Derelict Sites (Clearance)

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1964.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 3rd December 1964

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he intends to take to speed up the clearing of derelict sites, especially in areas of high unemployment.

Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough

My right hon. Friend is reviewing the use which is made of the Board of Trade's powers under the Local Employment Act, 1960, relating to the clearance of derelict sites. There has been a marked increase in the number of schemes put forward by local authorities in the development districts since the rate of grant was increased last year.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Is my hon. Friend aware that progress in clearing derelict sites is still depressingly slow? Is he aware that under the Labour Government's legislation in the 1945–50 era the grant for local authorities was 100 per cent.? It was subsequently reduced by the Tory Administration. Will my hon. Friend give an undertaking that it will be restored to 100 per cent. so that areas like my own can get on speedily with this job?

Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I agree with my hon. Friend that the whole question of clearing derelict sites needs to be examined again. I can assure him that, if he has any specific cases that he thinks we ought to consider, we will be very glad to look at them. The review my right hon. Friend is undertaking is to be a fairly speedy review and I hope to give some information to my hon. Friend before long.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the County of Durham and in the Northern Region generally local authorities find it quite impossible to solve the problem of clearing derelict sites through lack of finance? Unless more finance is provided, the derelict sites will remain for a long time.

Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough

These are some of the matters which we must take into consideration. It is not only a question of finance. There is confusion about powers in many cases, as to whose responsibility it is. We will take all these matters into consideration.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is there any difficulty as regards the powers of the National Coal Board to remove unsightly pit heaps and also mining machinery which is no longer of any value?

Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I should like to have notice of that question. If my right hon. Friend has a specific case in mind we should be very glad to look into it. The Board is usually very helpful in these matters.