§ 15. Mr. Willey
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether, in view of the requirements of the Sunderland County Borough Council for new housing, he will reconsider his refusal to confirm the report of his inspector recommending the compulsory purchase of 53 acres required by the council for building purposes.
§ Mr. H. Brooke
I have no power to review or alter my decision on a compulsory purchase order once it has been given, as it has in this case.
§ Mr. Willey
Is the Minister aware that his action is bound to disurb confidence in public inquiries and to import a suspicion of bias on his part? Is he further aware that the Sunderland County Borough Council believes that his action will seriously prejudice its present housing programme?
§ Mr. Brooke
No. I do not think that it is right that a Minister should be absolutely bound to endorse the view his inspector expresses as a result of any inquiry. The Minister is responsible to Parliament, and he must reach his own judgment. In this case it was clear that, apart from this land, Sunderland had enough building land available for live years' council house building. In those circumstances, it did not seem to me that it was incumbent upon me to confirm the compulsory purchase order for further land.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is most unsatisfactory if he reverses a decision taken by an inspector at a public inquiry and then his decision is not challengeable in the House? It is very unsatisfactory that there is no procedure to enable a further review to take place of the Minister's reversal of an inspector's decision.
§ Mr. Brooke
The inspector does not reach a decision. He makes a recommendation. I am answerable to the House and I must, therefore, be left free to reach my own decisions.