§ 7. Mr. Newton
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what arrangements exist within his Department to ensure that major housing developments are accompanied by an adequate expansion of health, education and other public services.
§ Mr. John Silkin
The regulation of development is the statutory responsibility of local planning authorities. Proposals for development, including housing, are considered by these authorities on their individual merits. Authorities take into account the availability of the necessary infrastructure.
§ Mr. Newton
Is the Minister aware that, however well the plans are supposed to work, there is no evidence on the ground that they do, and that these problems are likely to grow steadily worse 383 with the growing financial crisis throughout public services? Will he consult his right hon. and hon. Friends to make sure that future plans at least give proper priority to the areas where the population has already expanded—for example, in Essex?
§ Mr. Silkin
I am not aware that there is any particular difficulty in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, but if there is perhaps he would care to write to me, when I shall certainly look into it. This is a question which has been previously dealt with. Circular 122/73 gave advice to local authorities about infrastructure. But the wider problem is how local authorities deal with needs and priorities in their areas, and it is with precisely this that the Community Land Bill is designed to deal. Therefore, I sincerely hope that in a day or two we shall have the hon. Gentleman's support in the Lobbies.
§ Mrs. Renée Short
Is my right hon. Friend aware that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science recently sent a circular to local authorities advising them where cuts and savings could be made in their building programmes and including a paragraph—paragraph 12, I think—advising them to cut back on their nursery education plans? Is my right hon. Friend aware that that advice has caused enormous concern throughout the country? Does he not think that in order to keep architects' teams together and architects employed it would be a jolly good idea if he were to do as the hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) suggests?
§ Mr. Silkin
I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science would be delighted if my hon. Friend were to ask him an appropriate Question on the matter.