asked the Secretary of State for Wales when it is intended to hold the public local inquiry into the proposed Cwmbran New Town (Designation) Amendment Order.
A public inquiry will be held only if objections are received to the draft order and are not withdrawn.
On behalf of the Torfaen council and myself, I thank the Under-Secretary for having acceded, despite the present economic difficulties, to our request that the new town's original plan should continue. However, will he give us an assurance that the public inquiry will be held as speedily as statutorily possible, as house building now continuing is likely to end within the next 18 months, unless continuity is assured, with the result that the existing housing problems within the eastern valley will become exacerbated?
I assure my hon. Friend that every effort will be made to arrange this inquiry, if necessary, in the light of the issues that he has mentioned.
Is my hon. Friend aware that considerable disquiet has been expressed that the further development of Cwmbran may have an adverse effect in North Gwent and thus add to its depopulation problem?
That sort of issue may be the subject of a future public inquiry, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the designation is very modest. It is needed merely for the land necessary to achieve the target of a population of 55,000—a target established way back in 1968. I can give the positive assurance that it wil not in any way channel away funds or resources vital to the housing and industrial development of Blaenau-Gwent.