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Belfast (Development)

Volume 116: debated on Thursday 14 May 1987

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the proposed public spending commitment to develop the city centre of Belfast.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
(Mr. Richard Needham)

Although a complete picture is not available of public spending commitment in Belfast city centre, I can say that Government policy is to concentrate on building up the private sector through providing urban development grant and public sector infrastructure improvements. This policy has led to private sector investment of £90 million in the last three years, with a further £80 million already committed. The cost to the Government urban development grant in the last three years has been £14 million, and a further £16 million is currently on offer.

Are not the very exciting potential new shopping and other developments in the centre of Belfast yet further evidence of the determination of everyone in Britain to see Belfast flourish as a European city? Will my hon. Friend make arrangements early in the next Parliament to organise an exhibition in the Upper Waiting Hall showing the proposed new developments in Belfast? I suspect that many hon. Members would be very excited if they also could see what is proposed for that city.

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. Of course, I shall have to ask the electors of Wiltshire, North to ensure that those arrangements can be made early in the next Parliament. On current form, I think that they may accede to his request.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The regeneration of Belfast is going ahead despite the problems there, which we all know about. The people of Belfast are showing just how determined they are to live ordinary normal lives, and there is a great show of new development, new plans and new progress, which, I think, gives hope for the future.