asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what is the cost of works of coast protection now being carried out by Bournemouth Corporation between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers; what application he has received from the local authority for Government aid in meeting this expenditure; and what grant is to be made available for the preservation of this area.
Works estimated to cost £73,600 are being carried out to stabilise the cliff. An application for grant under the Coast Protection Act, 1949, was refused in January, 1964, on the ground that the instability had not been caused by erosion or encroachment by the sea. In these circumstances, there is no power to pay grant.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the cost of maintaining cliffs and protecting them from erosion falls heavily on the local rates? The beautiful areas of coasts and cliffs are surely a national beauty shared by so many that this should be a national liability. Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that applications have been made to help in respect of the immense charges and costs for work between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—
I recognise that there is a hardship and difficulty here. I am also told that the trouble here is that the damage to the cliffs is caused primarily by ground water inside the cliffs and it cannot be shown that it is in fact done by erosion by the sea. We have had our inspectors there. If the hon. Member is unhappy and not satisfied, I am willing to see him and a deputation of his people.
Mr. Alan Williams:
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that for many years Bournemouth has boasted that it had the lowest rates in the country because it has failed to plough back enough money for the benefit of the community? Does he agree that Bournemouth should plough back some of the profits made from tourism instead of expecting the Government to subsidise its costs in this direction?