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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 Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead 12:00 am, 28th November 1957

Let us both be fair about this. The hon. and learned Gentleman was attacking me because of certain financial practices which he said were unfair to the new towns, and I pointed out that those practices were laid down long before there was a Conservative Government. He is now turning to the question of high interest rates. Of course, high interest rates are hard on everybody. They are hard on the hon. and learned Member if he has an overdraft. No one who is in the banking business welcomes high money rates, when the colossal capital depreciation which high money rates mean is taken into account.

Nevertheless, it would be quite wrong to insulate either the new towns or local authorities or any other good causes from high money rates and the credit squeeze. Indeed, the policy pursued by the Opposition, when they were in power, of maintaining artificially low money rates, was one of the major causes of the inflation of the 1940s which ended in the devaluation of the £.

The hon. and learned Member spoke of the effect of high interest rates on rents. There is no doubt whatever that rents in the new towns are high. They are high not only because of high interest rates, but because of the fact that all the building has been done in post-war years, whereas the majority of local authorities had the opportunity to build in pre-war years much of their building was, therefore, done much more cheaply and they have an opportunity to pool their rents which the new towns have not.

The fact remains that there are waiting lists for houses in all the new towns. Moreover, people are not moving out of the new towns. When hon. Members suggest that this means that the children must be going short of food, that seems to contrast strangely with what was said by the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn), when he paid tribute to the specially healthy populations in the new towns. In fact, anybody who goes round the new towns must rejoice to see how well all the children are.