Estate Owners

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th April 1965.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 14th April 1965

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the names of all owners of more than 50,000 acres in the Highlands area.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

As the public registers do not generally give the acreage of large estates, it is not possible to identify with any accuracy or precision those holdings which, in aggregate, exceed 50,000 acres.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Does my hon. Friend recognise the very unsatisfactory character of that answer? Will he not take steps to get this information, because otherwise we cannot intelligently discuss the Bill now before the Scottish Grand Committee? Will he consult the Leader of the Opposition, because if we get a list of the subscribers to the Tory Party in Scotland, that will be nearly accurate enough for us.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. The last part of that supplementary question does not lie within the realms of the Minister's responsibility. The other part of the question is in order.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I do not agree with my hon. Friend that the lack of this information prevents us from discussing the Highland Development Bill in Committee. I know that it would be interesting to have a list of these owners, but I think that the more important thing is to continue with our work of giving the Highland Development Board powers to see that the land is used in the best way possible and in the national interest, no matter who the owner may be.

Photo of Sir Knox Cunningham Sir Knox Cunningham , South Antrim

Would the Under-Secretary of State think of giving in HANSARD the acres owned by British Railways and possibly by some other nationalised industries?

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Is my hon. Friend aware that no return of this nature has been published since 1873, and that, since such a return was then possible, it is reasonable to ask whether it is not possible to do so now? Will he notice that I have a Question down within the next few weeks asking for this?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I have noted that Question. I am also aware that there has been no return since 1873. It is true that it would be possible to get this information, but as I pointed out in my previous answer, we feel that it is more important to get on with the job than to gather this information.