I was impressed by the amount of rebuilding which has already taken place, but I realise the size and complexity of the problems which remain, and how much Birmingham depends on speedy provision of more land on which to build. The city council, I am happy to say, is tackling these problems with energy and determination. It is resolved to increase its house building rate and I hope that it will be possible to work out a new timetable for the speedier clearing of the slums. In my turn, I have promised to consider a number of questions which were raised with me.
While appreciating the Minister's Answer, and while stating that great appreciation was felt in the city for the stimulus which he gave on this occasion, may I ask him if he will very strongly press this question of an earlier timetable for the removal of such unhealthy houses as he had the opportunity of seeing in the central area of my constituency which, if they are allowed to stay for another five or six years, will be completely intolerable for the people concerned?
I agree with my hon. Friend. One of the problems which struck me as I went round was whether the balance of energy has been right which Birmingham has devoted between patching old houses and building new ones. This is an extremely difficult question to answer and I agree that it is a horrifying thought that Birmingham is assuming that for many years large areas of this terrible property will still be there. That is why I urged the necessity for a speedier timetable than has been possible within the last 10 years.
The problem of Birmingham is the extremely limited amount of land available within its own boundaries. It needs land outside. This is one of the major problems with which I am concerned.