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Orders of the Day — Land Commission Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th May 1966.

Alert me about debates like this

Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.

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

As I was saying, when the interruption came from another place, the right hon. Gentleman relied again this afternoon, as he did on the last occasion, on the argument in favour of his proposition that the effect of the Measure would be to lower rather than to increase land prices, that, in any event, the sellers of land obtained the highest price which they could get. Therefore, he argued, the imposition of a substantial tax on top of that would not further increase the price. If that argument were valid, it would go far beyond land. If it were valid, increases in Purchase Tax would not increase the price of clothing, jewellery or motor cars.

Yet it is our experience in this House—indeed we have devoted considerable debates to this precise issue—that increases in indirect taxation on something sold increase the price either to the precise amount of the tax increase or, very often, by more. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not present. The reason for the fallacy in his argument is that what helps to determine the price of anything, whether it be land or a pair of galoshes, is what other people are charging, the consideration of whether, by raising one's price any higher, one loses one's market and does not get a sale.

If, right across the field, by imposing a tax on every comparable article, one increases the cost to the seller, one gets a general rise right across the field in the price which is demanded. That, after all, is the experience of any of us—there are many—who have any experience of taxation, that it is absolutely axiomatic that the increases in indirect taxation on an article inflate the price of the article to the purchaser. There is no miracle at the right hon. Gentleman's disposal to prevent this from happening to land.

That is why I said on the last occasion and will say today that, whatever else the proposal does, it will increase the price of land. So, of course, will the introduction of another middle man, the Land Commission, between the vendor of land and the developer. There are, inevitably, costs involved in that which will be passed on to the purchaser. Therefore, it is a real imposition on the credibility of our people to suggest that any relief from rising land prices will be obtained by putting a tax on land and channelling its sale through the Land Commission.

The right hon. Gentleman will not face the fact that the high prices of land which have worried all of us are the direct consequence of the operation of the law of supply and demand, of the operation of a powerful demand on a limited supply and that the answer must be to increase the supply. The Parliamentary Secretary may ask, "How do you increase the supply of land?" The answer is that it is not simply land which is required but land with planning permission. Therefore, it is to the planning system that the right hon. Gentleman should look in order to increase the supply of land for building and development.

It is only by expediting planning procedures that the right hon. Gentleman could increase the supply as against the demand and therefore cope with the problem of prices. In that context, it was depressing to note that, the other day in the debate on the Address, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government said, rather lightheartedly and airily, that he would not mind a Select Committee of hon. Members looking at the planning and appeals system. Surely, if the right hon. Gentleman and the Government were doing their job, that is what they would be doing. They would be dealing with what they admit to be increasing delays in the planning system, land sterilised in the interstices of the planning system, land which, if it were available for development, could increase the supply of developable land, and so bring down the price.

I will not enter into the argument between my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman opposite about whether existing legal powers are sufficient for that or not. I think that some amendment of planning law itself is required, but such an amendment would be infinitely simpler, quicker and more expeditious than the creation of this great Land Commission.

The Minister must be impressed—he would be very insensitive if he were not—by the condemnation of the Bill which has come almost uniformly from expert, impartial and authoritative quarters. Reference has already been made to the conference called by the Town and Country Planning Association. My right hon, Friend quoted the powerful speech of Sir Philip Dingle, the town clerk of Manchester, at that gathering. I will quote the observation of Mr. Barnard, the city treasurer of Norwich: The number of actual bodies with compulsory powers runs into 1,500–1,600 and the types of bodies to 14. Is it really necessary to add yet another Leviathan to this list? There was also the condemnation of the chartered bodies, all the more effective for its moderate expression. There is the Valuers' Institution, which sent a document to hon. Members in the last couple of days, which ends with the words: The conclusion must be that the ultimate aim is extensive land nationalisation. This is to be achieved at the cost of confusion and much injustice. Those are strong words to be spoken by a non-political, impartial and expert body.

This is the kind of comment which, in the last six months, has been directed at this Measure by those most qualified by training, knowledge and practical experience to comment upon it.

