HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc217-9
5. Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many appeals from decisions of planning authorities are now pending with him; and what measures he is taking to expedite the disposal of such appeals.

18. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he proposes to introduce legislation to alter the procedures for town and country planning.

35. Mr. Awdry

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he proposes to introduce legislation to change the system of planning appeals along the lines outlined by his predecessor on 24th May, 1966.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. James MacColl)

The number was 7,179; a drop of about 1,500 since the beginning of the year. The basis of recruitment for inspectors has been broadened; the departmental organisation for handling appeals has been strengthened; and local planning authorities are being asked to co-operate in arrangements to cut down delays. My right hon. Friend is also considering more radical changes, which would involve legislation and will make his intentions known before long.

Mr. Lloyd

Does not the Minister think that it might be better if planning authorities were required to inform adjacent occupiers of planning and development proposals so that they could, if necessary, make corrections in the first place instead of having to wait and clog up the appeal machinery?

Mr. MacColl

That suggestion would probably increase rather than diminish the speed, although there may be something to be said for it on merits.

Mr. Digby

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these appeals cause a lot of dissatisfaction and that the Minister said as long ago as 24th May that he would consider changes in appeal procedure? When are those changes to me made?

Mr. MacColl

My right hon. Friend is not complacent about this problem at all. We have decided 273 more appeals in the last quarter of this year than last, and, as I have already said, we have cut down the accumulation by 1,500, so I do not think we have done badly.

Mr. Awdry

Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that arranging for some appeals to be heard on a regional basis would save time?

Mr. MacColl

We are considering the whole question of appeals with a view to possible changes.

Mr. Rowland

Would not my hon. Friend consider setting up regional offices of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, instead of leaving this work in the hands of purely local authorities?

Mr. MacColl

That suggestion sounds like a reform of local Government, which is a matter for the Royal Commission.

Mr. Rippon

Can the hon. Gentleman say what the present time-lag is between the inquiry and the giving of a decision?

Mr. MacColl

On average, it takes about 46 weeks for appeals by inquiry and 31 weeks if the appeals are settled by written procedure.