HC Deb 03 April 1974 vol 871 cc1242-3
10. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to increase the supply of land for house building.

Mr. Freeson

There is no evidence that land for house building is in short supply at present; this is not surprising when house building itself is at its lowest level for more than 25 years.

Mr. Allason

Does not the hon. Gentleman accept the proposition that the reason for the high price of land is its shortage, and that if there were a considerable increase in the supply the price would fall? Is he satisfied with current prices of housing land?

Mr. Freeson

No, I am certainly not satisfied with current prices of housing land. However, there have been some rather chequered experiences in land prices within the past year or so, largely linked up with the catastrophic drop in house building under the previous Government.

Mr. McNamara

Can my hon. Friend say when we may expect to receive legislation bringing development land into public ownership?

Mr. Freeson

This matter is being worked upon at present in the Department. No doubt future Questions will be dealt with adequately by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Planning and Local Government.

Mr. Arthur Jones

Will the hon. Gentleman elaborate on that and say what is implied by "taking into public possession"?

Mr. Freeson

There is a later Question on the Order Paper, on which the hon. Member will be able to pursue the matter in greater detail.

Mr. Tyler

Will the Minister recognise that a much more effective way of reducing the price of land is to introduce a land value tax immediately on the granting of planning consent, with an escalating rate as the years go by? Will he accept that, contrary to the view just expressed by the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Jones), it is impossible to increase the supply of land without building out into the seas around us?

Mr. Freeson

I take that last subtle point, but I do not accept the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question.