Urban and Agricultural Land (Ownership)

Oral Answers to Questions — Land and Natural Resources – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th May 1965.

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Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington 12:00 am, 10th May 1965

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what proportion of urban and agricultural land in the United Kingdom is owned by the State and local authorities, respectively.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

Acreage figures are available for certain classes of land in the United Kingdom owned by the State and local authorities, but they are not in a form or sufficiently comprehensive to provide the information required. I am aware of the inadequecy of the information about land at present available and the Natural Resources Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Dudley Stamp is now considering questions of the survey and statistics of land use.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is it not remarkable that no figures or statistics have been collated of the land owned by the State or the local authorities? Is my right hon. Friend aware that we have had successive Tory Governments for 12 or 13 years and that they have never thought it desirable to collate these statistics?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I agree with my right hon. Friend. There is a remarkable absence of information about land in this country and I hope that my Department will help to repair it.

Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South

In view of the somewhat scathing comments that have been made, will the right hon. Gentleman say to what function he proposes to put these statistics when he has them, since every Department and local authority knows its ownership? What value will there be in this collation?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

This information is not known generally, apart from particular ownerships. It might be quite useful to know more about land ownership.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the State should have some information about the property it owns?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

The State has some information, but it is not adequate.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Is it not the case that the last assembly of such information as my right hon. Friend is seeking took place almost exactly 900 years ago, in the Domesday Book, and is it not time that we had another Domesday Book?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I think that there is a good case for a new Domesday Book. Although there were partial surveys, apart from the Domesday Book, I agree that it is time that we returned to the general question of land ownership.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Does it follow from the right hon. Gentleman's last reply that the policy of the progressive Labour Government is back to Domesday?