§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. R. W. Brown.]
§ 2.51 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)
I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity of raising on the Floor of the House a question of some considerable importance to large numbers of my constituents, namely, the build-up of the factory at Bracknell, which is in my constituency, of the Sperry Gyroscope Company. I am also obliged to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for being present to answer the debate. Fortunately, the two debates on underground matters have taken place with expedition. Therefore, we do not have to watch the clock as closely as we normally do on occasions such as this.
May I briefly outline the background of what I want to say to the Parliamentary Secretary and the questions which I want to ask him. The story begins very early in March when I was approached by representatives of the shop stewards' committee at Sperry's Bracknell establishment who were acutely worried about public rumour that the Bracknell establishment of the company was to close. I must honestly say that rumours of that kind have been 1188 rife from time to time, and not only about that particular company, and naturally, I watched them in the public Press. But it was when responsible trade union officials came to see me that it was clear that they had more foundation than usual.
I made immediate contact with the management, and the managing director of the company, Mr. Jofeh, was courteous enough to come to see me in the House and to tell me in confidence exactly what were the companys' plans in relation to Bracknell. The reorganisation plans affected other centres than Bracknell, but I am concerning myself today only with Bracknell. I decided that to be told this information in confidence was the right course, in difficult circumstances, to take because, I argued, I would be better able to prepare my mind and therefore better able to represent my constituents in the light of what was subsequently happening to the company's facilities at Bracknell.
As is now public, the managing director confirmed that the company proposed, over a period of time, entirely to close its enterprise in the new town and to concentrate it, partially at least, at Brentford. May I say, in parenthesis, that I notice that the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) is present. I am sure that the House understands that, because he has not yet been through the mill of making his maiden speech, it is not possible for him to intervene on a matter which, I quite understand, affects his constituents, as I am sure he would do in other circumstances.
As a result of this interview, I returned to the representatives of the shop stewards with a statement with which I had carefully agreed with the management. That statement unquestionably alerted, and was partially intended to alert, the trade union officials so that they were able thereupon to take action within their own channels. It was a particularly difficult time, for the General Election campaign was just beginning. During General Elections tempers tend to rise and feelings get heated. Things are sometimes said which are not considered closely.
I felt that this was just about the worst possible time for us in the constituency of Wokingham to have to cope 1189 with what was on any basis a major industrial event. I suggested that at least the Labour and Tory Parties should remove the issue from party politics. It is perhaps worth recording in a democracy such as ours that that agreement was entered into with the full backing of the unions and, as far as I am aware, was faithfully observed on both sides. There is something for modest pride in a country where, even at the height of a keenly-fought election, one can enter into undertakings of that kind on subjects which vitally affect the welfare of many hundreds of men, women and children.
We therefore parted on the basis that on 22nd March—a date which I knew at that time—an announcement would be made that the Bracknell establishment would close over a period of approximately 18 months—a very serious prospect indeed for the new town. On 21st March—that is, the day before, and indeed within hours of this announcement, being made—the Parliamentary Secretary intervened. Within hours of an announcement, details of which had already been given to me in confidence and which had been given, at my request, to my Labour opponent in confidence, we both had the complete story of the company's plans for the run-down of Bracknell.
As I say, that day the Parliamentary Secretary intervened. The company announced that he had done so and that there would be an unexpected delay in in its announcement which, through no fault of the Parliamentary Secretary, caused yet further anxiety to the people working in the factory, and on the 29th it was announced that the decision had been reversed. Instead of the Bracknell establishment being run down and, broadly, going to Brentford—I am simplifying the matter—the Brentford establishment would be run down and would go to Bracknell.
I should like, first, to make it clear that although I have a number of questions to ask the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, and although I shall base one of them upon a criticism, there cannot be, and there is not from me, any criticism of him personally. Indeed, I should like to say on the Floor of the House that we in the Wokingham constituency in general and in Bracknell in particular are grateful to him for having intervened, and for having 1190 intervened so decisively. I want to place that firmly upon the record and express my personal gratitude to him.
I must, however, point out to the hon. Gentleman that it is public knowledge, and was in the statement to which I have already referred, that in a perfectly responsible way and in accordance with normal industrial practice this company had consulted Government Departments. I do not know with absolute precision exactly the form of all those consultations, but I was permitted by the management to say in my statement that Government Departments knew of and approved the company's original plans.
