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Orders of the Day — New Towns Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1957.

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Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill 12:00 am, 28th November 1957

I am grateful for that information.

To return to the matter of Glasgow's overspill and the more efficient distribution of industry, we know, according to figures supplied by the Minister, that of 100,000 housing applicants in Glasgow, 43,000 are from married couples, many with families but no homes. While it is true that cities like Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester have their problems, we believe that there is no problem in the United Kingdom which is comparable with Glasgow's problem. The Minister knows of the strong dissatisfaction expressed with the recent legislation in the Housing and Town Development (Scotland) Act. I am not one of those who say that it is of no service at all. I admit that it is. I believe that it will make its contribution.

Both things should work together, town development and—what is more important to Scotland, particularly the industrial belt, with its frightful conglomeration and overcrowding the construction of more new towns. I believe that that should have priority over town development proposals. The town development, proposals are quite inadequate to deal with Glasgow's figures. I think that it just takes priority over the steel strip mill. If those two things are done for Scotland, then its future is assured.

The representations made to the Minister about the financial provisions of the Act are quite inadequate. We believe that it is merely a subterfuge of the Government to avoid their real responsibilities. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath (Mr. Wheeldon) said earlier. It is not merely the responsibility of Glasgow, nor of Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester. The nation's needs and industries have helped to contribute towards the conglomeration and overcrowding. By attracting people into the cities the Government have a responsibility to assist those towns not only in providing minimum amenities and the services outside of the cities altogether, but making uniform communities provided with their own facilities, such as town halls, hospitals, and the like

Glasgow has 300,000 people to be exported outside the city. There is not sufficient territory inside on which to build the necessary houses. We have been over this topic so many times, but I take this opportunity to encourage the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland to urge the Government, in which he has authority and interest, for the construction of a minimum of two new towns in Scotland to deal with this frightful problem. Three hundred thousand people cannot possibly be rehoused inside the city. They cannot be rehoused even under the Town Development Act.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State made this admission. He said that a new town in Scotland is not ruled out. That was as far as he was prepared to go. It seems to me that in recent statements there has been wavering. The Minister of State for Scotland hinted some time ago that there would be no more new towns for Scotland. The Secretary of State said that there would be no more new towns in the immediate future.

This afternoon the Joint Under-Secretary said that the possibility is not ruled out. If it is not ruled out, may I ask him to use his interest to bring pressure to bear on the appropriate authorities to come to the decision that there will be not one new town but two as a minimum, because people in Glasgow cannot for very much longer persist with or endure the conditions with which they have had to put up for so long?

The Joint Under-Secretary represents one of the Glasgow constituencies. Glasgow is so large now that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said, one passes from one town into another without knowing where the boundary begins and where it ends. So, in Glasgow, one passes from the town itself into the industrial area of Coatbridge, Clydebank and the rest. In these circumstances, I am glad of the opportunity to say a word or two in support of this Bill. At the same time, I say that it does not go nearly far enough to deal with the festering sore in Scotland of providing new accommodation and new communities in new towns. It is the Government only who can act in this matter. They should reassert their policy in stronger terms at an early date and thereby bring some hope to the people of West Scotland.