HC Deb 07 May 1968 vol 764 cc191-2
25. Mr. Costain

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how much betterment levy has so far been collected by the Land Commission; and what was the cost of collecting the levy.

35. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what is the total sum so far collected by the Land Commission in betterment levy; and how many acres of land have been acquired.

39. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will make a statement on the current programme of the Land Commission for the acquisition and disposal of land.

Mr. MacDermot

The levy collected in 1967–68 was £463,300 and the total up to 24th April was £747,300. The rate of collection has now risen to about £3.5 million a year, and the expected yield in 1968–69 is £8.3 million. The annual cost of assessment and collection is about £2.3 million.

The Land Commission is at present negotiating for the acquisition of 76 sites totalling 3,245 acres at an estimated cost price of £11.1 million. Two small sites, amounting to 1¾ acres have vested in the Commission. The Commission is investigating additional sites extending to over 23,000 acres.

Mr. Costain

Are not those figures fantastic? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman not realise that if this money had been collected by the Inland Revenue it would cost only 3.2d. per cent.? Is it not time that this thing was abolished completely? It is wasted public expenditure.

Mr. MacDermot

Not at all. The reason why the collection of levy at present is at a relatively low rate is because of the transition provisions, which exempt builders' stocks. This has been explained many times previously.

Mr. Hastings

Is it not a fact that there is a requirement on the right hon. Gentleman's Department, the same as all other Departments, to save money at this time? If this is so, how can he possibly come to that Box and defend this farcical situation?

Mr. MacDermot

As is made clear from my Answer, when the hon. Gentleman studies it, we are gaining money through the collection of levies.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Rippon—Mr. Willey.

Mr. Willey

Will my hon. and learned Friend see that the acquisition and disposal programme of the Land Commission is considerably stepped up?

Mr. MacDermot

Yes. Again I think that the figures I have given show that this is happening.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Rippon

On a point of order. I understood that you had called me to ask a supplementary question.

Mr. Speaker

I am awfully sorry, but I must stick to time.

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