HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1525-6
1. Mrs. Butler

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will consult with the Minister of Housing and Local Government and local planning authorities in London and the Home Counties with a view to formulating a more effective policy for controlling the spread of commercial and industrial development in the area.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

I consider that the policy of controlling industrial development in London and the Home Counties by means of industrial development certificates is effective. In operating it, I am in touch with my right hon. Friend and with local authorities. I have no powers over commercial development.

Mrs. Butler

Does the Minister appreciate that, despite the efforts of planning authorities, employment in the area bounded by the Green Belt increased by 91,000 between 1953 and 1958, with consequent pressure on available housing accommodation, and now that the land in the area—not only in the centre but that adjoining the Green Belt—is reaching £100,000 an acre, pressure on planning authorities to permit greater development is increasing, because that is the only thing that can be done economically with land at that price? Is it not essential that there should be co-ordination of land policy for the area as a whole if the build-up of commercial properties in the central areas of the region is not to be intensified?

Mr. Maudling

I agree that the problem of expansion of industrial employment in the London area is a very difficult one. We are operating a fairly stiff policy with regard to it, but it would not be sensible to put a total ban on any additional employment because so much additional efficiency in industry would be lost if we operated any rule as stringent as that.

Mr. Jay

While I agree that an absolute total ban is impossible, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with a situation in which, if he refuses an industrial development certificate for a factory, the Board of Trade does not have to pay any compensation, whereas if a London local authority refuses permission for an office building it is forced to pay heavy compensation? Does not the matter need reconsideration?

Mr. Maudling

It may need reconsideration, but not, I think, by the Board of Trade.

Mr. Jay

Then, does it not need reconsideration by the Government?