§ 11. Mr. Deedes
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what fresh guidance he has given to his regional officers about advice to be tendered to county planning committees on applications for the building of agricultural workers' houses.
None, Sir. When a local planning authority contemplates refusing permission or granting conditional permission for agricultural development it is required by the General Development Order, 1950, to consult the Ministry. The Ministry's Land Commissioners are instructed, in accordance with Ministry of Housing Circular 43/58, to support agricultural development where in the long term it is, in their view, necessary for the efficient farming of the land in other words where the public agricultural interest is involved. In other cases they are instructed to make no comment.
§ Mr. Deedes
Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a most unsatisfactory position? A number of planning authorities, which are required to decide whether agricultural houses should be allowed in villages or on farms, when consulting the Ministry of Agriculture, as they are compelled to do, are met nine times out of ten by a perfectly neutral response which does not assist them at all. Does my hon. Friend really feel that that is the best guidance that the Ministry can offer?
I know that there was a certain misunderstanding some time ago and not least in my hon. Friend's own county. On the other hand, we have done a great deal to put this right. It would clearly not be possible for us, in view of the many thousands of applications for planning permission where agricultural implications are involved, to try to tell the planning authorities, which are responsible for all aspects of the work, exactly what are their responsibilities.
Because we want to be quite sure that where there are technical considerations affecting long-term 11 agricultural interests, the agricultural interests in these important cases are not overlooked.
§ Mr. Deedes
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.