asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to uphold on appeal the planning decisions of local authorities.
No, Sir. The law requires that each case be decided on its merits.
That is a relief. Is my hon. Friend aware that the answer given earlier by the Secretary of State to the effect that the green belt, if protected by the structure plan, is safe with him will be welcome to many hon. Members on the Tory Benches, especially in the light of a grotesque application in my constituency to which objection has been taken not only by Christchurch council but by Wimborne and New Forest councils and by Dorset county council? Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that if district councils, as planning authorities, backed by county councils, begin to feel that every time they refuse an application that is contrary to the structure plan and which affects green belt land, those decisions will be overturned by his Department, local government will be even more disillusioned about central Government? Surely none of us wants to see that.
My hon. Friend raises some interesting points. He will not expect me to comment on a specific case. He should raise the general aspect of this issue with my right hon. Friend when he and his colleagues meet him.
May I ask the Minister—
Give him an easy one.
I was about to say that I was going to give the Minister an easy ball. There has been a settlement whereby the Globe theatre is likely to be built on the South Bank. If the matter of planning in respect of this comes before the Department of the Environment, can the House have the assurance that the Department will do everything it can to encourage the rebuilding of Shakespeare's Globe after 400 years?
I was privileged to be born in Stratford-on-Avon and I have considerable sympathy for anything, to do with William Shakespeare. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman fully realises that all material matters will be considered.
Is my hon. Friend aware that many local authorities are being forced to make planning decisions against their wishes? That is because under the rules, the circulars and the structure plans, they know that if the matter goes to appeal and they lose it is likely to cost a great deal of money. Will he seriously consider the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley)?
Since 1947 Parliament has provided a right of appeal to the Secretary of State against local planning decisions. In considering such appeals the Secretary of State will have regard to all material planning considerations. I repeat what I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley), that these general points should be raised at the meeting with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
The Minister has done well, so far. In view of his sports portfolio, will he take an interest in the planning permission to redevelop Stamford Bridge and call that in so as to make sure that we preserve good football at Stamford Bridge?
I have once again to say that I cannot discuss the merits of any particular case at the Dispatch Box.