Industrial Development and Preservation of the Countryside

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th November 1959.

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11.6 a.m.

Photo of Mr William Deedes Mr William Deedes , Ashford

I beg to move, That this House, bearing in mind the heavy and continued demands being made upon the countryside by new industry, by motor roads, by power stations and power lines, by reservoirs and by the spread of new housing; and recognising that such development is essential and likely to continue at a rapid rate for some years, urges Her Majesty's Government to make a fresh appraisal of forthcoming demands, and to stimulate by every suitable means through industry, planning authorities, professional bodies and voluntary institutions higher standards of siting and design within the English landscape. I think it might be a good thing if we were to spend at least part of a day early in the life of this Parliament on a physical check-up of the English landscape. To me, and I hope to other hon. Members, our surroundings constitute a significant item in our standard of living, so many other aspects of which take up so much of our time here. But our surroundings do not get a very large share of our stewardship.

All over England good folk of all parties and no party are engaged in the urgent and inspiring task of preserving this island's appearance, of striving to protect imaginatively its amenities against the pressure of competing claims and of trying to make modern demands fit and not destroy the pattern. I think they deserve and should get more backing from us here, from the handful of Ministers who can wield some influence in this matter and from the rest of us in the House of Commons who can influence the Ministers. That is the purpose of the debate.

I invite hon. Members to look carefully at the terms of this Motion. It contains no allusion to urban problems, because I must, for everyone's sake, limit my own canvas, but not because I do not think they matter. I think they do, indeed, and I hope that others will refer to them later.

Secondly, this is not the rearguard action of a diehard preservationist. I am not seeking, and I hope my hon. Friends will not seek, to turn the country into a park or the town into a museum. It is part of the tragedy of post-war change in this country that so much effort and so many protests have been misdirected into seeking to halt all scientific, industrial and public development which touches the countryside. I believe that that is vain. I learned some years ago when I was at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government how strong and irresistible are the inevitable competing claims on the 50 million acres of this country on which our 50 million people must live. I believe that what we have now got to do is to achieve a new relationship between the demands of development and the English landscape on which increasing demands are going to be made.

A war between advance and amenity can achieve very little. They must somehow get to terms. Miss Sylvia Crowe, a foremost authority on the subject, has written of the divorce of use and beauty which took place in the last century. We must strive, a little late but certainly not too late, for a remarriage between modern development and the landscape.

We must have motorways, power stations, pylons, reservoirs, housing estates and factories. We have no choice about that at all, but the choice which remains to us, and which I think so often and in so many places we are tragically ignoring, is whether the result will leave this country civilised or hell. In that I think this House has some responsibility.

We concern ourselves here very closely and anxiously with matters which touch directly on the standard of living industry, power and transport. I sometimes wonder whether we have yet fully grasped one lesson of the first Industrial Revolution, which is that if great modern installations and services are to result in ugly and intolerable surroundings some of our gains will be discounted by irreparable loss. It is not, alas, always the great modern services which inflict the greatest damage. It is not the looming of large installations which threaten the skyline of town and country, but the litter created by countless little ones. Broadly speaking, for a great many people this new relationship will involve a fundamental change of outlook and, if we are to play any part in achieving it, I think it is well to understand why it should be.

The first impact of industry on this country, more than a century ago, concentrated on certain areas, the coalfields, and great rivers in counties like Lancashire and what we now call the Black Country. We are still repairing the consequences with Measures such as the Clean Air Act, slum clearance and so on. Until the early part of my life, this state of affairs prevailed. The countryside barely felt the impact of industry, but when it did it resisted it. The last quarter of a century has transformed that and today, partly thanks to the electricity industry, industry is pervasive. We can no longer divide this island into the useful and the beautiful. The two have to coincide. That is a tremendous challenge to this generation of engineers, architects and planners. It is a challenge which many are meeting most worthily. Enough has been done, enough good examples exist, to show that this is not just an idea, but a perfectly practical possibility.

All hon. Members will have such examples in mind. I got an impression of one during a visit I paid to the new nuclear power station which is being built at Bradwell in Essex, where much trouble has been taken to achieve the conformity and harmony of which I have spoken. The Central Electricity Generating Board, in whose hands the vast programme of conventional and nuclear power stations and pylons is, has resources to set an example in creative landscape architecture. I think that pylons worry people more than power stations, but I must add that I think that the Central Electricity Generating Board ought to be encouraged to see how far, at reasonable cost, more lower voltage lines can be buried—not the largest, which, as we know, cost £300,000 a mile.

It is not only the property of the Central Electricity Generating Board which creates this problem but the proliferation of so many different lines which many people criticise. Let us have a proper inquiry into the possibilities of grounding a proportion of these lines and of the cost involved. I simply do not accept that, because these great undertakings are, as we all know, public benefactors, they have a right or a need to obscure the sky with wire.

The question of how vast modern installations should be designed to harmonise with surroundings takes the layman on to dangerous ground. Although no doubt other hon. Members will express their views, I shall not say too much about this. With some the stark, the unpretentious, the exciting, find favour. Others are reduced to twitter by this and prefer heavier disguises. I am not adjudicating on this. I am not a landscape architect or engineer and I think it is very easy to talk nonsense about the beauty of the functional. To illustrate what a difficult subject this is, I am always puzzled by the Forth Bridge, that astonishing work of the last century by Sir William Arrol. Not everyone would call it an object of beauty, yet I do not think there is anyone—even an Englishman—who can see it first, especially from the Forth, without emotion. Men are prepared to rise quite early in the morning to get a glimpse of it. It is something from which men do not avert their eyes. I make that present to any Scots who may be with us this morning.

A major item will undoubtedly be our motorways. I know that the Royal Fine Art Commission has shown a special concern about their relationship to landscape since 1954. It has pressed that landscape architects should work with engineers from the outset. That condition applies, not only to motorways, but much more widely. Far too often the architect is called in too late simply to powder the object's nose when its features have been irrepairably damaged. This year the Commission sent the Minister of Transport a timely reproach pointing out that motorways conceived solely in engineering terms can be destructive on an enormous scale of urban, financial and aesthetic values. It regretted that the Minister's Committee on the landscape treatment of trunk roads was appointed too late for the first section of M.1.

For the future, I say only this. The value of the Committee will be much more important as time goes on. It will depend largely on the value which the Minister and the Government set upon its work. I say this to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, whom I am very glad to see here today. Let the Minister bear in mind that better design is not only aesthetically satisfactory, but is often safer.

In the motorways of tomorrow let the great twin channels bifurcate, if need be, a mile or two apart, at different levels on each side of a hill. This would be kinder to the landscape and would reduce the danger of dazzle by night. If two small bridges cost more than one large bridge we should weigh the cost against the lasting value and the final result. These motorways will last for a long time.

What matters a great deal is that people should care more about the surroundings. That is partly a matter of education. Amenity societies, working on constructive and not simply obstructive lines, can do much in this way. That admirable body, the Civic Trust, which owes a great deal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation, can help in the guidance and formation of such activities. We want more amenity societies which, by lectures and propaganda, can help to guide public taste.

Public opinion as a whole has yet to develop a critical faculty. A tiny minority knows and cares, but this wealth, as I might call it, is in the hands of a very few and the urgent task is to spread it. Then there is the rôle of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government. I am very glad to see that he is represented here today by the Parliamentary Secretary. My right hon. Friend has great practical experience in building matters. He is also a Fellow of All Souls. He is in a very strong position to reinforce concrete with civilised qualities. The trouble is that my right hon. Friend has far too much to do. If, as I hope, this Session affords a slight breathing space, I hope he will cast his thoughts, and the thoughts of those who look to him for guidance, to the terms of this Motion.

I must say frankly to him that I think he must watch private house development. I am a strong believer in home ownership, but I am not blind to its faults. There are examples of it today which are more threatening to the amenities than many council house estates, where at least an architect has had a hand. I should like him to think in terms of a guide to building in the countryside, drafted for the layman as well as for the architect and sent to building firms as well as to rural district councils, which touches not only on the siting of buildings and their design but on things like fences and hedges instead of garden walls. I ask him to bear in mind that, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects, not more than half the total volume of privately commissioned new housing is architect-designed.

I should like to add a few words about agricultural building. There is anxiety about the size and appearance of some agricultural buildings which modern methods demand. If it can be avoided, I do not want to see any more restrictions placed by planning control. The farm, after all, is a workshop, not a park, and there is perhaps a case for bringing together the Ministers of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Housing and Local Government and the National Farmers' Union to discuss the siting and design of large farm buildings. If we act now with guidance we may avoid action later by further control.

More widely, the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, provides planning authorities with all the equipment which they need for casting their minds and actions into the mould which we are discussing. Some of them are doing so. I stress again that there are splendid examples of creative thought by county planning officers and their committees, but, since I come from the County of Kent, I do not propose to specify or discuss any examples. There are, however, many more much less splendid examples and there is a minority, or perhaps more than a minority, which are frankly deplorable. I think that my right hon. Friend has a responsibility which transcends the terms of the 1947 Act and which none of his predecessors has been able to implement. Given perfection in every county plan, which I doubt, there remains the task of trying to survey this island as a whole in perspective. The loss of open land, particularly agricultural land, continues at an alarming rate. It amounts to about 35,000 acres every year and it is estimated that about half a million acres will be needed for future development. That is why this Motion calls for a fresh appraisal of needs and means.

I do not want to enter into a critical analysis of industrial planning. It is far too easy to be an armchair critic, but I concede that there are immense conflicting claims and pressures, industrial, municipal and social, which make it immensely difficult for a Minister or a Government to get a unified policy. It is possible only to influence the shape; we are not able to do much actual shaping ourselves. The Board of Trade seeks one policy in relation to employment, declining industries, and so on, whereas great cities like Birmingham feel that their lungs will burst unless they get more space and air. They therefore pursue another course.

There is one thing which I must say to my right hon. Friend. It is painful, but, after all, this is Friday, when hon. Members have a certain licence. A Government which allows the fantastic concentration of commerce in London which has been countenanced in the last decade, with the concentration of population which it engenders, and which also pursues a policy of overspill from London into the country, needs its head examined. However, that is a painful subject and I will not pursue it.

Then there are the desires of the industries themselves. Whatever we may think, the location of industry is not always planned according to what this or that Minister says, or what the Barlow Report says, or what Parliament says, or even what is said by the board room. As often as not, it is settled at managerial level by where someone wants his daughter to go to school. Suffice it to say that countless hidden pressures make the work of shaping our landscape very hard. It is part of the human comedy. I accept that, and I do not ask for any more councils, committees, overlords or fresh controls, but it is very important that the Minister should exercise influence, as a Minister can, on the little things as well as on the large things. I think that my right hon. Friend should set an example by a tougher attitude towards advertisements and hoardings, particularly in relation to new development. Every now and again a fellow writes to me and says that his business is imperilled by a planning decision which refuses him the right to do what he wants to do, and adds that he thought that the Government were on the side of free enterprise. It may transpire that he sought permission to sport a whacking great sign for soap, oil or drink in an impossible place. I return a dusty answer. I suggest to my hon. Friends that we have a certain duty to do the same and not press Ministers to reverse decisions which are contrary to the interests of amenities.

I would sum up the task of my right hon. Friends in this way. I think that they can and must imbue those great national influences mentioned in the Motion—local government associations, industries, professional associations and professional institutions—with the knowledge that graceful, domestic and industrial development has as much bearing on our standard of life as the motor cars which we own, the washing machines we can muster or the pictures which we preserve. That consideration should henceforth be in the forefront of the Government's social policy. What nonsense it is. We guard our national treasures like jealous magpies. We huddle over the Lane pictures, forbid the export of works of art and prop up ancient houses—activities in which I take a modest part—and yet we squander our greatest national heritage, the beauty of this land.

I must add this about planning laws. They touch at many points the plans, hopes and ideals of the ordinary folk. Often, wisely, they retain them in the interests of us all. We must be vigilant that they also touch the plans of many big interests, even those with the most respectable aims. What is apt to induce cynicism among ordinary folk is the feeling that Mr. Smith, quite properly, is refused permission to build his bungalow, but the Central Electricity Generating Board or the National Coal Board rolls on. We know that there is a perfectly good public inquiry, often now with two Ministers represented, but it is too often a case of "Heads they win, tails we lose." I should like to give my right hon. Friend this tip. It would do a power of good if, once in a while, one of these tremendous public benefactors suffered a nasty setback at a public inquiry.

Reflecting on some of these problems, I have come to see a new virtue in party politics. One's first inclination is to say that there is no difference between us in town and country planning. Indeed, there is not. In this respect, the Labour Government did every bit as well as ourselves. The Opposition may well like me to write their next pamphlet. It will not be nearly as good as the one written for the Fabian Society entitled, "Town and Country: The Amenity Question" by Mr. Stuttard, which I regard as one of the best works on the subject.

I have not forgotten the imaginative stroke of Mr. Hugh Dalton with his National Land Fund of 1946. I remember his peroration to the Budget, which I heard. It is not his fault that what I think was a lofty conception has since lost stature and purpose. It was designed partly for some of the things which I had in mind. Let us have another look at it to see whether it can be made to meet the grand design. Think what might have been saved if that £50 million had been spent, and not hoarded, on more expensive and imaginative siting of housing and scholarships for young architects.

I conclude that the lack of party politics may be a weakness, not an asset. If there were a few more censure Motions on the English landscape, that would probably improve it. In their absence, however, I must risk displeasure by speaking my mind. We might all contribute to this problem by showing a little more strength of feeling.

I have said that our surroundings will bear increasingly on the health and happiness of our people. The motor car and its like have now brought most parts of this island within the reach of all. Very soon we shall be confronted with a problem the size of which we have hardly begun to grasp. The caravan and the motor way—there plainly enough walks tomorrow. We must think not only of tidying up the rural landscape for those living on it but of an outlet which millions can seek and have a right to seek for holidays, recreation and refreshment. We have done a great deal through the National Parks, the areas of outstanding national beauty, and we know the national debt which we owe to the National Trust; but, looking ahead, no doubt these forces, which are so strong, so confident of the material benefit which they confer, always so confident that the means will justify the end, will increase the threat to what is left of our wild places. The nuclear power stations have done a good deal of that already, and there are not many of these places left.

The problem of the wild, open country is not the same as that of the countryside. Agricultural England, as I hope I have made clear in a very unreactionary way, must accept these new forces. The forces must be shaped to conform, but we in the countryside have to learn to live with them. Of course, we do not welcome that; it is a natural human weakness. Memory is very selective. The countryman is apt to invest the past, as we all do our own childhood, with thoughts of long summer evenings and the harvest home drawn by horses. This summer I stopped one afternoon with my children and we watched four great combine harvesters in echelon breaking the blue skyline of a great wheatfield which, because of the abundant sunshine this summer, had for the first time in my life that wonderful hue of pure gold. I do not think that the sight of those four great mechanical harvesters offended their aesthetic senses. It certainly did not offend mine. We were thrilled.

When we speak of wild country, of our coastline, mountains and moors, other considerations arise. I believe that it is essential for a man's health that now and again he should be able to experience country untouched by man, where nature is supreme and where he can, if he wishes, measure his own stature. That is the crying need for this age, and for the young in particular. The more we can provide these places which challenge the imaginations and the muscles and the endurance of our young people, the sooner we shall meet some of their deepest inner need.

That prospect is threatened. In parts of Scandinavia they have met the threat by bringing roads to an end at the fringe of the hills, coasts and mountains. Why not here? Let the wild places be open to all—to the miner and to the motor mechanic as well as to the shepherd; but let the right of entry be an ability to walk. For far too many people today their window on the world is a fuggy windscreen. Let my right hon. Friend guard against this growing tendency to wipe out public footpaths and bridle paths. Let us have more vigilance on that score. Those who want to walk off the roads need encouragement, not restriction. Let any cost be knocked off the national health bill.

