§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. BOSSOM
I beg to move,That this House, having regard to the tune which has elapsed since the passing of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932, and the evils which result from the continuance of unplanned development, is of the opinion that it is essential that schemes to secure effective planning should be submitted by all planning authorities at a very early date, and urges the Minister of Health to take all action in his power to ensure that the period of three years, as prescribed by the Act between the passing of the resolution and the submission of the scheme, is not exceeded.Town and country planning is a new science which on a great scale has riot been the rule in this country in the past. Planning is a practical activity and it cannot be accomplished by talk or even by passing laws. It must be carried out under the guidance of highly trained men. 1866 There has been a question about the number of these highly trained men, and it is a very knotty problem for untrained men when put in charge of planning an area very often do much more harm than good. Many have suggested that it may be looked on as a panacea for all our ills, but I am afraid those who have had experience in town and country planning will hesitate to grant it that great claim. It can, though, be made very beneficial if handled on the widest scale.
My Motion was based on the Act of 1932, which was first introduced by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). It was later brought into the House by then then Minister of Health, Sir Hilton Young, and it was based on the independent action of the local authorities. The Minister, in his Second Reading speech, emphasised that it was strictly permissive and not a compelling Measure. That point is often overlooked, but at this time, realising that this science is a new one, we ought to give real recognition to that fact, for the Minister, with great justice, did rely on the high standard of action usually maintained by our local authorities. I think that I am fairly safe in saying that our local authorities stand generally on a higher level than those of almost any other country. The Minister was further justified in his action because all the representatives of our local authorities demanded that a Town and Country Planning Act should be put forward. The Act is permissive and does not give the Minister power to compel.
I worded my Motion in consequence of that fact and tried to form it within the ambit of the Act. I knew that if I had asked more the Minister would have had to refuse to accept it, because it would have required legislation, for which there is not time on our already very full programme. I would have preferred to go futher with my Motion, but my experience is that it is no good in the House to try for the impossible, and I had to try for what I thought I could get. There is one thing that we can accomplish, and that is to pass this Motion and get the local authorities to realise the feeling of the House because they have not yet done their job. The local authorities are not using the Act in the way they could do, and I am afraid that, if they do not take more action than they have taken in the past, the 1867 Minister will be forced, because the injury to our country is so wide and so extensive, to come to the House and ask for authority either to get an appointed day by which all authorities will be compelled to present their plans, or to have the entire matter turned over to him to be carried out under his own direction.
Town and country planning on a great scale is a new science. It is only recently that we have had any educational body training people in it. There has not been any experience and there have not been men especially trained in it. For that reason it is fitting that at this time, after four years, we should review what has happened and see how far the local authorities which had power to carry out the Act have gone. We all must agree that they are entitled to a reasonable time, for the reputation of the local authorities is such that they do as a. rule endeavour to put the obligations that this House places upon them into effect as soon as they can. We are all agreed, however, that they have had four years and that they should now be showing some results. When Sir Hilton Young introduced the Measure he said that it could not go further or faster than the general public opinion of the country. Public opinion has been gathering great force and it is now looking for some action, because what has been done so far is not fully satisfactory.
I have no doubt that my hon. Friend who will reply for the Government will give us many reasons why greater results have not been achieved. We know most of them ourselves and we have sympathy for them but the fact is that we have not had satisfying results and that is what we are looking for. We are not looking for excuses. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and in England, if we do not have some action, it will be too late. Too many people are thinking of their personal profit and not of the condition of our country. We must look at it in that light because, once a thing is destroyed, once a beautiful building is gone or a landscape is ruined by being peppered with ugly little buildings, it is ruined for ever. We have, therefore, to be frank and sincere with ourselves, try to get this matter in a true focus, and see what can be done. Town and country planning must be positive to be successful. It must be a creative force with 1868 the intention of doing something. Permissive legislation, however, has of necessity to be negative, because it relies upon local authorities to supply the vitality for their actions. Practical planning must include provisions for the traffic flow, public health, recreation, allocation of business and industry, residence, agriculture and the care of amenities both town and country.
