Is the Minister aware that the people of Harrow will be very disappointed by that reply as they have been in a state of anxiety for a very long time? Will he explain why he cannot adopt the recommendations of nearly all the local authorities concerned? Will he confirm that he has had their recommendations? When does he expect to reach a decision on a matter which is causing great anxiety to the people of Harrow?
The hon. Member will appreciate that a number of people are involved. There are the local authorities to whom he referred—the five boroughs who commissioned the Buchanan Report on the subject; there is the Greater London Council, who have primary responsibility in the matter; and we, too, are concerned in respect of grants. He will appreciate that all concerned have to discuss the points raised in the Buchanan Report submitted by the five boroughs concerned. I appreciate the concern about this matter. We are processing it as rapidly as possible. In the meantime, the Greater London Council has announced that it is prepared to buy owner-occupied property which is affected by blight or to consider any measures to alleviate hardship.
While I recognise that this matter has been under discussion since Professor Abercrombie was in vogue in 1944 and that my right hon. Friend has shown more activity about it than his predecessors showed, may I ask my hon. Friend to recognise that my constituents look for a very early decision, particularly if that decision throws out the G.L.C. scheme? To what extent has the decision been delayed by consideration of the report which has been prepared on behalf of the five local councils?
Of course it has been delayed. We quite deliberately took the decision, on account of the representations made by the boroughs, to permit them to commission consultants—Professor Buchanan and his partners—in order to make a study, and to permit them to make their comments on the G.L.C. proposals. We deliberately allowed that, and it delayed the consideration of the scheme. That was inevitable. Some weeks ago we received the report, which is being discussed among ourselves, the G.L.C. and the boroughs, and we shall endeavour to reach an agreement and to announce proposals as soon as possible.