HC Deb 07 July 1971 vol 820 cc1309-10
2. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many listed buildings, ancient monuments and trees, protected by preservation order or planning condition, have been removed without official approval or permission during the last six months.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Peter Walker)

No ancient monuments protected by the Ancient Monuments Acts have been removed without official approval. The figures relating to ancient monuments protected by planning conditions, listed buildings and trees are not available in my Department.

Mr. Hardy

I appreciate the difficulty of obtaining the figures, but would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there have been many reports in recent months of features of importance and consequence being demolished or removed? Would he not also agree that there seems to be a growing attitude on the part of some developers that if there is a feature of some importance the best course is to demolish it first and apologise later? Will he look at the matter more seriously?

Mr. Walker

We have a good system of emergency listing under which, in one quarter, 700 buildings threatened with disruption were speedily listed. There is a good procedure here, but if I find loopholes that need to be filled I shall take the appropriate action.

Mr. Selwyn Gummer

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it would be much better if, instead of this emergency listing, we moved the need for planning permission back so that it had to be requested before demolition? If that were done, it would not be necessary to have people rushing round doing emergency listing.

Mr. Walker

This is a matter of considerable complication. Such a measure would result in massive additional work, which would serve no real purpose.