HC Deb 20 May 1968 vol 765 cc49-51


(1) The Minister may, after considering a structure plan submitted (or resubmitted) to him, either approve it (in whole or in part and with or without modifications or reservations) or reject it.

(2) In considering any such plan the Minister may take into account any matters which he thinks are relevant, whether or not they were taken into account in the plan as submitted to him.

(3) Where on taking any such plan into consideration the Minister does not determine then to reject it, he shall, before determining whether or not to approve it—

  1. (a) consider any objections to the plan, so far as they are made in accordance with regulations under this Part of this Act;
  2. (b) afford to any persons whose objections so made are not withdrawn an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed by him for the purpose; and
  3. (c) if a local inquiry or other hearing is held, also afford the like opportunity to the local planning authority and such other persons as he thinks fit.

(4) Without prejudice to subsection (3) above, on considering a structure plan the Minister may consult with or consider the views of any local planning authority or other persons, but shall not be under an obligation to consult with or consider the views of any other authority or persons or, except as provided by that subsection, to afford an opportunity for the making of any objections or other representations or to cause any local inquiry or other hearing to be held.—[Mr. MacDermot.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. MacDermot

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The new Clause is intended to replace, with a few adaptations, the provisions of the existing subsections (4) to (7) of Clause 3. The adaptations are made to take into account the fact that the structure plan may now need to be re-submitted, and this is met by the new wording of subsection (1) of the new Clause.

The only other change occurs in subsection (3) of the new Clause, which relates to the consideration of objections. Paragraph (a) of subsection (6) of the present Clause 3 obliges the Minister to consider any objections made in accordance with regulations under this Part of this Act to the plan by persons who may be expected to have an interest therein ". As I said a moment ago, this phrase has caused difficulty, and it has been found possible to discard it, retaining the limitation of the Minister's obligation to objections which are made in accordance with regulations. The principal matter of those regulations will be the time and manner of lodging objections. For the rest, the Clause repeats the provisions of Clause 3(4) to (7).

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

As I understand it, the new Clause is to take the place of the second part of Clause 3 as printed in the Bill. The previous new Clause 1 took the place of subsections (1) to (3) of Clause 3, and this Clause takes the place of subsections (5) to (7). What it does not disclose is exactly when the structure plan comes into operation. We are still left in some doubt on this, even after a very long Committee stage on the Bill.

The new Clause deals with the approval, or the rejection, of the structure plan, but particularly with the approval. At that point, as I understand, the plan will come into operation, and, at that point, I presume that certain Sections and parts of the Act, as it will then be, will be brought into operation, but until then they will be suspended. At this point, where the structure plan is approved, I assume that the development plan previously in operation for that area will die. This is the sort of thing which those who read the Bill will want to find out at an early stage. It is not disclosed, and I am not certain whether I have it right or not.

It is true that the Clause, like the previous one, has been redrafted to take into account matters which hon. Members put forward during the Committee stage. It is absolutely necessary for us to have an opportunity to look at the details of and the manner in which those proposals are brought into operation. It is not easy to grasp Clauses of this nature in the short time that they have been before us.

The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) commented on the absence of my right hon. and learned Friend from the Committee, stage. At least, he is here on Report stage.

Mr. Blenkinsop

He is not now.

Mr. Graham Page

He was here. He has gone out to telephone and he will be back in a moment, but that is more than the Minister has been, anyway.

Mr. MacDermot

As the hon. Gentleman knows, my right hon. Friend the Minister is abroad on official duties.

I do not think that the point which the hon. Gentleman has raised arises under the new wording. The wording in the

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