HC Deb 28 April 1948 vol 450 cc61-2W
Mr. Coldrick

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he is aware of the anxiety felt in Bristol at the lack of progress in the re-construction of the city; and if he will make a full statement as to the present position.

Mr. Silkin

Yes, and I share that anxiety. As there may have been some misunderstanding about my attitude to the re-construction of Bristol, I welcome the opportunity of making a statement. I believe that the misunderstanding has arisen through confusion between the plan for the reconstruction of the city, which I have never sought to curtail, and the programme for carrying out the plan which must be related to practical possibilities. The City Council of Bristol have submitted to me compulsory purchase orders for approximately 100 acres of war damaged land. In view of our present economic difficulties I have asked them to reconsider the application and to restrict it for the time being to land which they will actually need in the next few years. I am satisfied that their powers under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, will enable them to exercise effective control meantime over the remainder of the land.

This does not mean that I disapprove of their ultimate plans or that I am not willing to give them every help in my power to make an effective start on reconstruction, as many other cities are doing. But I am bound to ask them to stage the work and to spend public money only as and when they need to do so. As soon as the Council let me know what land they think they need for making an effective start on their first stage, I hope to enable them to buy it.

In spite of these necessary—but, I hope, temporary—limitations upon the activities of the blitzed towns I urge local authorities not to be discouraged, to make a start with which I am only too anxious to help them, and to prepare their plans so that they can be ready for their opportunities when they come.