I do not want to detain the House, but I should like to put quickly one or two specific examples of positive damage which would be done by the wide scope of the levy. There is the effect on home ownership. The right hon. Gentleman, when I made this point on the last occasion, did not seem to understand it. He said that an owner-occupier selling his house is not selling anything with a development value.

This is simply not true. The small house and garden on the periphery of a big town, when re-development takes place, of course has development value. That small house and garden is almost typically the result of someone saving, the building up of a home as a result of a long series of mortgage payments. The Chancellor of the Exchequer exempts owner-occupied homes from his Capital Gains Tax because he recognises that these are socially desirable things which should be encouraged. But the right hon. Gentleman makes no exception whatever of these. He also ignores the fact that the desire to create a valuable capital asset for their children is one of the most proper and powerful incentives which will cause a young couple to indulge in the heavy sacrifice and obligations—particularly so now—of taking a mortgage and seeking to build a house.

There is also the fact that, despite all that was said on the last occasion, the charge will fall on the extractive industries of sand and gravel, industries which create the raw materials of housing, and thereby it will inevitably increase further the cost of housing.

The levy will also fall on industrialists who expand their factories, perhaps even in response to a grant from one of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues for the purpose of modernising and expanding a factory, above all in development areas, because it is there that, thanks to the working of the I.D.C. system, the expansion of factory premises is taking place. What sense is there in imposing this charge as a kind of Purchase Tax on the modernisation of industry?

There is also the fact that a complicated machine has to be set up. One has to give notice six weeks ahead before one takes even the most preliminary step to clear the site, and one has to wait six weeks after giving notice before one can start work on any building. One has to give notice and subject oneself to a charge if one grants a wayleave over one's land to the Postmaster-General to erect a telephone cable. These are the kind of extremes to which the doctrinaire enthusiasm of the right hon. Gentleman carries this Measure.

I come, as my right hon. Friend did, to what is perhaps the most unjust and oppressive provision in the Bill—in Clause 8 and the Second Schedule. Despite one Amendment, it is still the fact that, if the Minister wishes, a compulsory purchase order can be put on someone's premises and he will have no right to argue his case. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was wonderfully ingenuous when he described the provision as somewhat curtailing the landowner's right to elaborate his arguments. The landowner will have no chance to make an argument at all.

I believe that this disingenuous Whitehall phraseology was intended to conceal the brutal reality of a proposal under which someone's house and garden could be taken from him without the opportunity for him to argue the case, and, in view of the provision to which I referred on the last occasion about notice, possibly even without the person knowing that it was happening. We still have the absurd provision under which one complies with the necessity of giving notice by handing the notice to a passer-by or pinning it in wind and rain on a tree or fence and deeming that to be proper notice to the owner, who may not be there at the time.

This evil is not diminished by the one Amendment to which I referred, saying that the system will last only five years unless the Minister takes an affirmative Resolution to carry it on beyond that. If this is wrong, as I think it to be, and contrary to natural justice, it is just as wrong if it is to be for five years with the possibility of extension as if it is to be so indefinitely.

I should be glad if the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary would answer the question by my right hon. Friend as to whether the Council on Tribunals was consulted about this. The Council was set up for the express purpose of watching these things. Assurances were given at the time that measures bearing on the procedures of tribunals and so on would be put to it at the formative stage. The right hon. Gentleman has not told us whether the Council was consulted, and he has not, therefore, told us what the answer would be, though most of us could guess it, if the Council had been consulted. Nor has he told us what is the necessity to do this, to take a step justified perhaps by a major war but utterly unjustified in time of peace.

What is all this great Commission in aid of? We are told that it will be 2,000 strong. It will mean an increased body of people engaged in services at a time when the Government are going to extreme measures in other directions in order to try to diminish the number of people engaged in services. What is it all in aid of? The bait held out to our people is that this will cheapen the cost of housing. No one who has seen this Government's handling of the matter in recent months would believe that. No one who has seen the fact that house prices rose last year by 10 per cent., a record figure, no one who has seen the fact that the Government are forcing the building societies into positions in which mortgages are bound to rise to the highest level ever, no one who has seen the Government propose to impose a Selective Employment Tax without any mitigation on the building and construction industry, could believe that his Government would raise a finger to lower housing costs.

