HC Deb 14 July 1965 vol 716 cc468-9
3. Mr. Buchan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now introduce legislation to enable him to deal with the present inflated prices of land in the Highlands in areas where development has taken place because of public action and expenditure.

Mr. Ross

The Bill to set up a Land Commission, which the Government propose to introduce as soon as possible, is intended to deal with this situation.

Mr. Buchan

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the situation in some parts of the Highlands—for example, at Aviemore or Fort William—where, because of the great expenditure of public money, private speculators are able to reap large harvests? Figures of several thousand £s per acres have been mentioned in each of these two districts.

Mr. Ross

I am aware and I am very disappointed that this should take place. I do not think that it should be allowed to go on without the State itself appreciating that certain landowners who have had neither risk nor interest in respect of these developments are reaping such rich rewards.

Mr. Carmichael

Has not the stage been reached in Scotland when it would be appropriate to start a new Domesday Book to find exactly who owns the land? I know that this question has come up before, but would it not be well worth while doing it again?

Mr. Ross

It may well be worth doing it again, but it is not covered by Question No. 3.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Is the Secretary of State definitely saying that it is the Government's intention that the Land Commission Bill will deal with the sort of gross exploitation which, as his hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) has rightly said, is taking place in the Lochaber area in particular?

Mr. Ross

We certainly hope that it will help to deal with this problem, but I ask the hon. Member to await the publication of the Bill for details.