Again, Sir Hilton Young referred to the Act as a planning Measure, but I am inclined to be a little sceptical of that. When there are 1,500 separate rural and urban authorities with independent ability to carry out town and country planning, how are we to get harmony, to get systematic planning? It is an impossibility. There are 37,000,000 acres of land in England and Wales under the control of the town and country planning authorities, but there are only 200,000 acres—less than one-half of 1 per cent.—actually under the definite finished control of the various town and country planning authorities, and they are in 68 different schemes. Most of that under control is land in suburban areas. The planning of suburban areas is essential because they are the areas round our cities and towns; but only one-half of 1 per cent. to be under control after the Act has been in force for four years is not enough. The Act allows three years to elapse between the passing of the resolution by the town-planning authority and putting the Act into operation. The least time in which it can be done is about 32 months, for it is a very complicated Act. Twenty million acres of that 37,000,000 are under resolution, which indicates that certain of the authorities have the hope and intention, which is all to the good, of doing something, but should any opposition be offered it may be for years, and it may be for ever, before the real preservation of our countryside or towns may be put in hand.
I do not think that the Minister is to be charged with any responsibility in this matter because he has seen the light in a clear way and tried to help. He has endeavoured to encourage combinations among the 1,500 smaller areas into larger groups, so that action on a wider scale can be obtained. Of the 20,000,000 acres that are under resolutions, 15,000,000 are already gathered together under 125 1869 regional committees, some of which are already of county size. Here, again, other difficulties are being encountered. The experience of the Ministry in gathering together these local authorities into larger groups has indicated clearly what we should try and do. We should gather them together into larger and larger units, and, ultimately, the entire country should be under one general direction. It should not be left to these isolated groups to have power to decide, without relation to adjoining areas, what they individually will do. I believe that if the local authorities do not come along with their plans the Ministry will be compelled to take hold of the whole situation.
The Ministry has made a real effort to help the situation. This is an entirely new science. I speak as an old practising architect. We do not nationally know very much about town and country planning due to experience. There are a few examples of it. Everyone knows the relationship I had to a part of London that was very much destroyed. At the time the Minister of Health was bringing this Act into being another Department of the Government was allowing one of the best pieces of town planning in London to be ruined. The Government have made an endeavour to stop what may very well be called the creeping paralysis of ribbon development by bringing in the Act of 1935 to restrict such development, and also by bringing in the Trunk Roads Bill which will put 4,500 miles of main roads under the control of one authority. All this points in the direction of central control—the control of our roads and of the use of our country. That has received the sympathetic approval of the rural and urban authorities, and the time may come, and it may not be far off, when it will be an advantage to get central direction in all town and country planning.
Action is taking place, however, and certain bodies are going ahead. I think I am right in saying, though I am sure my hon. Friend who will reply for the Government will know whether I am correct, that appeals are coming into his Department at the rate of about three a day. When we consider the 37,000,000 acres of land and the millions of houses affected by town and country planning, three a day is not many. That is not due to the fact that everyone is agreed but 1870 to the fact that so little energy is being displayed. Sir Hilton Young, as he then was, freely said that this Act could go only as far and as fast as public opinion would go with it, but public opinion is waking up as the public see beauty-spots disappearing and industry going where it is not wanted, and building development growing on the best farming land where we ought to have market gardens. Control must be assumed if we are to stop this defilement of our countryside. I am pleased to see here the hon. Member who is vice-chairman of the Town Planning Committee of the London County Council. I have had the great happiness of being on that committee. There is one thing he will know which it is rather interesting to recall now that we are talking of market gardens and houses. Before Becontree was built that was the great area for supplying rhubarb to London. The rhubarb roots were sold to Belgium and to-day we are buying rhubarb from Belgium instead of growing it ourselves.
There are many agencies, both public and private, which are attempting to educate the public to a sense of the irreparable loss we sustain by the uncontrolled use of land, which is the result of the slowness of action on the part of certain town and country planning authorities in the various areas. The president of the Royal Institute of British Architects devoted his presidential address this year to calling attention to the need for greater speed in the application of town and country planning. The Institute got together an exhibition of civic centres, and there has been a demand for it by the public from all over the country, and already it is booked up until 1938, which shows that the public are beginning to realise what is happening. The work of the Society for the Preservation of Rural England, of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, of the National Trust, and the schemes for planting trees to commemorate the Coronation—all are directing attention to the need for stopping as quickly as possible the spoilation of the entire country.