It is much clearer now than it was on the last occasion, as my right hon. Friend so well said, that it is political motivation and not cheap housing which is the real purpose of the Bill. If this were something that did not matter, something which was just of theoretical importance, my hon. Friends and I could wait placidly for a year or two until this monstrous folly became only too plain for all to see. But, unhappily, it bears on something that really matters to all of us on both sides of the House—the housing of our people. I believe that, for the reasons which I and my right hon. and hon. Friends have tried to give, if the Bill should become law—that is, perhaps, a very open question—many people will have to pay more for a house than they would otherwise have needed to do, and carry, perhaps for the rest of their lives, by way of mortgage heavier burdens than they would have needed to do, and others will not get the houses that they want and need and ought to have. That is why my right hon. Friends and I will fight the Bill.

6.26 p.m.

Photo of Dr Michael Winstanley Dr Michael Winstanley , Cheadle

I am afraid that I must subject the House to another maiden speech. This is the first time that I have had the honour and privilege of addressing the House but I have at least been here long enough to observe at first hand the manner in which new Members in my plight are received by the House. I mention this in the hopeful expectancy that this amiable custom will continue for the next quarter of an hour.

I am, of course, very honoured to be here at all, but I am particularly glad to have arrived here as the representative of Cheadle in Cheshire. I realise that my appearance here has resulted in the fact that my predecessor, Mr. William Shepherd, is now not here, but this, of course, is in the very nature of things and cannot be avoided. It is true that I did not always agree with what Mr. Shepherd did when he was here. Nevertheless, he was here for a very long time doing it—for twenty-one years. I am very sorry that I have had to be the means of severing his connection with the House, which he valued so much and found so rewarding.

Cheadle is the largest Parliamentary division in the north of England in terms of population, and there is plenty of population in the north of England. It is an area which in many ways reflects the country as a whole. We have a mixed population, with moorland country, hill villages and industrial areas with engineering, heavy and light, and with suburbs, city overspill and rich residential areas. Indeed, Cheadle is a microcosm of Britain as a whole.

I mention this in order to show that this is a constituency which could hardly be regarded by hon. Members as falling into part of what is called "the Celtic fringe"—whatever that may be. I understand that "the Celtic fringe" is a term inevitably applied to any area in this country in which the Liberal Party happens to be doing well. All of us from time to time allow ourselves a certain amount of latitude in our definitions. In the North-West, where I come from, we use the term "London" to denote Corn- wall, Devon and all points south of the Wash. Therefore, we must equally be prepared to allow an equal amount of latitude to other people.

I feel very proud to have joined in this House a large number of right hon. and hon. Members for all parties who represent northern constituencies in which they have been born, bred and nurtured, and who have made so outstanding a contribution from time to time to the affairs of this House. I believe that the northern voice is perhaps a rather special voice. At least, it is a rather different voice. I would not say that it was necessarily a better voice. I would not say it—but what I might think is another matter. Nevertheless, I am very proud to be able to add my humble individual voice to the collective voice of the North drawn from all parties. Of course, I should like to talk about the North indefinitely, and I am aware that a certain latitude is allowed to new Members in straying from the point—a degree of latitude shared only, so far as I know, by Her Majesty's coroners. But perhaps on this occasion I might be forgiven if, in view of the importance of the subject, I try to stick to the point.

The history of the attempts of this House to deal with land values, land speculation and land taxation is not a happy one, although it is a very long one, as right hon. and hon. Members will realise, perhaps, when I read them this quotation from a fellow Mancunian, or at least a Mancunian by birth, who was well known in the House: Land which is essential to the free and healthy development of towns is being kept out of the market in order to enhance its value … He went on to say: The growth in the value … of urban sites, is due to no expenditure of capital or thought on the part of the ground owner but entirely owing to the energy and enterprise of the community".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th April, 1909; c. 532 and 536.] Those may not sound very unusual words now, but they were the words of Mr. Lloyd George on 29th April, 1909. It would seem, perhaps, from that, when we look back over the last 57 years, we have had to run very fast in order to stay exactly where we were.

