§ Sir George Young
There was widespread agreement with our proposal to give statutory backing for public sector owners' registers of their unused and underused land. Pending any longer-term decision to introduce new primary legislation to this effect, we propose now to require local authorities under section 230 of the Local Government Act 1972 to supply the Department with aggregate information about their registers. Compliance with this aspect of the 1989 code of practice has been particularly disappointing. We propose also to give local authorities clear notice that, if the provisions of the code on making such registers available to the public are not properly met this year, we intend to make regulations under section 3 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to make these provisions to a binding requirement for 1992. My officials are writing to the local authority associations today on these points. They are also writing to other bodies about compliance with the code.
We have decided not to proceed with the other main proposals in the consultation paper for directing disposals to named persons and for experimental local franchises of packages of sites. Strong objections were raised against these possibilities during consultation.
There was general recognition of the desirability of further action to bring vacant public sector land into use. Existing measures include derelict land grant, follow-up of the Audit Commission's report on local authorities' property management and directions to dispose of land entered on my right hon. Friend's register. For their part, Government Departments and other bodies face pressure to dispose of vacant land in their possession through the annual public expenditure survey and related discussions. My right hon. Friend is considering what further measures might be appropriate and our conclusions will be announced in due course.