I do not want to colour all this too deeply with pessimism. The keynote should be not what we have lost but how much we can still preserve and how much we can still enhance our surroundings if we act in time. It does not need a revolution, only a higher place in our priorities. There are good forces at work—excellent forces—and a fund of support is available to the Government if they are ready to show that they take this business seriously.

The English landscape is not ours. We are its tenants. We are trustees. So let us act.

11.34 a.m.

Photo of Sir David Price Sir David Price , Eastleigh

I beg to second the Motion.

I have much pleasure in doing so, for I have four reasons for being particularly gratified that my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) has invited me to second it. The first is the very high regard in which I, in company with all hon. Members, hold my hon. Friend. I accord it an honour to be associated personally with him by seconding any Motion which he cares to draft. I would second any Motion which he drafted even without reading it, for I have complete confidence in his judgment.

My second reason is that this Motion is of great importance to the people of this country. We in this generation have received a great legacy of culture, learning and beauty from our forefathers. It should be our duty to nurture that legacy and to assist it to fructify. At the same time, we have inherited hideous scars upon our naturally beautiful landscape which were the debts incurred in 200 years of industralisation. I do not regret that industrialisation. Indeed, historically I welcome it, because it is the material base upon which our modern democracy rests, but these scars were the debts of industrial progress upon the future and it is our duty to try to repay those debts.

A higher standard of living means not only better houses, improved health, increased longevity, a greater availability of material goods, shorter working hours, more leisure and wider opportunities to travel. It also means living and working in an environment which is more pleasing to the senses—and by the senses I mean the ear and the nose as well as the eye. It means the widening opportunity for the many to nourish and to enjoy those sensibilities which were formerly the good fortune only of the few.

My third reason for feeling gratified by my hon. Friend's invitation is that I have a strong constituency interest in the Motion. My constituency is surrounded by the County Borough of Southampton. Southampton is an expanding industrial borough as well as an old and famous port, and many of those who surround Southampton are frightened of her intentions. She puts forward impressive claims upon the surrounding countryside which she is determined to implement. The inhabitants of that countryside are equally determined to resist what they not unnaturally regard as the imperialism of Southampton. In my submission, this dilemma cannot be resolved by internecine strife. It can be resolved only by positive planning on a long-term basis. By what we do today we create the heritage for tomorrow.

As things are going at the moment, I am fearful that the development in my area of South Hampshire may turn out to be a Subtopian mess, whereas I believe that, with positive planning on a long-term basis, we can accommodate the necessary development which our economy requires in a manner which will not only not be destructive of our Hampshire landscape but will actually add to its beauty. To achieve this, however, all of us must welcome change and not try, like Canute, to resist the inevitable. At the same time, we must insist that the necessary change and development takes place on sites and in a manner which adds to, rather than detracts from, our natural landscape.

My fourth reason for being pleased to second the Motion is that it is my birthday, and all politicians like making speeches on their birthdays.

There are a number of basic principles behind our Motion. The first is that industrial development is necessary and in principle cannot be resisted, although in the particular one can be very critical of it and resist it. We have to take a constructive view of industrial development. As my hon. Friend said, we can in our memories be a little too lyrical about what rural England was like in the so-called "good old days". Many of us in this House would have found the life of a farmer or of a farm labourer 200 years ago very tough.

Secondly, we must control the direction of our industrial development so that we preserve the general line of our landscape. If we go back to our forefathers, we will find two names which will give us a lead of how to do this. One was Sir Christopher Wren and the other a century later, that great landscape artist Capability Brown.

I am glad that my hon. Friend raised the point about housing. I believe that not only in private housing but also in local authority housing we are in awful danger of proliferating subtopian sprawl. The present tendency is for a council or a private developer to look for a bit of land which meets the immediate need for housing, and to consider insufficiently the broad setting of the housing estate in the landscape. Too often planning consent is conceived in terms of amenities, roads, shopping centres and availability of work, all of which are important; but with inadequate consideration to the general landscape and layout.

Those of us who spend our lives in big cities must accept that if we are to have any countryside left in England at all, we have to give up the desire that many of us have to own a small garden of our own. We have to build upwards. We have to accept living in flats. I commend to the House some of the new housing schemes and large flats planned by the London County Council, which seem to me to set a very good pattern of what we should like to see reproduced elsewhere. I regret that the county borough of Southampton which my constituency surrounds missed so many opportunities for building upwards after the war. I hope that even now it may learn some lessons from the L.C.C.

In accepting industrial development, we must realise that we need not be the servants of machines and that, if so minded, we can be the masters of machines. Machines should fill not only our economic needs but also our social needs and our aesthetic needs.

As my hon. Friend and I submit in this Motion, our landscape is part of the nation's standard of living. A great machine or a great factory is not necessarily unattractive; quite the reverse. I find the Fawley Oil Refinery at night far more exciting to my senses than the Albert Memorial at night, although I confess that the Albert Memorial has the advantage that it does not smell. The problem is not so much to disguise the functional so as to beautify it, but rather to site the functional in the landscape so that, while remaining unashamedly functional, it is still pleasing to the eye. Certain things cannot be disguised, but they can be landscaped. We do not want our nuclear power stations to be disguised as bogus feudal castles.

An example which comes to mind is the construction of large railway stations. I do not know how many hon. Members have had in recent years the opportunity to go to Rome, and have seen there the magnificent new station. Compare it with our own Euston or St. Pancras. No doubt St. Pancras may claim to have a certain affinity with Rome by virtue of its being dedicated to a Saint, but I can see little else which it has in common.

Let us consider Staines Bridge. It would be unfair to my hon. Friend and to the Minister of Transport to ask too many questions about Staines Bridge at the moment, but the planning of Staines Bridge is a shocking story. It is the design in my view of a greatly over-rated architect—Lutyens. We are going ahead with his design for the reason, we are told, of the historical associations with Runnymede. The historical associations of the Runnymede meadows is that of Magna Carta. What was the bridge building in the days of Magna Carta? It was of wood, wattle and mud, and not Lutyen's rather smug, latter-day Victorianism. If we are not prepared to have a wood, mud and wattle bridge, I see no reason why, on grounds of history, we cannot have a good modern designed bridge which takes into account the advances in new materials and has a nice, clean span.

To make an object beautiful it must in my view fulfil its true function. One recalls Shakespeare's lines: O! how much more doth beauty beauteous seemBy that sweet ornament which truth doth give. These are tasks, above all, for the architect, the engineer and the landscape artist rather than for the decorator, the house painter or the advertising agent, who seem so frequently to be brought in to try to persuade us that what is clearly very ugly is in fact beautiful.

I believe with my hon. Friend that we must preserve our genuine, wild, natural landscape. We do not want all Britain to be one enormous garden city. We must not only increase the areas covered by the National Parks, but also the areas which are half-way between wild nature and developed agricultural land. We should have areas of no development and be really firm on insisting that there is no development what the Green Belt attempts to do. In my own part of Hampshire, I hope that the authorities will be very strict in allowing no development in the New Forest. I am sure that hon. Members will have similar places of natural beauty in their own parts of the country. This means that we must have positive, long-term planning. Having got a development plan, we must sick to it so that people can make their arrangements, and we have to have a Green Belt that is a Green Belt and not merely something called that because it is a line on the map. I also think that we should not ignore the economic side of the problem. The loss of agricultural land since the war, if the answers given at Question Time are correct, is over 400,000 acres.

In my part of Hampshire, the Ministry are undertaking a Green Belt inquiry in the region of Portsmouth and Southampton which is one of the most detailed inquiries ever made into a local Green Belt. A year ago proposals went to my right hon. Friend the Minister from the county council, followed naturally by protests from Portsmouth and Southampton, who both said of the proposals for the Green Belt between Portsmouth and Southampton that they were a very good idea as long as the Green Belt started at Titchfield Haven. As this creek is exactly half-way between the two county boroughs, it meant that they were going to agree to what would have been the thinnest Green Belt on record. Subsequently, we had a public inquiry, in respect of which I should like to quote from an article by Mr. Ian Nairn in the current issue of the Architectural Review: The public inquiry was held in July; the chief objectors being, as expected, Portsmouth and Southampton county boroughs. Southampton's objections were to some extent disagreement in detail between friends, as in fact a Green Belt had been agreed with the county council in 1954 before the Ministry circular ever came out. But Portsmouth proved to be a copybook case of the bone-headed county borough unable to think in any other terms but peripheral expansions and bigger and better rateable value. In this business of planning, we must try to get our authorities to work together and not to fight each oher—to be reasonable. I believe that we are most likely to do that if, first of all, we have local authorities that are large enough and rich enough in rateable value to employ proper professional advice. Further, we must also get our local Councillors to look beyond the next municipal elections and beyond changes in ward boundaries to at least a generation ahead if we are to get sensible planning. It is a painstaking business to plan sensibly and well, but it does not take very long to spoil the landscape irrevocably. It has been said that Rome may not have been built in a day, but Mussolini made a good shot at ruining it in a day.

As a nation, we must be prepared to pay the economic price of planning, preserving and improving the beauty of our landscape. That means, amongst other things, being prepared to pay adequate compensation to those people who are not allowed to do the sort of developments which their fellow citizens are allowed by virtue of their land being in an area of natural beauty.

In practice, this raises highly controversial issues, the whole problem of democratic planning. What do we mean by beauty? We cannot approach beauty on the basis of TAM ratings, as do the Moguls of television. Yet we must not become Third Programme snobs.

We know that the fashions of the day are ephemeral. Remembering that our grandparents thought that Landseer was the ultima thule of artistic expression at a time when the French Impressionists were walking the streets. How different would they find the business done at Sotheby's and Christie's today. Possibly, the cycle will come round again and our children or grandchildren will admire those shaggy highland cattle waddling up to their stomachs in Scottish lochs. "The Bar of the Folies Bergère" will not longer be admired, and the statuary of Rodin will be draped by a prudish generation.

It is always difficult in a democracy to determine what is beautiful—it is no problem in an aristocratic society because the rich patron pays and by his patronage lays down standards of beauty. In a democarcy, it is different. Yet I suggest to municipal authorities and those who man them that they could afford to be a little more daring and imaginative. They might take counsel from the famous architect Walter Gropius, who wrote: Architecture needs conviction and leadership. It cannot be decided upon by clients or by Gallup Polls, which would most often reveal only a wish to continue what everybody knows best. We must not be frightened by the new, the daring, the imaginative. I would prefer to see buildings go up that I myself thought hideous as long as they were experimental rather than perpetuate the safe and conventional. How many of us when we are in Rome and see the wonderful symphony of periods and styles think back to how outraged many Roman must have felt at, say, the beginning of the 17th century when the wonderful Baroque churches were being built, which the traditionalists of those days must have thought flamboyant and vulgar. When walking from the Pantheon through the Piazza Navona across the river to St. Peter's we find various styles all blended happily together, but when each was built it must have offended deeply the sensibilities of some Romans.

Authority, however, manages to outrage our feelings by being purely negative and neutral. How many hon. Members, walking up Whitehall, have reflected on the new Whitehall offices, built after the Second World War but designed before the First World War—massive lumps of dreariness, no doubt symbolic of the anonymity of the Civil Service but, to me, an embodiment of the frustration of the British architect. Let us not be too disturbed by the possibility of contrasting styles.

Basically, it is the task of the architect to balance the functional, the economic and the aesthetic. It is his job to bring those three divergent factors into one design. If he cannot do it he is a bad architect and should be sacked. The truth is that our architects do make it harder because so few of them are actually working as integral parts of contracting companies or on the staffs of local authorities.

We all admire those who want to retain their professional independence, but we lose something by it, and I refer my hon. Friend to the Report of the building team that went to America under the auspices of the Anglo-American Productivity Council some years ago. Outstanding opportunities are at hand to do new and exciting things, due to developments in new materials, which, very broadly speaking, enable one to have greater strength with lighter materials.

This collaboration has to take place at the design stage. We do not want to bring in the artist late merely to titivate a finished building, such as sticking a few Ionic columns on the front of a power station. The collaboration must take place at the design stage, when it can be argued out, and when a change of idea costs no more than a piece of india-rubber to rub out a line on the drawing board.

The pace of scientific advance and consequential industrial development is accelerating every year. The Pandora's box of science has been opened, and cannot be closed. Nor should we want it to be closed. But if we do not take positive and imaginative steps now to plan and direct that development, we and our descendants will have to pay an unnecessarily high price for that development in the spoilation of our natural landscape.

As one who comes from industry, and who delights in industrial development. I state categorically that it is not necessary, if we as a nation are so minded, to make our countryside the ashbin of industry in order to maintain the proper pace of our industrial development. I hope that as a result of this debate, we in this House will begin to understand that designing and controlling our physical environment does not mean refusing industrial development, or imposing a fixed set of aesthetic standards upon a reluctant people, but rather that it embodies a conviction that recreates beauty and truth continually in the service of mankind.

11.58 a.m.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

The hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) is to be congratulated, not only on his good fortune in the Ballot but on his choice of subject; and particularly on the way in which he has framed the Motion so as to allow a free-ranging discussion. I listened with interest to his speech, vividly and gracefully presented, and find myself completely in agreement with the whole tenor of his argument. That applies also to the seconder of the Motion, the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price), to whom I must also say, "Many happy returns of the day".

The hon. Member for Ashford has not asked for much. He has so limited his demands that I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to say that it is with pleasure that he accepts all that has been said and will do everything in his power to help. What lies within his power to help is something that we should also debate, because it would appear that his powers are limited. We require good will and good example from Government Departments at least as much as we require legislation.

The legislation we already have is, if fully and properly used, enough to give us all for which we ask when we demand good planning. The 1947 Town and Country Planning Act was thought, after some three years of experience, to be perhaps too tightly drawn in certain respects, and the then right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, Dr. Dalton, made an experiment in freedom. In 1950 we had a General Development Order—Statutory Instrument 728. Many of us who are interested in the subject have ever since been wondering whether freedom has paid, particularly when it comes to the question of the amenities of the countryside.

It used to be argued that the 1947 Act prevented people painting their own homes in the colour they wanted and required that permission should be sought. The experiment in freedom exempted from planning many enterprises, both private and nationalised. I might illustrate the result of some of these experiments in freedom so that hon. Members will realise what dangers are faced when we relax legislation in the hope that action can be taken more quickly and freely.

The First Schedule of the Statutory Instrument allowed, under Class 1, private garages to be erected without control of design, the siting or the material, and this has been done ever since. Many of us wonder whether it would not have been wiser to have had some little power of advice and control. Class VI freed agricultural buildings, and they have been erected without any control. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he feels that this can continue. I do not want to enter into the controversy about broiler houses, but it must be apparent that those who work on these farms, industrial establishments, as they are, might be glad to have some advice. It might be desirable to have some enforcement so that the worst features noted in the last few years should not be allowed to continue.

Class VIII (2) gives permission to industrial establishments to dump industrial waste without control of any kind, and paragraph 13 takes all street furniture out of control. Classes XVIII to XX refer to railways, docks, piers, inland waterways, water, gas and electricity undertakings, and the Coal Board, all of which are given considerable freedom to move ahead without control and to do almost what they wish. These vast enterprises have their own ambitions, and in the purposes on which they embark they are often tempted, if there is no control over them, to show themselves insensitive to the beauty of the countryside. I think that is putting it modestly and mildly.

An example which might be noted by the House occurred some years ago when there was before us a Private Bill to empower the Electricity Authority to generate electricity by means of a hydroelectric scheme in North Wales. Welsh Members from North Wales were very disturbed about what might happen and were kind enough to ask me to help them. I remember the occasion very well. We put down Instructions to the Committee; we forced a debate and also said that we would force a Division. The effect of our intervention was that the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd), who was then Minister of Fuel and Power, was persuaded by us to offer very substantial amendments to the original plan, such as to provide that less water would be taken from the streams, that power stations would be sited in the best possible way, and the hillside, where possible, dug out so that the power station should be partially or completely hidden from view in a beautiful part of the landscape.