The Minister of Transport, who has undertaken a great publicity compaign in favour of various traffic improvements, has made everybody very wide awake to the fact that there are certain things which need to be done by way of plan- 1871 ning, and we should be wise to take advantage of his advice before it is too late, particularly if we are to maintain the countryside in its present state. Certain towns have taken action. Our old city of York has been very effective; Blackpool, too; and London has put through a town-planning resolution for the entire area, which is really a magnificent preliminary, though I am sure everybody will agree that it is only a preliminary and is not the end of the story by a long, long way. How few towns have actually got a real plan prepared, a real plan on paper. I doubt whether any town has.
§ Mr. BOSSOM
I should like to see that example followed in hundreds more cases; it is the only case in our country of 45,000,000 people, and that is no great credit to us, seeing that the Act has been on the Statute Book for more than four years. The need for housing schemes has been pushed energetically by the Minister of Health, but how many towns had town-planning schemes prepared beforehand and knew where they would put their great housing developments? We find the same situation now that we are dealing with the overcrowding problem. I wonder whether my right hon. and gallant Friend would say if even Newcastle-under-Lyme had all its housing scheme laid out on its plan before the new housing legislation came into operation.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
We were in the very fortunate position of having bought up all the suburban land first.
§ Mr. BOSSOM
That shows that that town had a lot of money to spend and took advantage of its opportunities. I wish every town in the country were as well placed and would take advantage of its opportunities in the same way. Before 1940 we are going to build 600 new schools of the largest type. How many towns outside Newcastle-under-Lyme have already marked out the spots where those great schools are to go, sites where they can have large playing-fields—not just concrete yards, but real playing-fields, which is what we want if we are, as was called for in the King's Speech, to look after our young people? Then, how about 1872 the allotment gardens which we see everywhere in an unfortunate condition? Very often we hear that allotments are to be moved, after the allotment owners have got all their seeds planted. Why cannot we have the allotment gardens area properly planned? There is no reason why we should not do it. Then there is the case of factories which have been erected in the wrong places, for no reason save that they have been subject to no restrictions; but I will not go into that subject which has already been discussed to-day in great detail.
We have a vast annual building programme, spending not less than £300,000,000 a year, and every time a new building is put up in the wrong place it adds to our difficulties when improvements are desired, yet how many towns have planned exactly where new buildings are to go? It is not merely a case of making adjustments, of nibbling here and nibbling there; we ought to do the thing on a grand scale. If there is to be real town and country planning we should not play with it, which is unfortunately what has so often happened up to the present. We have not been covering large enough areas. We have on our island home, which is fully stocked with people, and over-stocked, as the Minister of Health said when introducing this Bill, need for planning, and we cannot afford to let the requirements of agriculture or industry, etc., be overlooked, or allow it to be pushed about as though by accident. The whole subject must be considered on a nation wide plan. We have a great number of small houses which have come down to us from past generations, houses which are not bad enough to be destroyed but which yet provide poor lighting and poor ventilation for the occupants. We know they ought to be removed if we are to develop into a healthy community, and we should slowly wipe them out and do it over a large area. We do not want to give our towns town-planning physic; they sorely need drastic surgery and we must unflinchingly administer this remedy if we are to get the best results. London was referred to a few moments ago. In London the people have been crying for a town plan ever since the time of Christopher Wren. He made a plan for London, but it was not adopted.
Then, how about our arterial roads, our embankments, our parking places? What has been done about the systematic 1873 arrangement of our parking places? If motoring develops in the future as it has in the past we shall be strangled by our own prosperity. We must take hold of the parking problem, which is a vital matter for us. Are we going to spend another 30 years over the widening of the Strand? That has been going on for 30 years to my knowledge, and it is not done yet. We all know the reasons given why it has not been done. Are we to continue much longer in that same old way? I hope not. Every authority which has an area under its control should be requested, with all the emphasis the Ministry can apply, to prepare a plan of the area under its control. It is part of its duty and it should get on with the job, because everybody desires activity in such a direction. There is not a Member in the House who would not feel proud to be able to get up and say his town is ready, as the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme said just now. But even when all towns and areas have these plans, they must be co-ordinated and all work in together. This essential step should also be nation wide. The Act does not require it, and the Minister cannot compel it because it is a permissive Act, but if the Minister were to use his well-known persuasive powers he could give a great stimulus to this vital movement. Even if he could not get it done on a countrywide scale he could get it produced by groups of counties, which would be so much better than at present.
