Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): Can the hon. Lady clarify whether the compulsory purchase powers in the Bill will enable councils to deal with the problem where companies such as Property Spy buy up greenbelt land, sell off little fragments at inflated prices claiming that it could be developed some day, allow it to become derelict and an eyesore, and thereby hope to hasten development? Can compulsory purchase powers be used to cope with that problem?

    Mrs. Roche: I shall come to that aspect, but the Bill does not deal with all aspects of compulsory purchase. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has a great interest in that topic. The Bill already contains some 90 clauses, but that does not mean that it is the end of the process on planning. We have limited our objectives to a number of key compulsory planning issues. I shall deal with compulsory purchase a little later.

    The current planning system has served the country well, but it needs reform to support the new agenda. Anyone looking at the record over past decades will recognise that all Governments have failed to address the problems of the planning system. Too many councils fall short of the targets for handling planning