Is it Parliament that must watch all these things? Have we to wait for each and every one of these things to happen before we can attempt to help, to warn, to threaten, or to reject? The answer is that when they come before us in the House we do these things, and it is right that we should do them; it is our duty. But so many things happen outside the House at the level of the local authority, over which we have no direct control and often know nothing about. The average citizen who is interested often finds that planning decisions have been taken behind closed doors and that it is too late for him to intervene. If there is no organisation to assist him, there is no intervention, and even if there is an organisation it is expensive and difficult.

We have had a further relaxation of the 1947 Act. Originally it was decided that county councils should be the main planning authorities. This was done because it was thought that at that level they could afford skilled advice. They could afford to have the essential machinery for planning and could afford skilled officials. Since then, and I know that the Parliamentary Secretary is aware of it, there has been delegation to smaller authorities. I feel sure that this was a bad thing to do. Why did it happen? I presume it was because there was pressure from different interests and because there was a tendency for the machine to get clogged up and for time to be wasted. After the experience we have had in the past few years, we might think afresh on this problem and consider whether it is right that small local authorities who cannot afford and, therefore, do not get skilled advice should be able to plan. A multitude of small mistakes and a rash of small outrages are often worse than a few big mistakes. It is particularly so when we think of the beauties of the countryside. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary is fully aware of this problem.

It seems to me that it would be far better to allow for and insist on full consultation at all levels but to leave the planning in the hands of the larger authorities, making certain that there is consultation and that people know what will happen before it happens. This is not occurring at present. There is no full consultation, and when there is delegation mistakes are made. Consultation hardly exists as far as the interested public-minded citizen is concerned. Planning decisions are taken behind closed doors, and the register of applications is only made available and open to inspection after the decisions have been taken.

I should like to make the positive suggestion to the Parliamentary Secretary that some alteration should be made in Section 14 of the 1947 Act so as to allow the public to inspect the register before the decision is taken. In addition, could not the plans be made available, with proper precautions, for examination before decisions are taken? If that occurred it would save a great deal of frustration.

We are asking in this Motion for the education of the public, for the intervention of the public and for the assistance of the public, both in the countryside and in our cities. We cannot get public interest and participation if people feel frustrated and think it is no use trying to intervene because it is always too late. We have had a recent example which affects not the countryside but the centre of the Commonwealth, Piccadilly Circus, where the same principle applies. Would it not be true to say that if the interested public had known earlier more about the plan for the building, which now appears to be controversial, it would have been better for us all? Today we have a major agitation upon our hands with an embarrassed London County Council, one of the greatest local authorities in the world and one of the most progressive. At this late stage great pressures are being brought to bear upon the Minister and the L.C.C. for reconsideration of the plan. We are all sensitive to the fact that if it be true that a serious error could be made if we allow that plan to go forward—and remember it has been approved—then citizens may say all over the country, "If this has happened, and if Piccadilly Circus runs the risk of being ruined for the next 200 years, what is the use of bothering about anything?" I quote that as an example and will say no more about it, because the House and the country will hear much more of this matter in the next few days. I only say that it is an example of how, had there been consultation and publicity, we might have had modification without the present embarrassment.

The Parliamentary Secretary and the House will agree with me that, however good planning legislation may be, it is still a negative instrument. Nobody can build a lovely home or a good-looking factory merely by means of planning legislation. That is an architectural matter. The Minister of Housing and Local Government wrote a foreword to a most interesting booklet called "Your House on View," prepared by the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, of which 30,000 copies were distributed by the Civic Trust. The right hon. Gentleman wrote this: Planning controls can and do prevent much that is bad in the way of design and layout. But they cannot of themselves create good taste. What I am certain is needed is a more enlightened public opinion, and I hope this booklet will play its part in arousing interest not only among those professionally concerned with the building of houses, but widely also among the general public. I am sure that is true, so where do we look for the source of mischief? I will list four sources: public indifference, in the main, for the reasons I have touched on; municipal ignorance, by no means always but certainly sometimes; private greed, which manifests itself from time to time to the detriment of our country; bad or indifferent example by Government Departments. These are the true causes of the mischief and we should look at them.

I will give an example of the lack of co-ordination between Government Departments which often gives trouble. It is drawn from an inquiry into a major roundabout scheme on the Great North Road at Newcastle some time ago at which the inspector declared that architectural questions were not germane to the inquiry. This is an example of what was stressed strongly by the mover and seconder of the Motion, that if different Government Departments have different views on the same problem, and if architectural questions are not germane to a matter of that kind or to a road or a highway, then we shall never get serious improvement.

Bridges have been mentioned earlier in the debate. Many of us who think about these problems wonder whether we are getting the best designs and what should be done about it. It is fair to suggest that government—when I say "government" I do not mean this Government specifically but government generally—tends to play safe. Contracts are placed sometimes with people who, when young, made a great reputation and who tend to repeat what was popular and delectable in their youth. Now they are getting important contracts although no longer young. It would not be a bad thing if government were a little more adventurous.

I do not want to be thought censorious when I say critical things. None of us has time to do justice to the subject which the hon. Member for Ashford has asked us to debate. If I had sufficient time, I could say many good things which result from the action of different Government Departments. Every Government Department is responsible for countless good things being done, but our duty today is to be critical, and so I hope that what I say will be accepted in this light.

The railways have their own design officer and their own panel, and this is good. There are some excellent new office buildings. I know the old stations are extraordinarily ugly and bad, but there are some very good new ones, of which Banbury and Potters Bar are examples. Equally, we could attack the railways by saying that there are some ugly engineering structures on their land and some very ugly scrap yards.

The Electricity Board is often blamed, and we must continue to watch it carefully, but it employs Sir William Holford part-time to watch over the design and siting of power stations. That is to the Board's credit, and we are delighted, but it cannot be denied that bad things happen. Before I make further accusations against the Electricity Board, I admit that its duty is to get the work done, to bring to the countryside power, and the comfort that power brings, and that it has a limited amount of capital for investment. Yet it is our duty to ensure that mistakes are not made which will be paid for not only by ourselves but by our children and our children's children.

I was interested that it should be the hon. Member for Ashford who should speak on this subject and move the Motion, for I believe that a power line has been run over the edge of Romney Marsh. The well-known architectural writer, Jim Richards, has described this as the equivalent of scratching the surface of an old master. That is true, and it should not have been allowed. Again and again I am told that the Board, if it is approached early, will do all it possibly can to meet objections and to re-route overhead power lines, but often it is not approached. I was interested to hear the mover of the Motion raise the question of burying some of the lines underground in special areas of great amenity. The Coal Board has an absolute right to tip on its own land how it likes. To me, this is astonishing. The Coal Board is the greatest exponent in the world in the way that it uses opencast techniques of reclaiming land, often bad land. No one is better at it than the Coal Board and often at the end of it the land is in better heart and better in appearance than before operations commenced. At the same time, however, where tipping is concerned there is no obligation upon the Coal Board to landscape its tips and it can tip as it likes on its own land and to any extent.

If one speaks of mining, one might give a thought to the extractive industries and what they are doing to the country as a whole. Every year, 5,000 acres of land are lost—enough on which to build a good medium-sized town—as a result of mining, quarrying and tipping. The total acreage used for all other purposes—new houses, schools, factories and roads—is 25,000 acres a year for the whole country. Five thousand acres, however, are lost through the action of the extractive industries.

In Lancashire, in areas where the Industrial Revolution began, the situation is much worse than for the country as a whole. In the last ten years in Lancashire, 12,500 acres were lost through mining, tipping, quarrying and subsidence and only 18,000 acres were used for all other purposes. The ratio, therefore, is as 2 to 3; for every three acres used for all general purposes, two are lost by this technique. The time has long passed for action to be taken by the Government.

The Parliamentary Secretary knows that by legislation which has come before the House and which we shall be discussing soon in Committee, in areas where there is need to develop industrially the Government will give a subsidy to ensure that spoil is reclaimed. In other words, where there are holes and tips, the tips will be thrown into the holes. This should be done as soon as possible. It creates new land—good land and valuable land—which can be used and puts an end to the loss of land which we are facing.

Why can we not consider doing that throughout the country as a whole? I admit that rather than have nothing done at all, it is good to have Government intervention, subsidy and assistance in some areas, and in the main it will be in the areas which probably need it most. For the moment, it will miss my constituency, where about 15 per cent. of the surface is sterilised by these remarkable mounds that look like the Pyramid of Gizeh and are quite as high and similar in shape. We alone cannot possibly get rid of them, but we would like the interest of the intervention of a Government Department to assist us in it.

The Service Departments are not entirely without blame. I dare not blame them overmuch, but they have left eyesores all over the land. The hon. Member for Ashford and his colleague the hon. Member for Eastleigh, who seconded the Motion, will agree with me that we should act more vigorously. It has been left to volunteers, young people giving up their holidays, under the guidance of Mr. Michael Dower, with the assistance of the Civic Trust, who have helped in this matter to get rid of some of these blots upon often the best parts of our countryside. I am delighted—I hope I will not embarrass the Service Departments when I say this—to know that they are now beginning to send in their own people to help in these matters. I hope they will realise how grateful we in this House are for their action and that if they speed up their activity, we shall be more than delighted

If one thinks of the local authorities as a whole, they deserve the least censure and, by and large, they tend to set the best example. When foreigners come to this country, they come not to see blocks of offices, but to see the housing estates, the reconstruction of Coventry, the new Cathedral of Coventry and some of the new housing estates in London. That is what they are interested in. They come to see our schools which are built by the local authorities and which, I suppose, are as good as any in the world and are constantly being improved.

None the less, I know that former colleagues of mine, councillors and aldermen, would agree that there is need to educate members of local authorities to help them to open their eyes and to look about them and to learn as much as possible. I do not think they will take it ill if we say that it is their bounden duty to take full advantage of skilled advice which often exists today in their areas, but which does not come from a colleague who is an elected representative. I am really making an appeal for local authorities to listen more carefully to the civic societies which exist in their areas and to consult them on matters of amenity.

Private enterprise and private industry do not come off very well when one scrutinises their activity in the past few years. Perhaps it is because they follow the example of the Government and when they place big contracts, they tend to play even safer than the Government play.

I hope I am not boring the House by jumping from subject to subject, but I wonder, too, whether the Parliamentary Secretary will say a word to us about the recently published report by Sir Arton Wilson on caravans. What is to happen to the 150,000 people who live in caravans? Will any assistance be given to make certain that if they are to remain in caravans, their sites shall be supervised and be made as good as possible and that services are put in?

Has the Parliamentary Secretary noted another matter which certainly has come to my notice? Some of the old military camps and installations have been made use of by private enterprise. Private enterprise has gone in and found that it was possible to make use of the installations and to start work there and they have brought in people from a neighbouring town which may be six or seven miles away. Then, they ask for permission to build houses, and houses are built. Next they say, "Look how many children we have here. It is too far to take them in to the town. Can we have a school built?" So they get a school.

Thus, we have what by now would have been a derelict military installation used as an industrial site six or seven miles away from a town. Many places are available and empty in the schools in the town and the town has unemployment, whilst at the camp or installation, without any proper amenity, a community is growing up and demanding services which exist a few miles away. The people live under conditions that certainly are not the best or most civilised for themselves. Therefore, I ask whether the Parliamentary Secretary can give thought to this problem.

I should like now to quote a good example which has been brought to my notice of the action of a farmer who, finding himself with a derelict aerodrome and concrete runways, spread six inches of soil gradually over the whole of it. He then seeded it with grass and it became green, with the result that he has food for his cattle and the eyesore disappears. It is true that he cannot plough the land, but he can and does grow food. That is an excellent example of how an enterprising farmer can act.

We often hear criticisms about advertising interests, but it is fair to say that we have regulations which can check the worst of those abuses, if the county authorities will use them and use their right of challenge against the more blatant types of advertising. Will the Parliamentary Secretary promise us a code to do something to regulate the incredible clutter on our highways? The Assistant Director of the Civic Trust, Mr. Noel Tweddell, who, as many hon. Members will remember, was for many years responsible for Basildon New Town, has given me some advice on this matter. I know that the list of street components runs to 43 and that the list of authorities responsible for designing, selecting and siting street furniture runs to more than 20. It is difficult to do anything about it and that is why I ask for consideration to be given to a code of good practice to see whether we cannot get some agreement on this matter.

Public indifference, as I have said, is due to the fact that citizens often feel that they cannot intervene effectively. I have suggested what might be done to make intervention effective. The great voluntary organisations like C.P.R.E., the National Trust, the many small civic societies, of which there are about 500 scattered throughout the country—and I am delighted to see that their number is now rapidly increasing—together with the Civic Trust which exists to support them and assist them in every way, are examples of what can be done.

I hope that the hon. Member for Ashford will allow me to thank him for his gracious words about the Civic Trust which tries to do its very best without interfering with any other organisation in its efforts to support people to bring a little more beauty to our towns and countryside. Voluntary organisations can be encouraged by the Government. They receive most sympathetic treatment from Government Departments. The Government cannot assist them financially, for the organisations would then no longer be voluntary and would have to refuse the money if it were offered. What they want from the Government is an example and sympathetic consideration which, in many ways, is now given. We ask the Government to play their part by setting a good example wherever possible.

I take responsibility for some of the thoughts I have thrown out, but others have come from many quarters. The Royal Fine Art Commission has been mentioned. That Commission needs to be strengthened. It is a valuable body, but no one need pay any attention to its advice. I do not know how far we can go to increase its authority. Its prestige is high, but it needs teeth and guts, to use a vulgar expression.

Have the Government noted that whereas the Historic Buildings Council can save a single good building, it cannot save a good street as a street? It cannot save a group of buildings unless each and every one is outstandingly good. We often lose a good street simply because not every single building is outstandingly meritorious. I wonder whether some thought can be given to that difficulty.

I listened with great pleasure to the opening speeches of the debate. The issue which we are debating is a matter of great political importance, but not necessarily of party political importance. Nothing can be more important to us and to those who will follow after us. If the interest shown this morning continues, and if the Government promise that they will put their own house in order and get co-ordination and cooperation among the Departments concerned and set the best possible example and be a little more venturesome, something very good will come out of it.

12.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr Walter Loveys Mr Walter Loveys , Chichester

I congratulate the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) on an extremely interesting speech. At the same time, as a farmer, I assure him that to tip six inches of soil over a concrete base and then to sow grass and to hope for the best is not considered to be in exactly the best interests of good husbandry.

The hon. Member also said that if Piccadilly Circus was not developed exactly as everybody hoped, every one would immediately give up all ideas of bothering about future planning. I assure the hon. Gentleman that those of us from country constituencies know of places which need looking after and which are, to us, as important as Piccadilly Circus.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) on choosing this subject. I welcome the debate for it gives me an opportunity to speak about the siting of nuclear power stations. It is very difficult for the Central Electricity Generating Board to find suitable sites for these stations. The Board must have a site with a continuous supply of circulating water. If possible, the site must have good foundation conditions and be at or near sea level and—and this is my point—it must be sited in an isolated area. At present the Government will not allow the Board to consider sites which are not in isolated areas.

