HC Deb 24 January 1961 vol 633 cc11-2
17. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will now make a further statement about his consultations with West Midland local authorities on Birmingham overspill; and, in particular, to what extent the site of the former Royal Ordnance factory at Swynnerton has been considered.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)

I regret that I am not yet in a position to make a further statement.

Mr. Swingler

Is the Minister able to give any intimation of how long the talks will be going on? Does he realise that we want to see industrial development on the Swynnerton site, but that so far the confidential discussions have, as it were, cast a cloak over the site and that it is impossible to make progress with any other applications? Can he say when he will be able to say "Yes" or "No" about the Swynnerton site?

Mr. Brooke

My concern is wider. I want to find the right solution for the overspill needs of Birmingham and the West Midlands. I have already mentioned that Dawley is a place which I have under consideration, but I think it would be a mistake for me to name any of the other places which also might be considered until final decisions are reached. I cannot forecast when that day will be, except to say that I should like it to be sooner rather than later.

Mr. C. Hughes

Can the Minister say whether Mid-Wales and North Wales will be included in the discussions?

Mr. Brooke

At the moment it is not a question of discussions but of my giving consideration to the whole problem of Birmingham and the West Midlands overspill, and in that consideration I am ruling out nothing.

Dr. Stross

Does the Minister remember that at one time it was thought that the overspill could be handled in part if the town of Congleton became one of the new towns? Will he give that further consideration?

Mr. Brooke

I hope hon. Members will not press me to name particular places. If I do that, it evokes financial interests, and it seems to me far wiser that a Minister should not mention any places until we are in a position to reach a firm decision.