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Beckton District Plan

Volume 973: debated on Wednesday 14 November 1979

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make an official visit to Beckton in order to view progress made in implementing the Beckton district plan.

The Beckton district plan has not yet been formally adopted, and I would not therefore wish to comment on its merits at this stage. I have no plans at the moment to visit Beckton.

Will the Secretary of State give serious reconsideration to his refusal to visit part of the Docklands area in my constituency? Is he aware that the fact that he has viewed the area from a helicopter before announcing his plans for an urban development corporation has received bad publicity in the area? Before he makes further pronouncements on the plans, will he visit the area personally in the status of one of Her Majesty's Ministers?

I believe it right to allow the Beckton plan to be considered and finalised, if that is the wish of the local authority. The hon. Gentleman will know that the urban development corporation has been called for as loudly by his right hon. and hon. Friends as it has by my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us a good reason why he should not visit the area? It is not far from this place. It would not take him long to make a visit. It would do him some good, and it might help to regain some of the good faith which, unfortunately, the electorate had in the Tory Party at the time of the general election.

I think that the hon. Gentleman is aware that the question is about the Beckton district plan. It would be inappropriate for the Secretary of State, in his quasi-judicial position, to visit local authorities while they are in the process of considering their local plans.

Is the Secretary of State aware that throughout Docklands a great deal of proposed industrial development is being held up because of the uncertainty that is being created by his announcement.

Order. The question is directed to Beckton and not to the whole of Docklands.

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. May I inform you, Mr. Speaker, that the Beckton district plan is wholly within the London Docklands area?

Is the Secretary of State aware that within Beckton and other areas in the London Docklands area a great deal of uncertainty is being caused and much development held up because of the fear that when his proposals are put into operation the new corporation will want to start from scratch and draw up a new plan? Will he make it clear that work should go ahead and that there is no reason to assume that the corporation will want to start from the beginning again?

Will the right hon. Gentleman give me an example of one project that is being held up?

I shall be delighted to send the right hon. Gentleman all the examples given to me by the councils when I, unlike him, visited the area to see for myself.

If the councils will give me such examples, we shall be able to have a real debate.