The work of L.O.B. in helping firms to move out of London has made a very good start, and the measures recently announced for the control of office building will speed up this movement.
Everyone would agree that the Location of Offices Bureau has made a very good start, but would not the Minister agree that it is essential to get offices from the centre of London to outlying areas? Therefore, in the long term, the Government's total ban on the London Metropolitan region, which stretches a very long way, may be damaging. Will the right hon. Gentleman look at this matter again, because the Bureau was encouraging people to move out to areas still in the London Metropolitan region?
The statement made a distinction between the inner area—the Greater London Council area—and the rest of the Metropolitan area. In the inner area the ban on new buildings was to be absolute. It was not to be nearly as absolute in the outer area—only in the cases where planning permission had not been obtained. We want this. We want in the end to relieve the pressure of office building on the whole south-east area. We realise the need in some new towns and even in Southend. It is a highly desirable thing to get offices moved as far as that because it relieves the commuter problem of London.
Will the right hon. Gentleman reflect that what he calls the inner area has been defined by his right hon. Friend as covering the whole of the Greater London Council area? That includes areas on the perimeter of London to which it would be useful to get offices to move from the centre. Therefore, will the right hon. Gentleman have another look at the absolute ban on the whole of the Greater London Council area?
I made it perfectly clear that the absolute ban will stay for a certain time—until we find it possible to lift it. My emphasis is on moving offices further than that. It is true that if we can get them out to the new towns and Southend, it will be very much better than getting them out to Croydon.
Will the right hon. Gentleman reflect that there are certain offices which, if they are to move at all from the centre, can, for practical reasons, move only to the outer London periphery and that the application of the total ban to this very large area is likely to he self-defeating?