Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I am not necessarily disagreeing with the hon. Gentleman on those points. I am trying to state the fact that when we are trying to encourage people to go out to the new towns in order to reduce overcrowding and overspill, and when we are trying to get industry to go there also, the policy now being pursued by the Government of increasing interest rates, which has led to a considerable increase in building costs, is accentuating the problem which such a person has to meet if he wants to move from London to Stevenage or to any other new town.
Therefore, instead of the right hon. Gentleman taking the view that the development corporations should pay 6¾ per cent. interest on the money needed for development, he should recognise that they are entitled to preferential treatment in that respect, since the heavy rise in those rates and in building costs is not only crippling development but is making it more and more impossible for the individual living in overcrowded circumstances to go to a new town and expect to live comfortably.
Therefore, whilst we welcome the proposal to provide a further £50 million for the development corporations, let us be under no illusion. The amount we are voting today is worth £33 million in 1951 terms, and one-third of it at least will be devoted by the development corporations to meeting increased building costs and increased interest rates. To that extent, insofar as it is a whittling down of the amount and a reduction in the development of the new towns, it is to be deplored. If we were anxious to maintain the rate of development, and if we took into consideration the increased interest rates, we should be voting tonight not £50 million but £75 million.
Let us hope that, despite the policy of the Government, the development corporations will carry on with their good work. I disagreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne when he said that he was in favour of not voting the £50 million tonight. I am sure that on reflection he will find that he did not mean this, because it makes some contribution, particularly in the case of London, to providing better housing accommodation for people who are overcrowded, and I know that my hon. Friend is the last one to wish to stop that process.
There was a lot of truth in what he said, namely, that unless we can control the influx of people into over-crowded areas, to some extent we shall cancel the export of people to the new towns, but on balance there is some advantage. Despite the fact that people have come in and taken the places of those who have gone out, there has been an easing of the problem in many parts of London and greater London, due not only to the new towns, but also to the magnificent work of the London County Council.
I am sure that the House will give a Second Reading to this Bill, and I hope that the Minister will be able to take notice of some of the criticisms we have made. If he is anxious to develop the new towns and assist their rate of progress and development, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he will have the support of everybody on this side. I am not sure if it is possible but if in the Committee stage this sum could be increased to something more equivalent to the rate of development that has taken place in recent years, which I would place in the region of £75 million, it would be money well spent and the right hon. Gentleman would be doing a good job.