From commons questions last week esp:
Mr Blunt: I want us to be clear on the starting position for the national Government, given that green belt is a national policy designed to protect us from the sprawl that would otherwise happen in terms of development. The Government start from the position that the green belt should be protected, and policies that lead to the green belt being encroached on violate that principal objective of Government policy.
Nick Boles: My hon. Friend is absolutely right that it is an absolutely core tenet of Government policy that the green belt should be protected. It is also an absolutely core tenet of Government policy that housing need should be met. That is why localism is difficult and not a free lunch for anybody—we are devolving the matter to local authorities, in their communities, to resolve that very difficult tension between competing policy demands.
30 Jan 2013 : Column 312WH
But then a few lines later
We as a Government cannot make the choices between these different priorities. All we ask the inspectorate to do, and all the inspectorate can do—I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out that the inspectorate should not be blamed for this, because we make the policy and the inspectorate, like a judge, just tries to interpret that policy
And now Baroness Hanham qualifying Eric’s ‘sacrosanct’ comment – sorry I dont have Hansard link only Daily Telegraph
In comments that will concern home owners living in the countryside, Baroness Hanham, a communities minister, described the green belt as only “virtually sacrosanct”.
Lady Hanham said that the Government believes that affordable homes will now have to be built on green belt land.
She said that some of the land is not “absolutely brilliant” and should be for developments in order to avoid having to build in “real open space”.
“We have made it clear, in the National Planning Policy Framework, that the green belt is virtually sacrosanct, but we recognise that occasionally green belt land needs to be used for affordable housing, although that will need to be replaced,” Lady Hanham told the House of Lords.