HC Deb 20 March 2001 vol 365 cc117-8W
29. Dr. Julian Lewis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the requirement for impartiality laid on his Department for considering planning applications which have been called in by his Department. [152937]

Mr. Raynsford

General guidance is given to all Ministers in the "Ministerial Code—A Code of Conduct on Procedures for Ministers". The activities of officials in handling planning casework and providing advice to Ministers are governed by the "Civil Service Code" and the "Staff Handbook". There is also specific "Guidance on Propriety Issues in the Handling of Planning Casework in DETR". A copy of the "Guidance" may be found on the Department's website. The guidance which applies to Ministers also applies to Parliamentary Private Secretaries in DETR.

The "Guidance" includes the advice that any Planning Minister should act, and he seen to act, fairly and evenhandedly, by bringing an unbiased, properly directed and independent mind to his consideration of the matter.

The advice in the "Guidance" also applies, where relevant, to officials concerned with planning decisions.

The principles enshrined in the "Guidance" also apply to other decisions of a quasi-judicial nature taken by DETR Ministers.