HC Deb 09 October 1944 vol 403 cc1443-6

  1. (1) It shall be the duty of a local planning authority on a request in that behalf being 1444 made to them by the Minister, to furnish to him, in such manner as he may direct, such particulars of their proposals for the time being for the planning of their area as he may consider requisite for enabling him to consider properly the expediency of his confirming or making a compulsory purchase order under this Part of this Act, of his giving his consent to or requiring a disposal or appropriation of land by the authority thereunder, of his giving his consent to the carrying out by them thereunder of building operations or any other authorisation or approval for the purposes of this Part of this Act, or the manner in which any other jurisdiction conferred on the Minister by this Part of this Act ought to be exercised by him.
  2. (2) The power of the Minister under Subsection (2) of Section six of the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) Act, 1943 (which enables the Minister to give directions requiring interim development authorities to furnish him with such information with respect to interim development applications received by them as he considers necessary or expedient for the purpose of enabling him to cause an application to be referred to him under Sub-section (1) of that section) shall include power to require the furnishing of such information with respect to interim development applications (including information as to the manner in which any such application has been dealt with) as he may consider requisite for the the purpose of enabling him to consider properly the expediency of his exercising any of his functions under that Act.—[Mr. H. Strauss.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. H. Strauss

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The whole basis of this Bill is that the local planning authority should be preparing good plans, even if it has not completed them, and should apply to the Minister for consents and so forth on the basis of the plans which it is making. The purpose of Sub-section (1) of the proposed new Clause is to make it clear on the face of the Statute that it is the duty of the planning authority to give to the Minister particulars of the plans which it has in mind so far as they have been formed. That enables the Minister to know what the plans of the local authority are and to give advice and to take the many Ministerial decisions which he has to take in the light of a full knowledge of the local authority's plan. Needless to say, it is the custom of good local authorities to give this information to the Minister, but this Sub-section makes it clear on the face of the Statute that it is their duty to do so.

Sub-section (2) supplements some powers which we took in the Statute of last year. In that Statute the Minister has power to call upon the planning authority for information in regard to interim development applications received by them, but at the moment he has no power to call for information on how such applications have been dealt with in the past. It will be clear to hon. Members that a local authority may have made wrong decisions on interim development applications in the past, which have not yet been acted on, or decisions which, though they may have seemed right at the time, are no longer right in the light of subsequent events. In any event it is desirable that the Minister should have the right to seek information on this matter, and Subsection (2) remedies that slight omission from the Statute passed last year.

Mr. Guy (Poplar, South)

Whilst I recognise that it is the duty of the local planning authority to furnish all the information desired, can we have an assurance that when that information has been submitted there will be no undue delay in giving consideration to the proposals submitted, and that we shall not have to wait months and months, as has been the case in the past, for a decision to be taken?

Mr. McEntee

While I have no objection to a local authority being asked for or giving all the necessary information experience teaches me that it may be quite a big job to get together the information, involving a considerable amount of labour, even necessitating the engagement of new staff. If that should be so, what will be the position of the local authority in regard to meeting any additional cost to which it may be put?

Mr. H. Strauss

I do not think the local authority can possibly be put to any new expense. There may not even always be need for correspondence, because very often this information can be given to visiting officials of the Ministry, although sometimes, no doubt, there will be correspondence. The hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Guy) raised the question whether this new requirement might lead to delay. My own view, based on some experience of administration, makes me think exactly the opposite. There will be less delay if the expert advisers of my Department have information of what is in the mind of the local authority at the earliest possible time. Sometimes they will be able to give helpful advice to them before they have taken some step which would waste their time because it would prove to be unacceptable.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.