§ Mr. Gummer
To ask the Prime Minister (1) with which companies, not at present trading in the UK, he has discussed planning issues during the past year; 
(2) with which retail businesses he has discussed planning issues during the past year; 
(3) when he last met representatives of Wal-Mark; what subjects were discussed; and who was present. 446W
§ The Prime Minister
I have regular meetings with business leaders from the United Kingdom and overseas and others, including consumer and environmental groups, on a wide range of subjects, and will continue to do so. As with previous Governments, it is not my practice to provide details of confidential discussions. However, as has already been stated publicly, I met the President of Wal-Mark International about a month ago. The meeting was a short courtesy call at his request.
All planning applications are made to the local planning authority and decisions are made in accordance with the development plan. The Government's Response to the Fourth Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee on Shopping Centres published in July 1997 (Cmnd 3729) reaffirmed the policy set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 6 (PPG6), which seeks to focus development, especially retail development, within existing town centres.