HC Deb 21 April 1982 vol 22 cc264-5
13. Mr. Leighton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to review the progress of London Docklands Development Corporation.

Mr. Heseltine

I keep the corporation's progress under constant review.

Mr. Leighton

Is the Secretary of State aware that his London Docklands Development Corporation is unloved by the people of east London? One of the reasons is that it has taken all our land and there will be no more houses to rent. Is he aware that one of our major needs is jobs? In my borough of Newham there are nearly 15,000 unemployed. In view of that, will the right hon. Gentleman comment on the view of Mr. Nigel Tuersley, which was reported inThe Guardian of 29 March? He said that because of the lack of support by the LDDC for the high technology and "sunrise" industries that he wanted to bring to the docklands he has had to revise his plans downwards. We need jobs. It is only if the corporation brings jobs will it receive any affection from the people of East London.

Mr. Heseltine

I think that the hon. Gentleman will now find it necessary to start adjusting his hostility to the urban development corporation in the light of the warm reception by the people of the East End to the policies that it is pursuing. There is land available for council house purposes in the London borough of Newham. Also, about 245 people in that area have applied to buy the new houses for sale that have been made available there. About 102 of those people have been nominated by that London borough.

Mr. Squire

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, despite the observations of the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton), it is much more likely that the housing of the people of that locality is at least as strongly in their minds as the question of their employment and that the LDDC has broken through many years of red tape and inaction through its actions, which have been applauded and supported?

Mr. Heseltine

I rarely disagree with my hon. Friend. It was not red tape and inaction, but pure prejudiced Socialism that was broken through by the LDDC.

Mr. Spearing

Does the Secretary of State agree that in the previous regime of the docklands joint committee, where there were non-controversial applications for development, with which all the local authorities agreed, little time was lost in going forward? Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that, when similar conditions apply to the LDDC, it will not have to apply to him or his Department so that it wastes time obtaining ministerial permission for development? Will he assure the House that no such procedures exist, because, if they did, they would be counter to the objectives of the corporation?

Mr. Heseltine

I can only assume that if non-controversial matters were necessary for progress to be made, there were few of them. There were vast areas of dereliction as a result of the administration of the authorities in that area.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

In his first reply the Secretary of State said that he was constantly reviewing this question. In his constant reviews, does he consult the local authorities concerned? If so, when did he last consult the London borough of Newham? Will he give an assurance that he will regularly consult on this matter?

Mr. Heseline

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be delighted to know that the leader of the authority sits on the urban development corporation. He knows that I am available, so that he can consult me whenever he thinks that that is necessary.