HC Deb 08 February 1984 vol 53 cc867-8
6. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will issue the revised draft circular on green belts.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Revised drafts of the circular on green belts and of the circular on land for housing are being published tomorrow. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office.

I hope that the revised drafts will be seen to reflect a balanced and workable approach both to the need for development and to a proper concern for conservation.

Mr. Miller

I thank my right hon. Friend for the action that he has taken in this regard, but does he understand the concern which the original circulars caused in areas such as north Worcestershire, where the green belt is under severe pressure from motorway construction, gravel pit extraction, the predatory eyes of neighbouring authorities, and, not least, the view expressed by his own regional controller that the area should provide a larger proportion of land for long-term housing needs?

Mr. Jenkin

I entirely understand what my hon. Friend says. I must take into account the outcome of the considerations of the Hereford and Worcester structure plan, on which I am awaiting the report of the panel on the examination in public.

Sir Anthony Grant

Although I welcome any steps that are necessary to prize out land that is being unnecessarily hoarded by covetous local authorities and other public bodies, will my right hon. Friend be in no doubt whatever that any further incursions into the green belt will not be tolerated in Cambridgeshire?

Mr. Jenkin

I think my hon. Friend will find that the revised draft circular will go a long way to meet his concerns.

Mr. Chapman

I assume that the revised draft circular will extol the virtues and successes of green belt policy in the past and the need to maintain and protect green belts in the future, but will my right hon. Friend confirm that the advice given in it will be equally applicable to authorities which either do not need planning permission before developments or which can give themselves planning permission? As an extra safeguard for those green belts, will my right hon. Friend consider whether applications of that sort by such authorities should be determined by himself?

Mr. Jenkin

It is difficult for me to generalise on the matter, but I recognise my hon. Friend's concern and will see that account is taken of it.

Dr. David Clark

As this question has been on the Order Paper for two weeks, is it not rather discourteous to the House to publish the draft circular tomorrow? Would it not have been much more helpful if we had had the draft circular in front of us so that we could question the Secretary of State on the details?

Mr. Jenkin

We had always scheduled the publication for tomorrow. The printing and dispatch present a substantial administrative task, and its publication was timed for tomorrow. In view of the length of the documents, I very much doubt whether the hon. Gentleman—despite, I am sure, his quick reading—would have been able to make much of them for Question Time today if they had been published this afternoon.

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