I have reason to believe that, as is the normal practice, the company consulted the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Labour. It is, therefore, a reasonable assumption on my part that at least those two Departments knew all about the company's plans and approved them. That at least is the statement which the management permitted me, perfectly, properly, to make at a time when the matter was very private indeed.
Therefore, I am confronted on behalf of my constituents with the picture that at least two Government Departments knew of and approved, after consultation, plans to run down the factory at Bracknell, whereas dramatically, and quite suddenly, another Department, in the shape of an energetic Minister, intervened and within the space of almost hours a dramatic reversal of the decision was made.
On no possible grounds can it be right generally for great industrial decisions of this kind to be arrived at in that way. That the final outcome was what it was, I am grateful, but I cannot think that either side of the House can argue that this can be the right way to arrive at decisions of this kind, particularly when they affect large numbers of men, approximately half of whom have not only transferred their jobs, but have transferred their very lives and have transferred them with their wives and families and all the things that that entails and involves.
I am far more interested in the future than in the past. I am, on my constituents' behalf, very angry at what happened and I am certain that if other hon. Members had met, as I did, the womenfolk, particularly during the day, sometimes on the verge of tears at the moves 1191 which were being forced upon them, they would appreciate the very real human factor in all this business.
I am, however, interested in the future and I therefore want to ask the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, as my first question, whether, whatever may have happened in the past, he will now do his best to ensure that in future, if there is an approach to the Board of Trade, for which he has no responsibility, on an industrial question of this kind affecting a new town, which is his responsibility, he will take steps to ensure that he knows about it and has the possibility of influencing the decision.
I notice and am grateful for the fact that the Minister of State, Board of Trade, is present on the Front Bench and I am obliged to him for listening to this debate. I put it to him, and I put it to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, that new towns are very tender plants. Bracknell new town is not yet even half completed, and decisions which might in other contexts and other parts of the South-East be discussed coldly and dispassionately in the light of the Government's general policy do not necessarily have relevance in a new town. Therefore, it is most necessary for the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, as landlord, if I might so put it, of the new towns to know what is proposed in any major event and from an industrial point of view in those towns.
I have heard it said outside this House that the Development Corporation itself should have alerted the Minister. I must frankly say this. All employers of labour in Bracknell—and, I suspect, in all new towns—are constantly and understandably seeking to increase the allocation of houses which is at their disposal. That is perfectly reasonable.
I think, for example, of a high-grade public relations exercise mounted in the new town by a man who, sadly, is no longer alive, of the remarkable firm of Premier Precision Ltd., who hired a professional public relations man and who was highly successful in Press and television, the only object of which was to bring pressure upon the corporation to increase the allocation of houses made to his firm. Corporations are constantly under pressure of this kind. Furthermore, the Sperry Company has issued a 1192 firm public denial of its intention to move.
With respect, I am doubtful whether on all these occasions it would be reasonable for the corporation to advise the Minister every time it reads something in the local or other Press, but, that said, the consultation must take place between Government Departments when they are dealing with a major matter of this kind.
The next question I want to ask the hon. Gentleman is this. There having been what, I believe, has been a lack of consultation, what, I think, I am entitled to assume it was, will he ensure that there have not been other recent cases? Will he, in consultation with the Minister of State, make quite certain there have not been at official level other prospective industrial tenants of the new town who have been put off because of the attitude which I feel was present in the Board of Trade and which resulted in the episode I have just outlined?
I want to be sure, that is to say, that there have not been other enterprising industrialists who might have brought industry to Bracknell as it expands, but who, on making inquiries at the Board of Trade in the way which it is normal and sensible to do, have been put off, perhaps without the Ministry of Housing and Local Government knowing about it.
I draw the Minister's attention to one specific example which could possibly have been so affected. This is the case of the Atomic Energy Authority's establishment in Bracknell, much smaller in number than the one we are now discussing, 150 persons in all, but for whom the Government have a special responsibility as they are in the position of employer. I am not asking the Minister now to deal with the case; we are dealing now with Sperry's; but I draw his attention to the fact that here is a lively, happy unit, and it is very impressive to have a deputation, from, as it were, both sides to see one, as I did last Saturday, who urged on me the particularly agreeable nature of their industrial relations and who have great anxiety to continue to build up their work at Bracknell. I want to be sure that the reasons for their move are quite overwhelming on economic grounds and 1193 have not been dictated in any way by pressure from the Board of Trade. I am taking this matter up, I may say, with the Minister of Technology.
