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Matthew Green: Will the hon. Gentleman clarify his comments? He appears to be saying that he wants the Welsh to be protected against decisions that they take for themselves. Is that correct?

Mr. Turner: Not at all. In deciding how to vote on the new clause, I wish to know the circumstances in which it may be applied throughout England and Wales. That is my duty as an English Member of Parliament in legislating for England and Wales.

Mr. Hayes: The Welsh issue is even more complex than my hon. Friend suggests. We heard earlier from the Minister about provision that applied where local authorities of many types were involved in a particular planning application. The border between Wales and

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England will sometimes be crossed in such cases, as developments may affect authorities on either side of it. Through my hon. Friend, may I invite the Minister to comment on those matters, which seem highly pertinent?

Mr. Turner: I saw the hon. Member for Ludlow (Matthew Green) nodding; I assume that he did so on the basis of some local knowledge. I am unique among Members representing English constituencies in that my local authority area has no borders with any others, so I do not encounter the problem of cross-border planning applications. None the less, I would welcome the Minister's comments on developments that occur partly in England and partly in Wales.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: Does my hon. Friend agree that I have suggested a sensible mechanism to the Minister? Setting up the tariffs will take a great deal of hard work. The Minister might wish to look carefully at the commencement order in that regard and consider the draft regulations proposed by the National Assembly for Wales to establish that they are, at least initially, in line with those in England. Of course, the matter would thereafter be one for the Assembly.

Mr. Turner: That proposal would go some way towards solving the problem postulated by my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings, but it would not solve—I am sure that it was not intended to—the more serious problem of what assurances the Minister is giving us. The Minister laughed merrily when I asked rhetorically whether there had been discussions with the National Assembly for Wales. [Interruption.] He is now muttering to my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings. If we are entitled when we introduce legislation to know the direction in which the Government intend to proceed in respect of England, surely we are entitled to know the direction in which the National Assembly for Wales intends to proceed in respect of Wales. Our decision on whether to vote for or against the new clause may hinge on that issue. [Interruption.] The Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary is now muttering. I did not hear what he muttered, but I suspect that he was telling me that I should not worry my little head about the Welsh, as they can look after themselves. Not at all; I am required to worry my little head about Wales, just as hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies are required to worry their little heads about foundation hospitals and tuition fees. I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: I was not seeking to intervene, but another thought has entered my head. Of course, there is a financial settlement for Wales each year. If the wrong level of contribution were set, it could have a material effect on the level of financial contribution given to Wales.

Mr. Turner: From someone who was not seeking to intervene, that is a particularly clever intervention. I thank my hon. Friend for making that point, which I had not thought of.

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The Minister and his Parliamentary Private Secretary still cannot give any assurances or reveal whether discussions have taken place with the National Assembly for Wales. Will the Assembly adopt the sensible, rational, honourable and clear position that the Minister has set out, or will it adopt some other position? Until we know that, we cannot come to a conclusion on how to vote on the new clause.

Keith Hill: I am grateful to all hon. Members who have participated in this genuinely good and well-informed debate, which has been none the worse for being largely confined—I note the exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Telford (David Wright), whom I am delighted to see in his place—to the usual cast of characters in such discussions, who might be described as the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill repertory theatre. However, it has also been a long debate and I have no desire to protract it unnecessarily, so I give notice that I shall be reluctant to take interventions on the same extremely liberal scale as I did earlier.

None the less, I wish to respond in detail to the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown), although many of his questions and those of other hon. Members relate to matters best dealt with in consultation. In many respects, it would be inappropriate for the Government to express views ex cathedra, as it were, when we are essentially in a listening mode. However, I give him the assurance for which he asked: if I do not fully answer his questions in the course of my response, which I hope will be fairly comprehensive, I shall write to him as far as possible.

Mr. Clifton-Brown rose—

Keith Hill: I advised the hon. Gentleman that I was reluctant to give way as much I did earlier. I shall immediately break my rule, but I hope that this will be a serious and substantive intervention.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: It is a very important intervention. If the Government's consultation will not finish until 8 January and the Minister is saying that he will not give specific commitments or answers to questions because that consultation is taking place, but this House is being required to legislate on this matter in the absence of those answers, he should not be bringing these regulations before the House.

Keith Hill: I am not bringing regulations to the House; I am bringing enabling amendments, and the House will in due course have ample opportunity to consider regulations relating to them when we bring those regulations before it.

Before I move on to the amendments, let me deal with Wales, with which Opposition Members seemed to be developing an obsession. I have noticed before that such moods can develop in the House—a Member makes a suggestion, someone else picks it up, then everyone begins to think that it is a really good idea. I am sorry to have to dampen the ardour on this occasion.

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7 pm

The hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Sir Sydney Chapman)—of whom, as the House will be aware, I am inordinately fond—made a sturdy effort to raise the spectre of taxation, and was joined by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner). However, we are devolving these powers to Wales for a very simple and straightforward reason—the Welsh authorities already have the power to enter into planning obligations with developers, and they should also have the power to set planning contributions and to allow developers in Wales the choice of whether to opt for the charge. All that our approach amounts to is "fair do's" for Wales. If the Conservatives still had any friends in business, I am sure that those in Wales would be enthusiastic about that development; but, candidly, I have nothing more to add to the subject.

Let me attempt to put some meat on the bones of the Government's proposals, which I outlined at the beginning of this long, but properly so, debate. As I explained, the planning contribution provisions set out a framework for planning contributions made in respect of development or use of land. The intention is to add to the provisions of section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 an additional provision to enable developers to choose to make a fixed contribution that is calculated in advance by the planning authority. The intention is not to get rid of planning obligations, but to provide speed and certainty where possible and flexibility where necessary.

Planning authorities will be able to consider in advance the possible impacts on their area of increased development and what contributions will be appropriate to mitigate those impacts. The "plan-led" approach to planning obligations is a big improvement on the present, rather ad hoc, arrangements, to which I shall return later. Developers will have more certainty about the likely impacts of their proposed development on the area, will know in advance what contributions the planning authority is likely to require them to provide, and will be able to choose whether to make the contribution as set by the planning authority or to seek to negotiate a contribution more specifically tailored to their circumstances.

In response to the hon. Member for Isle of Wight, new clause 1 provides for two types of contributions: those made by the prescribed means—that is, the charge—and those made by compliance with the relevant requirements under the traditional section 106 negotiations. We give the choice to developers because in some cases that will assist in accelerating the planning process, as I am sure we all desire. It is not inevitable that developers will opt for the charge. That is not because of difficulties associated with the scale of the charge, but because of the commitment that many developers bring to sustainable communities in terms of adding value through their developments. We also intend that local planning authorities should be able to secure full community value from choosing the charge.

Contributions made by the prescribed means are the contributions that will be fixed in advance by planning authorities. Planning authorities will be required to put the detail of the contributions in a document, which may be a development plan document but will, in any event, be subject to consultation and public involvement. It will set out what type of development is likely to give rise

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to contributions and exceptions, how the contribution will be calculated, and for what the planning authority intends to use the receipts from contributions. The document will show the link between the impacts of development on the planning authority's area and the payment of the contributions. The requirements of a planning authority will, therefore, be contained in an open document that is available for all to see. That provides transparency in terms of the way that contributions are calculated, when they are likely to be required, and what they will be used for; and, in turn, provides certainty and fairness for all involved in the planning process.


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