HC Deb 26 May 1965 vol 713 cc589-91
13. Mr. Bence

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will undertake a survey into the present level of feu duties on domestic property in Scotland.

Mr. Ross

The level of feu duties is an important aspect of the feudal system of land tenure and will be taken into account in the further consideration which I promised the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) on 19th May.

Mr. Bence

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer. Is he aware that, as a result of the callous indifference of the four previous Administrations, owner-occupiers and local authorities in Scotland are paying feus to landowners of from £40 to £50 for 30 ft. by 60 ft. sq. and this is a shocking burden for owner-occupiers to bear? Will he do something to relieve those unfortunate people of this heavy burden caused by what they pay to Scottish landowners?

Mr. Ross

I think my hon. Friend will appreciate that the feu which is fixed reflects the cost of the land. This is an indication of a much more general problem, which is not limited to Scotland, in that land prices have raced away from what we thought was the limit a few years ago.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that increased land prices as a result of the Highland Development (Scotland) Bill being put on the Statute Book will be recouped for the public rather than the private purse? Does he agree that probably the only logical answer to the feu duty is nationalisation of land?

Mr. Ross

I can assure my hon. Friend that the last place I heard that suggested was by farmers in the Perth and Kinross by-election. This suggestion comes from strange quarters, but it is a measure of the concern in Scotland (a) about the cost of land and (b) how people are exploiting public development. What my hon. Friend said is true about the price of land around the pulp mill. Every service requiring land there is paying through the nose to people who have done nothing towards that development.

Mr. George Y. Mackie

Is the Secretary of State aware that one of the worst features is the variation of the use of a feu and that people constantly find themselves with the smallest variation of a feu or addition in respect of land on which they thought they had a feu, faced with a demand for £2,000 or other large capital sum for such variations in feu duty?

Mr. Ross

This is a fundamental aspect and one which I hope we shall be able to go into following the Report of the Halliday Committee. This aspect is where the land superior demands an exorbitant price for something about which he has done nothing.

Mr. Buchan

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is a case where many have to pay for the sins of the few?