HC Deb 17 December 1980 vol 996 cc275-6
5. Mr. Bendall

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many London boroughs have contributed to his Department's development control statistics requested in form PS1 and PS2.

The Under Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Marcus Fox)

Twenty-nine of the 33 London authorities have contributed to the quarterly statistics since they were introduced in May 1979. Of these, 23 now regularly complete both forms. Four have not completed any.

Mr. Bendall

What plans does my hon. Friend have, if any, to seek the co-operation of the remaining London boroughs that have not been involved? Is there any way in which he can review the process by which the figures are brought forward by his Department, as it seems to be taking rather a long time?

Mr. Fox

We are concerned that all local authorities should submit these figures. We see them as an important part of our package to speed up the planning system and make it more efficient. We would hesitate to use the statutory powers that are available to us. We are certain that, through encouragement and persuasion, we can get the remaining four London boroughs to conform.

We are in contact with local authority associations to reduce, if possible, the amount of statistical information that is requested I am happy to say that we are already getting authorities to send in their returns much quicker than initially.

Mr. Mellor

Will my hon. Friend say slightly more about the extent of the reductions in statistics sought from London authorities in view of the fairly dramatic reductions in Government money available to certain inner London boroughs?

Mr. Fox

We gave these matters careful thought before we drew up the forms. We were supported by the Expenditure Committee in its eighth report and by George Dobry. I assure my hon. Friend that we are fully aware of the need to limit any extra burdens on local authorities. We bear that in mind always.