HC Deb 11 May 1939 vol 347 cc666-7
23. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Health whether it is his intention to introduce legislation to secure more effective town and country planning and to ensure the better preservation of the countryside?

Mr. Elliot

Certain proposals for amending legislation are in hand, including suggestions made in the recent report of my Town and Country Planning Advisory Committee.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider hastening this legislation as the present legislation is wholly inadequate either for rural planning or the preservation of the countryside?

Mr. H. Strauss

Is it not urgently necessary that there should be some right of appeal against a decision of an interim development authority granting permission to build, and will not my right hon. Friend consider introducing a short Bill with this object before further national assets have been irretrievably ruined?

Mr. Elliot

There is a Royal Commission sitting on that matter, and it would be discourteous for me to express an opinion in advance of its report. Furthermore, owing to the congested state of legislation before the House, questions of additional legislation should not be put to me but to the responsible authority.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Does my right hon. Friend realise the very strong anxiety which is felt all over the country at the gradual ruining of natural beauty and the destruction of all our hopes of a national park?

51. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Health to what authority members of the public or a preservation society should appeal against action by a local town planning authority that will lead to the spoliation of a place of great natural beauty?

Mr. Elliot

Where a planning scheme is operative the scheme specifies in what circumstances and to what authority an appeal as suggested may be made. Where a planning scheme is being prepared but is not operative, the decision rests with the local authority in whose areas the development is proposed, and although third parties may inform the local authority of their views, they have no legal right of appeal. Where no resolution to prepare a scheme has been passed, there is no authority to whom any appeal of the kind suggested can be made.

Mr. Bossom

Is it not essential that there should be some appeal if anything worth while is to be the outcome of efforts to preserve the countryside?

Mr. Elliot

The question of appeal means to some extent the overriding of the local authority by the central authority, and while that may be very desirable it is not a step which can be lightly undertaken.

Mr. Lyons

Does not my right hon. Friend think, in view of the time which has elapsed since the Act of 1932 came into force, that the procedure under the Act is unsatisfactory and calls for some immediate alteration?

Mr. Elliot

As I said in reply to another question, there is a Royal Commission sitting upon this subject, and it is no doubt about to report at an early date.