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Docklands (London)

Volume 934: debated on Wednesday 29 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations he has now had concerning the distribution of the £17 million available for dockland redevelopment in London.

The Docklands Joint Committee and the constituent authorities agreed a programme of projects at their meeting on 21st June. This has just been submitted to me and I am considering it urgently.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that information. As Mr. Percy Bell has now resigned as chairman of the Docklands Joint Committee, which now has Sir Hugh Wilson as its independent chairman, will my right hon. Friend confirm that this indicates a consistent policy of the new GLC and no change in direction?

Will my right hon. Friend have a word with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services concerning the closure of Plaistow Maternity Hospital, which is in dockland, an area where we hope to have 20,000 new inhabitants in the next five or six years?

I know my hon. Friend's intense interest in the whole dockland development, but he will appreciate that, while I well understand the anxieties and worries experienced over the closure of the Plaistow Maternity Hospital—it happens also in my own part of East London—that really is a question for my right hon Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.

As for the wider issue of continuity of policy in the Docklands Joint Committee, it would be ridiculous to pretend that there will not be differences between the new incumbents of County Hall and their predecessors. Of course there will. But I very much hope that the interests of dockland will be judged in a sober way and that every effort will be made to carry forward the work of the Docklands Joint Committee.

Is the right hon. Gentleman able to confirm that the sum of £17 million and other support for the dockland programme is central Government funded money and not just an authority for the GLC to spend its own money?

What we have said is that £17 million of increased public expenditure would be authorised in dockland in the period up to the introduction of the proper inner city grant. That will comprise local and central Government expenditure. But if the money comes under the urban programme, the central Government will finance 75 per cent. of any project. If it comes under housing programmes, it will be over 60 per cent., as the hon. Gentleman knows.