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Matthew Green: I support amendment No. 45, which seeks to make it clear to local authorities that they have to consider all areas when deciding the length of a planning permission. The Government may be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but I have more sympathy with them on this issue than the Conservative spokesman seems to have. There is a problem with land banking, and part of that problem is that 99.9 per cent. of applications for planning permission receive five years for consideration. Local authorities have the power to vary the period, but they never do.

The Government have decided that they need to tackle that and think that the only way to do so is to change the default period from five years to three. I have some sympathy with that idea, but if they are going to do that, they need to make it absolutely clear that local authorities can vary the period and that periods should on many occasions be varied to allow longer periods, particularly for complex applications or where, in a town such as Bath or York, there might be a reasonable expectation of finding archaeological remains, which is exactly the sort of situation in which a developer might reasonably expect to take more than three years.

The Government have a case, but they have pushed it too strongly without giving the other side. I have some sympathy with the reduction to three years, but the position would be more acceptable if amendment No. 45 were accepted, because that would make it clearer to local authorities that they must take all sorts of considerations into account, such as the complexity of a development or archaeological or environmental considerations such as a need to deal with contaminated land. All that should be taken into account in deciding whether to allow more than three years—whether it is five years or even longer in some cases, particularly if there is a need to put a financial package together.
19 Apr 2004 : Column 118

The Minister needs to do a little more. He needs to give a little, and if he does, he may well find that opposition on this area will go away.

Keith Hill: The hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Syms) over-egged the pudding when he said that there appeared to him to be "general happiness" with the existing provisions for consents of five years. In our consultation, there was substantial support for a reduction from five years to three on the part of local authorities and non-governmental organisations. I reiterate that we have offered considerable scope in the Bill and in our general approach for flexibility on the part of local planning authorities.

If I may say so without intending unnecessary provocation, in what was a somewhat cavilling speech from the hon. Member for Ludlow (Matthew Green)—that was very uncharacteristic—he mentioned contaminated land, which is exactly one of the provisions that we accept may lead to an extension of the period of planning permission, which I think the hon. Gentleman well knows.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): Will the Minister give way?

Keith Hill: How can I resist?

Mr. Foster: The Minister has much knowledge of this issue, so can he assure me that included on the list of criteria alongside contaminated land will be the possibility of an archaeological find? Will evidence have to be provided, or will the mere possibility be enough? Such archaeological finds are fairly frequent in local authority areas such as Bath.

Keith Hill: The hon. Gentleman offers an enticing prospect of interpretation and definition around the possibility or likelihood of an archaeological find. We would expect local authorities to show reasonable openness and flexibility in relation to potential developments, and that is well established in existing approaches to the granting of planning permission over various periods. We do not wish the Bill to challenge such existing practice.

The Government have shown openness in response to representations made in the other place on extending the period of permission in cases of judicial review. In general terms, the Government have sought to adopt an even-handed approach. The Bill offers a more democratic, more flexible and faster planning system. I must point out that in our final exchanges the Opposition parties have shown only limited commitment to those principles.

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 280, Noes 163.

Division No. 131
[9:57 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, rh Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Morris, rh Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Joan Ryan and
Charlotte Atkins


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Ancram, rh Michael
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Cameron, David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cotter, Brian
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Doughty, Sue
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Foster, Don (Bath)
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Randall, John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Teather, Sarah
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. David Wilshire and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question accordingly agreed to.

19 Apr 2004 : Column 122

Lords amendment disagreed to.

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