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Town And Country Planning

Volume 480: debated on Tuesday 14 November 1950

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Schuster Committee (Report)

17.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether the Report of the Schuster Committee has yet been presented; and when it will be published.

This Report was published on 13th October.

War Damaged Towns (Assistance)

19.

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.

New Towns (Property Insurance)

20.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning why only six insurance companies are permitted to insure houses in Welwyn Garden City by the Welwyn and Hatfield Corporation.

21.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he is aware of the principle adopted by the Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation of non-discrimination in the matter of insurance of leasehold properties within its jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on the Government's policy in this matter in so far as it affects development corporations and other public bodies where similar problems arise.

Insurance of property in the new towns is a matter of day-to-day administration, which I leave to the Development Corporations.

Is the Minister aware of the disquiet which exists locally, in view of the fact that two of the lucky insurance companies are connected with members of the Government's Development Corporation?

This is a matter of day-to-day administration, in which, normally, I should not interfere, but I am told that, in Welwyn Garden City before the Development Corporation was set up, they were all limited to the Royal Exchange. Now there has been a certain extension of the field, which I should have thought was a good thing.

Is the Minister aware that my Question, which he has answered at the same time as Question No. 20, asked for this information in regard to Development Corporations and other public bodies, where similar problems arise? May I have an answer to the last part of my Question?

On a point of order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that originally I put the Question down to the Prime Minister, being aware that other Government Departments were involved. The Prime Minister advised me that the Question would be answered by the Minister of Town and Country Planning. My Question has not been so answered. May I have your protection against the evasions of the right hon. Gentleman?

That is not a point of order. I cannot help it if the hon. Member is not satisfied with the answer. That is not my business.

In view of the fact that public money is involved here, would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the sort of restriction now imposed is quite appropriate; and that, while it may well be appropriate in cases of private property, in cases involving public money the same considerations do not apply?

I am not quite clear to which restriction the right hon. Gentleman is referring.

I am referring to the restriction to a certain number of insurance companies, which might be appropriate in cases of private property, but which I should have thought was not appropriate where public money is concerned.

I will have a look at it again, but I do not want to interfere—and I think it would be wrong—in the detailed administration of these bodies.