Land Commission

Oral Answers to Questions — Land and Natural Resources – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 November 1965.

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Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe 12:00, 1 November 1965

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources if the staff of the Land Commission will include architects and surveyors.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Land Commission will have whatever professional staff is necessary for its functions.

Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe

Will the hon. Gentleman say from where he is to get this professional staff in view of the chaos in the industry at the moment due to licensing proposals?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

The hon. Member is well aware of the situation which has existed for some considerable time in relation to professional bodies, and no doubt he has made sound suggestions to put it right. Where there is a shortage of skilled staff it is essential that they should be wisely and properly used in bodies of this character.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources if the Land Commission will build houses for sale on land acquired by it by compulsory purchase; how extensive these activities will be; and if the Commission will contract with private enterprise building firms.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

The Land Commission will be able, with the consent of Ministers, to provide houses for sale on concessionary terms where such bodies as housing associations, co-operative groups or local authorities are not available to meet this need. The extent of the Commission's activities in this field cannot therefore be forecast at present, but in so far as the Commission does build houses for sale, it will not be debarred from contracting with private firms where that is the most efficient method.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that, if the State is to trade, the principle of a willing seller and a willing buyer will be broached by compulsory purchase and, if the State is to speculate, there will be widespread anxiety in the country? We on this side of the House will want to look at this matter very seriously.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

The information which has so far reached me is rather in the opposite direction.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Northamptonshire South

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources by what means he intends local authorities to benefit financially from the operations of the proposed Land Commission.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

As the White Paper indicates, it is the intention of the Government to ensure that the gain to the Exchequer from the operations of the Land Commission will in one way or another be reflected in the new arrangements under which local authorities will receive financial assistance from the Government. I must therefore ask the hon. Gentleman to await the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government of the results of the review of local government finance.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Northamptonshire South

Has the Minister made any speculation yet as to what extent such a reduction will affect council house rents?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

Of course I have considered these matters, but the hon. Member will realise that we have to await the statement which will be made on local government finance.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Northamptonshire South

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what powers of entry will be given to the proposed Land Commission in respect of the leases granted for 999 years; and what provisions will be made for future comprehensive development in the light of the length of such leases.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

The Land Commission will be empowered to buy out the remainder of the lease by agreement or, if necessary, by a compulsory purchase order.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Northamptonshire South

Will the Parliamentary Secretary say that if the freehold is allowed to be acquired by the local authority and if the land is not maintained by the local authority the Government will insist that the freehold shall pass to the subsequent developer?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

I think I ought to have notice of that question rather than answer off the cuff.