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War Damaged Towns (Assistance)

Volume 480: debated on Tuesday 14 November 1950

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asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what recognition he gives to the claims of war-damaged towns for special help and assistance in the extra burdens they carry because of war damage.

Capital allocations for the rebuilding of the business centres of war-damaged cities in 1951 have already been announced. In addition, grants of 90 per cent. of the net cost of acquiring and clearing land are made during the first five years of the programme, and grants of 50 per cent. thereafter.

Does not my right hon. Friend realise that, while the blitzed towns appreciate what little help has been given by various Ministries, the country has a duty to make a greater contribution to the burdens which the blitzed towns bear because of their war damage?

As the figures which I have given indicate, the contributions are on a very generous scale. The difficulty regarding the blitzed town centres, about which this Question is asked, is the competition for a relatively small labour force between the rebuilding of offices and shops in the blitzed town centres, which are very desirable, and the building of houses and factories in other parts.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman's answer show that, as long as this Government continue in office, there is very little hope for the blitzed towns?

On the contrary, it shows that if there were any other Government in power there would be no hope at all.

In view of the great losses in rateable value suffered by the blitzed towns under enemy attacks, and in view of the fact that these have not by any means yet been met, will my right hon. Friend try to get additional financial assistance from the Treasury for the blitzed towns during the forthcoming financial year?

The allocation is for 1951, and I have already announced that, if any blitzed town is doing well in dealing with its allocation, and another is doing badly, I will switch the allocation from the slowcoach to the other.

Will the Minister also appreciate that it is more profitable to the blitzed towns to build houses rather than the big emporiums which he is now building?

That is the point I made in reply to the supplementary of my hon. Friend, but there are other things to build besides offices.