The reason given is that, if anything should go wrong, it is easier in an isolated area to warn the fewer inhabitants of any possible danger, so that they can take the necessary precautions. But scientists now deny that there is any danger from these new nuclear power stations. They say that the Windscale disaster could never happen again. Even with that incident, there was no injury to even one human being or one animal. Do the Government still consider that it is necessary to ruin the countryside further by still insisting that nuclear power stations must be situated in isolated areas?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

The hon. Member has mentioned an area near that which I represent. Windscale was not a disaster; it was an accident. It is not true that scientists have stated that a similar occurrence could never happen again—in fact, they have said quite the contrary. That is why in the last Parliament we had long debates on what is now the Nuclear Installations Act, which sought to improve safety in places like Windscale and Calder Hall. Those safeguards, we believe, are the maximum we can get. There is no certainty that there would not be an accident which would cause an outlet of radioactive material. I think there is very little probability of it happening as it did at Windscale, but nevertheless there is always that possibility. That is why the Government have found it necessary to introduce a major Measure on this matter.

Photo of Mr Walter Loveys Mr Walter Loveys , Chichester

I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for putting me right on my choice of words. I entirely agree that the incident at Windscale was an accident and not what one should call a disaster.

At the same time, I think my point is right, that a similar type of accident is not possible. Radioactive material might be released, but the same type of accident is not possible because of the difference in design of the new type of nuclear power station. I have those facts from the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Is it necessary to put these new power stations in isolated areas? As more and more of these power stations are constructed it will be more and more difficult to keep them away from the most attractive parts of our countryside. My constituency is the most beautiful in the country. I think I can say that, because probably more hon. Members of the House live in my constituency than in any other. I will not shock the House by saying how many hon. Members forgot to apply for postal votes during the General Election.

In my constituency the Central Electricity Generating Board is making trial borings in what is not only one of the last unspoiled areas of the south coast but also agricultural land of the highest quality. I have recently had an opportunity to look at two nuclear power stations that are being built at Hinckley Point and Berkeley. They are far from finished, but one can get an idea of what they will look like when completed. I congratulate the Board on the fact that the buildings are in no way architecturally ugly. They have been fitted into the surrounding countryside as well as it is possible to do so. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford said, the trouble lies not so much in the buildings themselves but in the ghastly overhead lines which will crawl all over the countryside.

That may not be so in the case of the two power stations that I have mentioned, because I know that the station at Berkeley will require a smaller type of grid. For the newer type of power station, such as might be built in my constituency, a double circuit of 275 kilo volts will be necessary. Again, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford said, if we are to put these cables underground that will cost between £300,000 and £400,000 a mile, which will not be worth considering.

We are proud that we lead the world in the peaceful uses of nuclear power. That alone should make it impossible for us to oppose the building of these power stations, but by insisting that they must be constructed only in isolated areas we are unnecessarily encouraging industrial development at the expense of the preservation of the countryside.

12.43 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I cannot follow the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Loveys) in his view that the beauty of a constituency is to be judged by the number of hon. Members who live in it. I count it as one of the great assets of my constituency that it is virtually a nature reserve and, except during the height of summer during the fishing season, one is fairly certain of not meeting hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Walter Loveys Mr Walter Loveys , Chichester

I recently had the pleasure of selling an Aberdeen Angus bull to the reserve referred to by the hon. Gentleman. I hope that when he is in the district he will see if the bull is doing satisfactorily.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I certainly will. I should like to join with the hon. Gentleman and other speakers in congratulating the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) and the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price). The hon. Member for Ashford could charm a bird off a twig or an industrialist off a hoarding. One must regret, therefore, that he found it necessary to resign from the Government, because he has a great deal to contribute on this subject.

At one time, I was secretary of the National Trust for Scotland. Therefore, I have some experience of certain aspects of the matter that we are debating. The Trust tried not only to preserve the beauty of the countryside but to develop it in the way outlined by the proposer of the Motion. We were not content merely to sterilise parts of the country, but we tried to make some good use of them, it is most essential that that should be done.

Speaking from my experience, I should like to support what was said by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) and others about planning procedure. At the moment, plans for building or for the demolition of buildings, go a long way before the public are aware of what is happening. This is a very difficult matter. I know that there are objections to giving out information earlier, but that is a real problem.

Secondly, it is difficult to know who should preside at inquiries, because very often inquiries are about matters of taste on which it is difficult to find uncommitted people, and, indeed, uncommitted people may be of little use.

Thirdly, it is difficult to know who should be entitled to be represented at inquiries. I see objections to throwing these inquiries wide open to anyone who likes to turn up, but I suggest that at the moment they are too narrowly restricted. If the Government amended the law to allow more information to be given in advance and the inquiries were much wider, they would be more effective.

Another difficulty is land ownership. Very often the ownership of land is split among many different people and bodies. It is difficult to get an effective plan developed step by step because different owners want to do different things to their property at different times. This would need an amendment to the law, but this should be considered at least in cities and in places where the Crown has either direct ownership or some control over the owners.

Another thing I noticed when working for the Trust was that public patronage was difficult to handle. But the Government and public authorities could provide the means by which artists and others have opportunities for exhibiting their works. Exhibitions play a valuable part in giving a platform to artists, without laying down who shall be on it. Things like the Edinburgh Festival have allowed all sorts of plays to be produced Which are not necessarily chosen by the Festival directors.

In my view, town and country planning is the most legitimate and probably the most important form of planning that we can have. We have a limited amount of land, and it is obviously in the public interest to ensure that it is well used Furthermore, much of the value of the land, whether it be urban or rural, is created by the people, and they have some right to say what shall happen to it.

I am indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) for drawing my attention to the fact that we are all Socialists on this subject today. There is a certain element of truth in that.

I am troubled about this expression "town and country planning". It is an incredibly gloomy description of what we are trying to do. If anyone found a new word for it today, it would be the most valuable thing to come out of this debate. Unfortunately, I cannot find such a word. We have largely failed to interest the public in this subject. There is very little enthusiasm indeed for stopping the spoliation of our countryside, for the development of better towns, or for the better development of the countryside itself.

I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the proposer of the Motion that we ought to encourage industry to go into the countryside. The number of people who can be employed in agriculture is declining, and in many small country towns it would be extremely valuable, socially, to set up some form of industry and to integrate it with agriculture, so that some members of a family could work wholly or part-time in industry while other members worked in agriculture. This is happening to some extent in the west and north of England. We should certainly not give the impression that there is any rigid division between country and town, or between those who want to keep the countryside reasonably beautiful and unspoilt and those who want to see good jobs and big populations maintained in rural areas. My constituency is looking for industry, and it will have a new power station the moment the hon. Member has any to spare.

We must also remember that the decrease in agricultural land is becoming alarming. I remember Mr. Christopher Hollis moving a Motion in which he said that over 30,000 acres a year are built over or lost. That is a serious matter for this small island. Therefore, while we must bring industry to the country, we must also ensure that when we build we do not allow our building to straggle over the countryside. We must consider building upwards as well as outwards.

In the problem of rural development, transport is vital. Good roads to allow industry to come to the smaller towns and an integration of rail and road transport, together with a fair freightage system, are necessary. I quite appreciate the glories of tramping over the open hillsides and of stopping the roads at the beginning of the moors and the deplorable softening effects of fuggy windscreens as outlined by the hon. Member for Ashford, but in Shetland he will find there are occasions when he will be very glad indeed to see a fuggy windscreen. Many people living in this remote part of the country would like more roads, water and electric light. To those people the glories of tramping along very bad roads or mere tracks are all too familiar.

This brings me to my next point. We must avoid any settled pattern. There is a tendency for certain things to become fashionable. Not long ago green belts were very fashionable. There is a good deal to be said for preventing the spread of medium-sized towns which have a fairly distinct personality. I dare say that Southampton is one of those. I doubt, however, whether it is possible to put a green belt round London. What we must do is to guarantee that within London there are a great many open spaces where people can take some exercise.

London is an ugly city. But, like many great capital cities, it has its own form of vitality. This exists partly in its vague, conglomerate mass, spread out in different directions and over different areas, between which there is an enormous amount of cross movement. It is no good trying to force London into a straitjacket just because that is the fashion. Thousands of people live in Brighton and work in London, and they will continue to do so however many green belts we provide in the way of open spaces. We must provide and maintain these spaces—but they will be lungs and links rather than a belt. The Londonisation of the whole of England, making it a kind of subtopia, is what we must stop. That would be a bad thing for everyone.

The hon. Member for Ashford mentioned bifurcating roadways, and I hope the Government will consider this. Such roadways would put an end to the problem of dazzle and make many roads more acceptable to look at. The hon. Member also expressed a certain amount of faith in fellows of All Souls. Present fellows of All Souls excepted, this is a very dangerous doctrine. People are very apt to believe that universities have taste, but that is absolutely untrue. On the whole, they have done more damage than big business—or, at any rate, it is a very close run between the two. The fellows of a college neighbouring that which the Parliamentary Secretary adorns, once distinguished themselves—so it is said—by melting down a statue by John of Bologna because they wanted to make some drainpipes. It is very unfortunate that many excellent cultural bodies have very bad taste. One of the most difficult things is to find anybody who has good taste.

Industry has not a very creditable record in this respect, and I cannot altogether share the hon. Member's faith in local authorities. Even if people take some trouble and find an architect, if he should happen to be a member of the Establishment of architects a very odd building may result. We have only to go to the City in order to see an effort by one of our most eminent architects which rivals in ugliness anything which has been put up even by universities. We must hope that some prestige can be created in good planning and good buildings. We must bring this about partly by having the hon. Member for Ashford to move Motions and also by making a great fuss about both good and bad building. The public must applaud or boo the efforts of artists and planners. I wholeheartedly commend the work of the "Anti-uglies". It is an excellent: thing that the people, and especially young people, in this age should hold up such things to ridicule and contempt.

I have suggested that if the university should tear down George Square in Edinburgh then a large concrete pillar should be put up, with a plaque on it saying "The destruction of the original George Square was done by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr. J. S. Maclay, the President of the University, Mr. X, and the Members of the University Court, Messrs. So-and-So."

It is incredible that Staines Bridge, designed before the war, is to be put up just as it was then designed. Whatever may be said for Lutyens' design, it formerly had two little pavilions at each end; they were knocked off. I believe that somebody suggested they were too troublesome because boys would scribble rude things on the walls. The design was sent to the Royal Fine Art Commission, which said, "We discussed this in 1937. We are too busy to go through it all again." So up it will go.

Then we have a building in Whitehall. I had heard but I could not believe, until it was confirmed from the Conservative side, that it was designed before the First World War. The architect must have been very young. In my constituency they are putting up a new post office. In a small way this is a chance to show an example, but the opportunity is not being taken. It will be quite a good post office, but it will not be an inspiring building.

Let us try to interest the public by showing them what can be done by the way of marrying urban and rural development. Example is very important. The great argument that is going on about the new building to be erected in Piccadilly Circus is an excellent example of the way in which the interest of the people can be captured. I share the feelings of the hon. Member for Chichester. He, like me, comes from a county constituency and to him Piccadilly Circus is not the centre of the world. Indeed, to each hon. Member his constituency is the centre of the world. Nevertheless, a lot of people see Piccadilly Circus. All this talk about town and country planning at present means nothing to them. I should like to see a really good example in the heart of London which would show people what can be done. I hope that the Government will be tough in using their powers to stop the erection of a monstrosity in Piccadilly Circus.

The Government are also responsible, directly or indirectly, for a good deal of what is called street furniture, such as telephone boxes and lamp standards. There are rumours that we are to have new design for telephone boxes, although I have not seen it. Let us have some taste and variety here. Must we really have bogus Queen Anne telephone boxes put up everywhere? If the hon. Member for Ashford comes on foot to the island of Unst—no fuggy windscreens for him—after tramping across the vacant moors he will come upon a wholly incongruous object, that great symbol of civilisation, a Queen Anne telephone box. And I bet he uses it to order a car.

To sum up, I suggest that, first, the Government should have a look at the law as it is; secondly, that they should show some examples both by what they do themselves and also by using the powers which they have to stop monstrosities and to allow some variety in design of common objects, and thirdly, that they should make every effort to interest the ordinary men and women in the country in the heritage which, as has been said, they have had handed down to them. When we reach that situation, I honestly believe that if the jobbing carpenter can be made to take a greater interest—present company again excepted—he may be a better judge of taste than many fellows of eminent colleges.

1.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Hay Mr John Hay , Henley

I hope the House will excuse me if I intervene now to say a word or two on those aspects of the debate which have turned on motorways. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government will, as hon. Members know, wind up the debate later, but I thought it might be for the general convenience of the House if I were to make a few remarks on these subjects now.

I think everybody now agrees that new motorways and better trunk roads are urgently required, but I think we must also be conscious of the fact that we cannot, in constructing a new motorway system throughout this country, avoid making a pretty sharp impact upon the countryside, the subject which, in fact, we are debating today. When we cut a motorway along an entirely new route, we take up a good deal of agricultural land, about which I will say something more in a moment, in many cases, constitute a physical barrier across land which was not formerly divided up, and, finally, in the case of motorways, introduce an entirely new element into the landscape. All this was recognised by Parliament in the Special Roads Act, 1949, which places a statutory obligation upon the Minister of Transport to give consideration to the requirements of local and national planning, including the requirements of agriculture.

When we come to plan motorways, we have therefore to reconcile as best we can the engineering considerations with the demands on agricultural land and the rights of private property, and we have to produce roads, if we possibly can, that somehow fit into the landscape and make some positive aesthetic contribution. Merely to mention the considerations which we have to take into account shows that compromise is inevitable, and I assure the House that this search for compromise can sometimes be pretty hard going.

May I say a word or two about our policy on agricultural land, and this is the answer both to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), who mentioned what he called "bifurcation" at one stage of his speech, and to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). Our problem is to limit our requirements of agricultural land to the minimum possible, and I must say straight away that it often happens that, in drawing the line of a motorway, we have to limit what we should like to do, in the interests of traffic, and from the engineering point of view, to meet the requirements of agriculture.

The amount of land we have to take varies according to the standard of construction of the road. For the London-Yorkshire motorway, we have dual three-lane carriageways running throughout the whole of its length, and this takes about 30 acres of land per mile. On the Birmingham-Bristol motorway, which is about to start, there will be dual two-lane carriageways, and this takes about 25 acres per mile. I hope this makes it clear that we cannot, however much we should like to, adopt a more spacious lay-out for the motorways, whether to safeguard the amenities or to make a better engineering job. In spite of the interests of safety and amenities, I am afraid that the problem of agricultural land in this small and overcrowded island must always be one of the major considerations which will often have to override some of the other things.

The second point I should like to mention is what we do to try to safeguard the surrounding landscape on the motorways. First of all, we try to apply the latest principles of design on a sort of three-dimensional basis, if we can, to harmonise the line of the road with the surrounding landscape. If I may mention one example which my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford will know, because it is in his constituency, it is the Ashford by-pass, where we have tried to do that, and I am told that it has been very widely praised. The M.1 motorway has been constructed so far on the same principle, and we hope that drivers who will travel on this motorway will appreciate the wide and uninterrupted views, even though they may have to be through the "fuggy windscreens" which have featured so much in this debate. I am sure that many drivers on the motorway now enjoy and will continue to enjoy the wide vistas which they can see.

Secondly, we consult with a great many authorities as we proceed with the planning of the line of motorway and carry out its construction. Consultation takes two forms—local consultation and general consultation. Local consultation is principally with the county councils. They are on the spot and in contact with the local amenity societies and the branches of the national amenity societies. We rely to a very great extent on their general advice. To consult the local authorities and the county councils, in particular, in drawing the line of the motorway can be a very exhaustive process in more ways than one. Anyone who listened to or has read the debate we we had the other night on the London-Yorkshire motorway and the problems which we have had in Leicestershire will be convinced of that. We have all this sort of consultation locally even before a scheme is actually published, and we try to meet at a very early stage the sort of objections that would be raised and might embarrass us very greatly if they came up later.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I do not know whether the point I have in mind is quite relevant, but I have a doubt in my mind concerning local amenities on M.1, and particularly in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. What happens when a fox runs across it?

