HC Deb 04 February 1976 vol 904 cc1173-5
2. Mr. Costain

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities did not submit their land acquisition and management schemes before 31st December 1975.

11. Mr. Grylls

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities applied for extension of time for submission to him of their land acquisition and management schemes.

The Minister for Planning and Local Government (Mr. John Silkin)

No land acquisition and management schemes were submitted to my right hon. Friend by 31st December 1975 since none was required to be submitted by that date. Seven authorities have formally requested an extension of time.

Mr. Costain

Did that fact surprise the Minister? Will he make certain that local authorities do not take on extra staff to comply with this regulation?

Mr. Silkin

Nothing surprises the Minister. The Act clearly stated that the land acquisition and management schemes "shall be made"—not "submitted"— not later than 31st December 1975, or such later date as the Secretary of State may agree in any particular case. I hope that the existence of LAMS, so far from increasing staff, will at last, after the disastrous reorganisation of local government in 1972, begin to cut the numbers.

Mr. Grylls

Is the Minister aware of the present enormous administrative burden of the land nationalisation scheme on local authorities? Is he especially aware that in Surrey, where £9 million has been taken off the rate support grant to be transferred to the London boroughs, it is difficult to decide priorities? Which does the Minister consider most important—providing more nursery schools and other vital services of that kind, or setting up bureaucratic schemes that nobody really wants?

Mr. Silkin

The scheme is essential to the twin aims of positive planning and restoring to the community the development value that the community has itself created. Surrey's great difficulties are not a problem with which the community land scheme is concerned as the expenses of the acquisition of land by local authorities are not rateborne expenses.

Mr. Raison

Will the Minister tell the House how many schemes were and were not made by 31st December 1975? Will he now apologise to the House for his failure to accepet many Opposition amendments proposing that the date be deferred?

Mr. Silkin

Judging by the Opposition's questions, it seems that hon. Gentlemen have not read the Act fully, as they have been talking about "submission" and not about "making". The plain fact is that Opposition Members, some of whom were asking for an extension of six months and in other cases a year, have been proved wrong. The overwhelming mass of local authorities have been in a position to agree their land acquisition and management schemes and there does not seem to be much difficulty.

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