I fear some authorities which have been given the responsibility of looking after town and country planning of their own areas have not appreciated the seal importance of the subject. For one thing many complain that they cannot get trained officers. Anyone who will look through the advertisement columns of the technical journals will see every week advertisements for town and country planning advisers offering a salary as small as £350 a year. For this sum it is desired to attract a man who is to be trained either as a fully-fledged engineer or fully-fledged architect and is also a fully qualified town and country planner. Certain authorities pay more, but the position generally is as I have said. Only to-day I was talking to the head of the largest town and country planning training school in England, the Architectural Association, and he emphasised most 1874 strongly the point that we cannot expect a man who has been trained as he needs to be trained to fit him for this most important work to be prepared to work for a salary which is not commensurate with the value of the work nevertheless. There are panels of trained architects who offer their services, there are enough men available for the work if only the authorities will engage them. These men are able from their experience, not only to make our towns into engineer's traffic channels, but also to turn them into comfortable and practicable places in which to live and care for our people and that is the prime, in fact, the greatest consideration in town and country planning.
There are innumerable other considerations in this wide subject. We are now deeply stressed with the matter of national safety. What is being done from any source to look after national planning with the idea of this safety and who is advising the location of industry, aerodromes, reservoirs, oil and food storage, hospitals and canning factories and all the other elements? Has anybody those matters in charge I have searched, but I cannot find that any authorities are giving such matters the serious consideration they demand. Most hon. Members, I am sure, feel it is essential for this to be done. Might I suggest to the Minister that he should inquire whether such matters can be taken in hand, because of their national importance? As a professional man, not only as a Member of Parliament, one who has spent his professional life largely in connection with such matters, I am convinced that if the local authorities do not make use of the power in their hands to get their areas properly laid out and prepared for approval the Minister will find such a wave of public pressure brought to bear upon him that he will have to ask the House to give him authority to establish an appointed day by which every authority will be required to submit its complete plan, in default of which he will be required to take charge of the entire situation and run it through his one centralised Department. But we possess, as I said before, as fine a set of local authorities as any country in the world; and I most sincerely hope that they will realise the importance of carrying out the Act so that no other action on the part of the Minister of Health will be required.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. SELLEY
I beg to second the Motion, and to make a few observations, particularly in reference to London. I understand that we are now attempting to deal with London industries by sending them somewhere else. I had some great ideas a few years ago, as Chairman of the Housing Committee of the London County Council, that something should be done in the East End. I had the idea of linking it with our housing scheme, by which we should have real development on town-planning lines. I had to admit that the colossal cost was the great obstacle. If town-planning, as has been laid down by this House, is a plan for the future, it has never struck me, as a practical man, that there would be any difficulty in laying down a plan, although our resources were not sufficient to carry it out in the immediate future.
It, therefore, struck me, as we had areas like Bethnal Green, Poplar, Southwark, Dockside and Wharfside, all in the midst of our industries, houses and commercial warehouses being spatehcocked together higgledy-piggledy, that with a great scheme of straightening out even for traffic purposes only, we might have matched up housing and commerce. I am optimistic enough to believe that if a real plan had been laid out for the East End it would probably have been economic, even for the owners of the land, who would have come into the scheme. It is almost impossible to take a built-up area like London and to say that the local authority must make a plan and carry it out. We remember the building of Kingsway. My hon. Friend has recalled that it has taken 30 years to widen the Strand; it took very nearly 30 years to build Kingsway, after the scheme had been made and the land acquired.