That is question No. 2. I want to be sure that there is no other case.
Question No. 3. The First Secretary of State has within the last seven days issued very stern warnings about a tough policy in relation to the South-East. I want to be sure that the build-up of new towns—and I am concentrating obviously, only on Bracknell—is exempt from that general and, as I think, broadly proper industrial restriction. If Bracknell is allowed to grow without industry to support it, it will merely become a dormitory town, but the whole idea is that it shall be a town in which men live and work. I want to be sure that the Board of Trade is not seeking to restrict the eventual industrial expansion of Bracknell because of the restrictionist nature of Government policy towards the South-East as a whole. I repeat that the new towns are in a wholly different position. They are planned, and they are very tender plants.
The final question which I ask the Minister is: what assurances has he received from the company that it plans to make Bracknell a permanent establishment? He was good enough to tell me privately and to say that I might mention this otherwise private information that he has been seeing representatives of the company this morning. I hope that he will be able to tell the House that he has received assurances from the company as to its long term intentions.
It has to be said that the original factory was opened in 1957 to meet the then Government's guided weapons programme, and the first thing that I had to do on being elected to the House in 1959 was to cope with the cancellation of the Blue Streak project. On that occasion I had to deal with the steely efficiency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), which was a very unnerving experience for a new Member. I never want to go through anything like that again.
It is right and proper to make it clear that the Sperry Company is much more diversified now than ever before. But if its labour force builds up to a little under 3,000, as is intended, and if my 1194 estimate is correct that when Bracknell new town is complete it will have an industrial working population of approximately 15,000, it means that 20 per cent. of the industrial working population of Bracknell will be concentrated in one hand. Therefore, one needs to be very sure of the company's long-term intentions. I hope that the Minister can reassure me on that point.
I hope too, that he will be able to reassure me on a matter which is giving anxiety to other employers and trade union representatives in the new town. Does the proposed additional allocation of houses to the Sperry Company affect the allocation to the existing industry of the town in any way? Is he going to take away from existing industry any of the projected increase in housing, or is the arrangement that he has made wholly additional to existing allocations? If he is able to assure industry that anything that he has now done is entirely additional to its existing allocations, he will do a great deal to set minds at rest.
That is the story, and it is not a very happy one; at least, it started with an unhappy beginning. My object in raising the matter is not to rake over the embers of the past. I have made my complaint about the past without apology, and I am sure that he would have done the same had he been in my position. My object is that the lessons of the past should be learned and applied for the future. I have said, and I shall say again, that I believe that the new towns are one of the great concepts of the 20th century, but they are very tender plants. Actions such as the one of which I complain deal them a deathly blow if we do not learn the lessons of the past for the future.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Robert Mellish)
I am obliged to the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) for the way in which he introduced what was undoubtedly a very difficult subject at the time at any rate. I thank him for the courtesy which he extended to me by talking to me privately about this matter a short time ago, and not only giving notice that he was going to raise the matter on the Floor of the House, but 1195 giving me some indication of what he had in mind. This is the sort of courtesy which can help to make this place really efficient.
I have been able to make inquiries into the misgivings expressed by the hon. Gentleman, and perhaps I might first say a word about the general situation at Bracknell. As the hon. Gentleman said, it is one of our new towns, and one of the towns of which we are rightly proud. It has done, and is doing, a remarkably fine job, and the general situation there at the moment is one of high manufacturing employment and acute labour shortage. About 56 industrial development certificates have been issued to this new town since it began in 1951, and a total of about 1.5 million square feet of factory space have been permitted, to employ about 6,500 people. As the hon. Gentleman said, the Sperry Company is the largest single employer in Bracknell, although Bracknell is not its largest factory. It employs about 2,000 men at its Brentford factory, and another 400 at Stonehouse, in Staffordshire.
