HC Deb 18 June 1973 vol 858 cc1-3
4. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will seek discussions with industrial companies which have received Government grants and which are moving out of London as to the future use of the land which becomes vacant once the companies move.

The Minister for Industrial Development (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

The use to which such land can be put is already subject to industrial development certificates, office development permits and planning procedures. I do not think that anything further is required.

Mr. Cox

Is the Minister not aware that that kind of pathetic reply is not good enough? After these companies have received, in many cases, millions of pounds of public money to move out, surely local authorities have some right as to the future use that is made of the sites on which those companies existed? At the moment, within London, vast sums of money—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is Question Time.

Mr. Chataway

The hon. Member will be aware that the criticism we most often get from Labour benches is that not enough industry is encouraged to move into development areas. Registered vacancies in Greater London are now higher than they have been since 1966, while unemployment is virtually non-existent.

Mr. Cox

I am talking about land.

Mr. Jay

Does the Minister not agree that, although a company is no doubt entitled to get the market value for its land, in a case like this it is not entitled to decide on the use of the land after it has moved away?

Mr. Chataway

The right hon. Gentleman will know that both central and local government have considerable powers over the use of the land through IDC and ODP policies, and through planning procedures.