Hon. Members may recall what happened to the Measures which were introduced at that time and how they were shuttled backwards and forwards, to and fro, betwixt this House and another place, until finally a world war and later what some hon. Members opposite may regard as an equal catastrophe—a Conservative-dominated Government in 1922—put them finally in the discard. It is true that these proposals for taxing land values were taken up again in Philip Snowden's Finance Act, but their doom was pronounced very rapidly by the Conservative leader, Mr. Baldwin, who said: I can say one thing about it, that if we get back to power, that tax will never see daylight. And so it proved and thus ingloriously perished the only land value taxation legislation Britain has ever known.

We come next to much later years and the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. This was an Act which no doubt brought considerable benefit. But equally it brought considerable confusion in certain other directions. However, it was not a Measure to tax land values.

So we arrive, via a route which I hope you, Mr. Speaker, will not consider to have been too circuitous, at the present day and the Bill now before us.

My right hon. and hon. Friends on this bench are entirely at one with the Government in what we believe to be their aims in this matter. First, we believe that it is essential that Measures should be introduced to make land readily available in the public interest. Secondly, we believe that it is also essential that active steps should be taken to stop speculation in land values. Thirdly, we want to see Measures introduced to assist the community to share in the fruits of the appreciation of land values which have been brought about by planning decisions or by other actions of the local authorities. We therefore go along with the Government entirely on that: our aims are the same. But I am bound to say that we feel that these proposals will not achieve these very desirable aims.

We believe, first, that a once-and-for-all tax is not an incentive to bring land on to the market. Indeed, we think that it will have the reverse effect. There are people who still hold the belief, a belief that hon. Members opposite may consider unreasonable and perhaps even perverse, that sometimes there will be a change in seats in this place, and these people wait and hope. Indeed, this is the sort of hope which springs eternal in the landlord's breast. One may go on to say, and indeed the Minister has said, that a levy which increases will hurry up people to bring land forward. This is true if the land is to be brought forward. But if it is not to be brought forward, then it is not an incentive at all.

I come to the other Measure—compulsory purchase. Has the Minister forgotten the experience with compulsory purchase in the years following 1947? I know that, as George Bernard Shaw said, the one thing which we learn from experience is that we never learn anything from experience, but we could at least try on this occasion. With the shortage of professional resources, already referred to by right hon. Members, in terms of valuers and the other professional people needed, there will inevitably be a very acute bottleneck, and no amount of administrative manœuvring within this shortage will release it. In other words, it will not achieve the aim.

The points which I am making were made, no doubt more eloquently, more fully and from much more information, by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) when this matter was last debated in the House. But the points which he made were never really answered. Indeed, the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington), in winding up the debate, regretted that these points could not be answered. He said: I wanted to answer these points. No one is sadder than I am that some of the very brilliant replies I have on points about compulsory purchase, and indeed the Liberal case, cannot be given tonight …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 816–7.] But this is another night and perhaps we shall have answers to those points.

I am beginning to wonder what they might be, particularly when I notice that the hon. Gentleman's name appears prominently on the letter heading as sponsor of an organisation called the Rating Reform Campaign of the Land Value Taxation League. The objects of this campaign are: to secure legislation so that local rates are taken off all buildings and improvements and levied solely on the site value of land". The hon. Gentleman is borne up in those beliefs by other names in the form of the hon. Lady the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler), the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) and the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). I realise that they share these views, and that they believe with us that a continuing tax on land values would be a method of bringing forward land and of enabling local authorities which have done so much to cause the appreciation in these land values to share in them. I am gratified to know that there are hon. and right hon. Members opposite who hold these views. I hope that they will make a start on doing something to implement them.