Photo of Mr John Hay Mr John Hay , Henley

I think I can honestly take refuge in the traditional excuse of Ministers by saying that I must have notice of that one. Honestly, I do not know. May I continue and say that that is the sort of local consultation which we try to carry out. There is, after that, a much more general process of consultation, which I should like briefly to outline. First of all, as I think many hon. Members know, we now have an Advisory Committee on the Landscape Treatment of Trunk Roads, which we call the Landscape Advisory Committee. This has been in action since 1956. The chairman is the Hon. Sir David Bowes-Lyon, the President of the Royal Horticultural Society, and it has a membership covering a great many interests concerned with the subject which we are debating today. Apart from independent members, there are representatives of the Institute of Landscape Architects, the Royal Forestry Society, the Councils for the Preservation of Rural England and Rural Wales, the R.A.C., the A.A. and a body called the Roads Beautifying Association. I should like to interject here how much we appreciate the work which this Committee is doing. It works extremely hard, is very busy, and is doing work which we believe to be of great value.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

All this is tremendously impressive, but if this body has been in existence so long how is it that the Royal Fine Art Commission and the R.I.B.A. made such a sharp protest only a few months ago, saying that there had been no adequate consultation with architects or landscape advisers?

Photo of Mr John Hay Mr John Hay , Henley

I was going to say something later about the Royal Fine Art Commission. What I am trying to make clear now is that we have had this Landscape Committee in operation since 1956, and it is doing extremely good work on the landscape problem of motorways. The Royal Fine Art Commission is principally concerned with major roadworks—bridges, fly-overs, underpasses and so on. With the Landscape Committee's help, what we are trying to do is to avoid the trivial and the "pretty-pretty" the mock Tudor, the ersatz rustic and all those things in our landscaping, signs and so on, and in that I think we have been successful. In connection with M.1, for example, we have adopted the views of the Landscape Committee on tree planting.

What we have decided to do here is to realise, first, that the sheer size of this undertaking of the motorway would dwarf anything other than a really bold scheme of tree-planting; secondly, that whatever views we can construct through the opening up of the land should be left to make their own impact, and, thirdly, that special planting, where it is shown to be necessary, should not be of individual trees dotted down the line of the road, but rather groups or even groves of forest trees typical of the countryside through which the road is passing. When the plantations mature there is no doubt that they will merge with the surrounding landscape and help to make the line of the motorway not only useful but attractive. That is the main purpose of the debate.

In the early years of the road programmes it was not possible fully to consult the Landscape Advisory Committee without rather seriously delaying the schemes. As I understand the position—and I was not, of course, concerned with it in those days—we had a number of schemes in the pipeline, as it were, at the time when the Landscape Advisory Committee was set up. It was necessary to try to get these schemes going as quickly as possible and we could not delay the process at that stage in order to take account of the views of many bodies. But now, three years further on, we have brought them fully into consultation and the protests to which the hon. Member for Barking referred have, I believe, largely died away.

From now on, these bodies which we consult will come in at the earlier stages, before major decisions are taken about the line of route of a motorway, and all subsequent proposals which may be made for landscaping will be subject to their recommendations. So I think we can say that they will come in at the beginning and keep a watchful eye on the whole process right up to the stage of construction, and even perhaps after that.

Now a word about the Fine Arts Commission and how it figures in our plans. The Commission is principally concerned with major structures, like bridges, flyovers and so on. What we do there is to design those structures with the collaboration of consulting architects. The designs are then submitted to the Commission. In his speech my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford said that we really ought to ensure that the architects worked with the engineers from the outset. I assure him that that is now done in connection with our motorways. There is, I am told, sometimes a little argument about the collaboration between architects and engineers, the same as there is between all other technicians. That is a matter which is being considered by the Landscape Advisory Committee, and I hope it will come to a conclusion fairly soon.

We are trying to ensure that these highly qualified people should be consulted before we begin. It is hopeless to start building a motorway and then to find that we have made a mess of it, that everyone is complaining, and then have to fudge the thing up and get it put right.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Does not the hon. Gentleman somtimes get a complaint from the engineer that the architect has hidden the engineers' work?

Photo of Mr John Hay Mr John Hay , Henley

I think that architects and engineers have quarrelled since time immemorial. That is a situation which is not unknown.

The hon. Member for Stoke, Central (Dr. Stross) asked whether we were going the right way about our bridge policy. I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister very shortly after his appointment in which he said that he had been looking at the whole of our procedure for bridges and proposed, during the Christmas Recess, to go to the United States and to the Continent and to take with him one or two young bridge engineers and designers in order to see what the practice is abroad and if there are any lessons that we can learn. It may be that there are some lessons that we could learn and that we should want to apply them. If there are not, perhaps we can carry on as we are, with such modifications as practice shows to be necessary.

Broadly speaking, we are always on the look-out for new ideas. We are looking very carefully into the question of bridge construction about which there has been some controversy recently. But we have not done too badly with bridges so far. If there are any improvements that can be made we shall certainly make them. In conclusion, may I add my voice to those who have congratulated my hon. Friend on raising this important subject today and on the delightful way in which he did so. As far as my right hon. Friend the Minister is concerned, he is very acutely aware of the difficult problems that these major engineering works create in the countryside. I hope that I have been able to show that we try to meet the problems in the early stages, before they become acute, and try throughout to ensure that what we do to add to the utility of our motorway and transport system should not offend too much the aesthetics and, indeed, the facilities for pleasure that the people of our country want to enjoy.

1.16 p.m.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Parkin Mr Benjamin Parkin , Paddington North

I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport has dealt comprehensively with the very important aspect of the Motion which concerns communications and landscaping, because that enables me to turn to an equally important aspect of the debate touched on by the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) who, towards the end of his very able speech, said that he would not be able to cover all the points but that he hoped that other speakers might refer to such matters as urban development.

The aspect at which I wish to look for a few minutes is the task of creating balanced communities. The debate has ranged widely today over various aesthetic matters, but there have been criticisms of some developments because they are out of date and of some because they are out of place. I have always thought that good taste showed itself best through the spontaneous creation by a happy community of new buildings and new artistic projects in line with their own skills, created out of materials which they have to hand and for the purpose of making their lives more fruitful and more useful.

I should have thought that provided we get these balanced communities, such matters as street signs, telephone boxes and so on will sort themselves out and that public opinion will be sufficiently insistent to see that it gets the best and the most appropriate. But the trouble today, I think, goes far beyond the problems that would arise from a naturally expanding population which was enriching itself by a better exploitation of national resources.

I think that much of the problem about which the hon. Member for Ashford spoke has been aggravated far beyond the proportional increase in the population of these islands in the last few years. That should give us considerable cause for alarm and reflection and I am wondering whether it is not the movement of population rather than its local growth which has caused this lopsided development.

The hon. Member for Ashford referred, in passing, to the problem of overspill. Much of the solution to this problem depends, it seems to me, on a proper analysis of the people for whom the development is intended. If, for instance, my colleagues from North-West Wales who are so anxious to bring new industries to their constituencies were able to get a promise that some new industries, unskilled to begin with and a few skilled industries later on, would be introduced to cater for the new generation coming along who will take the place of the skilled workers, like the slateworkers, whose crafts have, so to speak, died in their hands, at least they would be spared the problem that arises when the community itself is rooted up and transported or when it is attracted piecemeal to move into other areas. They would be spared the social loss of the break-up of the community, and the great conurbations would be spared the problem of large groups of people who have not yet found out how to belong to the community into which they have moved. I hope that any investigations and any research work done under the inspiration of the Government as a result of public opinion will include a proper study of the ecology of the great Metropolitan conurbation.

I wonder whether any study has been made, let alone any plan made, to create a balanced community in London since the Reformation. There was a time when, as cities went, London was reasonably democratic. There was a time when the guilds played an active and functional part. There was a time when the apprentices of London were a well-known factor in London life. But where are the apprentices of London today? There are no apprenticeships. It is, on average, ten times more difficult to get an apprenticeship in London than it is in the countryside.

When we walk out of this Chamber, or when we show our constituents round, we look with pride at Westminster Hall—a tremendous achievement when one considers the small population and the small number of people concerned. I suppose the Guild of Carpenters, which I believe still exists, was involved, though I do not suppose there are many of them left to wield the mallet and the adze which were necessary to achieve this great advance over the failures of the architects of Norman cathedrals. Although they had nothing more to deal with than the length of an English oak tree, they solved the problem which we seem unable to solve. Indeed, we seem afraid to tackle it. I do not believe that the problem of high building in London today is technically more difficult than the problem of spanning Westminster Hall in the days when the London guilds tackled it and solved it. However, I must not develop that point.

My point is that the London conurbation in particular now presents this country with a problem of its own which must be studied and analysed before it can be solved. We must find out what has happened. I can say what I think has happened, although I do not know for sure. I think what has happened is that generation after generation of immigrants, either without skill or having left their own skills behind, have come to the Metropolis to seek work. The Metropolis, of course, always needs the services of large numbers of unskilled or semi-skilled people to do its work.

At a time when the standard of living is rising, many people would prefer to spend their money on services rather than on material things with which to clutter up their homes. There will be a demand for more and more service industries in the city. Provided the economic basis of our economy is sound I do not think anyone would complain of that. It is a bad thing, however, when the economy is unsound, when such things happen at a time when basic industries are becoming derelict; but it is not a bad thing when the economy is prosperous. So one must expect a demand for unskilled and semi-skilled labour.

In those circumstances, one should use every means possible to keep out of the great conurbations the sprawl of factories which may excite the envy of my colleagues from Wales as they see them springing up in London but, believe me, if they saw inside those factories they would find that they require the skill of only a couple of toolmakers and a maintenance man, and for the rest, the workers are engaged in some unskilled assembly work or some industry not worth the space which it occupies in London. On the other hand, we see year by year the steady erosion of the opportunities to learn new skills.

The planning authorities speak, as the hon. Member for Ashford spoke, in terms of overspill. One reads from time to time a re-assessment of their arithmetic. They add up how many people are likely to move and how many are likely to die, and they always get a different answer at the end, but they never break down the figures. They give an answer in hundreds of thousands or millions, and they always give up. They say, "We are left with this figure that we shall have to rehouse and it clearly cannot be done in twenty years." I have not seen any attempt to break down, in terms of different types of worker, those figures of overspill which it is considered important to get out of London. I am sure it would be worth while to undertake the sort of study that I have in mind.

Even if the situation were stabilised it would be bad enough, but if it gets worse each time a generation of children grows up, having been trained in London schools and taken London diplomas—and there is no better place in the world than London to get a diploma; it is getting the job afterwards which is the problem—and they find themselves denied apprenticeships in skilled industry and make themselves available for unskilled industries, we shall tend to get this continuous process of the accumulation of unproductive fat around the body which will finally strangle the vital organs.

I do not know what conclusion might be arrived at about the desirability of attracting new skills or how to set about the attraction of new skills, but I hope that the trend of the past will be reversed and that instead of looking for high conversion value industries in remote areas, we shall try to locate them in the conurbations. I hope that the process of the monks of Tintern and the builders of the watch-making industry in Switzerland will be copied in London, for the same reason—namely, the difficulty of transport. There is now no problem about getting to Tintern. The problem is getting from Acton to the London Docks. There ought not to be any encouragement of industries to London if they want a lot of space, produce articles of low commercial value and need a lot of heavy transport to get their products about. We ought to be seeking for London the sort of industries which, in the days when transport was a problem, had to be located in mountain valleys and similar places.

There are problems connected with office buildings which have been touched on by hon. Members opposite. The authorities are well aware of these problems and some pressure is usefully being applied now to deny to the office builders further opportunities to build in the centre of London. But sometimes it is a question of age group. I think people ought to be given an opportunity to retire outside London if they want to do so, because many people who live in London can hardly be said in their old age to enjoy all the amenities of London. Hut, of course, it would be wrong to exert any sort of pressure. At the same time I should love to have an opportunity of doing "a Charlie Clore" with Luxborough Lodge. It would be a very good thing to get the real site value out of Luxborough Lodge, because out of the profit one could make a far happier evening for the lives of the people who have to live there.

That leads to the inescapable problem of the cost of land in London. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since this controversy started. We all hope the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, whom we congratulate upon his appointment—he has some friends on this side of the House also—will not have the tenure of his office clouded by any violently controversial Measure. That being so, we can face the fact that we have the inescapable problem of coping with the cost of land for dwellings in London. If we are to plan for the accommodation in London of the lower-paid people which London needs, we must do one of two things. We either have to subsidise the land, or get it to earn its living on the ground floor and build up after we have got the site for nothing. If by the development of mixed user we can make the lower floors earn their own living commercially, we shall then have the site for nothing on top of them. Then, instead of paying heavily for the land, we shall pay a little extra for the technical cost of building, servicing and equipping with lifts and so on, high towers of flats.

I hope that during the tenure of office of the Parliamentary Secretary we shall see some imaginative developments in that respect and some way of assuring that type of new building so that there will be dwellings for sufficient numbers of people who will be occupied in the lower floors. That, to some extent, would ease the problem of transport costs. There is no doubt that the problem of moving these people about London is an immensely costly one, not only an irritating one. There could be some assessment of the loss of working output of people who are held up by an inadequate transport system by which they are choking themselves in Irving to live out of London and to work in London. I think the most imaginative schemes of modern architects would look-cheap compared with the cost of our present system.

Lastly, the problem of the jobs for the younger generation looms as the most important of all, because it is no good scolding younger generations for not being what they were years ago They never were. It is no good getting censorious about trends towards delinquency in this sprawling area of London if we do not offer the people who leave school the chance to use the academic training they have received in in a skilled occupation. If we lose the status of skilled work among the young, if the apprentice is a rarity regarded by his friends often as a bit of a fool for having taken an ill-paid job when everyone knows he can get much higher wages in a dead-end job, we raise social problems which, it is true, are far beyond the scope of this Motion, but which stem from the same cause. That is our failure to think in terms of people and communities. I am sure that the hon. Member for Ashford would agree that the whole object of the exercise he has in mind is to enable people to live fuller, more complete lives from the moral and aesthetic as well as the economic point of view.

1.34 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Rawlinson Mr Peter Rawlinson , Epsom

The hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) has spoken with authority and most interestingly about London, part of which he represents. It is interesting to find that, but for the interjection, the marauding raid, from the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), almost all the speakers in this debate represent constituencies in the southeast and south of England. I join them as a representative of a division in Surrey. It seems to me that the problem particularly applies to this corner of England.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), who moved this Motion in a most attractive and interesting speech, waxed a little lyrical on occasion. The only time I was really unable to agree with him was when he painted the pastoral scene of combine harvesters and golden corn. As one who can see no beauty in any machine, I saw only the golden corn. It was rather like Van Gogh's picture of ravens over the golden corn.

The problems in this respect are immense. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland apparently does not approve of a green belt round London. Those who live in or near London certainly do. He can see no particular advantage in it, but he has no patriotic attachment to London, cannot see the beauty of the city itself, or of the amenities which surround her. He said the Green Belt was unnecessary because, apparently, we shall always get this sprawl, as he suggested, which will develop out of London, ending so far as one could see only at the coast. That is the terribly desperate danger, the danger which all of us in the south-east of England want to prevent almost at all costs. We want to ensure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is well aware of the great depth of feeling about the maintenance of the Green Belt and of our determination to see that there is no encroachment whatsoever upon it.

I have been disturbed recently by occasions when appeals have been permitted, when, although technically there has been no encroachment on the Green Belt, nevertheless permission has been granted for the creation of blocks of offices. Then, so that those workers can be provided for properly, a car park is allowed to be established. Then the car park, although not itself a building, protrudes into the Green Belt. That seems to be the thin end of a very serious and dangerous wedge.

