HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 cc278-9
9. Mr. Murphy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with progress on the transfer of assets in first generation new towns.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Yes, Sir. With some minor exceptions, housing in all the first generation new towns except Basildon was transfered to the appropriate district councils on 1 April 1978. The sale of commercial and industrial assets is proceeding, and we shall shortly announce our proposals for dealing with the first tranche of community related assets.

Mr. Murphy

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that the disengagement of the Commission for the New Towns should be speeded up for the benefit of the local community, including those business men who wish to have an early opportunity of purchasing their premises?

Mr. Finsberg

As my hon. Friend will know, we have said that the commission will be wound up in due course. The timing is still under consideration. It still has major tasks to undertake in disposing of assets before it can be wound up. We hope that the commission, on a town by town basis, will do its best to dispose of the assets in the best possible way to assist local individuals and businesses.

Mr. Graham

With this experience in mind, does the Minister recall the statement made to the House yesterday on the transfer of housing assets from the GLC to certain London boroughs, in which there was no agreement and no terms? In view of the Government's record of reneging on their promises in respect of the repair of houses in the new towns, why should the new towns or the London boroughs believe a word of what the Minister says?

Mr. Finsberg

I think that they are more likely to believe this Government than the Labour Government, who failed to come to any arrangment on section 10 agreements during the last 18 months or so that they were in power. We have had rounds of discussions and we have now asked the National Building Agency to proceed so as to define a basis of offer not very different from that put forward by the Labour Government, who the hon. Gentleman supported as a Whip. He appears to be anxious to slip out of that now.

Mr. Steen

Is my hon. Friend aware that Conservative Members were looking forward to the Commission for the New Towns being wound up? If it is not to be this year, will it be next year?

Mr. Finsberg

I can only say that it will not be this year.

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