HC Deb 14 November 1984 vol 67 cc279-81W
Mr. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what conclusions he has reached about the appropriate timing of wind-up of each of the Scottish new town development corporations; and if he will make a statement.

Town Trigger per cent. Designated population Population at trigger Present population
per cent. per cent.
East Kilbride 90 82,500 74,250 70,600
Glenrothes 79 55,000 43,000 36,750
Cumbemauld 77 70,000 54,000 49,500
Livingston 71 70,000 49,500 39,200
Irvine 66 95,000 63,000 56,400

The dates on which these triggers are likely to be reached cannot, of course, be predicted with complete certainty, but no development corporation is likely to achieve its trigger percentage until around 1990. In order that the development corporations may plan for the effective completion of their remaining tasks, I have decided that no corporation should begin wind-up before 1 April 1990, even if its populations percentage trigger is reached earlier. The percentages I have quoted above are broadly consistent with the new towns commencing windup at different dates in the 1990s. In view of the difficulties

Mr. Younger

I announced my conclusions about the future of the Scottish new towns on 23 July 1982, at columns 313–14. I made it clear then that I considered the new towns, administered by the development corporations, to have been highly successful in contributing to the general economic growth and increased employment opportunities of all kinds, and that they continued to have considerable potential in their role of stimulating employment and underpinning the economy as a whole. I also referred, however, to the need to make advance provision for the winding-up arrangements which would commence as a development corporation's task neared completion and to my decision that wind-up should begin when a specified percentage for a new town's designated population had been reached. To help assess the appropriate percentages for each town, each development corporation was invited to draw up and submit a detailed development profile setting out what tasks it considered it had still to carry out before its task was complete, together with proposed programmes to achieve this.

The five Scottish new towns have completed and submitted their development profiles. These were circulated to the regional and district councils within which each new town is situated and they were given an opportunity to comment. I have considered the profiles and the comments submitted, separately and carefully. There is no doubt that the preparation of these documents has been a valuable exercise for all concerned, involving a detailed review of the achievements, resources, and remaining objectives of the corporations, together with an assessment of how best to achieve these remaining objectives.

I made it clear in 1982 that I did not expect any new town development corporations to be wound up before the end of the 1980s. I have adhered to that view.

I have come to the conclusion that the new towns should begin the winding-up process, which I envisage would take up to five years, when the following percentages of their existing designated populations are reached:

of predicting demographic trends, I intend to review the percentages and probable timing for all the towns five years from now—1989.

I consider that the Scottish new town development corporations have been highly effective in providing the sort of environment in which both domestic and overseas industries can flourish. They have been particularly successful in recent years in attracting the new high technology industries to Scotland and in providing growing employment in the industries of the future. They have an important and continuing role to play, not least in the continuing attraction of mobile investment projects to Scotland, and in making a major contribution to their respective regional and national economies, all while pursuing the task of creating fully developed and balanced communities.

I hope that this statement will remove any lingering uncertainty about the development corporations' future role or prospects. The Scottish development corporations will continue to do a good job and to enjoy the full support of this Government.