HC Deb 23 July 1975 vol 896 cc532-3
6. Mr. Hordern

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will hold consultations with the GLC about its policy of acquiring land for house building.

Mr. Armstrong

Both Ministers and officials of the Department hold fairly frequent discussions with the Greater London Council on all aspects of its housing policy, including its policy on land acquisitions.

Mr. Hordern

Does the Minister realise that the GLC has enough land to build houses for another 10 years? Since the Chairman of the GLC complains that people are leaving London at a rapid rate, what can be the point of the GLC buying expensive land in Horsham, and proposing to do so at Crawley, thereby depriving local people of the opportunity of obtaining their own homes? Since the Government's rate support grant to the GLC was doubled last year, and since this is against its own best interests, surely this sort of business should be stopped.

Mr. Armstrong

The main consideration for the GLC is the very acute housing problem, and it is only prudent for it to look ahead when considering land acquisition. The GLC recently announced a cut in capital expenditure on land acquisition in 1975–76 from£28 million to£14 million. As for the purchase of expensive land, the GLC can buy land only at current value as given by the district valuer.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does my hon. Friend agree that the very severe housing problems, particularly in inner London, can be solved in the long term only by encouraging the GLC not merely to acquire land outside London but to put further pressure on the outer London boroughs, which in many cases are preventing the solution of inner London's problems?

Mr. Armstrong

I agree with all that my hon. Friend said, and I assure him that in our frequent discussions with the GLC we are tackling this very great social problem for London—and that involves taking land in the outer boroughs.