§ 24. Mr. Hooley
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he has now received any official representations on the recommendations of the Hunt Report from the National Coal Board.
§ Mr. Shore
No, Sir. But my right hon. Friends the Minister for Housing and Local Government and the Minister of Power keep in close touch with the National Coal Board about the services of the Opencast Executive in local authority land reclamation schemes. This was, of course, considered by the Hunt Committee.
§ Mr. Hooley
Is my right hon. Friend aware that his specific reference to using the Opencast Executive of the Coal Board for clearing derelict land in his statement yesterday is greatly welcomed? Will he proceed further and initiate discussions with a view to creating a national land reclamation agency?
§ Mr. Shore
The difficulty with a national reclamation agency is the distinction between the two functions—the 1693 planning function and the executive function. If one thinks in terms of planning, I do not think that a national agency could take over what is essentially a task of the local authorities. They must plan not only the priorities of reclamation, but also the use of the land, within the context of their general planning proposals. As for executive help in clearing land, landscaping and grass planting, the Opencast Executive has immense experience, and we can do no more than urge local authorities to make full use of it.