1. Mr. John P. Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to review legislation relating to planning and development in Wales.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Bennett)
The need for changes to planning legislation is kept under constant review. The Planning and Compensation Bill now before the House will introduce various alterations to make the planning system in England and Wales fairer and more efficient.
What does the Minister plan to do to stop the flagrant abuse of planning laws that has allowed the Vale of Glamorgan borough council to do a deal with local developers, which has resulted in the developers becoming millionaires overnight and in the people of Barry losing one of the last remaining open spaces in the town? Will the Minister consider calling in the plans for College fields in Barry? Will he introduce legislation to prevent councils from giving themselves planning permission when they either own land or have an unhealthy financial interest in it, to prevent that sort of thing from happening again?
§ Mr. Bennett
I do not want to comment on the allegations made by the hon. Gentleman. The request for a call-in is being considered and I hope to give a decision shortly.
§ Mr. Raffan
Is my hon. Friend aware that in his farewell speech to Delyn borough council planning committee, the highly respected chief planning officer Mr. Mike Smith warned the committee that increasingly it was acting against officers' recommendations, contrary to its own clearly laid down planning policies and contrary to the principles of equity and fairness? Does my hon. Friend share my concern about those serious allegiations and will he take them into consideration in his constant reviewing?
§ Mr. Bennett
My hon. Friend will not be surprised to hear me say that I have not come across the speech to which he referred. Local authorities, in response to the needs of local people, must consider carefully the way in which they deal with planning applications. I am sure that when the local electorate decides how to vote in this week's elections it will consider the council's record in the past four years.