new urban development corporations and what will be the cost of their first year of operation.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

I hope to announce my intentions about chairmen soon. The costs of the first year of operation of the two UDCs will depend upon the range of powers afforded to them, and their exact areas and patterns of land acquisition. Decisions have yet to be taken on these.

Mr. Alton

Does the Secretary of State agree that any local authority that behaved in this way and went ahead with a plan without even pricing it would be branded by him as financially irresponsible? Will the Secretary of State also say whether the chairmen of these two urban development corporations are likely to be taken from a business or a political background?

Mr. Heseltine

I ask the hon. Gentleman to wait until I make an announcement about the chairmen of the UDCs. The powers to establish UDCs will be examined in great detail when the legislation is considered on the Floor of the House and in Standing Committee. I think that it is right that these particular issues should be raised in that context.

Mr. Chapman

Has my right hon. Friend given any thought to the principle of whether many, or indeed any, members of these UDCs should be members or nominees of the boroughs or local authorities in question?

Mr. Heseltine

I have considered that matter and I believe that it would be right for certain members to be drawn from local authorities but that it would be wrong for such people to be nominees.

Mr. Spearing

Is the Secretary of State aware that, because the chairman of the proposed London urban development corporation will displace many of the functions of the local authority over at least half of my constituency, he has been called a Tory gauleiter? Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, when the Government are thinking about reducing central government, he is increasing it to that extent in any area?

Mr. Heseltine

Because I think that we shall be able to do a better job for the people whom the hon. Gentleman represents than hitherto.