Another London problem is the extra-Metropolitan area. Planning is not merely making a plan into zones and saying "This patch shall be 10 houses to the acre, this shall be 12 and that shall be 13; and we will paint that black and it shall be a terrace of shops." That is not planning; that is chaos. What happens in the formation of a town or a suburb outside London? The lead is not given to the local authority but to enterprising people who, like myself, are engaged in the industry. We were led to the first man who was willing to sell 40 or 50 acres of land. The obligation upon 1876 us was merely to get the plan passed by the local authority in charge of the area If town-planning had been a live force in and around London, we should have saved local authorities outside London thousands of pounds in their social services. We first of all got a builder or a. land speculator—that term is always popular on the other side of the House, where hon. Members never see the difference between the speculative builder and the speculative pork butcher—and the land required, because it was demanded in a certain area for houses of a certain class. The plans being passed, the houses were built, and no regard has ever been paid to whether there was a school, a hospital, or even a public house or a cinema. Those things seem to be added on to the first thought. I am therefore a whole-hearted town-planner, although I am a private enterprise representative. I should be the last to say that the Government should control the way in which persons should deal with their property, but, in the interests of the property itself, of the community and of the people who have to occupy the property, it is all to the good that a long-term plan should be laid down so that our services, transport and means of communication to and through the centre, and, most of all, our open spaces and our recreational outlook, might not be hampered and cramped by this lack of order. For those reasons I have much pleasure in seconding the Motion. I am sure the Minister will do what he can to carry into effect what we all desire.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
We are all indebted to the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom) and to the hon. Member for South Battersea (Mr. Selley) for ventilating this question of town planning. The hon. Member for Maidstone said he thought it was time we had a review of what had been done in the last four years, and he gave us the impression that he was harbouring the idea that, on the whole, the results of those four years' work had not come up to expectation. It would perhaps be for the convenience of the House if I intervened now for a few minutes, in order to try to give an account of what has been done and to put the whole matter into what we think is the proper perspective.
1877 The hon. Member for Maidstone mentioned that the total area of England and Wales covered by the 1932 Act extended to about 37,000,000 acres. Before that Act was passed, only 9,000,000 of those acres were subject to any kind of control, but since the Act the total number of acres brought into control is over 20,000,000. In the short period of four years, therefore, we have planned more than half the total acreage of the country. Of the remainder, the bulk is situated in Wales.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I will deal with that point in a moment. The whole of the South, South-West and Midlands, and a great portion of the industrial North, has already been subjected to planning. So much for the area; now for the procedure. When I said "planned," I did not mean that schemes for those areas had been finally adopted. As soon as a local authority passes a resolution indicating its intention to plan, it immediately acquires what is known as interim development control. No development can take place within the area without the local authority's consent, or the owner runs the risk of the development being demolished without compensation, when the scheme is finally approved. That is an example of public control over development, in areas where a resolution has been passed.
§ Mr. HUDSON
That is the kind of question of which I should like notice. That threat lies over the owners and the speculators, if they do so, and local authorities are, in the overwhelming number of cases, being consulted. The House will realise from what was said by the hon Member himself that the development of planning has thrown an enormous burden upon local authorities. It has been a very heavy burden by itself, but it is not the only burden that Parliament has imposed upon local authorities in the last few years. I only need mention in this connection slum clearance and the de tailed survey of 9,000,000 houses which has been carried out for the Overcrowding Act. Although it is possible to be disappointed with the results, in the way of 1878 schemes which have been finally approved, we are entitled to the view that the local authorities of this country deserve a word of praise from this House for the progress which, in spite of the difficulties, they have made.
The hon. Member referred to the procedure and to the question of the three-years' limit. Perhaps the House will forgive me if I repeat, as it may not be fully appreciated by hon. Members who have not followed the matter in detail, that as soon as the Ministry have approved a Resolution to set up town planning for a particular locality, the local authority proceeds to serve notices on the owners of the property, to consult with the adjoining authorities and with the county council, and finally to draw up its draft scheme. Two years are allowed for that process, and the period is none too long when you remember that the basis of the Act is voluntary. It is our considered view that it is much better to persuade people and to bring them along with you, rather than to try to coerce them. In the long run, that procedure is much quicker than one of coercion.
When the two years have elapsed, the final scheme is drafted and is deposited locally in order that objections may be put forward or that the owners may see what the final scheme is. It is modified in accordance with local circumstances, and finally it is submitted to the Minister for his approval. The last stage takes but a very short time, and most of the delay, if there is delay, arises in the early shaping of the scheme. My hon. Friend mentioned that one of the difficulties of local authorities was shortage of staff, and I quite agree, hut there is more than a shortage of staff. It so happens that the Act was brought in in 1933, at a time when the county councils were still reviewing the new local Government districts under the Act of 1929, and it must be clear that local authorities were not prepared to go ahead with planning until they knew exactly what their boundaries were going to be, or whether they were even going to remain in existence at all. A great part of the early delays were due to that cause.