The company manufactures guided missiles, and on receipt of large contracts from the Ministry of Supply in 1955 it approached the Board of Trade for a factory of about 220,000 sq. ft., at Bracknell to employ about 1,000 people. An I.D.C. was issued on 22nd November, 1955. This approval was given in spite of protests from Bracknell industrialists at the size of the Sperry project. In 1957 a supplementary I.D.C. for about 30,000 sq. ft. was issued, and the Sperry Factory was opened by the Minister of Supply in April, 1959.
Because of the decline in defence orders recently, the company proposed to give up the Bracknell premises and to concentrate all its factories at Brentford and Stonehouse. A representative of the company saw the London and South-Eastern Regional Office of the Board of Trade on 7th February, 1966, and said in confidence that the company did not like the Bracknell factory which it thought was unsuitable and of poor quality, and that it was the company's intention to move to Brentford. In defence of the President of the Board of Trade I want to emphasise most strongly that the officers of that Ministry were told that by the company in strict confidence.
1196 The Board of Trade told the firm that a move from a new town to London was not welcome, though if it were to take place within the existing Brentford factory space the Board of Trade could not prevent it. It was suggested to the company that if it was intent on moving out of Bracknell it should move to a development district. As a result, a meeting was held with the company at the Board of Trade headquarters on 28th February last. The company was still determined to go to Brentford, and it requested an office development permit for 9,000 sq. ft. there to assist in relocation. This application was refused by the Board of Trade.
I am not here to whitewash the Board of Trade. It is quite capable of speaking for itself, and I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will make a much better and more spirited defence of the Department. If the Board of Trade has committed a crime in this matter, it is that it has respected the undertaking which it gave to the company that the discussions on this matter were held in strict confidence. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister of State agrees with me when I say that that strict confidence did not necessarily mean that other Government Departments should not be informed. It meant that the information should not be conveyed to other commercial undertakings, or to anybody in the new town, or indeed, at Brentford, for fear of the reaction it might cause.
We knew nothing of this intended move by Sperry's until late in March. Although the new towns are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government the decision to create them and the policy towards them is that of the Government as a whole, and the new towns impinge on the work of many Government Departments. I accept from the hon. Gentleman the fact that it is very important that in all matters concerning new towns all the relevant Government Departments should consult each other, so that each can be made aware of the problems.
I have had some research carried out in this matter. This is an unfortunate incident. I have explained why there were no immediate consultations with us. As I said, it was because the firm 1197 asked for the matter to be kept in strict confidence. As far as I can judge, however, there has been very close co-ordination between the Board of Trade and my Department. I was brought into the picture on 21st March. My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) is here, and I know that if he had already made his maiden speech he would have played a prominent part in this debate. He has discussed this matter with me and has expressed grave concern about his constituents.
The story that I have to relate will not be a happy one, but I hope that my hon. Friend will accept it from me. I had to make a decision that day, in the light of the circumstances as I saw them. On 21st March I sent for the management. The representatives came to our offices in Whitehall, together with representatives of the Development Corporation. I was told then that Sperry's intended to make a major organisational change and intended to close down their factory at Bracknell and transfer to Brentford.
The representative of the management told me that the reasons for this move were good and sound commercial ones. He explained why he had not made this matter public before. He said that it was because the firm had had a number of commercial discussions to undertake with various other manufacturers and contractors to do certain work, and he felt that it would be wrong to disclose these to his workers until he was certain of the move. He intended to make the announcement the following morning at half past ten—that being the morning of 22nd March, after having met me on 21st.
I learned from him that he could not consider Bracknell as being suitable for reorganisation because of the lack of housing accommodation. The development corporation had been unable to assure him that a sufficient number of houses would be available, which would have enabled him to consider closing the Brentford factory. I had to make a decision that afternoon, and I put it to the firm that on the understanding that houses could be supplied at Bracknell they should give us time to consider the whole question of its future and not make the announcement the following day.
1198 It was a long and friendly meeting, and I want to pay tribute to the management for the way in which it received my suggestion. What worried me more than anything else was that if this firm closed down its Bracknell factory about 750 employees who had been living in Development Corporation houses there would have to commute to Brentford every day. I was faced with the fact that whether the Bracknell factory or the Brentford factory was shut down there would be a row, because somebody would be upset. This was bound to be a very unpopular decision for anybody to take.
