§ Sir Rhodes Boyson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) on 19 April,Official Report, columns 36–7, he will indicate the policy he now intends to apply when considering applications from local authorities under section 5 of the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938 for his consent to their disposal of property held under that Act in cases where disposal arises under other legislation.
§ Mr. Chope
[holding answer 21 July 1989]: Since 1984 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's policy on the use of his powers under the 1938 Act has been based on a statement made in November 1984 by the former Secretary of State for the Environment about the future ownership of land held under the 1938 Act by the former Greater London council.
At the time of the 1984 statement, the Secretary of State considered that transfer of a 1938 Act property from local authority to private ownership under the right-to-buy provisions of the Housing Act 1980, and subsequently of the Housing Act 1985, did not require his consent under 470W section 5 of the 1938 Act. In March 1988, however, the High Court ruled that the provisions of section 5 continued to operate notwithstanding that other legislation also applied to the transfer. My right hon. Friend has reconsidered the policy expressed in the 1984 statement in the light of the High Court judgment and of his further experience in the consideration of applications under the 1938 Act.
My right hon. Friend now takes the view that the policy of enabling council tenants to buy their own homes, as given effect by the Housing Acts, is a matter which he can properly take into account when considering applications under section 5 of the 1938 Act. He takes the same view in respect of the right of leaseholders to acquire the freehold of their homes under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
In determining applications under the 1938 Act my right hon. Friend's primary concern will continue to be to ensure that the land concerned continues to fulfil the objectives of the 1938 Act and of green belt policy as set out in planning policy guidance note 2. Bearing in mind the safeguards provided by strict planning controls over development in the green belt, and the need to consider each case on its individual merits, my right hon. Friend is confident that his ability to secure these objectives will be unaffected by his acceptance that the aims of right-to-buy and leasehold reform legislation may contribute to the factors that he will accept as justifying the granting of his consent under section 5 of the 1938 Act.