It may be said tonight that there will be changes. In fact, we have already heard of the possibility of certain changes in this direction and certain changes in other directions. But is it not best to try to get these matters right at the beginning? I have felt from time to time that progressive aims are often prejudiced by doing things badly at the start. We have had many examples of this. Hon. and right hon. Members will remember a Finance Bill of not long ago which had to have 100 Amendments, not counting drafting Amendments, in 22 sittings.

The Prime Minister, speaking of the Selective Employment Tax, is reported in The Guardian of today as saying that at present it had "crude and clumsy implications" but that these would be refined in time". It has been much impressed on me since I became a Member that time is in as short supply in the House as land is in short supply outside. It would also seem from the debate which we had not long ago that the amount of additional time to be obtained by plundering private Members' time is not inexhaustible. Therefore, there are clearly reasons for getting the matter right at the start.

There are suggestions in the Bill itself that it will have to be changed. Clause 8 says that the Minister may have to do so if during the five years following the first appointed day it appears that some simplified procedure might have to be adopted. All I hope is that the Minister will at least try to get these things right the first time. It seems to me that the guiding principle that seems to underlie so much of the Government's activities—act now and amend later—is pragmatism run riot. I assure the Government that if they came forward with proposals that would satisfy the aims we share we would without doubt give them every possible support at our command.

I apologise if I have gone on too long. I apologise also if I have, as a maiden speaker, ventured into the unpermitted territory of controversy, but I felt that I would be serving the best interests of the House, not by indulging in amiable pleasantries but by endeavouring, though humbly, to make a constructive contribution on an extremely important issue. I am aware that the manner in which I have been received does not necessarily indicate acquiescence in my point of view, but merely underlines that unfailing courtesy which is shown by the House to new Members in general, and which has been shown to me in particular tonight. For that I am deeply grateful.

6.41 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Fletcher Mr Edward Fletcher , Darlington

I want, first, to congratulate the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) on overcoming the ordeal of his maiden speech. I had an idea of the type of speaker he was, because a few days ago I saw him in a television programme urging the masses to case their votes for the Liberal candidates in the municipal elections. I do not know whether that speech will prove to have been as persuasive as has his speech just now—we shall not know that until tomorrow. I knew that the hon. Member was a capable and fluent speaker, and he has no doubt impressed the House, as he has impressed me, with his maiden speech. We all look forward to further contributions from him from time to time.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned Mr. Lloyd George's attitude in 1909 to taxing land values, but one could have resurrected speeches by Gladstone, because it was an essential plank of the Liberal Party's programmes that God gave the land to the people and that the benefit of the land should be returned to the people. That is why I find it inexplicable that, on the last occasion at any rate, the Liberal Members voted against that Bill—

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

But nowhere in Gladstone will one find the quotation "God gave the land to the Land Commission".

Photo of Mr Edward Fletcher Mr Edward Fletcher , Darlington

I will not accuse the hon. Member of blasphemy but will merely point out that the land does not belong to the Land Commission. The Commission is a vehicle being used to transfer land from one owner to another. It is quite wrong to make that sort of comparison. The Liberals, it seems, having inherited this great tradition of the fight against landlordism, have now reached the stage when they say that they are not prepared to accept this present imaginative Measure.

It is easy to criticise certain aspects of the Bill. I myself criticise the amount of the levy, for instance. I think that it should be very much greater—

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

The point is that the Liberal Party's objection is based on the fact that this Measure could be a back road to nationalisation. The Land Commission is unnecessary to obtain the effect sought, and runs contrary to the proposals we have always made.

Photo of Mr Edward Fletcher Mr Edward Fletcher , Darlington

I cannot accept that this is nationalisation in the sense that the community is taking all land into national ownership. I am an old-type Socialist who believes in land nationalisation, and I would doubly welcome this Bill if it attempted to do that. Unfortunately it does not. It attempts to deal with the immediate problem of controlling a situation in which we are short of land for houses and other building development, in which there is a racket in the sale of land, and in which thousands and thousands of £s have been made by land speculators hoarding land. It is an attempt to deal with that immediate problem.

