§ 1. Mr. Keeling
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he can now announced his decision on the appeal of John Barker and Company, heard by his inspector last July, against the refusal of the London County Council to allow them to drive a road through an 18th-century house in Kensington Square; on what grounds he postponed his decision for nine months and without the approval of the Council allowed the appellants to submit an amended scheme; why he has not yet communicated his decision to the Council although he informed the firm on 1st March that unless he heard from them by 15th March he would dismiss their appeal; and whether in future he will announce his decisions on appeals without considering the desire of one party for delay.
§ The Minister of Town and Country Planning (Mr. Silkin)
I am awaiting a communication from the London County Council on this appeal and until I receive that I am not in a position to announce a decision. Any appellant is free to submit a new or amended scheme to the planning authority at any time. If he does so, it is reasonable that decision on his original application should, if he so wishes, be deferred, subject to the views of the planning authority. I am not prepared to disregard any reasonable request by an appellant for deferment of decision on his appeal.
§ Mr. Keeling
Does the Minister realise that Parliament has placed him in a judicial or quasi-judicial position in these matters, and that it is very important that he should not give the impression, as he has done in this case, that he favours one side?
Is the Minister aware that the L.C.C. have scheduled this as a residential area? Is he further aware that the National Trust are engaged in taking action against Messrs. Barker to which Messrs. Barker appear to have no defence whatever, and that their action is being held up by the action of the Minister in not dealing with this question more promptly? Can the Minister give an assurance that he has given no undertaking whatever to Messrs. Barker other than what he has told us?
§ Mr. Silkin
All these statements are directed to the merits of the application upon which I have to make a decision. It is a fact that John Barker & Company have submitted a second application, and that is now under consideration by the London County Council. Until they give their decision, I am not in a position to act. I can give the assurance for which my hon. Friend asks.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
The Minister has just mentioned a second scheme. Will he explain to me how it is possible to treat two mutually incompatible schemes as a single scheme?
§ Mr. Silkin
I am not treating them as a single scheme, but the appellants are entitled to have from the L.C.C. a decision upon their second application.