HC Deb 04 April 1974 vol 871 cc1440-1
Q6. Mr. Milne

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Shildon, County Durham.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Milne

Does the Prime Minister recollect that in a strongly worded speech in July last year he called for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the Poulson affair in Shildon, County Durham? Will he look at this matter again, since the Redcliffe-Maud Committee deals only with the local government side of this problem and we want the Civil Service and parliamentary side of it to be examined as well?

The Prime Minister

I well remember that speech. I said that I thought that a Royal Commission should be set up at once without even waiting for the results of the Poulson trials. I think that the action of my predecessor in setting up the Redcliffe-Maud Committee was a full response to the point I raised at that time, and I hope that we shall have the committee's report quickly. A lot of time has been saved by its appointment. On the other point in my statement—declarations of interest by Members of this House—there were discussions between the two Front Benches under the previous Government and considerable progress was made. There is already adequate machinery for dealing with the Civil Service aspect.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

If the Prime Minister visits Durham and meets the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne), I hope that he will meet him with friendship, since the hon. Member is one of the few on the Government benches to speak out against the scandalous profits made by property speculators.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, and so have I spoken out. If the hon. Gentleman is trying to follow the smear by the Tory Press, I will say this to him: my hon. Friends from Durham know the difference between property speculation and land reclamation. [Laughter.] This is not a laughing matter. My hon. Friends know that if one buys land on which there is a slag heap 120 ft. high and it costs £100,000 to remove that slag, that is not land speculation in the sense that we condemn it. It is land reclamation.

Forward to