HC Deb 03 August 1965 vol 717 cc1263-4
26. Mr. Rankin

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will seek to prepare a return for Scotland showing the name and address of every owner of 500 acres and upwards in extent, outside the municipal boundaries of burghs containing more than 40,000 inhabitants, with the estimated acreage and annual value of the lands and heritages of individual owners, and a similar return for municipal burghs containing more than 40,000 inhabitants.

Mr. MacDermot

No, Sir. I am afraid we could not undertake this work.

Mr. Rankin

Is my hon. and learned Friend not aware that this job was undertaken in 1873 when neither the equipment nor the personnel at the Treasury was as good as it is today? Why is it that he is denying the basic right of the Scottish people to know who owns their native land and how much of it? Does he not realise that a quantitative survey of Scottish land and its uses cannot be undertaken till the hidden hands which control it today are revealed? Will not he aid in that work?

Mr. MacDermot

It may be that in 1873 Government valuers were not as preoccupied as they are today, but I must point out to my hon. Friend that we cannot do as he suggests for the reasons that it would cost too much, that we have not got the staff to spare to do the work, and that it is doubtful whether it would serve any practical purpose.

Mr. Manuel

Would my hon. and learned Friend consider that the possible cost of collating this information may not be as much as he assumes? Would he not think that each county council has in its valuation returns the information sought by my hon. Friend and that, therefore, it is a matter of collecting it from the various local authorities to get the total figures for Scotland?

Mr. MacDermot

I am afraid that I am not familiar with Scottish law in these matters, but if it is the same as our law I think the rating registers would be open to inspection.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Would not the whole of this problem of expense be solved and a practical solution produced by publishing photographs of the land owners?

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