HC Deb 04 June 1980 vol 985 cc1410-1
13. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress he has made on simplification of the building regulations.

Mr. Heseltine

I shall be publishing a consultative paper very shortly outlining proposals for changing and simplifying the building control system.

Mr. Chapman

I welcome my right hon. Friend's reply. Does he agree that the voluminous four sets of building regulations which operate in different parts of the United Kingdom are unnecessarily complicated, comprehensive and confusing? Does my right hon. Friend agree, further, that they could be considerably simplified without compromising safety in any way?

Mr. Heseltine

I recognise my hon. Friend's detailed personal knowledge and experience in these matters, and I shall be doing my best in my consultative paper to help him and the proposals which he is putting forward.

Mr. Cryer

When the right hon. Gentleman consults local authorities about building regulations, will he consult them about the regulations for charging which the Department has issued under the building regulation procedure? Is not he now trying to blackmail local authorities into making charges, when the regulations are defective? If local authorities exercise their choice to make charges, under the new regulations they may have to make refunds. Is not the whole set-up a complete mess under his control?

Mr. Heseltine

I am not aware that it is in anything like the state that the hon. Gentleman describes. But I say to him what I have already said publicly—that I am reviewing the system that we have introduced, and I shall take a view about the system when it has been in operation for six months to see whether changes are necessary.

Mr. Alexander

Does my right hon. Friend agree that most Members of Parliament have had an enormous post-bag about these fees? If he agrees, will he also agree that he ought to see the Leader of the House to discover whether a debate can be arranged once his consultative paper has been issued?

Mr. Heseltine

I am always pleased to see my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. But it would remain essentially for him to decide whether there should be a debate. It is not a matter for me. I appreciate that there has been wide interest in this Government innovation. It is in response to that that I have offered to look again at the proposals which are currently operating when they have been tested after six months.