Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, today asked the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office to investigate the huge legal bills incurred in the Napsbury Hospital site appeal and similar inquiries.

    Peter Lilley said: “It is unbelievable that the government should spend ?2? million on lawyers and experts in the Napsbury Planning Appeal. This is on top of the money spent by St Albans Council. This money would have been better spent on nurses and teachers.

    “I suspect that this wasteful burden is recurring nationwide in similar inquiries. So I have asked the Public Accounts Committee to initiate an inquiry carried out by the National Audit Office to see whether the taxpayer is getting value for money. There must be less expensive ways of establishing the facts needed to resolve such planning disputes.

    “The amount of the government?s costs, which should fall on local council taxpayers including those in Harpenden, Redbourn, Wheathampstead and Sandridge is still in dispute. It is important to resolve that without further large legal bills and to minimise the amount of government costs that falls on the local council taxpayers. So we should defer until that issue has been resolved any inquest into the responsibility for this burden of the LibDem administration of 1996-98.

    “Meanwhile I have written to the government endorsing St Albans District Council?s request to spread the burden over future years. If paid in a single year it could put up the District Council tax by as much as 13?%.?