HL Deb 07 November 1988 vol 501 cc485-7

3.20 p.m.

The Earl of Arran rose to move, That the order laid before the House on 12th July be approved [35th Report .from the Joint Committee].

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. This order is made under the provisions of Part XVI of the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980. It designates an urban development area covering land in Liverpool and the Wirral close to the Merseyside Development Corporation's existing area and gives the MDC the task of regenerating this extended area.

This order was deemed hybrid and therefore subject to petitioning. No petitions were received, leaving the way clear for parliamentary approval. The order was debated in Committee in another place last week, where it received general support.

It may be helpful if I remind noble Lords briefly of the history to date. The MDC was established in 1981 to regenerate some 865 acres of derelict docklands in the heart of Merseyside. The corporation received powers under its area and constitution order to assemble, reclaim and service land. Development control functions were also conferred on the MDC for its area. It is the intention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to confer those functions on the MDC for its extended area.

The corporation has spent some £150 million to remove physical dereliction from and restore confidence in its designated area. The private sector has already invested nearly £50 million and that investment will more than double over the next few years. Although the MDC is nearing the end of the regeneration of its designated area, there is significant regeneration still needed in Merseyside. Therefore the Secretary of State announced his intention of extending the corporation's remit last March as part of the Action for Cities initiative.

At that time a preliminary view was taken of the areas which should be designated. A team of consultants led by Coopers and Lybrand were appointed to examine these areas and the areas around. They were asked to recommend boundaries and assess the additional public sector resources required and the likely level of private investment that could be generated.

In the light of this advice, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State drew up firm boundary proposals which were circulated to the two local authorities for comment before final decisions were taken and the order made. The area for designation is some 1,500 acres. Copies of the consultant's report were placed in the Library. The indications are that net public sector capital investment of something under £100 million would result in further private sector investment of over £300 million.

I am happy to say that these proposals have received a positive response. Both local authorities responded constructively to the detailed boundary proposals and the proposals have in turn led to more effective working relationships. The signs are promising, but it is important that the corporation should get on with regenerating the area. I commend this order to the House.

Moved, That the order laid before the House on 12th July be approved [35th Report from the Joint Committee]—(The Earl of Arran.)

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for explaining in detail what the order means. As I see it, this is an extension of an existing development corporation area and it makes sense to expand it rather than create a new one. The Minister has said that the proposal has received general support and we have no desire to oppose it in any way. However, we believe that it would be carried out far better by a more democratic procedure. As I understand it, the Public Accounts Committee in another place is showing concern about some of the areas involved and some of the activities which it thinks should not be pursued in those areas.

However, the order covers a very derelict area which has required attention for a number of years. If this is the only way at this time to tackle the problem, to get the thing moving and to attract money into the area for redevelopment, it is to be welcomed by all Members of your Lordships' House.

I believe that it is good that both local authorities involved have indicated their support, as I understand that in some areas there has been obstruction, which in some respects could have been counter productive to the general objectives. Having said that, we hope that the exercise is a success and that it attracts to this derelict area—and it is quite a substantial area—redevelopment which is in the interests of the area as a whole. Perhaps I may say as a person residing in the North-West that it will he welcomed there and I hope it succeeds.

On Question, Motion agreed to.