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New Towns

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1952

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41 and 42.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) the figure for building in new towns under the capital investment programme during 1952;

(2) what reductions were made in the allocations under the capital investment programme for building in new towns following the restrictions on capital investment in January.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 26th March by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro).

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that he will not give to the House detailed figures of what have been the cuts in the capital investment programme in these cases? Why should there be all this secrecy about it?

Because it is not thought to be of much use to give these figures. The point, which I can state quite simply, is that, so far as the housing in these new towns is concerned, we shall go forward as fast as we can.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it is proper and right that Members of this House should be able to compare the allocations made under the capital investment programme to see how they affect the new towns as against the blitzed cities and other claimants? Does he not think it right that they should consider that, instead of his concealing the figures from the House in order to conceal from the people of the blitzed towns the cut in the capital investment programme for them?

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. What I am objecting to is this rigid method of the capital investment programme's operating in a negative fashion. It is a general guide. Wherever possible we shall do better than the plan.

In that case, if there is no such procedure laid down, can the right hon. Gentleman explain why some of his colleagues have been constantly sending letters to hon. Members of this House saying all projects have been stopped on account of the capital investment programme? Can he further explain how the Chancellor of the Exchequer can say that he is going to save £100 million on the capital investment programme if there is no method of adding up each individual item?

I have tried to explain—but the hon. Gentleman does not seem to be able to understand—that this is a general guide, and that, so far as housing is concerned, it will be used as a general guide and not as a limiting factor.