HC Deb 26 March 1984 vol 57 c6
5. Mr. Rowlands

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what estimates he has of the number of new derelict land schemes to be started in Wales in 1984–85.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

The Welsh Development Agency's estimates for 1984–85 include provision of;£6.5 million for derelict land clearance. £2 million is being held in reserve under the provisions for land and buildings and site preparation in connection with new industrial projects and other demands. This will allow existing contracts to be fulfilled. The number of new starts will depend on the level of resources that become available. If the south Cardiff project is approved for urban development grant, up to £2 million may be spent on land reclamation there.

Mr. Rowlands

The right hon. Gentleman's statement is of profound concern to those of us who represent valley communities because he has diverted to the south Glamorgan scheme £2 million that would have been put into the land reclamation programmes in our valley communities? Is he aware that under those proposals it would appear that not one new contract for land reclamation in the valley communities will be signed and, therefore, something that is vital to the attraction of our area will be taken away from us?

Mr. Edwards

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The Welsh Development Agency had been planning to spend up to £2 million on the Cardiff site. Because I thought it sensible that the provision should be made under one heading, I transferred that money to urban development grant, but it was money that the WDA would otherwise have had to commit and was planning to commit in that area anyway.

Mr. Barry Jones

Does the Secretary of State not understand the anger at his decision in some of the valley communities? Is it not wrong to make cuts in colliery closure areas? Is he aware that in Blaenau Gwent, which I visited last Thursday, there are some magnificent examples of land reclamation by the Conservative and previous Labour Governments? Does he agree that we need far more rather than the petty cuts in which he is indulging?

Mr. Edwards

Expenditure on derelict land clearance has been about £10 million a year, and there is scope for expenditure at about that level in the coming year. It is precisely because there is uncertainty about what is needed in respect of colliery closures that £2 million has been put into reserve, so that the WDA can decide on its plans in the light of the demand that falls on it.