HC Deb 14 July 1965 vol 716 cc467-8
1. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will seek to reform the existing law governing the ownership of minerals in order to ensure that all minerals are worked in the public interest.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

While the Government have no plans to reform the existing law governing the ownership of minerals, the Land Commission which we propose to set up will both ensure that land is made available for development, which could include mineral development, when the public interest requires and that the public derives the benefit from increasing land values which arise from development.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that Answer does not go far enough? Has his attention been drawn to an article in the Town and Country Planning Magazine of May this year in which it was suggested that we might adopt the United States practice of having the minerals State-owned and leased to operators, in which case they could be used in the public interest instead of in the private interest? Will my right hon. Friend take account of all the suggestions that were made in that article?

Mr. Ross

I read the article with great interest and certainly noted the suggestions that were put down. It was, I think, a reprint of a lecture which was given on the subject by an expert and it suggested that we should follow the United States pattern concerning the ownership of minerals. The Government are not prepared to go as far as that at the present time.

Sir J. Gilmour

Can the Secretary of State say what mineral enterprises in this country are paying dividends?

Mr. Ross

That is not part of this Question.

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