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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) whether he has fully investigated the question of the Gosforth Council acquiring land from the National Coal Board for housing purposes, then selling the land to private builders and using the housing revenue account to compensate the National Coal Board; and if he will make a statement;
(2) in regard to the land transactions between the Gosforth Council and the National Coal Board, from what source under the terms of the agreement compensation was payable to the Board.
These transactions have been perfectly regular and straightforward. Some years ago the council bought for housing purposes land in which the National Coal Board had extensive leasehold interests. Payment of compensation for those interests is part of the cost of acquisition and is, therefore, a charge on the housing revenue account. Some of the land thus acquired proved to be surplus to the council's requirements and was, with the consent of my predecessor, recently sold to a private builder. The money from the sale would of course be credited to the account, and can therefore be used, with my consent, towards payment of the outstanding liability to the Board. I have given my consent to the application of a first instalment of this money to this purpose.