I can understand the Conservative attitude to this matter, because notoriously in the past the Tories have been known and have been castigated for it by the Liberal Party—as the friends of the landlords. Even though they now recognise that the scandal has reached such proportions that something must be done about it, I have not heard tonight—although I have listened very intently to the debate—any alternative proposals put forward from that side of the Chamber.

I am reminded of something that I read in "Crossbow", the magazine of the Tory Bow Group, in March, 1965, which stated: Bereft of their ministerial briefs, many of the Opposition have shown themselves to be largely barren of new ideas and fresh inspiration and for that reason unsure in debate and ineffective on the platform. That statement seems to me to be as true now as it was then.

Though no effective alternative idea has been offered by the Conservatives for dealing with this problem, I would not say that there have not been feelers put out by them—forms of words suggesting something should be done. In November, 1963, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), then the Conservative Minister of Housing and Local Government, told the House: It is in relation to the bringing of new land into development that the question of betterment becomes really important, for it will entail public expenditure on services and roads to bring it into development, and this expenditure will create an immediate increase in value. It does seem right that that increase should be collected by the public."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 655.] I remember that when we last debated this matter the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) also said that the Conservatives believed that some form of betterment charge should be made on the difference between the price of land before and after planning permission was obtained.

But no mention of that was made in the Conservative 1964 election manifesto, with its 112 different points on the need for more houses, and so on. The question of land was never mentioned. The betterment tax, which was talked about during the last debate, was never raised by the Tories as a serious policy issue. It might have got lost in the 132 proposals in their other manifesto, but I cannot find it.

The Tories, after writing about "How to house the nation", went on to tell us "How to beat the crime wave". There are many ways of making money, and one does not have necessarily to be a criminal. One can be a land speculator—some of them make the train robbers look like juvenile delinquents. Conservative spokesmen have said on a number of occasions that some form of betterment tax should be put on the increased value in land, but nothing more was heard of the bold plans of the Conservative Minister of Housing. I am certain that tremendous pressure was put on him by certain sections of his party so that they could continue to play the free land market. This indecision continued in the 1964 election. The Conservative leader said that he was considering further methods to tax land transactions but the tax must be one that would not affect the price or supply of land. Something should be done about it, but nothing was to be done about it. Now hon. Members opposite talk about a moderate levy.

It seems that the Land Commission can operate in two ways. First, it must acquire land by agreement or by compulsory purchase order. Those are simple objectives of the Bill. Secondly, it will collect a betterment levy on sales of development land. We know of the scandals which have been associated with land speculation. We all know of cases of agricultural land bought for £300 an acre which was hoarded over the years until planning permission was given and a town expanded so that a community grew around the land. Then the land fetched as much as £10,000 or £12,000 an acre. In the last debate there was reference to the scandal of the Lavender Hill properties where land originally obtained for £7,500 was sold for £240,000. As my right hon. Friend said, these property speculators, "The Lavender Hill Mob", are now trying to get another £150,000 from Enfield Council because it is planned to put more houses on the land than there were originally to be.

The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) mentioned individual freedom and said that this Bill is a blow to individual freedom. Whose individual freedom was he talking about? Was it the individual freedom of a board of directors of a property company to exploit the community? What about the freedom of citizens of Enfield and the thousands of people who will have to pay exorbitant prices for houses built on that land for which the council had to pay almost £250,000? Have not ordinary citizens a right to individual freedom, freedom to fight against being exploited by land sharks?

These are some of the reasons why the Bill is being introduced to curb the activities of speculators who have been holding the country to ransom for many years. Ever since 1951, when the Conservatives first got back to power, we have seen tremendous pressures inside their party to do something to show that "Conservative freedom works" for land speculators. They began to wreck the first real attempts of the Labour Government of 1945–51 to bring some order out of chaos in land ownership. In 1959 there was no restraint at all on the sale of land. If Conservative freedom ever worked, it worked for the land speculator on the so-called free market.

