HC Deb 13 May 1947 vol 437 cc1453-4

11.45 p.m.

Mr. H. Strauss

I beg to move, in page 7, line 42, after "Act," to insert "the Minister may direct that."

I have some hope that the machinery in the Clause, as it will stand if my Amendment is accepted, is the machinery that will actually operate according to the Minister's intention. It is quite clear that if an Order is made by the Minister of Transport under the Trunk Roads Act of 1946, and that Order is inconsistent with the development plan, the development plan will need modification. That must be agreed by the House. The question is, what is to be the machinery for securing that modification? It seems to me that it will be convenient for the right hon. Gentleman and, indeed, for the Government as a whole, that instructions to the planning authority relating to development plans should proceed in all cases from the right hon. Gentleman. He will have to be consulted always, of course, at an earlier stage. Some sort of directions will be necessary from time to time. I do not think' it will be asserted that the mere making of the Order will automatically modify the development plan. There may be some question exactly how the development plan is affected by the Order of the Minister of Transport, and I think it will be convenient for the right hon. Gentleman and for the Government that all communications from any Minister of the Crown to a planning authority relating to the modification of a development plan should proceed via the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Town and Country Planning. So the main object of this Amendment is to put on the face of the Statute what will be the machinery for effecting the object which I believe the right hon. Gentleman has in mind.

I admit there is a subsidiary object in my own mind, to make it quite clear that I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to be fully consulted on the subject of these Orders under the Trunk Roads Act before they are made. I do not take the view that planning as between different Government Departments is perfect or anything like it, though I fully accept the right hon. Gentleman's oft-repeated declaration that he has done and is doing everything he can to improve it. I think that these words, if my Amendment or something on the same lines is accepted, will facilitate that task.

Colonel Wheatley (Dorset, Eastern)

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. Silkin

The procedure which the Amendment seeks to impose is one which normally will be followed. Of course the imposition of a new trunk road on a plan would have a very important effect —it would seriously affect the plan for better or worse—and, I believe, it cannot be done without the knowledge or approval of the Minister. I take it we are agreed there—it just would not happen. The only question is whether there should be words in this Clause to say the obvious. I do not mind at this time of the night putting in words even to say the obvious, for the sake of peace, but I should like to consider whether there is any snag in these words. There is no difference between us as to what is to happen and, subject to there being no objection to words of this sort, either constitutional or otherwise, I should be quite prepared to see that they are put in at a later stage.

Mr. Strauss

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I think the words I have proposed are all right, but I have no hope that I have been able to consider it with the skilled advice available to him. On the assurance he has given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.