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Mr. Raynsford: I put two points to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. First, as a former Secretary of State, he well knows that one cannot simply terminate processes overnight. A process must be continued until new procedures replace it. Otherwise, there will be a vacuum in which any developer may appeal to the Secretary of State in the absence of a development plan; and in the absence of a plan, that leads to appeal-led decisions--the worst of all worlds. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that a plan-led system is better. That is why we are moving from the old system to the new one.

Secondly, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware of PPG3, the Government's new planning guidance on housing provision, which makes it very clear that it is now appropriate to apply a sequential approach to new housing developments. That guidance has been issued for consultation; we have had a very interesting and positive response on it and very shortly we shall issue the final version. All that is the process of changing from the old system to the new one. That change is taking place. It is a radical change, with a strong emphasis on getting the building on to brownfield sites in the cities.

Miss Kirkbride rose--

Mr. Bercow rose--

Mr. Kenneth Clarke rose--

Mr. Raynsford: I shall give way once more to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but then I must make progress.

Mr. Clarke: I am grateful to the Minister for allowing me to intervene twice. I understand that the new PPG3 does not affect the legal liability on Rushcliffe borough council to allocate land for 14,400 new dwellings in one borough--one constituency--that is largely rural and suburban. All the changes described by the Minister have made no practical difference to a legal requirement to

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make greenfield sites available for a vast amount of development. Unless he takes some action that changes things, I shall regard his new policy as mere empty words.

Mr. Raynsford: I refer the right hon. and learned Gentleman to PPG3. He will see that it recommends, and when fully implemented will oblige, authorities to approach land allocation in a sequential way. It will therefore be open to Rushcliffe to give priority to its brownfield sites rather than to greenfield sites. I am sure that that is exactly the policy that he would like.

Several hon. Members rose--

Mr. Raynsford: I must now make progress.

The building that took place on greenfield sites throughout the 1980s and 1990s reflected the laissez-faire attitude under which development was allowed to run riot under the previous Government. It is no use the current Opposition trying to pretend that they had nothing to do with that. Many members of the current Opposition, including the right hon. Member for Wokingham, served in that Government and accepted collective responsibility for their policies. He himself made an even more significant contribution. Between 1993 and 1995, he was Secretary of State for Wales. I am sure that he remembers that period in his career--and its abrupt end.

As I prepared for this debate, I thought that it would be interesting to discover what fraction of new development in Wales during the term of office of the right hon. Member for Wokingham took place on brownfield sites. Little did I expect the answer that emerged. No Labour spin doctor could have given me a better answer. I shall let the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues into a secret: no one knows what proportion of new development in Wales in that period was on greenfield or brownfield sites. Why? Because under the right hon. Gentleman's regime, the Welsh Office did not bother to check figures on the greenfield-brownfield split because it was "too costly" to maintain such an analysis.

Mr. Bercow: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Raynsford: No, there is better yet to come.

That reveals the leopard's true spots--the old free marketeer advocate of laissez-faire. That was the record of the right hon. Member for Wokingham in government. When he had his chance to do something about the matter, he did not care. Now that he is in opposition, he makes a great fuss trying to convince the public that he does care, but it will not wash. His own record reveals the truth.

Mr. Redwood rose--

Mr. Raynsford: I shall give way in a moment, but the right hon. Gentleman must hear a little more. His pious protestations today sound hollow and insincere when contrasted with his performance in government. They sound even more hollow and insincere when put in the context of a letter delivered to me last Friday by 67 Opposition Members representing constituencies in the south-east. The hon. Member for Reigate took the trouble to come in person to present the letter to me, and we had

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a useful and frank discussion in my office at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

I undertook to the hon. Member for Reigate to consider the letter carefully. I have done so. I have considered not just its contents, but the signatures. Among the 67 signatures are many familiar names, but one is strikingly missing. The right hon. Member for Wokingham forgot to sign the letter from his own party.

Mr. Blunt: My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) and the other members of the Conservative team chose not to sign the letter, precisely because they were members of the Conservative team. The letter was designed to be a cross-party approach, which it was, although sadly only with the Liberal Democrats. There was a total absence of support from Labour Back Benchers, who appear to have had their spines removed, like the nation's cattle.

Mr. Raynsford: The House will draw its own conclusions. The hon. Gentleman condemns Labour Members for not signing a letter, when hon. Members on his own Front Bench did not bother to sign it.

Mr. Redwood: The Minister should do a lot better than that. He knows that I have raised the issue in several speeches. I have been in touch with the Secretary of State on the matter. My hon. Friends have my full support in their initiative.

The Minister's point is not a cheap debating point; it is simply a wrong-headed debating point. If he cares to check my record a little more carefully, he will see that when I was Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities, I set out policies for regeneration of inner cities and for brown land development, and saw some of them through in government, and that what I said in 1992 is entirely consistent with what I have said today and what I did in Wales.

Mr. Raynsford: I have checked the record, and I am about to quote some more of it to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that he is looking forward to it. Carelessness appears to be the hallmark of the right hon. Gentleman's approach.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Raynsford: No.

Yesterday the television showed a film of the right hon. Member for Wokingham alongside an area of greenfield land about to be developed for housing in Berkshire. Indeed, I believe that he used that location to launch his 10 green pledges. Presumably, he was trying to imply that greenfield development in Berkshire is the kind of undesirable greenfield development that would not be allowed under a Conservative Government. The right hon. Gentleman is nodding. I must tell him and his colleagues that the development of greenfield land in Berkshire for housing is the direct result of the actions of the previous Conservative Government.

Mr. Redwood: Wrong.

Mr. Raynsford: The right hon. Gentleman has revealed himself to be rather forgetful, but I should have

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thought that he would take the elementary precaution of researching the background to current house building in Berkshire.

Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten the direction issued to Berkshire county council to increase its housing numbers? No, it was not a direction from this Government. It was a direction made by the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), who in many respects has a good record on the environment. I regret that he is not in his place today.

Mr. Redwood: I deliberately sought to highlight the fact that it was a Labour-Liberal council that said that all houses must be lumped together and placed on those green fields, against my advice and the advice of many Conservatives, and to highlight the fact that the Labour Government, far from making the situation better, are making it worse. Two other villages are now threatened because the Government are upping the figures for Berkshire.

Mr. Raynsford: I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman is digging an even deeper pit for himself. He recognises that it was his Conservative Government who issued the direction to Berkshire county council to increase the numbers. That direction told local people in Berkshire not that they could decide how many homes should be built in their area, as the right hon. Gentleman is now suggesting should be the case, but instead that they must have an additional 3,000 new homes, because the Government--the Conservative Government--told them so. That is what the Tories did in power, and it is grotesque hypocrisy for them to present themselves as champions of both local discretion and greenfield land.

What did the right hon. Gentleman do about that diktat from the Government requiring his county to build more housing? Did he complain? Did he protest? Did he issue press releases? Did he hell. To be charitable, he may have been otherwise engaged. His mind may have been diverted because the direction was made in June 1995, when his thoughts were perhaps on challenging the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) for the leadership of the Conservative party.

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