HC Deb 29 July 1965 vol 717 cc681-2
Q3. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Prime Minister which Minister is responsible for determining whether land should be used for agriculture, housing or the construction of reservoirs.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government are responsible for individual planning decisions in Scotland, Wales and England, respectively, Sir.

Mr. Griffiths

Might I ask the Prime Minister two questions arising out of that illuminating reply? First, is it not a fact that our increasing population and our need for housing are posing a growing threat to both the beauty and the capacity to produce food of our countryside, and is it not, therefore, of the utmost importance that the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources should work effectively? Secondly, is it not also a fact that the present Minister of Land and Natural Resources is not able to work effectively because his functions have largely been usurped or hived off by two other Ministers?

The Prime Minister

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, of course, about the continuing problem of the requirements of land for housing and industry and what this means in farm production and amenity. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Land and Natural Resources is responsible for general land planning in the country as a whole, but individual planning decisions and appeals from local authorities are a matter for my three right hon. Friends as stated in my original Answer.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

But how can the Minister of Land and Natural Resources be effectively responsible for the planning of land use when he is not responsible for and has no control over individual planning decisions which, in sum total, make up the working of a land policy?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend is, in general, responsible for seeing that, taking the country as a whole, we have the right allocation of land between agriculture, national parks, forestry, provision for water supply and the rest. It would prevent him from doing this and burden him too much if he had to handle also individual planning decisions which arise from the functioning of local government, for which my three other right hon. Friends are responsible.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

But surely the Prime Minister will agree that it is not only a matter of individual decisions on planning applications but that the Minister has no responsibility or jurisdiction in regard to the consideration and confirmation of development plans of local planning authorities?

The Prime Minister

That was my point. These are local authority responsibilities and it is right that the Departments in charge of housing and local government should have these decisions.

Forward to