§ Mr. Rippon
To cope with the greatly increased number of planning appeals in the last two years I have increased the number of planning inspectors from 133 at the end of August 1972 to 220 and have in the first place concentrated the effort on reducing the number of transferred outstanding appeals made in writing. Written appeals represent about three-quarters of the total. The result has been that 3,700 of these appeals were decided in the last four months of 1973 in an average time of 31 weeks. In 1973 10,890 appeals were decided, nearly twice the number decided in 1972 and a record for the Department. I am now concentrating on reducing the time taken to decide appeals involving an inquiry. I am also considering how the appeals situation generally can be improved in the light of the interim report by Mr. George Dobry, QC.
§ Mr. Luce
I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. In accepting, however, that there is an increasing number of planning appeals, does he recognise that the present situation is causing great distress and frustration to many people? As the average time taken to decide an appeal has increased dramatically over the past year, 1221 will he launch a vigorous campaign to speed up the procedures, including the appointment of an adequate number of staff to deal with them?
§ Mr. Rippon
I agree that the position is not yet satisfactory. That is why I have set in hand the procedures I have outlined.