HC Deb 28 June 1965 vol 715 cc26-7
39. Mr. Urwin

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government to what extent he proposes to allow local authorities to acquire redundant land at present within the ownership of the nationalised industries, and what conditions will be attached to such acquisition.

Mr. Mellish

My right hon. Friend is prepared to issue loan sanction to local authorities for the acquisition of land by agreement from nationalised industries wherever he is satisfied that they have a good case for buying the land.

Mr. Urwin

I thank my hon. Friend for that satisfactory reply. I hope that, in areas where there are fairly large tracts of land redundant because of rail closures, the conditions of transfer will at least be favourable to local authorities, which are the appropriate bodies to carry out developments within their districts.

Mr. Mellish

My right hon. Friend's policy is to encourage local authorities to purchase land for housing as an essential part of their function. We shall do all we can to help.

Mr. Shepherd

The hon. Gentleman, in his reply, used the words "by agreement". Does that rule out the possibility of local authorities acquiring land where nationalised industries have control? If it does, then that is a retrograde step.

Mr. Mellish

If a local authority reports difficulties with a nationalised industry we shall gladly intervene and help it acquire the land.

Mr. Wainwright

Is my hon. Friend aware that, in the past, some of the nationalised industries have given preferential treatment to private enterprise in selling land that local authorities have also wanted? Will he ensure that, in future, preferential treatment is given to local authorities to purchase land needed for housing and other building from nationalised industries?

Mr. Mellish

I again make it clear that it is the Minister's policy, in conjunction with the nationalised industries, to get all the land possible for local authorities to carry out their housing programmes. If there are individual difficulties in obtaining land from any bodies, either Ministries or nationalised industries, my Department will be glad to intervene and do what it can to help.

Mr. Costain

May we take it that similar facilities will be given for War Office land that becomes redundant? Will the hon. Gentleman make special representations to the War Department to make certain that it has not available land which is not at present being properly used?

Mr. Mellish

Whereas the procedure was that, as land became available, it went for private auction, today it has to be considered for public use.