HC Deb 16 April 1975 vol 890 cc437-8
21. Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many letters he has received since 12th September 1974 regarding the White Paper on land (Command Paper No. 5730); and what has been the general nature of his replies.

Mr. John Silkin

I have received comments from a large number of bodies and individuals reflecting a wide range of opinion on the White Paper proposals. The replies have varied according to the issues raised.

Mr. Latham

Has the Minister been able to explain to his correspondents any method by which his land proposals will reduce the selling price of new houses?

Mr. Silkin

Fortunately I have been able to explain to correspondents how the price of land will at last succeed in being stabilised and how we shall as a community be able to plan positively. The hon. Member was for some years Director of the House Builders Federation. He must know that the cost of houses depends not only on land but also on materials and labour. Therefore, that point does not come within my scope. [Interruption.] I was dealing with land. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman. He will be pleased to hear that the correspondents who wrote to me about the White Paper proposals were seven to one in favour of our land scheme.

Mr. Raison

Is the Minister aware that we receive that answer with great scepticism? Is he aware that in view of the heavy demands that the Community Land Bill will make on public service manpower, the heavy demands that its launching period will make on public expenditure and the fact that the scheme will not work, the House will be pleased if he will withdraw this ridiculous measure?

Mr. Silkin

I am sure that on a near occasion the hon. Gentleman will have a chance to express his views in greater detail. His arithmetic is wrong. When the final duty comes into existence all over the country, the number of skilled professional people required in addition will reach a total of under 4,000 people for England, Scotland and Wales.