§ 9. Mr. Sainsbury
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has sought comments from the Advisory Group on Commercial Property Development on the development land tax.
§ Mr. John Silkin
Development land tax is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Advisory Group took account of the development land tax proposals in its report on the implications of the community land scheme for commercial property development.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
Does the Minister accept that he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment have some departmental responsibility for the availability of land for commercial and industrial development? Does he accept that the first report of the Advisory Group on Commercial Property Development was widely held to be a most useful document? Does he further realise that it would have been even more useful had it been published in time to be taken into account by those engaged in the somewhat lengthy consideration of the Community Land Act? In the light of any comments in that first report on the rate of tax, will he now ask for a report from that group on that specific point?
§ Mr. Silkin
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Pilcher Committee produced a valuable report. I am sorry that he takes a slightly jaundiced view of the time of its publication. The report has been found to be useful and has been referred to quite considerably, not least by the hon. Gentleman himself.
The report mentioned the development land tax and made the rather interesting comment that it might have been expected that voices would have been raised against the basic principle of recouping development value to the community. It went on to say that no such voice was heard and that, on the contrary, all had accepted the necessity. It continued:There should therefore be the most careful monitoring …".
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of his hon. Friends are keen to see the Bill on the statute book and in operation at the earliest possible moment?
§ Mr. Silkin
I shall certainly tell my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is not aware of it, of my hon. Friend's comment.
§ Mr. Rossi
Although it is a matter primarily for the Treasury, will the right hon. Gentleman tell his colleagues there that it appears to be generally accepted opinion outside the House that a rate of 30 per cent. development land tax is far too high and that its only effect will be to stop land from coming forward voluntarily for development?
§ Mr. Silkin
At the risk of intervening in what is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's sources of information are a little too limited and a little too narrow. That is by no means the general view.