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Mr. Baron: Will the Minister clarify his last statement? Increasingly, people buy land and then quickly develop it, knowing that they will subsequently put in a retrospective planning application. That has the effect of instigating the appeals process, and everything elseincluding enforcement actionis held in abeyance. If we restricted retrospective planning applications, such peoplewhoever they may bewould know that they could not act in that way. It would constitute a major deterrent.
Mr. McNulty: With respect, that could be described as tackling things the wrong way round. The hon. Gentleman probably wanted me to clarify the relationship between the planning processwhether retrospective or otherwiseenforcement notices, and what starts and what stops, what is suspended and what is not suspended. We are trying to speed up the enforcement process and to make it more flexible: that is part of our response to consultations on the planning Green Paper. I will get back in touch with the hon. Gentleman on that. However, I do not think that shackling or restricting powers at that endI mean retrospective planning applicationsis necessarily the right way in which to deal with the relationship between planning application and enforcement or stop notices and difficulties.
We want to streamline the system. I am not sure why, but stop notices are used less and less and injunctions more and more. I do not know whether that is because they are a clumsy weapon, or simply because they are no longer appropriate. Happily, I am not a lawyer. I do not know the ins and outs of it, but I should not think it appropriate to lose the notion, for public authorities or others, of costs to prevent malicious or capricious use of the law.
There may be some other way to do it. I will certainly investigate the notion of serving the injunction on the land rather than the title owner; I had not heard of it before and I had the great pleasure, perverse or otherwise, to be on a planning committee for 11 years. I will have a look at that and get back to the hon. Gentleman.
We need to get to a position where everyone who lives in Crays Hill, Wickford and Billericay lives in peace without fear of molestation or antisocial behaviour, whether from the traveller community or the settled community.