That is. the view of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). He, we know, would not give them anything. But, assuming he is not speaking for the party opposite—an assumption which I think I am entitled to make—it is of importance to see that we get this figure right. If, indeed, I was right when I said the true figure was between £50 million and £100 million, that is a tremendous slice out of a compensation fund intended to deal primarily with development and not mining at all. The relevance of these calculations and discussions is of moment not only to the mineral workers, but to all those who have to rely upon the fixed sum of £300 million for compensation in respect of the deprivation of their development rights.
The last point I desire to make upon this matter is one which I made before. If one examines the profits for royalties, or the output of minerals—I care not what standard is taken—they show the greatest activity, as one would expect, in times of vigorous, progressive house building. The contrary is also true, and if a check is put upon the proper development of those minerals, then a grave impediment is put in the way of a really important housing drive in this country. We know the difficulties that have attended the building of houses; we know that there is not a strong current of house building, which would take this in its stride, but a weak and feeble stream. Any impediment placed in the way of house building at the present time is to be doubly deplored. If these minerals-the greater part of which is used directly in the service of making homes for the people—are dragged into this compensation and betterment scheme, it will have a deleterious effect upon the housing programme, and will add one more check to the great desire felt, I believe, in every part of the House, to get on with the provision of homes for the people.
If the Government are determined to go on with this scheme they should, as was proposed in another place, exclude altogether current mining transactions. Those involved here do not ask for compensation; they make no claim out of the £300 million, and they should not pay the betterment charge. Leave them alone to get on with their business, for I am sure that would be in the interests of good administration, of housing, and of a good scheme in the Bill with which we are now dealing.