New Towns Commission

Part of Class X – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1961.

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Photo of Mr Gerald Reynolds Mr Gerald Reynolds , Islington North 12:00 am, 25th July 1961

I submit, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that money is involved in setting up this new Commission. Up to 15 members can be appointed, and they are all going to be paid, by the Minister, under paragraph 7 of the First Schedule, such remuneration in respect of that office as he may with the consent of the Treasury determine. The Parliamentary Secretary has told us that negotiations are still in progress as to the number of members to be appointed and the salaries to be paid to them. Not only has a salary to be paid to the chairman and the deputy-chairman, and such members as may be appointed—and we can safely assume that there will be five appointed in the beginning, giving a total of at least seven to start with—but this money must be voted by this House. There is also to be a staff taken on. The Minister said that it would be a small staff, but these things have a habit of blossoming out. Offices must also be found in London for the Commission to hold its meetings. There will be travelling expenses for the staff and members of the Commission billeted in the new towns. This must add up to a substantial amount of money.

It is suggested that this amount of money should be incurred, completely unnecessarily, on the same day that we have been told that all our embassies throughout the world will have to look at their expenditure and cut it by 10 per cent.—presumably by sacking the office boy at the embassy in Montevideo, and cutting down the number of garden parties at the embassy in Rome, in order to find the money to appoint a chairman, deputy-chairman and commissioners to look after new towns in this country.

This Order was originally laid before the House when the Government were still under the impression that the majority of people in this country had never had it so good and that everything was going so well that we could afford the extra £20,000, £30,000 or £40,000 that the Commission will cost, but circumstances have changed rapidly in the last five weeks. We have had a second Budget today, and will spend two days discussing the expenditure of money and cuts in Government expenditure, and I must point out that we could save some money and take some of the burden from the shoulders of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by not bothering to set up this Commission on 1st October, as the Order enables the Minister to do.

If we are now in the middle of another financial crisis we should not go blithely ahead setting up commissions to do unnecessary jobs, or jobs which are being done adequately by bodies which already exist.