HC Deb 26 February 1975 vol 887 cc472-3
5. Mr. Peter Morrison

asked the Seccretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish the Dobry Report on planning procedures.

Mr. Oakes

The report was published on 18th February.

Mr. Morrison

I am grateful to the Minister, who sent me a copy of the report. Does he agree with the report that planning applications should be divided into two classes, the relatively simple and the most complex? Shall we have an early debate on the report?

Mr. Oakes

The report is subject to a great deal of consultation. We have written to over 70 representative bodies to consider the recommendations. I can give no undertaking about a debate, but I shall put the hon. Gentleman's point to my right hon. Friend the Lord President.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Will my hon. Friend note that many of us on the Government side would also welcome a debate on the report, and that the whole matter must be seen in the light of the Government's own proposals in regard to land?

Mr. Oakes

I agree. I note my hon. Friend's point about a debate, but pressure on parliamentary time is considerable.

Mr. Raison

Is the Minister aware that we on the Opposition benches broadly welcome the report but that we reinforce the plea for an early debate on this important matter? Will he say something about the cost of implementing the report, in view of the great need not to impose additional financial burdens on local government?

Mr. Oakes

One of the original reasons for the report was to see whether the planning process could be speeded up and the cost reduced. I note that the hon. Gentleman's point about a debate, and I repeat that I shall see whether it is possible to debate this important report.

Mr. Cant

As the chairman of a planning committee, may I ask whether, as we are talking about a consensus report which has already involved considerable discussion, my hon. Friend will issue a circular next week stating that local planning departments should carry out those items which do not require extra staff? Does he agree that otherwise this report, like the Borner Report on local valuers, will gather dust in the pigeonholes?

Mr. Oakes

I cannot give an undertaking that a circular will be issued next week. Mr. Dobry consulted widely during the preparation of the report, but not on the report itself, and a number of its recommendations need assessment in relation to one another before any circular can be issued by the Department.