Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): Can the Minister confirm that the Government‘s new planning procedures in PPG3 are intended to result in fewer houses being built on greenbelt land, that if those procedures were applied in Hertfordshire it would obviate the need to build 10,000 houses west of Stevenage on greenbelt land, and that senior counsel has advised that the Government‘s refusal to apply their own procedures in this case is illogical, irrational and contrary to the law?
Mr. Raynsford: The right hon. Gentleman, as has so often been the case in previous debates on this subject, is wrong. He will know that there is a distinction between greenbelt and greenfield land, although he clearly fails to note the proper distinction. He will be aware that the principle of sustainability requires an approach that reduces profligate use of greenfield land. That is one of the keystones of PPG3.
The right hon. Gentleman will also know that the local planning authority in his county considered these issues in great detail and came to its view–not the Government‘s view–that it was more sustainable to develop in one location near to transport links and existing employment than to have a huge range of new development spreading throughout the rural areas in his constituency. He may not agree, but that was the decision reached by the local authority in his area, and he is quite wrong to blame the Government for it.