HC Deb 06 December 1960 vol 631 cc1059-60
40. Mrs. Butler

asked the Prime Minister what consideration he has given to the appointment of a Minister of Planning.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

As I told the hon. Member on the 27th of October, it is doubtful whether any useful purpose would be served by such an appointment.

Mrs. Butler

Does the Prime Minister realise that, in the speculative building boom we are now entering, local planning authorities increasingly need the help of a positive planning policy from a Minister who is responsible for traffic movement and commercial and industrial locations as well as the present planning administration, and is he prepared to see the erosion of the green belts and the countryside, the increased traffic chaos and the urban congestion and disfigurement which will be quite inevitable unless the Government make a new and positive approach to the planning problem?

The Prime Minister

This is a question of whether a Minister of Planning should be appointed. I should have thought that it was the function of each Minister to indicate what planning is required in the sphere of his own Department and for the Cabinet collectively to co-ordinate the planning.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the problems of urban development, transport and industrial and commercial location are all intimately bound up together? Can he tell us how these problems can be solved without a much closer degree of continous co-ordination than is provided by an occasional Cabinet meeting?

The Prime Minister

I think that the right hon. Gentleman knows the working of Cabinet and Cabinet Committees, and I should have thought that the question is not one that is just resolved by appointing a new Minister.

Mr. Gaitskell

It is not resolved by appointing a new Minister, but is the Prime Minister aware that it cannot be resolved for the country as a whole unless someone or other in Whitehall is responsible for looking at this problem as a whole? Will he please consider this matter?

The Prime Minister

Of course, I will consider it. The question is a very wide one concerning a Minister of Planning in general without definition of economic planning, local government planning or any other kind of planning, and it seems to me that such a Minister would not be a valuable addition to our machinery of Government.

Mr. Chetwynd

Was there any special planning today which enabled us to reach the Prime Minister's Questions at exactly a quarter past three?

The Prime Minister

That is thanks to you, Mr. Speaker.