HC Deb 21 November 1946 vol 430 cc1010-1
45. Mr. Touche

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that there has been a delay of nearly a year in getting Government approval for building houses at Strood Green, Betchworth, which were approved by the Dorking and Horley Rural District Council in December, 1945, and that this delay is mainly due to a dispute between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Town and Country Planning as to the number of houses which it is desirable to build; and if he will take steps to ensure better coordination between the Departments concerned.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

I regret that considerable time has been taken to deal with this case, which raised difficult questions in connection with both local planning and the Greater London plan. In fact, however, the first reference to either of the Departments mentioned was on 16th May, 1946, when the surveyor of the Dorking and Horley Rural District Council submitted tentative proposals to the regional office of the Ministry of Health. After discussion with the council of amendments to reduce the cost and improve the layout, a revised scheme was submitted on 12th July. This was referred on 22nd July to the regional office of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning who, after the necessary consultation with other Departments, decided that a part only of the site should be used for housing. At the request of the Ministry of Health, the matter was then further considered by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. They were unable, however, to alter their decision and the council were informed accordingly on 9th November.

Mr. Touche

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the result of all these negotiations is that no building will take place in this village this year, and that the whole year has been wasted?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, I am aware of that. Of course, there has been a vast number of schemes approved—more than enough to take up the building labour—but I regret there has been a delay in this matter.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we had a similar experience in the Orpington area, where hundreds of houses were held up for over a year because of the inability of four Ministers to agree?

The Prime Minister

I have not heard of that one. I am surprised the hon. Gentleman has not sent that case to me, since he sends me so many things. If he will do so, I will look into it.

Sir W. Smithers

In view of that answer, I will do so, and I hope I shall get a polite reply.