Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:45 pm on 5th November 2008.

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Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 4:45 pm, 5th November 2008

I note the time and the tenor of the debate, Mr. Cook, and I do not want to cause offence, but I inevitably will. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He does not want a Big Brother Government, but he wants us to intervene. He and his colleagues complain about developments on the green belt, but there is a demand for housing and finite space. Last time I checked, we were an island. He thinks that we should demand that local authorities provide more space for allotments because of demand, but supply and demand work in funny ways.

We believe in devolving powers down to local authorities, and that councillors—I used to be a councillor, and so did the hon. Gentleman—are the right people to devise and decide on development plans. I believe that communities have the skills, the advocacy and the intelligence to elect councillors who will deliver on local community's needs. I do not believe that the Government, including those of us who are based in Whitehall and are not connected to Manchester because we are MPs for places such as Tooting, are the best experts to decide what should go on in his area.

If the hon. Gentleman's points prove to be properly made and there is sufficient demand to justify the provision of more allotment space over the provision of more housing, schools, community centres or open spaces, he should make that argument to his local authority.