Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 5th November 2012.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 4:15 pm, 5th November 2012

I certainly will come on to that point, but those conversations with the LGA will be jolly interesting. The Secretary of State is apparently going to say, “Can we sit down and talk about the criteria? By the way, whatever they are, they have to include Hackney, because I have just told the House of Commons that Hackney is the worst of the lot.” He has fettered his own discretion and will regret that answer.

The argument that this proposal is like the regime for failing schools falls at the first hurdle. We can judge whether a failing school is improving, because it will still be treating the children, but if we take responsibility for planning applications away from local councils and decide them centrally, we will have no way of knowing whether the planning authority is improving because it will not be taking any decisions. That is nonsense. And as for quality, I say to the Secretary of State and the Minister with responsibility for planning that there can be no real measure of it, because it is a matter of opinion and local democratic accountability, which is why we have had local decision making on planning applications for 60 years.