HC Deb 05 December 1973 vol 865 cc1245-6
13. Mr. Horam

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the percentage increase in the average price of an acre of building land since June 1970.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Paul Channon)

For transactions reported to the Inland Revenue during the first half of this year, 185 per cent. Sir.

Mr. Horam

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that even the appalling figure of 185 per cent. is an underestimate because of the time lag in the recording of figures and that the true increase is now well over 200 per cent. since the last General Election? Does not this appalling set of figures lie at the root of many of our urban housing problems? Is it not fair to say that we will get nowhere in solving them until we have a radical land policy, which the Minister has totally failed to provide?

Mr. Channon

I cannot accept what the hon. Member has said, and for this reason. It is perfectly true, as I told the House on an earlier occasion, that the figures which I give to the House on this matter are considerably out of date. There is, however, considerable evidence at the present time that land prices are falling.

Mr. Allason

Can my hon. Friend tell us whether the latest developments in the release of land have had any effect on the price of land?

Mr. Channon

As I told the House a moment ago, present evidence is that within the past four months or so the measures which the Government have taken have had the effect of reducing the price of land. I have some very substantial examples in front of me.

Mr. Freeson

On the last occasion when this matter was raised in the House, the Minister said that there was no foundation for the suggestion that there had been an increase of about 200 per cent. in land prices since 1970. Is he continuing with this complacent attitude, because his latest answer is that there has been a quite considerable drop in land prices? Can he give us evidence of a fall in land prices rather than a fall in the rate of increase?

Mr. Channon

I do not have a copy of HANSARD in front of me, but from memory I think that on the last occasion the hon. Member alleged that land prices had risen by 250 per cent., which is very different from 185 per cent. I have given the latest official figures to the House, but they relate to transactions that are many months out of date. I have in front of me details of a case in Staffordshire showing that prices have gone down by very nearly £12,000 an acre since July, compared with the first half of this year.