I was very worried about the effect on the image of the New Town if manufacturers who had come into it and had brought considerable numbers of workers in—in this case about one-fifth of the total industrial working population of Bracknell—moved out afterwards. This would create a shocking image, not only for the new town of Bracknell but for other new towns. I was also advised by my officers that there would be at least some temporary unemployment in Bracknell itself.
Indeed, as I say, the move would have been a reversal of the purpose for which Bracknell was established, namely, to relieve the population pressures within London. It would have been harmful to the new town and its citizens. Accordingly, I asked the firm if it could delay its final decision for a few weeks to allow the Government and the Bracknell Development Corporation to look urgently into ways and means of helping the firm to centre its reorganisation at Bracknell instead of at Brentford.
On the following day, instead of announcing that the Bracknell factory would be closed, the firm said that future decisions on this matter would be deferred, that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government had intervened in the matter and, pending further discussions, no statement would be made. We still had trouble. Some of the Bracknell men went on strike and there was some disturbance at the time. As I said earlier, whichever way it went we were bound to get some bother.
Since then there have been discussions between the development corporation and 1199 my officers, and I am pleased to inform the House that we have been able to ensure that the promises that I made to the Sperry firm about the future of Bracknell, with regard to housing and other problems, can be met. Sperry decided to accept the offer, and will be staying in Bracknell and will reorganise in the new town. Over a period of time the Brentford firm will close.
I want to say a word about what we have offered. The development corporation propose that the extension to the Sperry factory will be built on land adjacent to its existing factory. We are hoping that this land can be acquired by agreement. The site for the extension to the factory could be ready for building to start by September of this year.
There was a big problem about car parking. The corporation now says that it can provide two-storey car parking for about 1,250 cars adjacent to the factory, and if accommodation arrangements are completed without undue delay we believe the car park can be completed by the end of 1967.
Housing is the all-important factor in Bracknell, and this has very much concerned my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick. I know that when his constituents read what I have said they will feel that this is not a happy statement for them. It is of importance to them as much as it is for the people in Bracknell. With regard to the housing in Bracknell in 1967-68, the development corporation proposes to let the whole of what we call the Sperry housing contract to an outside contractor, and we believe that, given favourable weather and labour conditions, 500 houses will be provided next year and 250 houses in 1968. I must make it perfectly clear, that this is over and above the normal house building for which the corporation is already committed, and it will not in any way interfere with the allocation to other industries already in the new town.
In fact, this is an additional bonus for the corporation in its house building programme. It is going to build 500 houses extra next year for Sperry alone and 250 houses in 1968. The corporation will provide for another 250 houses if Sperry can give positive evidence that 1200 they will require the full housing allocation.
I should like to say a word about the standard of housing which is to be provided. The hon. Member did not raise this matter in the debate but he did so privately; namely, whether in this new town, where the standard of housing is very high indeed, this rush job, if I may so call it, will disturb the quality of housing already there. The new town is in a fortunate position. In July of last year the Minister of Housing and Local Government approved the master plan for the big new extension areas of the town to allow a growth from its original target population of 25,000 to something over 60,000. Thus land is available for these houses.
There will be no reduction in the standards of housing provided in Bracknell under the scheme. We know the high architectural and planning standards which the corporation has achieved in the past, and the corporation will not sacrifice those high standards on the altar of speed. It would be wrong for any of us to ask it to do so. The corporation and my officials are satisfied that it should be possible by taking advantage of modern building techniques, and, by streamlining the organisation, to achieve a fast building rate while maintaining standards.
I would emphasise the point that I made earlier, because I have had letters from other industrialists in Bracknell who are concerned that Sperry's will take their housing away. I repeat that the amount of housing now being allotted to Sperry's will not interfere with the corporation's existing commitments for allocation of houses to other industrialists in the new town.
In the past three years there has been a reduction in the house-building rate of Bracknell as the housing areas within the originally designated area became built up. But the pre-planning work for the extension areas of the town are now well advanced, and contracts have already been let for 400 houses—not the Sperry houses—and building is already well under way. The development corporation's programme, exclusive of the houses to be provided for the Sperry workers, envisages the letting of contracts for 1,000 houses this year, and the maintaining of that momentum in 1201 the succeeding years. I have good reason, therefore, to believe that the development corporation will soon be able to meet the reasonable requirements of all the town's industrialists. I give them this assurance today, that out of this rather sad story a great deal of good may well emerge.
