§ Mrs. Ellman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals he is considering to introduce a new rural business use class. 
§ Mr. Caborn
A consultation paper was issued in July 1996 seeking views on the possible introduction of a new rural business use class. There were 291 responses, copies of which have now been placed in the Department's library. The majority of those responding felt that the new class would be very difficult to operate in practice. In particular, a wide range of concerns were expressed about the feasibility of using traffic levels to assess business intensification. Doubts were also expressed about the need for the new use class and a majority of respondents expressed support for existing planning mechanisms such as planning conditions in balancing the needs of rural businesses with environmental considerations. In the light of these comments, the Under-Secretary of State for Wales and I have decided not to proceed with this proposal or with the working group set up in February to take it forward.
In England, PPG7 explains how the existing provisions of the planning system can assist rural businesses. In Wales, equivalent guidance is provided in the first revision of "Planning Guidance (Wales): Planning Policy", which is being finalised for publication. Our manifesto outlines a range of wider measures which we will be taking to promote both rural and urban enterprise. The Government attach particular importance to the encouragement of sustainable development in rural areas. We want a healthy rural economy that creates employment opportunities but also respects the countryside.