Having raised this matter before in this House, I feel not so much like King Canute, about whom my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) spoke, as like Mrs. Partington defying the Atlantic Ocean with her broom. Unfortunately, the Atlantic beat Mrs. Partington. I hope my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government will listen to those of us who ask him to ensure that, when the Ministry considers these appeals on such matters, the inspectors whom it sends to listen to the inquiries and to hear the objections know thoroughly not only the facts of the particular matter raised in the inquiry, but also the problems of the surrounding neighbourhood. I wish to ask him how often inspectors pay visits to the sites when they hear inquiries? How much do they go round the countryside to see the nature of the countryside and the nature of the problem? Does the inspector usually take one view, or does he make a serious attempt to examine the whole problem and the problems of the countryside?

In Surrey we suffer from a tremendous influx of population which has come there since the war. People seek out Surrey because it is a most attractive county in which to live and from which it is easy to get to their places of work in London. The result has been a development of a kind which I think is beginning to go too far out and which certainly is ruining the constituency I represent. As to the design of houses, I should say that generally those provided by a local authority are of far better design and quality than those I have seen recently which have been put up by some persons engaged in private enterprise.

In all these problems, I would ask the Minister to pay deep regard to local opinion. I know that there are problems of filling in. I know that between the wars—and, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said, having been tipped off to say it by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget); we are all Socialists now—with the lack of planning, a situation was created which demands a certain degree of filling in. I hope that my right hon. Friend will watch this problem very closely in the part of the country which I represent.

I was counsel for the objectors at the Winfrith Heath project in the West Country., and I remember the evidence given on behalf of these objectors by various representatives of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and by the local inhabitants. Does the Minister ever look back on such evidence or go to the countryside to see whether that evidence at that inquiry, or at other inquiries, was justified? Does he ensure that any promises that there will be no encroachment and no urbanisation are kept? I would also ask my right hon. Friend to ensure, not only that inquiries are held by inspectors who pay extensive visits to the areas concerned and who know them very well, but that he and his Ministry carefully check the evidence given at past inquiries to see whether promises have been carried out and whether pledges have been fulfilled.

In welcoming the Motion, moved so ably and enchantingly by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford, I would press my right hon. Friend not to listen to the siren voice of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland but to ensure that the Green Belt is very carefully maintained. Above all, I ask him to do all in his power to support local opinion and authorities when these matters fall to be decided.

1.43 p.m.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

I should like to support strongly what the hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) said about the Green Belt. Young people, particularly those who live in rather drab parts of metropolitan Essex and East London, owe it to the existence of the Green Belt that they can get out quickly into the fresh air and the green countryside. In places like the constituency which I now have the honour to represent, Barking, and in Dagenham and the surrounding area, it would be thought a tragedy if the Green Belt were seriously eaten away or destroyed.

I am glad that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has returned to the Chamber, because I can now refer to something that he said. He made a very interesting point which would be an ideal subject for discussion by the B.B.C. Brains Trust. He said that the universities have done more damage in this respect than big business—an ideal essay or Brains Trust subject. It is a very nice point. I am not sure whether I agree with him or not.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I, too, have my doubts. It is a very close run thing.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

The classic example is Oxford, the senior university, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Lord Nuffield has done more than any other living man to ruin Oxford, by turning it, as has been often said, into the Latin Quarter of Cowley; but, on the other hand, I am bound to say that the university itself has shown no great reluctance as it were, to ponce on his earnings. The crowning absurdity of the harm done by this admittedly great benefactor of the university is that the college named after him, Nuffield College, has been built, one gathers at his own request, in the style of a Cotswold manor house, which is utterly inappropriate to a college devoted largely to modern studies in the mid-twentieth century.

I share in the congratulations which have been tendered to the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) on his admirable speech and for initiating this debate. I liked very much the hon. Member's suggestion that this should be the subject of a censure Motion I can assure the hon. Gentleman that if he will put down such a censure Motion, I will very gladly second it. I think that between us we might carry it, if we had a real backbench revolt on both sides of the House on this highly important matter.

I also liked very much the speech of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price), although I am a little tired of people being unfair to Canute. It was not Canute but his sycophantic courtiers who thought that he might be able to roll back the tide. Canute himself merely agreed to the experiment in order to illustrate how foolish and superstitious they were. Incidentally, I am told by one of my hon. Friends that this happened on the ground on which the Terrace of the House of Commons now stands, which seems to give it an additional symbolical importance.

It is a little surprising that anyone who can speak with such knowledge and sensibility, as the hon. Member for Eastleigh did, of functional architecture and cycles of taste should depreciate the work of the great architects and engineers of the nineteenth century. Even the Albert Memorial is not so grotesque, or at any rate not so undistinguished, as dozens of other public memorials and statues in London—for instance, as that chaste and tasteful but utterly blank and dreary white memorial to King George V, within a few hundred yards of this place, which now disfigures the east end of Westminster Abbey.

The hon. Member rightly praised the railway station in Rome: it is an admirable example of mid-twentieth century architecture. What he seemed to miss is that some of the great London termini, just as the Crystal Palace was, are also very fine earlier examples of modern functional architecture; what were then new materials were used in a very enlightened way in their construction. What makes them seem dreary and hideous to us is not the actual buildings themselves but the clutter of commercial kiosks and shops gathered around them. If hon. Members will go to Kings Cross and look at the front of the station and picture it in their mind's eye without that dreary frontage of shops, they will see that in essence it is really a very distinguished design. I thought that perhaps the hon. Member had been over-impressed by Rome—wonderful city as it is—when he spoke about the way in which all the buildings of the different periods can be seen "nestling" together harmoniously. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the Victor Emmanuel memorial cannot be said to nestle.

However, I agree strongly with the hon. Member about that fearful white elephant in Whitehall—which is, of course, the fault of public authority, the Government. When a design has been in the pipeline for some years, it takes a major bureaucratic revolution to start from scratch again, choose new architects, and have the original design scrapped and reconsidered ab initio, as I think should have been done in the case of the building in Whitehall, although, no doubt, that would have delayed it by several years—and a good thing, too, aesthetically. But, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross)—to whom I pay tribute as one of the hon. Members on this side of the House who have consistently argued and worked for the causes which all of us here today have at heart—the blame for the present situation must be distributed among the Government, the local authorities, and private enterprise.

Private greed has been responsible for much of the damage done. If hon. Members are looking at Whitehall, they have only to turn their eyes a little further east, to the City of London, to see what appalling things can be done by private enterprise, too. The most objectionable example of all is what is being done by English Electric at the corner of Aldwych and the Strand, in scrapping an admirable design, which won the competition for the new building to replace the Gaiety Theatre, and putting up instead a sham-antique monstrosity which will merely deface that London street still further.

What the Parliamentary Secretary said so wisely about trees and the planting of them by motorways reminded me of three lines of verse by one of the three greatest living English poets, Mr. Auden, which we quoted in the Labour Party document on "Leisure for Living." These are the three lines: The trees encountered on a country strollReveal a lot about a country's soul. …A culture is no better than its woods. Since on general principle it is a good thing to get as much poetry on record in HANSARD as possible, I will venture to quote three other lines, by one of the two other greatest living English poets, Mr. Eliot, also quoted in this document, which seem highly relevant to the whole of this debate. We have been speculating on what people a hundred years hence will think of this generation and the way in which we have allowed so much of our heritage to be despoiled. Mr. Eliot's epitaph on this generation as seen by posterity is: … Here were decent godless people:Their only monument the asphalt road And a thousand lost golf balls". One point—not, I think, mentioned so far, certainly not by the hon. Member for Ashford—which should be looked at again, is the appalling litter left behind by the Service Departments. Some of this dates back to the Second World War. Fourteen years after the end of that war there are still hideous agglomerations of barbed wire, broken concrete bases, and skeletonised huts: it is time that somebody in the appropriate Department took a new look at this problem. I do not say that it is entirely the fault of the Service Departments. In some cases, I believe, compensation was paid for the clearing up of the litter, but it has not been cleared. Some is being cleared by voluntary effort, but not enough. Will the Minister, in his reply, please try to deal briefly with that point?

A good deal has also been said about pylons and their effect on the landscape. The hon. Member for Ashford said that "we know" that it would cost £300,000 a mile to take the line underground. How does he know that? Is he merely accepting credulously, and quoting to the House, the figures of the Central Electricity Generating Board? I should very much like these figures to be checked by an independent surveyor, and an independent estimate given. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary is in a position to say anything about this, but I have heard that such an estimate has been carried out in certain test areas, by the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and other interested bodies, and that they have arrived at figures substantially lower than the figures of the Central Electricity Generating Board. Before we accept the Board's figures absolutely as gospel, we ought to have them checked independently.

Quite apart from the fact that all of us would prefer it if electricity could be carried underground at a reasonable cost, the question of pylons is a very difficult one aesthetically. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Betjeman, who has said of pylons, and also of power stations and other great industrial structures, that it rather depends on the kind of landscape whether they will absolutely ruin it or whether, in some cases, they may even enhance it.

Mr. Betjeman has suggested that the more mountainous kind of landscape, of North-West Wales, for instance, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Padding-ton, North (Mr. Parkin) referred, or Scotland, can "take" these great industrial structures, give them some sort of scale, and not be unduly spoiled or defaced by them; but that in the sort of landscape which we get mostly on the South and South-East coast—the much more gentle, flat or slightly undulating estuary and coastal landscape in which are sited some, at any rate, of the nuclear power stations—it is much more difficult to accommodate these gigantic vertical structures without spoiling it altogether. I am not sure that this is an absolutely-valid argument, but it is at least worthy of consideration, particularly as Mr. Betjeman has devoted a great deal of time and thought to this subject. If it is valid, and if we are irreparably ruining the few stretches of coast left unspoiled within reach of London, round the South-East Coast, ought not we to consider again, and ought not the Government to consider again, the fundamental policies which cause these nuclear power stations to be sited at such places as Dungeness, Bradwell, and Berkeley? I appreciate the difficulty about deep water; they have to be built where they have access to water for cooling. But I should like to see them sited on estuaries which are already polluted and industrialised.

The fundamental consideration, of course, is that of safety. At least, that is what we are always told—but surely this needs thinking about a little more deeply than has been the case in the past. When the first approach is made to the inhabitants of one of the selected areas, they are always given maximum assurances of safety. The phrase which the Central Electricity Authority, as it used to be called, used at Bradwell, and no doubt elsewhere, was that this type of reactor is "inherently safe"—a phrase which I have never quite understood, although I am sure that it was as reassuring to most people as it was meant to be.

If these power stations are practically 100 per cent. safe, why should they not be sited in built-up areas and conurbations, and on rivers that are already polluted—unlike the Blackwater, which is not now seriously polluted, although it will be as soon as the Bradwell power station starts operating. But if they are not 99·9 per cent. safe, have we the right to put them even in relatively isolated communities? We may argue ruthlessly that, should there be an accident, which we hope there will not be, it is better that 1,000 people should be killed than that 10,000 people should be killed or have their lives or health endangered by radioactivity. That is so, I suppose, if we can calculate human beings, human bodies and souls, in a strictly mathematical way, but, even if we could, I am not sure that we would be justified in exposing to possible risks even the relatively few thousand people living within a potential-risk distance of the existing nuclear power stations, or the new stations which are projected. It is a matter worth considering again. If the safety is nearly 100 per cent., then surely they could be put in built-up areas.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Lagden Mr Godfrey Lagden , Hornchurch

The hon. Gentleman has undoubtedly given an enormous amount of thought to the question of accidents at these power stations. Can he enlighten the House on the type of accident he thinks within the realms of possibility which would cause even 1,000 people loss of life?

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

I do not think that on this Motion the hon. Gentleman should go into too great technical detail in reply to that question.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for that Ruling: I could not have gone too much into technical detail, since I am quite incompetent to do so. I have not thought about this in technical terms, other than those of which every layman is broadly aware. If I may add one point on this subject, I would say that the safety consideration may relate to possible war-time risks and to the fact that a power station would obviously be a particular target for attack and, if attacked, would be an enormously dangerous neighbour to live near. But if we have to relate all our town and country planning to the possible risk of a nuclear war, we are surely being rather illogical and relying on an old-fashioned, last-war concept of the strategic dispersal of industry, which would be quite irrelevant in a nuclear war. I have no doubt that the Minister, when he replies, will tell us a little about that; I hope so, anyway.

Meanwhile, I agree very strongly with those who have said that it is essential that these buildings should be uncompromisingly contemporary and functional. It would be ghastly if one of these enormous nuclear power stations were tarted up like a Tudoresque filling station. When one looks at the architects' drawing of the Bradwell power station, one sees drawn in along one end of it a little row of trees. These we were told are eventually to screen the power station to some extent. As the power station is to be some 250 ft. high, and as it is highly improbable that the trees will grow on this particular bit of land at all, this seems a somewhat chimerical approach. Also, by the time that these trees have grown up, the power station will be derelict and abandoned—because one peculiar fact, which I am under the impression was not disclosed at the Bradwell public inquiry, but which came out at the Berkeley inquiry, is that these power stations have a life of only 20 or 25 years and then become too hot to hold or whatever the phrase is. They then have to be sealed up and abandoned—as derelict and no doubt as lasting as the pyramids, and a strange memorial to our civilisation. I should have thought that this point would have some bearing on the economic case for nuclear power; for a power station that is to last only twenty years costs £40 million or more.

I say that my impression is that this was not disclosed at first because the full transcripts of the public inquiries are not published; there are only short reports in the few newspapers that are interested in such matters. I suggest that the Minister might consider issuing the transcripts or full reports of these public inquiries as White Papers, or, at least, in every case automatically putting them in the Library for the convenience of hon. Members. I think that one or two of them are in the Library as the result of Questions being asked in Parliament, but I suggest that this should be done automatically, or even a White Paper published, in each case.

This is, after all, not a matter of local interest only; it is a matter of national interest—the preservation of the beauty of our coasts and countryside. That is why the problem arises so acutely: there is a genuine clash of national interests—the need for more electric power versus the need for the preservation of the countryside. Not only should the reports of the public inquiries be more fully published, but above all, in my view, the Minister should be required to publish both the inspector's report to him—the report of the Chairman of the public inquiry—and also his own reasons for taking the decision he does in each case.

I think personally that the whole setup of the public inquiry is not quite satisfactory at present. There should be an independent chairman. As we know, the chairman is normally an experienced official, an inspector from the Ministry of Power: I am sure that he does his best to hear all sides and all objections quite impartially, but he must be unconsciously prejudiced to some extent in favour of his Ministry and the objects for which his Ministry exists.

I will give an example. At the Bradwell public inquiry the chairman was most patient and courteous. He heard all the objectors, listened day after day, and no doubt sent to the Minister as objective a report as he was capable of drafting. A good deal of the discussion, the evidence and the cross-examinations had, of course, been concerned with the question of pylons and whether or not they are a blot on the landscape. I was talking to this gentleman from the Ministry after the inquiry was over. He was very amiable, agreeable and open-minded. I said, "As a matter of interest, what is your job at the Ministry of Power?" He replied, "As a matter of fact, I have spent most of my life designing pylons." I think that it was a little unfair to put him in the position of having to give an absolutely objective, independent, judicial opinion on the merits of pylons as part of the landscape. I suggest that there should always be an independent chairman of these public inquiries.

I apologise for going on so long, but I have one more main point to make. One of the arguments used by the Central Electricity Generating Board, and those who support its present siting policy, is that "the local people welcome it." Quite frankly, I am not impressed by that. It is usually the local people who have been guilty of the worst vandalism throughout the last century. It has not been as a result of national policy.

