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London Dockland

Volume 973: debated on Wednesday 14 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to announce his detailed proposals for the establishment of an urban development corporation for London dockland.

The Local Government, Planning and Land Bill which will be introduced shortly will contain enabling proposals. Thereafter, I hope to make the necessary order to set up the development corporation as soon as possible.

My right hon. Friend's initiative will be widely welcomed as probably the only way to restore life to the urban and political wastelands close to the heart of our great city? Will his strategy be to ensure that the urban development corporation should be not, a drain on public resources, but a magnet for private enterprise and private capital?

I thank my hon. Friend for drawing the attention of the House to the welcome that my proposals have received on a broad basis. On the second part of his question, these urban development corporations will have to recognise the partnership that is necessary between public and private resources in coping with dramatic opportunities. The prime objective must be to create a climate in which the maximum private commitment can follow public commitment initially.

Is it correct to draw the conclusion from the consultative document that the right hon. Gentleman issued that he proposes to set up urban development corporations without the public inquiry required for new town development corporations? If that is his purpose, it will deprive many individuals of their proper rights.

The lion. Gentleman will be aware that there is to be a parliamentary process and therefore a wide opportunity for consultation on the procedures that I have in mind.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the thousands of acres that have remained derelict in the Dock-lands area for many years are testimony of the inability of any London borough or of the Greater London Council to deal with the massive re-development that is necessary?

That is why the demand for the changes that I have announced has come from both sides of the House.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the bad impression that he caused when he met a deputation of Newham councillors recently? I am told that he started by saying that nothing they said would change his mind and his decision. Instead of flying over the area in a helicopter, will he reconsider his view, go down to Newham with the elected representatives, and actually see what they have done?

The hon. Gentleman criticises me for what I am supposed to have said to the Newham councillors, which I would contest. I should have thought that the whole basis on which the Labour Party operates is that it never opens its mind to anything that it ever hears on any subject.