asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is now prepared to grant loan sanction to local authorities for the purchase of land for future requirements; and what limit he intends to impose on the total expenditure for this purpose which he will authorise in the coming financial year.
I am prepared to authorise purchase of land in advance of requirements only where there is special need. I cannot say what total expenditure will be authorised for this purpose in the coming year.
Does not the restriction to cases of special need to local authorities go very ill with the intention to provide £45 million for the Land Commission to use for the same purpose? Would it not be better to apply this money to the existing and perfectly competent local authorities?
Certainly we are applying it through the local authorities, but the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that even when we do this we must take care to ensure that it is wisely used. The particular source—purchases under benefit and improvement—have risen from £8 million to £21 million per annum in three years, and we felt that it was time to look very carefully at this matter.