§ The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)
It is my general policy to safeguard all green bell proposals pending final decisions in the context of regional strategies.
§ Mr. Dykes
While I welcome my hon. Friend's interim protection device—and this has been widely welcomed outside the House—may I ask him whether he recognises that there is a particular problem in respect of those threshold areas of green belt land which give on to existing developed land? I am thinking also of the metropolitan area green belt land, particularly in Middlesex and my constituency. Does he recognise the need for a special directive to local authorities making clear that this green belt land should be sacrosanct, too? Secondly, may I ask when we can expect the final definitive decisions on the overall green belt proposals?
§ Mr. Page
The last part of my hon. Friend's question is well related to the first. The metropolitan area green belt proposals will be protected under these interim provisions, but the question of whether and when we shall receive final decisions is related to the preparation of the regional strategies and within them the preparation of structure plans under the 1968 Act. I am encouraging local planning authorities to prepare structure plans as soon as possible for confirmation by the Secretary of State. Green belt will be shown in those plans, for approval and confirmation by my right hon. Friend. I do not preclude the approval and confirmation of further areas of proposed green belt in advance of structure plans where this is clearly justified.
§ Mr. Freeson
While fully supporting the general intentions with regard to green belt policy, may I ask the hon. 1314 Gentleman to take care not to encourage any ideas of preventing Inner London boroughs which have grave housing needs from purchasing or having made available to them non-green belt land in such areas as Harrow to assist with London's housing problem?