Before 1932, as my hon. Friend himself admitted, the powers of local authorities to plan were limited to developing areas, 1879 in other words, to the suburbs of towns. For the first time, the Town Planning Act of 1932 gave them authority over their towns and over the country adjoining. Naturally, it took the authorities some time to discover the full implications of the Act and the extent of their powers, and it was not until 1935 that the Advisory Committee which had been set up by the Minister finally approved the model town planning Clauses on which the local authorities really have to depend. That is not, of course, the end of the catalogue of difficulties. The authorities found that, as a result of the suspension of all work during the War, there was a shortage, and in many cases a complete absence, of up-to-date maps. Many of the Ordnance Survey maps were 20 years old, and some were 40 years old. As the result, however, of a committee set up last year, steps have been taken by the Ordnance Survey Department greatly to strengthen its staff, and we are now in sight of the completion of a large number of these maps which are being brought up to date. I believe there are no fewer than 4,000 sheets. About 1,200 were finally selected, and the Survey have promised us that by the end of December, 1938, these sheets will finally be in our hands. It is fair to remind the House that some 300 authorities had to suffer unavoidable delay through the mere absence of mechanical details in not having proper up-to-date maps. I do not want to lay undue stress on these difficulties, but, when it is suggested that local authorities have not produced the results for which we hoped, I think it is fair that these points should be borne in mind.
§ Mr. BOSSOM
While, of course, I fully appreciate the point that my hon. Friend has made, I think the other side of the picture cannot be entirely ignored, namely, that the public of England are suffering on account of these limitations.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I have never denied that, but I am pointing out that the most active steps are being taken to remedy these difficulties, and my hon. Friend knows, as an architect, that you cannot produce a new and up-to-date Ordnance Survey map in a day. It is a very technical matter, and I think the Ordnance Survey are to be congratulated on the way in which they have risen to the emergency.
1880 My hon. Friend suggested that there might be advantages, first of all, in having an appointed day, and, secondly, in having larger schemes. As regards an appointed day, I think my hon. Friend himself realises that that would need legislation, and, until we are satisfied that in fact local authorities are not making schemes within a reasonable time, it would be too soon to suggest that we should bring in new legislation, with all its accompanying delays. As regards the point about larger areas, I think it is fair to say to-day that the size of the area to be planned has a direct relation to the time taken, and, in fact, the local authorities with small schemes are pretty well up to date; the delay, such as there is, is in the larger regional areas. Therefore, purely from the point of view of delay, that would not solve the difficulty.
My hon. Friend suggested, quite rightly, that each particular scheme ought not to be treated by itself, and especially some of the smaller ones; but he will know that a number of joint committees, covering a number of authorities, have been set up, and, of course, when schemes are submitted to the Department, we attempt to take a broader view outside the purlieus of the immediate authority, and see how the schemes of various adjoining authorities fit into each other and interact. Draft schemes are now being submitted at the rate of 10 a month, which is a great deal faster than has ever been our experience before; and a very satisfactory feature, to which hon. Friend alluded, is the small number of appeals that are coming forward. I think that that is largely due to the fact that local authorities have taken the trouble to secure the general consent of the inhabitants and owners in their areas, and it is a very satisfactory item to be able to report.
My hon. Friend suggested that delay was causing a great deal of damage. He mentioned the Ribbon Development Act, and that, of course, caused further delay; the local authorities, urged by the Ministry of Transport, proceeded actively to sketch out new lines of highway, new highway widths, new by-passes, and so forth. But, so far as we are concerned in the Department, we do not think the fact that an authority has not submitted a final scheme is necessarily doing a great deal of damage, because of the interim 1881 control, which is actually being exercised. I can, however, give my hon. Friend and the House this assurance, that we are fully conscious in the Department of the need for getting on with the job, and we do not grant to local authorities any extensions of the statutory three-year period without a real investigation of the facts and without being convinced that an extension is necessary. We are exercising every day such pressure as we can to see that schemes are expedited, and I hope that the Debate which my hon. Friend has initiated to-day will serve to show the country that this House did not abandon interest in town planning once the Act was 1882 passed, and that it will act as an encouragement to those authorities which are already well advanced in submitting their schemes, and I hope also as a spur and an incentive to those laggard authorities throughout the country—I am glad to say there are not very many—who have not yet taken the initial steps.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and, 40 Members not being present—
§ The House was adjourned at Eleven Minutes after Eight of the Clock till To-morrow.