I want to say a consoling word to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick and to ask him to put this to his constituents. As I said, whichever way the argument went, there would have been difficulties. Had Bracknell closed, there would have been a row, and the trade unions would have been approached by the people there, as, I know the trade unions are being approached by the people in Brentford. I should like my hon. Friend to give this assurance to the people of Brentford, that if they will transfer to Bracknell, not only will they be given a job but they will also be given a new house. No Government could offer more than that, and this is something which the people must consider.
I know that I speak as a Londoner when I say that this is very easily said but not easily done. No doubt a number of Brentford people will say, "That is all very well, but our roots are in London". But so were the roots of many of those who moved previously to Bracknell. They gave up everything to go there. I was asked about this matter on 21st March, and I say now, as I said then, that for us not to have made a move on behalf of the people of Bracknell would have made a very sad and sorry indeed. I hope very much that the people of Brentford will recognise why we took this decision to help the firm, and why they must now seriously consider—and, I think, favourably consider—taking a job in Bracknell and also the new house that goes with it.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Will the hon. Gentleman also recall—it may help his hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes)—that under 1 per cent. of the many people who have moved down to Bracknell have returned to London?
§ Mr. Mellish
That is perfectly true. The Bracknell record is extremely good.
I have already dealt, I hope satisfactorily, with a number of questions asked 1202 by the hon. Gentleman. There is also the question of the Board of Trade relationship. This has been a friendly relationship, but it is true that on this occasion it fell down a little. That must not happen again. There must be consultation at all levels. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister of State agrees with me when I say that the Board of Trade must properly be concerned to ensure that industry goes into development areas where it is badly needed. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary was right to refer to the problem of the South-East, the problem of the population explosion, and the need to try to stop the drift to the South. The Government must have the courage to tackle this problem, and this is where the Board of Trade comes in—to encourage employers to go to the development districts. It is right that they should do this.
No new town can function unless it first has the industry to attract people. They know our plans in these matters and that we are anxious to ensure that the sort of employers who can go there should go there. I think that I have clearly shown that when Sperry suggested that they should move to Brentford, it was not with the goodwill of the Board of Trade, which suggested that it went to a development district.
I met the firm this morning. I asked for assurances, as far as it could judge to the best of its ability—naturally, it is unable to predict the future much more than we can; probably not so well—because this new town could not go through this sort of ordeal again. The firm assured me that, since we at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government had now met what it believed to be its reasonable requirements, it could see no reason why the firm should not stay there during the whole period of the lease, which will take us to the year 2000 or later—I doubt whether the hon. Gentleman and I will be around by then to see what happens. In the meantime, we must do our best.
I say to Bracknell that the situation should now be resolved. I hope that the firm will settle in and that we will not have any more of the difficulties that have eixsted in the past. I take this opportunity of wishing the new town of Bracknell well and I will be paying a visit to Bracknell to see how things are working out. I hope that what has happened 1203 will ensure that, in future, consultations between all the Government Departments will be as the hon. Gentleman and I both wish.
Since I have been in my present office I have had a survey made of the type of Londoners who have been going to the new towns. I am not satisfied that we have done enough in the past to ensure that the right type of Londoner is going to them. The London new towns were built, and will be built in future, to relieve the housing problem of London. I do not believe that we have done enough to make sure that the sort of Londoner with a housing need has been going to the new towns.
Some of the development corporations have done a great job but others have not done so well. In some instances less than 40 per cent. of those who have gone to new towns have been on housing 1204 lists in London. I want to alter this—and this is an important part of the responsibilities which my Minister has given me—and to ensure that in future the Londoner who goes to a new town is the sort of Londoner for whom the new towns have been built—one who is on a housing list in London. We want to ensure that there are employers who are prepared to train him if he is unskilled thus enabling him to move into a new job so that he not only finds happiness for himself but his move benefits the local authority whose housing list he has left. This is what a new town is for. We all agree, whatever our party, that the new town projects have been something for which Britain can be rightly proud.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at twenty-one minutes to Four o'clock.