Temporary Shops, Plymouth

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th September 1948.

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Photo of Mr John Belcher Mr John Belcher , Sowerby 12:00 am, 16th September 1948

I am afraid we do not possess so much power as that. The fact that the Board of Trade says "Yes" does not mean that every other Government Department falls into step, but it does go a long way towards it. Sponsorship by the Board of Trade will assist to a very great extent, but we have to consider other matters. Plymouth has a very great rehousing problem at the present time, and may I here place on record our appreciation of the way in which the local authority is tackling that job?

There has also been an industrial job to do. We must never lose sight of the necessity for providing not only for the housing of the people and for the shopping needs of the people, but also for the employment of the people. I would go so far as to say that we have made a fairly good job of providing for their employment in Plymouth. We were hoping to do much more than we did in 1947, but, as the House well knows, we had to face the necessity of a cut in capital expenditure, and schemes which might otherwise have gone through had to be delayed or stopped altogether. Nevertheless, it is our view that, despite our still existing straitened circumstances, such work as has been referred to here tonight should not be indefinitely deferred, and we have decided that a start should be made in 1949 with the rebuilding of the central areas in heavily blitzed cities where plans are sufficiently far advanced.

It must be recognised that our resources will be severely limited, and, when compared with the size of the job which needs to be done in these blitzed cities, the amount of work able to be undertaken will only be a small proportion of the total required. We cannot afford any priority over other more urgent national needs. We cannot expect or encourage anybody to believe that there will be a great increase in the building labour force or in the amount of steel to be allowed for these particular requirements. In addition to some progress on these lines—rebuilding of the central areas—it will be possible for the licensing authorities to consider applications for modest schemes for repair and rebuilding blitzed shop premises which make no demand on steel supplies.

I hope that this announcement will provide evidence of our desire to do what we can with our very limited resources to enable these blitzed cities to get on their feet again, whether it be in the matter of their industries or of their shopping facilities. I hope that local authorities, industrialists and the shopkeepers concerned, will go ahead as quickly as possible with the preparation of their schemes for early submission so that, in 1949, when we are able to make some small advance, their schemes will be ready to take advantage of any assistance we may afford.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned, accordingly at Twenty-eight Minutes past Ten o'Clock.