HL Deb 10 November 1983 vol 444 cc955-6

3.6 p.m.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what will be the total level of resources devoted to the Urban Programme during the current financial year.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Bellwin)

My Lords, for the year 1983–84, £348 million was provided for the Urban Programme in England, £35 million in Scotland and £17 million in Wales—a total of £400 million.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

My Lords, perhaps I may say how glad I am to hear the Government statement along these lines, because waste of land in this connection would be a pity. May I ask whether anything is being done in Scotland in this particular regard?

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, I said in the Answer a moment ago that £35 million of the £400 million was applicable to Scotland.

Lord Gainford

My Lords, can my noble friend say how much Her Majesty's Government are satisfied with the progress of the urban development programme?

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, the urban development grants scheme, to which I presume my noble friend refers, is proving a very great success. Indeed, only today I am announcing a further three schemes being approved in Wolverhampton, Coventry and Nottingham; and the overall total in this respect now amounts to over £300 million, of which only slightly over £60 million comes from the public sector. The remainder comes from the private sector.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, will the Minister confirm that there is no truth in the rumour that the urban aid programme is likely to be reduced in the near future?

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, clearly I cannot say what the amount of next year's urban programme funds will be, but I think I can assuage the concern of the noble Baroness if she is relying upon a particular newspaper report. I gladly tell her that that report, like a number of others very recently, is in some kind of phantasy land.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, without having asked the question I was going to ask, I am grateful to the Minister for the answer he has just given.

Lord Sandys

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether the city centre programmes are included in the urban renewal programme, especially in regard to the restoration of historic buildings?

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, the Urban Programme funds can be applied to purposes of the kind to which my noble friend refers. However, there are other sources for that kind of restoration. But, certainly, when we receive applications for that purpose within a particular Urban Programme we look at them very carefully and, of course, are sympathetic to them.

Baroness David

My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether improvement grants will be freely available under the Urban Programme? Because there was a statement recently that money for local authorities' improvement grants was going to be cut back severely.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, improvement grants as such do not form part of the Urban Programme; that is a separate matter entirely. I think the noble Baroness is referring to general improvement grants, which were 75 per cent. with an increase to 90 per cent. for a time, and where the indication is that they will again come back to 75 per cent. That really is not part of the Urban Programme.

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