Schedule. — (Metropolitan Region Out Side Greater London.)

Part of Ballot for Notices of Motions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th April 1965.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough 12:00 am, 14th April 1965

The hon. and gallant Gentleman was talking about local services which, obviously, cannot be taken away from their localities, and I replied to this point briefly.

In reply to the points made by the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), what we were discussing, as he will appreciate, was the extent of the Midlands area. When one looks at it on the map, and thinks of it in terms of industrial congestion, one realises that right throughout Shropshire and going down the Welsh border that stretch of country in the Midlands region will not feel the full effect of the Bill.

But one must work with the present regions, and I expressed the view that the places in Shropshire, which were mentioned by the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. More), are areas which one must take into consideration for industrial development, because of their local circumstances. We can use the Bill to help them if we can squeeze more and more employment out of the over-congested area in the centre of the Midlands region.

I take the point which the hon. Member has raised about Dawley New Town, that this ought to be and will be, we hope, able to attract not only population but industry away from the overcrowded Midlands.

I gave an undertaking to the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) that I would look into these figures. I do not think that the House would want me to go into detail, but I found a terrible amount of confusion about how many building workers are engaged on building, as distinct from maintenance and repairs, and so on, in the London area, and about how many are actually engaged on office building. The estimates run from a much higher figure than that my hon. Friend gave of 33 per cent.—which I cannot believe—down to 10 per cent.

I do not know whether we can take any guidance from the fact that, of all the orders for new buildings received by contractors during the year 1964, over 22 per cent. by value were for offices. I do not know whether that gives us a clue to the actual number of workers engaged in office building, or what proportion were engaged in speculative office building.

What I should like to do, if the hon. Member would allow me, is to write to him to set out the various calculations that have come my way. I think that that would be the better way of carrying out the undertaking that I gave, because this is becoming something of a struggle—if I may put it like that—between us, and I think it would be a very good idea to get the figures straight. If the House wants me to do so, I can give a lecture for three-quarters of an hour on the statistical information that I have, but I do not think that would be appropriate at this stage.

As the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) has said, we gave the Bill a thorough examination in Committee. We did it very well and, as he rightly said, very full explanations of the contents of the Bill and of how the Bill would be operated were elicited by probing Amendments and by searching inquiries. The spokesmen in the Committee for the Government fell in with the wishes of hon. Members and produced all the explanations and all the information that they possibly could, so that the Bill could be sent away this morning as a very well-constructed Measure, designed to carry out the intentions of the Government, which, I know, are shared by hon. Members in all quarters of the House, in that we must do something to control office development in London so that we can stop over-congestion.