There are, of course, two kinds of local people—the local authorities and the local residents. In most though not in all cases—for instance, not in the case of Dungeness—the local authorities obviously respond, with open mouths salivating as freely as those of Pavlov's dogs, to the bait of an enormous extra revenue from the rates. The local residents, in most cases, have sharply contrasting views. We all tend to ignore or to depreciate what we are too familiar with through having always lived beside it. Most Londoners never go inside St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey except when they have an American guest to show around. Similarly, village people, country people generally—and who can blame them?—are less interested in the skyline, in the beauty of the wide Dutch sky and the lonely stretches of marsh and saltings, than they are in better bus services, decent schools, and the sometimes illusory prospect of an alternative job that seems to be held out by the arrival of a power station in their neighbourhood.

Even this can be a shortsighted acceptance. For instance—again to take the case that I know best, Bradwell and the Blackwater—the livelihood of the fishermen there will certainly be in danger in a few years' time. The Blackwater will become a dead river. All marine life in it will be killed. There is no doubt about that in my mind. Evidence to that effect was given at the public inquiry by two distinguished marine biologists. The only marine biologist on the other side—in the enormous battalion of experts who attended the inquiry for the C.E.A., as it then was—was, significantly, not called to the witness box to give evidence. Presumably, that was because he could conscientiously only have corroborated the evidence of the two expert marine biologists called by the objectors to the project.

It is not only a new lead and new thought by the Government that are needed, but also, of course, education in the broadest sense of the word. Television has done a tremendous lot in the last few years to educate people in visual awareness. Programmes such as Sir Kenneth Clark's on art, or "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?" have taught people to look twice at objects of beauty or interest at which they would not have glanced twenty years ago. Could not something be done by television, and all the other media of education and propaganda, for the preservation of the countryside and for the purposes of this Motion today? I very much hope so.

I hope, too, that the Government will take the Motion seriously. There are three Motions on the Order Paper today, all of which, if taken seriously and implemented, would make this a more civilised country. I hope that the Government do not just shrug off this Motion. The hon. Gentleman, of course, will not publicly do so—he is much too courteous—but I hope that the Government do not privately shrug this off as just a Friday Motion, just a few cranks concerned about beauty and unimportant things like that: "Let them blow off steam—it won't do any harm". This Motion, which is going to be carried, asks for definite action from the Government: I hope that we shall get it.

2.15 p.m.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Buckinghamshire South

I shall not follow the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) into the subject of the Bradwell Power Station, of which subject he no doubt has special local knowledge. I do not doubt that these power stations can represent a threat to the rural amenities of the areas to which they come, but I think that they have at least the merit of being few in number and, therefore, are not one of the major difficulties that we encounter in this sphere.

Pylons, of course, run in many directions from the power stations, and many hon. Members have experience of that problem in their own constituencies. I think it largely depends very much on where the pylons are routed. If they are skilfully routed, I believe they can actually improve the landscape—they have a certain attraction of their own—but if badly routed they can undoubtedly destroy some very beautiful piece of countryside. It is a matter for the cooperation of the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Like that of many hon. Members who have spoken, my experience of this subject is concentrated in south-east England, where town and country planning is more important than in any other part of the country. Here we face a major problem. In south Buckinghamshire, I have another example to add to that mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson). There one can see the development of Middlesex; a great suburban sprawl ending up against the county boundary. Then the metropolitan Green Belt begins, and one comes to a countryside of villages set among fields. In all this metropolitan Green Belt area, however, there is tremendous pressure to let people live in it.

I listened with the greatest interest and agreement to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes). Indeed, I have rarely attended a debate in this House in which I have agreed with so much of what everybody said. All I can add by way of comment on what my hon. Friend said in his extremely able and attractive speech when introducing this Motion is to take one or two of his phrases and indicate what I think could be a danger attaching to them.

My hon. Friend used the striking phrase that "advance and amenity must get to terms." That is absolutely true. I know that when he used that phrase he was applying it to the general countryside of England and afterwards made it fairly clear that he was not referring to the Green Belt; but I am a little worried. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will take away the clear impression in his mind that, while those who have spoken have been very anxious that town and country planning should not be a purely negative process of prohibiting this and prohibiting that, nevertheless we do not wish by anything that we have said today to diminish the main bulwark defending the metropolitan Green Belt. A phrase like "advance and amenity must get to terms" could be the excuse for lowering the defences. I have read in recent months, as I expect other hon. Members have, that building organisations are beginning to organise pressure to get more land released for building, because more houses must be built and there must be sites for them. So be it. But I hope that there will not be any whittling down of the Green Belt to meet the pressure of building.

This is a very insidious peril to meet. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom said something about it. I, too, have had a lot of experience of it. It is really like sitting on a Dutch dyke. Industry comes and somebody cannot stop it, for all sorts of reasons. Then there is a shortage of labour and people come in and we have all kinds of overcrowding, hutted camps, caravan settlements and the rest. Once the population comes in there must be amenities, such as schools and shops. Another year passes and perhaps there is unemployment in the area and then there is pressure for more industry which, when if comes, is followed by pressure for more housing accommodation, and so it goes on.

I hope that nothing that is said will lead to an attitude that there is some failure to face reality, some unrealism, in insisting upon a rigid policy of preservation for the metropolitan Green Belt. In my experience over the years, I know that there is only one way of protecting the Green Belt, and that is by being pretty absolute about it and saying that people are not coming there to build new industries or new housing estates. If we do not adopt that line, we can write off the policy.

I do not believe that this is being unreal. If we are to have planning policy, then, in relation to this special limited problem of the Green Belt, we must take that attitude. When we get away from the Green Belt, we can take a more flexible attitude. There is great scope for the positive approach to which my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford referred. The great thing is that buildings should look what they are and not pretend to be something else. The idea of putting up an unattractive building and painting it green so that it looks like a tree is not successful and tends to inspire the opinions embodied in the famous comment on Worcester College, Oxford, C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la gare.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford referred to the constant encroachment of the boroughs. This is a subject in itself. The "borough buccaneers", as they have been referred to before in the House, are a constant danger to the countryside. This is not one problem. It is a battle that must be fought on the merits in each case. I have the feeling that if we could divorce the N.A.L.G.O. salary scales from the population basis half the Bills promoted in the House would not come here. I think that most hon. Members know that to be true. It is not the population of these areas which is developing a high temperature about expansion and the pressing out of boundaries. Not a bit. It is a very narrow circle indeed. I am sure that in many cases the motives are the purest motives of local aggrandisement, but nevertheless, other considerations enter into it.

It is true that towns can help by concentrating their development and their buildings, but I have one warning to give about that. I have received a good many of the constituents of the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin). Many hundreds of them have come to my constituency. That may be the reason why my majority increased at the last election. The L.C.C. has accommodated them in South Bucks in one of the most delightful overspill estates I have ever seen. It is a really attractive and beautiful estate where the people are very happy.

The L.C.C., however, has put up some blocks of flats of four or five storeys high, making an obeisance to the doctrine that space must be used intensively. I find that almost every family living in these blocks of flats is unhappy and wants to move. Whilst these people were in London they put up with living in flats because everybody else around them did so and they did not know what they were missing. The moment such people move out of London and are surrounded by people living in houses with gardens they cannot tolerate flats for a moment, and the fact is that children and flats do not really go together. On a point of comparative detail, I disagree with the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross). He suggested that planning should revert to the county council and not be delegated. I think that would be a very harmful change, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will not be attracted by it. This delegation of planning functions to rural district councils has worked very well, and I do not think that the hon. Member was right in saying that they cannot afford skilled planning officers and that therefore the whole original scheme was being defeated.

What happens is that they are advised by the area planning officers of the county council, who are paid by the county council. They come under the county planning officer and they refer to him and in every way work with and under him. They are county council officials but they attend and advise the local district councils to whom these planning functions are delegated. Therefore, we have the advantageous combination of local knowledge and skilled advice. I have watched this working in country areas for a long time and I disagree with the advice which the hon. Member gave to my hon. Friend.

I also disagree about the General Development Order. I will not go into detail about that at this time, except to say that in my experience, not only as a Member of Parliament but also as a practitioner in the law, I have found only one case where the operation of the General Development Order has led to bad planning development, and that was a garage. But that provision in the General Development Order about garages only applies to garages erected behind the house. If the garage is in front of the house, planning permission is needed and therefore the effect of this is very much less than the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central thinks.

The hon. Member for Barking spoke about procedure on planning appeals. I think that it is now very good and works exceedingly well. The inspectors are very skilled and agreeable people. They inspect the sites, and the hon. Member was a little out of date when he suggested that their report to the Minister should be published and that the Minister should publish his reasons for disagreeing with it. These practices are now in force and have been invariably in force in the last nine or ten months or more. That was a change which was introduced in the last Parliament when the hon. Member was absent.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford spoke of the natural landscape, and I agreed with that part of his speech even more strongly than I agreed with the rest. Whatever arrangements and adjustments we come to about the humanised part of our landscape, it is absolutely essential that there should remain some wild and unspoiled parts of the island to which people can go for refreshment of spirit. I have constantly believed in what the hon. Member advocated today—that some roads should be stopped where they enter these areas. I was horrified to read in The Times about a year ago a leading article suggesting that a new motor road should be built along the West Coast of Scotland, opening up all that coast to the motorists, a sort of corniche road such as one sees in continental countries. For goodness' sake, let us leave some parts of the island out of reach of the four-stroke engine, where people can either walk or stay away. I am sure it is essential.

With that, as a corollary, goes the need for making it more possible for the man on his feet to get there. I have also advocated in this House an extension of footpaths, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. There we fall badly behind the continental countries. If we compare the hills of England or Scotland with either the Austrian or Swiss Alps—admittedly they are different, but when all account is taken of the difference—our hillsides and moors are badly provided with paths. There has been a wildly purist approach to this on the part of some people who love the open air. They think it is an article of faith that there should be no path and no guidance, so that the place should be absolutely wild, and every opportunity should be offered to the man who ventures in it to lose himself and spend the night curled up under a tuft of heather.

That is carrying it too far, and I hope, as does my hon. Friend, that we shall use the Land Fund for developments in the national parks. I have always taken an interest in the Land Fund, even to the extent of proposing a Bill for free drugs for private patients being charged upon it The Land Fund offers a real opportunity for us to spend money on the National Parks in a way that will make those parts of the island more accessible to the ordinary man. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will try to ensure that action is taken about it in this Session of Parliament. Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop who used to be Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East, always pressed this case in the past. He is no longer with us, but nevertheless I hope we shall press it in this Session of Parliament, so that we shall make progress and shall get our footpaths and rights of way linked in the great national parks.

2.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

I will not keep the House long because there are other Motions on the Order Paper and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) will be making his maiden speech on the next Motion. Indeed, I would not make a speech at all but for the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary comes from the same city as myself. I live in south-east England, he is a southerner, too, but we represent a northern city. So I think it will be in order in this debate to talk about the development of the city square in Leeds. I wonder whether, as Parliamentary Secretary, the hon. Gentleman will get down to the job and write to the fathers of the City of Leeds suggesting that an outside look would be an advantage?

The City Square seems to be planned for the chief constable in the interests of traffic. Anyone who knows Leeds will realise that it has a fine equestrian statue of the Black Prince and that surrounding him is a group of virgins. The virgins of the City Square are well known. Recently, the City Square has been completely ringed with rails. It has been suggested that the virgins were railed round for no other purpose than the introduction of the Street Offences Bill, but I must remind hon. Members that Leeds dealt with that menace long before we thought about it. Generally speaking, it is impossible now for the citizens of Leeds to cross the square. It is a natural square and could be the normal focus of the city, but it is impossible for people to walk round it without dodging in and out and under the rails, which is a ridiculous performance and negatives the flower gardens which are laid out within the city.

I hope, therefore, now the hon. Gentleman has risen to the dizzy heights of the Dispatch Box, that he will use his influence so that when we consider the planning of our countryside we might also consider the better planning of our cities. The City Square in Leeds is an example of what smaller towns become eventually. Therefore, whilst wishing the hon. Gentleman well in his new job, I suggest that this is a matter to which he might address his mind.

2.35 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

Whilst the Parliamentary Secretary thinks of a formula for all-party activity to improve the City Square in Leeds, may I say that although it is customary in making an intervention on these occasions to say that one does not wish to indicate that the debate might be brought to an end, on this occasion I am making an intervention for that purpose. I do so because I am aware that the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) has sat here throughout our discussions awaiting his opportunity to make his maiden speech on his Motion and I think the House will wish to afford him that opportunity.

I will be brief and say at once that not only do I congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) on what he said, but on the grace and eloquence with which he said it. That was appropriate to his Motion. I am attracted by the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that we might have an all-party Motion of censure. I think a Motion of censure, guaranteed and backed by a majority, is an excellent idea, though on this occasion I think we might have with us the Parliamentary Secretary. I thoroughly agree that we should exercise all the pressure we can to get a constant recognition of the problem. This is a certainly an all-party matter since the Bow Group stole the clothes of many of my hon. Friends. I do not complain of it being all-party but, like the hon. Gentleman, I hope that the fact of it being all-party will not blunt its effectiveness.

I differ from the hon. Gentleman slightly in his reference to this matter as being one of our standard of living. I would prefer to describe it as a matter of our quality of living. Sometimes we emphasise too much the standard without looking behind the standard to the quality, whereas we should be concerned about our quality of living. A tribute has been paid to Mr. Hugh Dalton. I join in that, and I give this encouragement to the hon. Gentleman: Mr. Hugh Dalton showed what an individual can do. He was an enthusiast, virile and vigorous in his beliefs about the countryside, and he has done more for the countryside than anyone in his generation.

That is a real encouragement. It means that people who are prepared to work resolutely to improve the countryside have hope of real success. However, we must exercise constant pressure, and I will give a small illustration in this connection. There has been considerable talk about agricultural buildings. What struck me as odd when we discussed the 1957 Bill was that no preparation had been made for the expenditure of public money regarding the type and form of farm buildings upon which it was to be spent. I am not making any party point about this, but I thought it was odd that the Government could invite us to spend public money without any attention having been given to the type of farm buildings to be erected.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer responded and a Farm Buildings Committee was established. Yet, although it was established years ago, as far as I know it has only got as far as compiling a bibliography of farm buildings. This is a matter where we could exert more pressure, because not only is the countryside very much affected by the type of agricultural building, but farm efficiency is affected also. This is a good example of where use and beauty go together and of the need for constant pressure from people in public life to secure this objective.

I emphasise the point made by so many hon. Members, that we should not be afraid of being contemporary about these things. Any generation which has sufficient conviction in itself will be con- temporary. I enjoy some of the works of Floyd Wright. I do not understand them all, but at least I can understand that he has been contemporary. As my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) said, King's Cross Station is a disgrace, because it was a lively, contemporary building. It is a disgrace that as Londoners we cannot afford to remove the rabble of shoddy buildings that make it difficult to enjoy it.

On the question of being contemporary, I am surprised the point has not been made, but we see what is happening over on the South Bank. Whatever our views may have been about the Festival of Britain, we all enjoyed it as being something strikingly contemporary. In its place, we are getting something which will be far more permanent, but which is not contemporary at all. It is overshadowing the fine work of County Hall. That is a surprising thing. We hear all the talk about planning and the authority and enlightenment of the London County Council, but already we are to have the fine building of County Hall overshadowed by buildings which are far from contemporary and far from enlightened.

One of the primary difficulties in this direction is to devise the proper instruments of planning. There is a real difference between planning and direction. Today, we are talking about planning in a loose sense. It can be guidance or it can be giving people the opportunities of choice or the opportunities of knowing how well they can devise their neighbourhood.

