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General Duties of Authorities

Part of Clause 17 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th October 1975.

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Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes 12:00 am, 13th October 1975

The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) rightly considers that the Government amendments to Clause 17 fundamentally alter the clause. The amendments were made as a result of the discussions that we had in Committee. It was felt not only by Conservative Members but by some outside bodies that the idea that there should be a planning framework or planning basis under the Bill should not be implicit but explicit. The amendments that the Government have brought forward, as the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) accepted, make the proposition explicit except in one particular to which I shall refer at a later stage.

The hon. Member for Aylesbury has gone much wider than the amendments. The hon. Gentleman is criticising the fundamental concepts of the Bill. Within the concept and constraints of the amendments I do not think I can adequately deal with the almost Third Reading speech that the hon. Gentleman delivered in his opposition to the concept of a Community Land Bill.

As regards the planning framework, I deal first with the point made by the right hon. Member for Crosby. The right hon. Gentleman used the words "in accordance with the planning framework" rather than the wording within the Bill, words that have had many contentious hours of debate in Committee—namely, to have regard to the Bill". 11.0 p.m.

The difficulty with the more simplistic framework of Clause 17 which would result from the amendments of the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) is that it would tie all local authorities in a restrictive way, through the use of the words "in accordance with"—particularly in the early years of the scheme—to the structure and local plans which in many cases are not ready or the old-style development plans, some of which are out of date.

Such an approach would prevent the majority of authorities from effectively implementing the land scheme. For many years much of the release of land in the main pressure areas has taken place outside the framework of the statutory planning system. In many areas local authorities have prepared non-statutory plans which have been accepted as forming a basis for the consideration of planning applications. Decisions on applications for development which would constitute a substantial departure from the plan have taken into account the content of non-statutory plans where these have been the subject of adequate public participation. Again, this is something that we are insisting upon in the Bill.

Different words have been used from those in his amendment—the words "pay attention to" the planning framework. I believe that the words "have regard to" which we have included in the Bill substantially meet the point raised and the points made to us by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee when we were urged to include in the Bill the provision that acquisition should be made within a planning framework. That, clearly, is done by the Government amendments to Clause 17.