HC Deb 16 December 1969 vol 793 cc1112-4
16. Mr. Rossi

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government by how much he estimates acquisitions by the Land Commission of building land in areas of high demand will reduce its price during 1969 and 1970; and if he will make a statement.

29. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what estimate he has made of the effect of the Land Commission's activities on the price of land during the coming year.

39. Mr. Costain

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what estimate he has made of the effect of the Land Commission to date on the price of land.

Mr. Denis Howell

I refer the hon. Members to the reply given on 14th October to a Question by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi).—[Vol. 788, c. 45.]

Mr. Rossi

Would not the Minister agree that the Land Commission has failed abysmally in its primary objective of bringing forward land for development, for housing purposes, at reasonable prices? Will he not face up to this and abolish the Commission entirely?

Mr. Howell

I certainly do not agree. As I said the last time we answered Questions, as a result of the new action the Land Commission has taken to try to make land available for local authority and public enterprise house-building, I doubt whether the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends will be asking that sort of question in a few months' time.

Mr. Farr

Does the Minister also recall that he said fairly recently that the Land Commission had sold land for housing purposes at over £2,000 an acre? Can he say how that act by the Land Commission can possibly do other than help to inflate the price of new houses?

Mr. Howell

The dominating factor about land is the amount of land for which there is planning permission to build. This is a very relevant and disappointing aspect of land being brought forward by planning authorities at present. In so far as the Land Commission does anything at all it is trying to increase the supply of land on which building can take place, and subject to any other alternative proposals to achieve those objectives it ought to be supported.

Mr. Brooks

Would my hon. Friend not agree, in terms of what he has said, that the amount of land acquired in the areas of the south and east of the country has so far been remarkably small? Could he clarify what the Land Commission now proposes to do to ease this position?

Mr. Howell

I cannot go into detail—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—for the very simple reason that my right hon. Friend has a statutory obligation to look at every proposal which comes before him from a quasi-judicial point of view.