HC Deb 06 May 1969 vol 783 cc254-5
17. Mr. Clegg

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what plans he now has for exercising his powers under the Land Commission Act, 1967, for exempting certain transactions from the betterment levy.

21. Mr. Rossi

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what consultations he has had with the Chairman of the Land Commission about changes in the operation of the betterment levy; and what has been the result of the discussions.

24. Mr. Kitson

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will take steps to ensure that betterment levy is not payable in cases where no actual profits have been made.

25. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will declare a moratorium, by legislation or otherwise, on the payment of betterment levy under the Land Commission Act.

Mr. K. Robinson

The Government's proposals for modifications to the betterment levy were set out in the White Paper published on 15th April and proposals for legislation are included in the Finance Bill.

Mr. Clegg

That is not an unexpected reply. Would the Minister note that, unless he makes the concession retrospective, he will leave a legacy of bitterness among those suffering under the Act?

Mr. Robinson

I dealt with this matter, as far as I was able to make myself heard, in the debate on 28th April.

Mr. Rossi

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree or disagree with Sir Henry Wells, the Chairman of the Land Commission, that it is possible administratively to pay back to people what has wrongly been taken from them under a totally bad law?

Mr. Robinson

That is not what Sir Henry Wells said. All that he said was that, as far as the Land Commission was concerned, although there would be administrative difficulties, they would not be insuperable. But it is not the question of administrative difficulties which has led to the Government's decision, nor are the difficulties confined to the Commission. There are even more serious administrative difficulties for the Inland Revenue.

Mr. Kitson

Is the Minister aware that he has not satisfactorily answered my Question? Is it not absolutely absurd to charge a betterment levy when no profits have been taken?

Mr. Robinson

No; it would be much more profitable to discuss these matters in detail, as we shall soon have the opportunity of doing, on the Finance Bill.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Have not the Government's concessions created new injustices? Therefore, will the Government suspend the levy retrospectively until a Conservative Administration, pledged to its abolition, can clear up the mess?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir.

Mr. Spriggs

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we believe that he should give careful consideration to certain cases, especially when it has taken a long time to obtain planning permission? I am thinking of a case in which planning permission took two years. The betterment levy has been charged since the Act came into force. Would my right hon. Friend have another look at cases like the one I have in mind?

Mr. Robinson

I have looked at one or two cases like that. Whether I have looked at the one to which my hon. Friend refers, I am not sure. If he would write to me about it, I will consider it.