About 30,000 cases were received by the Planning Inspectorate in 2008-09. Of those, only 34 would have gone to and been considered by the Infrastructure Planning Commission, had it been in operation, and only 12 of those would have been dealt with by the inspectorate, had they all proceeded to inquiry. That is less than 0.05 per cent. of the cases received by the inspectorate in 2008-09, so we believe that the impact will be minimal.
Given the likelihood that planning strategies will be in place for infrastructure, does the right hon. Lady really believe that only 12 planning applications will go in front of the IPC and that there will be only a minimal impact on the Planning Inspectorate? Is she really intending that so few planning inspectors should move from the Planning Inspectorate? Does she really believe that nobody will be hired to replace people in the Planning Inspectorate from local authorities? What impact does she expect that to have on housing, and why do not—
Order. Let me say to the Minister for Housing that if she answers only one supplementary question, that would be fine.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
If the hon. Lady, who clearly has a number of detailed questions about the work of the Planning Inspectorate, would like to write to me, I would be happy to reply providing more detail in response to the different issues she wishes to raise. We think that about 34 cases would have gone to the IPC. The House needs to recognise and take into account the fact that a completely new—and, we believe, much better—system is being put in place whereby policy statements will be made about the overall issues, and then individual applications will be assessed against those policy statements. That, we believe, will simplify and streamline the process. That is why we believe that it will have a beneficial impact—not the impact that the hon. Lady suggests.
My hon. Friend is entirely right. In so far as one can assess these matters, we believe that the average time of about 100 weeks for major applications should come down to about 35 weeks. Assessments have been made of savings of some £300 million a year as a result of a more streamlined system. The emphasis placed on pre-application consultation will, I believe, be beneficial to the constituents of every hon. Member. People will have a clear understanding of what might be being proposed at a stage when it is possible to influence the shape of those proposals.
The Infrastructure Planning Commission is set to cost taxpayers £15 million in the first year and £9 million for every year after that. Based on an estimate of 34 cases, that is going to be quite a lot of money per case. Given that even Sir Michael Pitt has admitted that it will be subject to legal challenges, how much taxpayers' money does the Minister estimate will be spent on judicial review cases in the UK and further disputes in the European Court of Justice? I am sure that Members of all parties anticipate belt tightening in tomorrow's Budget, so would not the best way to start be to remove a bit of quango flab, such as the IPC?
I am interested to learn that that remains the view of the Conservatives, because the business community has made plain—not least when the Planning Act 2008 was going through the House of Lords—that it totally disagrees with them. As I told my hon. Friend Paddy Tipping a moment ago, the assessment is that, on average, the establishment of the IPC will save around £300 million a year. The hon. Lady may think that of no significance, but I assure her that the business community does not.