To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what measures are in place to prevent conflicts of interest arising following meetings and other contacts between her Ministers and officials and representatives of housebuilding companies seeking to build eco-towns; and if she will make a statement.
At this stage in the process, my officials are working with colleagues in other Departments and agencies to undertake a cross-government review of the eco-towns expressions of interest. Where necessary, they have been contacting developers to seek clarification of information submitted in the expression of interest. They are also contacting local authorities in the relevant areas covered by proposed eco-town schemes. Following this, we will publish proposals for public consultation, involving local authorities, wider stakeholders and the public before the process is completed.
When potential sites have been identified, they will be determined in the normal way under the Planning Acts, and as set out in the Eco-towns Prospectus, there may be circumstances where use of the New Towns Act might be used. I can assure the hon. Member that Ministers and officials will abide by the usual rules of propriety that relate to planning matters during this stage of the process.