One of the cardinal difficulties is to devise an instrument for comprehensive planning to bring in the social, industrial and aesthetic elements at the point of planning and also in the scale of planning. We have not had enough study of what, technically, is termed regional planning. It is difficult to put forward dogmatic views, because we are circumscribed by the existing boundaries of local government and its functions. The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) talked about democratic planning. We want the democratic government to be very alive within the instrument of planning, but the question of the instruments of planning is, perhaps, the most important of all. The hon. Member for Ashford mentioned the question of wild parts of the countryside which should have limited access. My experience is that we cannot isolate a problem like that. Nowadays, as any car-driver knows, it is difficult to have an area which is not open to access by motor cars. It is surprising where cars can get to, and in large numbers. Apart from that, it is difficult to isolate an area and say that it is an area of wild landscape.

Recently, in Wales, there was a protest march with the slogan "Bread before beauty." Even in these wild remote parts of Britain—I was on the West Coast of Scotland this summer—there are people. We have to realise that they are there, and as of right. If we want a virile countryside, we must think of the people who are there and not disregard them.

I read again recently the Mid-Wales Report. I recognise at once that many controversies arise from an examination of that Report, but the one conclusion to which I was driven, which is ancillary to what I have been talking about, was that in an area such as that it would be an excellent thing if the Government would experiment. For several years, I had the good fortune to be in one of the industrial trading estate companies in the North-East Development Area. If only we could take an area such as mid-Wales and set up an authority within it, with its offices within the area, with local representation and with people of calibre serving the authority, we might be able to tackle such an area. After all, only £1½ million was required to aid agriculture alone and there are other important problems to be tackled in such an area. I would like to see the Government experiment by setting up such an authority.

If it comes to planning, I am all in favour of paying regard to the people who are doing the planning. We must, in fact, have a drive for people of greater calibre to be responsible for planning. I remember some time ago getting a shock when I found that the person who was making a planning determination had only had previous architectural experience in the planning of public lavatories. This meant that his view was limited, but the power he was exercising was very great If we are to exercise planning, the people who are doing it must be well qualified and of good calibre. It is for that reason that when I talk about such an area as Mid-Wales, I am much more concerned about the people who are there, and who ought to be there if they are carrying out a job like this, rather than the plans that arc-prepared for them to implement.

I leave those suggestions with the Parliamentary Secretary. The debate has served a most useful purpose in focusing attention upon these problems. Like my many hon. Friends and hon Members opposite who have spoken, I hope that, with the help of the Parliamentary Secretary, something effective will come out of today's debate. This is a difficult problem. It cannot be solved overnight, but it is a problem about which we are aware and in which, with good will, we can accomplish a great deal within our own generation.

2.46 p.m.

Photo of Sir Frederick Burden Sir Frederick Burden , Gillingham

I have promised to make my remarks within two minutes and I shall do so I wish, however, to draw attention to one aspect of the countryside which is becoming vitally important if we are to ensure that a great deal of it is not spoiled, particularly the remote and wilder parts of our islands. I refer to the West Coast of Scotland, which I have visited, and have had great pleasure in visiting, for the last twelve years.

I have noticed the unfortunate behaviour of a great many caravaners who go to that area. I am sure that it is out of ignorance that many of them behave in the way they have done. I wonder whether the time has not come when, in conjunction with the Nature-Conservancy, the Government should consider issuing a code of conduct to caravaners and, if possible, by radio and other means, drawing to the attention of the public generally, and particularly to caravaners, at about the holiday season each year, that they have responsibilities as well as liberties. I believe this to be vitally important and I hope that it is an aspect of the countryside that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will also bring to the notice of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

2.48 p.m.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I can pay my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) no more sincere compliment than to scrap that part of the speech that I had prepared which set out the case for the Motion. I cannot believe that the case for landscape care could be put more crisply, cogently, wittily or realistically than by my hon. Friend. I very much hope that it will be widely publicised and read. He was well served by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) who, if possible, added to his argument.

This is not just a Departmental interest that is expressed here today. The interest of the Government as a whole in this subject has been surely witnessed by the presence at different times of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Board of Trade, my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, who intervened, and, now, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power, who was unable to attend earlier. This is something which we all take intensely seriously.

There is, however, one thing that I shall not try to cover today, and that is urban development. Luckily for me, Piccadilly is outside the terms of the Motion, as are high buildings in Paddington; and, luckily for me, although I appreciate the courtesy of the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), even the City Square of Leeds is outside the Motion.

The demands on the countryside are extremely heavy and are increasing at an ever faster rate. Not only is population growing about twice as fast as was foreseen about ten years ago, but homes are larger and are being built at a lower density. Factories are growing ever bigger. For example, an oil refinery now takes 1,000 acres and a steel works more than 500 acres. Of course, with a rising prosperity there is more need for room for holidays and leisure. With those requirements, we need more roads, more reservoirs, more power stations, and we must remember, as everyone has stressed, that this is a small, densely-populated country relying on industry for its very survival.

Yet our landscape is our inheritance and we must reconcile the needs of our industry with the preservation of the best of our countryside. I think that everyone realises the difficulty of deciding between the best interests of the countryside and of industry. I could give my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford a list of major enterprises which have not received planning permission. That, no doubt, would give him pleasure. It is not only Mr. Smith who is denied approval.

Of course, large enterprises take enormous trouble and care when preparing their projects to choose places where they believe strongly that their reasons for development will, in the Government's view, outweigh the reasons against. They have the advantage of large staffs to examine many alternative positions. Although there are examples of large enterprises being refused, one must expect them generally to be better advised and therefore able to prepare their cases and have better cases than the private developer, who often feels that there is interference with his objectives.

There are two main lines of attack on this huge problem. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford must be flattered by the reaction of so many hon. Members today who have pursued his theme with such dedication. The first line of attack is that we must assess and appraise the likely demands of our whole countryside, including the demand, which will rapidly become ever more clamorous, for more playground space and space for recreation and, on the other hand, for spaces of scenic beauty, since the two are distinct. The second line of attack is that we must do all we can to ensure the greatest care in the design and siting of all new developments in the countryside.

The appraisal of demand is the basis of the strategy of land use, and that is achieved by the development plans. Most of those plans were prepared some years ago and will soon be due for the quinquennial revision which the law requires. That will give a chance to bring up to date the appraisal of land use. At the same time, those responsible for the local plan will be able to take account of the relevant dynamic factors, the improved rail services, motorways, growth in car ownership, and new holiday habits.

Already the major policy decision has been taken that the green belts are to be held. I cannot comment on the case which my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh argued so passionately and which is now before my right hon. Friend, but I assure my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) and the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) that that policy is firm, but that nothing in life can be absolute and that there are obvious considerations that sometimes must lead to developments in the green belt. I have discovered in my short time at the Ministry that it is a very quick way to become unpopular, but we intend to preserve the Green Belt.

We shall not succeed in that unless enough land is allocated outside the Green Belt to meet new needs. The greatest challenge to local planning authorities may be to allow development within their areas without achieving subtopia or suburbanisation. Perhaps we shall have to consider at some stage a greater density within the built-up areas.

We can and do not only preserve land around the cities for our Green Belt, but, through the National Parks Commission, create national reserves of unspoilt country where the claims of landscape can be over-ridden only by the most compelling national or employment needs. I do not have time to discuss the National Parks Commission, but I have noted the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford and the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire South for footpaths and further amenities in the National Parks. What with the best will in the world neither my right hon. Friend nor any Government can possibly do is to forecast, even a decade ahead, the demands and requirements of some new, unconceived industry or science. That is not a disadvantage limited to a free society. It is inherent, as was made clear by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh, in the world of change in which we live.

Within that limitation—and here I take the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford—we are safeguarding, on a national basis, areas of high landscape value. The initiative is taken by the National Parks Commission. Ten National Parks are already established and there are nine areas of outstanding national beauty also so far designated.

It is a hard and unpalatable fact, as the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) made clear, that in a very small number of cases, for employment or for strategic reasons of industry or defence, even large-scale industry has to be allowed in these otherwise sacred areas, but the effect is minute in relation to the size of the countryside.

In almost every case the firms and enterprises concerned take the very greatest trouble to minimise their intrusion. In preparation for this debate I have read the book by Miss Sylvia Crowe, who was the landscape designer called in in the case of the Bradwell Power Station. I hope that her methods of minimising intrusion of large buildings in the countryside will be more widely used.

Now I come to design and siting, the tactics, as it were, of landscape care, and by far the most difficult part. Design and siting cannot be called into existence by Government direction.

There have been one or two general criticisms during the debate and there has been a dispute between the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) and my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South about the value of delegated powers. Delegation, which is being encouraged by my right hon. Friend, is intended to let local inhabitants take local decisions with technical advice. If we are to avoid planning appearing as the most remote interference, we would be wise to allow that to happen as much as practicable.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central also criticised the extent of exemption from planning that was provided by Dr. Dalton. Here, again, he must take care that the whole idea of planning is not discredited by an attempt to interfere, as it would seem locally, in all the trivia of personal life within the local scene. I might also add that there might be a danger of administrative break-down if the inquiry and appeal system were extended too far and too readily.

I now come to the more formidable criticism—since I do not really think that anybody can answer it—of those who criticise the taste of those who have to make these decisions. It is a nice point whether an M.P.'s taste is better than that of a fellow. These are essentially subjective matters. It is the inalienable right of every citizen, including M.P.s, to think that he is a better judge of an aesthetic matter than his neighbour; but all life would become impossible if we extended too far the scope for interference in design. There are inspectors who listen to the evidence of all those who wish to give evidence. There is wide advertisement of the inquiry, and anything further, I suggest, would be very close to designing by committee.

I should like now to turn to the different projects developed in our countryside, and try to comment on them. The first of these is mineral workings. This subject was discussed by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central. Mineral workings and other extractive industries like coal mining have left their mark on the landscape. We have all seen the spoliation of the landscape that has taken place, but work is being done in many parts of the country to foster vegetation on old spoilheaps. Much effort is being put into reclaiming otherwise derelict land and old workings. I hope that other local authorities will follow this example. This is very much a matter for public opinion to press local authorities into action.

I have an imaginative feat to report today which I hope will please all hon. Members. In the Trent Valley, where by 1965 a group of power stations will be producing about 20 per cent. of the generating capacity of England and Wales, there is a large group of gravel pits. These are wet gravel pits which in the past have remained as a wound on the landscape. Now, by collaboration between all concerned, the waste ash from the power stations will be pumped as slurry to fill the adjacent group of newly-worked gravel pits. Thus, as the hon. Gentleman said, what would have been permanent dumps are being moved to fill what would have been permanent holes. The waste of one industry is being used to heal the scars of another. I hope that this example will spread. It is very much to the credit of the authorities, both public and private, who conceived it.

Defence has not played quite such a happy part. It has left its concrete flotsam and jetsam, some of which is being cleared by public funds—about £200,000 was spent on this last year. Some of it is being cleared as a condition of sale of the land, and some of it is being cleared by the heartening efforts of voluntary parties with the help of the Service Departments. It is a slow job, but progress will continue.

I will deal only briefly with the subjects that are not primarily within the province of my right hon. Friend. The broiler industry, which has been mentioned by several hon. Members, is at the moment being considered, and certain withdrawals, of exemption have been made already in some areas. I take kindly to the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford that for all agricultural development there must be more co-operation between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and the National Farmers' Union. I will, if I may, draw my right hon. Friend's attention to that suggestion.

I can only say at this stage that the Report by Sir Alton Wilson about caravans is under consideration. Similarly, I must pass quickly over advertising and hoardings by saying that discussions are going on.

In general, industrial buildings are by no means landscape offenders. Much industry, large and small, is enlightened. It uses landscape artists and realises the value of good design, not only to the country but to its employees, and as a symbol of its status and vision.

I wish that I could be as happy about power stations. I very much admired the speech of the hon. Member for Barking, which was echoed in briefer form by my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Loveys). These are matters which raise strong feelings, and both hon. Members recognised that there is a limited choice of sites since they require stable land close to copious water supplies. I am sure that, equally, both hon. Members would realise that whichever sites were chosen no constituency would welcome them.

The hon. Member for Barking raised technical questions and I take them seriously. I am not prepared to answer them off the cuff, but I will take great care to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power to what the hon. Member said.

I now come to the more human problem of housing which in general no one has condemned completely. In fact, we are all proud of the admirable standard of many developers, particularly public enterprise. It is true that many housing schemes—some public, many private—are built without thought to landscape or site, and in many cases, sadly, even without the benefit of an architect's advice. What can be done about them? We are a free society.

My right hon. Friend, who opened the R.I.B.A. Conference called "Design Pays", has it in mind to ask the R.I.B.A. how best he can follow up this theme. He is not content to leave the speech which he made to that conference last year as his only endeavour in this regard. He is also considering ways in which to bring this outlook—that design pays—to the notice of private house builders, particularly the small ones, since the large ones often satisfy admirably the aesthetic requirements of landscape. I note my hon. Friend's suggestion of a guide to those who build in the country. I would draw his attention to two publications—"Trees in Town and City" and "Building in Exmoor". I will consider whether there is a need for even wider publicity for these, and perhaps even a new publication.

Even more difficult to tackle than housing is the routeing of overhead cables. When I read Sir Ian Horobin's graphic description of the huge cost of laying power lines underground, I said to myself, "What a magnificent field for research". Like him, I was sceptical about the statement that laying power lines underground would be very much more expensive than suspending them above the ground.

I have made many inquiries into the matter in my three weeks at the Ministry and I can say that research is going on, but that there is absolutely no prospect of any break-through at the moment. Even if the cost were to be halved, and halved again, the laying of cables underground would be four times as costly as suspending them in the air. Route matters; pylon design matters; the occasional short burials of the wire where the line crosses the skyline, and the better design or concealment of transformer boxes, all matter. I know of lots of cases recently where, in the interests of landscape, despite the enormous cost, wire has been buried.

Now I come to a subject which interests most hon. Members—clutter, sheds, fences, transformers and signs. Here is scope for the vigilance of local protection societies. Opinion, even minority opinion, can enforce a discipline on this clutter. It can ensure that land form—as Sylvia Crowe has said—planting, and the use of contour, hides and softens the clutter around buildings, and it can ensure that local authorities control the clutter within their own areas.

Voluntary societies are perhaps the most encouraging sign of this awareness today. The Council for the Preservation of Rural England has for years done immense service in arousing the public conscience. It has been joined recently by the Civic Trust, which has done yeoman service in town and country, and we would all pay a tribute to the National Trust. My right hon. Friend considers that more could be done in country development by the use of landscape architects. He believes that they should be consulted at the earliest stage of development and should be included in the team of designers on all large-scale projects. He hopes that all planning authorities will provide themselves with landscape advice, and he would like to see landscape architecture included in the training of architects, town planners, and other professions concerned with building.

But at the end of this long review of different sorts of development we realise that the fact of the matter is that there is no magic wand. We must, as a country, pursue technological progress if we are to survive. But survival will scarcely be worth while unless we maintain the contrasts of our inheritance—the wilds, the country, the suburbs, and the towns. Our planning system has the right aims. I believe that it also has the right methods. In the constant stream of dilemmas with which changing society and conflicting interests present it, there are bound to be mistakes, but planning systems, even if perfect, could not solve these problems. They are the concern of every citizen, and particularly every developer and authority, public and private.

Because an enlightened public, operating through a vigorous minority, demanding good design and good landscape, is the best safeguard of what we all desire, I welcome this debate and recommend the House to accept the Motion.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House, bearing in mind the heavy and continued demands being made upon the countryside by new industry, by motor roads, by power stations and power lines, by reservoirs and by the spread of new housing; and recognising that such development is essential and likely to continue at a rapid rate for some years, urges Her Majesty's Government to make a fresh appraisal of forthcoming demands, and to stimulate by every suitable means through industry, planning authorities, professional bodies and voluntary institutions higher standards of siting and design within the English landscape.