Property Fraud

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1988.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 12:00 am, 20th January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to combat property fraud within the areas of development corporations; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Urban development corporations take all reasonable action to detect fraud. If cases of alleged fraud are discovered, it is a matter for the police.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Is the Secretary of State aware that there has been at least one conviction of a property developer dealing in docklands property recently, and that there have been at least two investigations by the Metropolitan and City police of allegations of complaints about property fraud and abuse in docklands'? Given that the Secretary of State is now setting up further development corporations and that there have been major abuses, will he have serious discussions with the National Audit Office, which is preparing a report on accountancy controls, to be published in April, with the police forces and with the corporations themselves, so that we can ensure that the regime for dealing with property and its handling in docklands and other development corporation areas is not subject to such widespread abuse in the future?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The hon. Gentleman makes allegations of widespread abuse and fraud which are not substantiated. I resented bitterly the last time that he raised this point, when he mentioned an individual by name. If he has any complaints against any individual and believes that there is any evidence of fraud, he should immediately tell the police, and not mention names in the House.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes:

In view of the attempt by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) to smear the London Docklands Development Corporation and the whole marvellous movement that has done so much for central London, will my right hon. Friend confirm that the development corporation has done a remarkable job? Many houses for local people have been built, many jobs have been created and a tube line has been built, all of which flies in the face of what was claimed by the Opposition parties. They claimed that none of this would be achieved, and all that they are trying to do now is to denigrate what is being done and what will be done in the future.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. What has been done is striking and astonishing and has been done in the face of hostility from both Opposition parties. I hope that they will now recognise that the London Docklands Development Corporation has been scrupulous in ensuring standards of professional conduct at every level throughout its organisation.