HC Deb 15 July 1980 vol 988 cc1386-8
Mr. Stephen Ross

I beg to move amendment No. 314, in page 147, line 44, leave out 'nine' and insert ' eleven '.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to take amendment No. 315, in page 148, line 7, at end insert— '(3) The Secretary of State shall have the power to co-opt two persons as members of the Authority. Such appointments shall be unpaid and shall be made by the Secretary of State after consultation with such organisations as appear to him to be representative of private housebuilding in Wales. Co-opted members shall not have the power to vote.'.

Mr. Ross

This amendment relates to the Land Authority for Wales. I think that most hon. Members will agree that it is a pity that there was no Welsh Member on the Committee discussing the Bill. It is also sad that no Welsh Member, apparently wishes to take part in the debate on the authority on Report. I can only claim that I have a Welsh wife. The builders may have discovered that and decided that I was the right person to move the amendment. There is a feeling in the housebuilding community in Wales that it is not properly represented on the Land Authority. I am delighted that the Government have had the sense to keep the Land Authority for Wales. It has worked well. The Government deserve thanks for their common sense over that part of the Community Land Act.

The amendment enables the Secretary of State to add two people to the board of the Land Authority. The authority is, and will continue to be, one of the major bodies bringing forward land for development in the Principality. Although it has performed adequately in the past—this is accepted by house builders—it is unusual that little attempt has been made to take advantage of the experience of local developers. One developer is represented on the authority, but house building, possibly in greatest need for supplies of suitable land, is not represented. The amendment seeks to rectify that omission by expanding the membership of the authority by two.

Amendment No. 315 would give the Secretary of State power to co-opt two members from the house building industry. I give the Minister an option. I hope that he will take one of them.

Mr. Fox

I congratulate the hon. Member upon his ingenuity, but I do not intend to accept either of his options. In our opinion, the amendments as drafted would make even more of a change to paragraph 2 of schedule 14 than he has in mind. It would set the maximum number of members at 13, 11 full-time and two part-time. I have listened with interest to the point that he makes. I understand that he feels that private house builders are not fully represented. After the fullest consideration, we believe that, as at present constituted, the numbers involved are more than adequate. The board has operated efficiently. On that basis, I must resist the amendment.

Mr. Ross

I knew that it was wrong to try to move an amendment that I knew nothing about. I accept what the Minister says. I am sorry for the house building industry that I have not succeeded in persuading the Minister to accept at least one of the options.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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