§ LORD SOUTHWOOD
My Lords, in the unavoidable absence of my noble friend Lord Latham, I beg to ask the question which stands in his name.
§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether the proposed legislation for limiting the cost of land acquired for public purposes to values ruling at March, 1939, will include provision that such limitation shall apply retrospectively to any land purchased by local authorities for housing purposes before the legislation becomes operative.]
My Lords, in the absence of the Minister of Reconstruction, I will answer for him. The Bill itself will be introduced shortly, and it is better, I think, that I should not now anticipate its terms.
§ LORD ADDISON
May I ask, as on a previous occasion, whether the wore "shortly" means before Whitsuntide?
My Lords, this is not a starred question, but I do not propose to debate it. The noble Viscount says that a Bill will be introduced. I think 397 that I am within the recollection of your Lordships when I say that the last thing we were promised was a White Paper—or was it a Bill?
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, tells me that we were promised both, but now we are promised only a Bill. It is the Bill which matters, of course. I think it right, however, to remind the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Hot se, and the other noble Lords who adorn the Government Bench at the ritornelli, that not only is this matter extraordinarily urgent, as we heard in a recent debate, from the point of view of the local 398 authorities, but every day's delay means more land speculation, and means in addition more legitimate purchases—perfectly legitimate and proper purchases. It is not fair to the genuine buyer that he should not know where he stands. I should have thought it would be possible to answer the narrow question put by my noble friend Lord Latham without waiting for the full text of the Bill; but if once more this is the Government's attitude, I suppose that there is no more that we can do about it except express our further regret. Personally, I hope that my noble friend Lord Latham will return to the charge in the very near future.
§ House adjourned.