HC Deb 04 December 1974 vol 882 cc1547-8
22. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will postpone a decision on the future planning structure of the South-West Region, pending further discussions and consultations with regional organisations following their rejection of the South-West Economic Planning Council "Strategic Settlement Pattern for the South-West".

Mr. John Silkin

The region's local authorities and a wide range of interested organisations have been invited to comment on the council's strategic settlement pattern report. There is no question of any decision until all these consultations have been completed.

Mr. Hannam

I thank the Minister for that encouraging reply. Is he aware that there is widespread dissatisfaction in the South-West at the conclusions drawn by the economic planning council, especially with regard to the massive population increase proposed for areas of Devon and Cornwall? Is he aware that consultations have not taken place with amenity and general public organisations? Will he ensure that they do take place?

Mr. Silkin

I have said that one would need to defer a decision until consultations have properly taken place and we are in a position to assess the result. I understand the argument about population, but the fall in the replacement of population by what I might call the direct method is to some extent mitigated by an increase in population from net migration. These are points which we shall have to go into.

Mr. Adley

Is the Minister aware that in the report a major population growth is anticipated for South-East Dorset? Is he also aware that as a result of the local government boundary redrawing the present county boundary sits right in the middle of a built-up area? Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure initially that the Department of Industry comes to a quick decision about the location of county boundaries in relation to economic planning council areas, and will he thereafter review either the county boundary or the South-East Dorset proposals?

Mr. Silkin

One must take into account the fact that areas and populations—and what is done in those areas—change from time to time and must be constantly under review. The question of boundaries is not for me but for the Boundary Commission.