I will give another example from a former Conservative Member of this House who has a conscience about the sort of thing which has been going on. Sir Frank Markham said that he got a 173-acre farm for £36,000. Now he has got half the price paid back by selling only three acres of the 173 for housing development. He is quoted as saying that it was a bonanza worth over million. He said that he would draw public attention to this racket. Apparently he did it so effectively that he lost his seat in the last election.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Buckinghamshire South

The hon. Member is quite wrong about that. Sir Frank Markham was not a candidate at the last General Election.

Photo of Mr Edward Fletcher Mr Edward Fletcher , Darlington

I referred to the fact that he made his statement when he was the Conservative Member for Buckingham. He may not have stood as a candidate again. Maybe his conscience decided that he should not do so, I do not know.

We get a clear indication of the colossal profits made out of land speculation. If hon. Members opposite want to do something about this, we shall be interested to hear their proposals. We have had too much criticism of the negative sort and of what should not be done by the Government. We should like to see the Conservative Party bringing forward a plan to deal with this national scandal and the social problem of what to do with land.

We have to look into the future. It has been estimated that by the end of the century—only 34 years ahead—there will be a tremendous increase in population. There will be 72 million people living in Britain. With that increase of population coming, we shall have to build—I quote figures from the architect-planner, Mr. Hugh Wilson—the equivalent of a new town of 70,000 every seven weeks for the next 40 years, or of a new Bristol every 12 months. That is an indication of the size of the problem of growth and the availability of land which there must be if targets are to be met and of the tremendous fight there will be for land.

The value of land is created by the community. If by a sudden mischance the whole population of London should: fold their tents, like the Arabs,And as silently steal away the land in the centre of London would not be worth more than £1 an acre. Because 9 million people live on the periphery of London that creates the value of the land. As a consequence, the community creates the real value. The community is entitled to get back the value which it has created.

When we discuss this matter in Committee we shall have opportunities of stating in some detail, Clause by Clause, various objections and ways of improving the Bill. Nevertheless, the Bill represents a tremendous stride forward. My right hon. Friend, in bringing the Bill before us, has provided a logical and immediate solution to these grave social problems. I shall be interested to hear during the rest of the debate any alternative proposals—we have had embryo proposals from the Liberals—from the Conservatives. There is no denying that we are facing pressing problems. What are the alternatives to be proposed by hon. Members opposite? How would they raise the betterment tax? What proposals have they to put in place of those made by my right hon. Friends? I hope that, as on the last occasion, the House will give a Second Reading to this Bill, and by a substantial majority.

6.59 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke , Darwen

I quite agree with the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) that many people have made a lot of money out of land. The solution is, of course, to tax them on their profits either by means of a Capital Gains Tax or a levy and I am not particularly concerned which. As a result of a free or relatively free market in land, over the last 16 years or so more houses have been built than at any time in our history, more than ever were expected by the Labour Party in 1950 or 1951 and more than are being built today.

My objection to this Bill is not on the levy side or the taxation side, because I think it perfectly right and always have done that profits in land speculation should be subject to tax, but in the course of this procedure an unnecessary and to my mind damaging wedge has been put into the process of house-building in the form of the Land Commission and more particularly in the shape of crownhold concessionary tenure.

This is a new form of land tenure and one which harks back to the Middle Ages. It goes completely contrary to the development of the law over the last 200 years and harks back to feudal terms by which it was difficult or undesirable to dispose of a holding if one wished to move to a different part of the country. It is a move back from freedom of contract to a position of status, which is the sign of a very uncivilised and uneconomic society.

There are only too many examples of this in the country today, one of them being council house tenants who have a privileged position and therefore have a very definite motive for not moving, though their jobs may require them to do so. This is another example, I fear, where people will be given a concessionary freehold or crownhold tenure which will mean that they will be reluctant—and who shall blame them?—to move, even though the country's economic situation requires them to do so.

For example, we are today told that we are losing orders on the Clyde because there are not enough steel workers there to fulfil the orders that we might otherwise get. At the same time, there are numbers of workers in other parts of the country who would move there but for the fact that they have privileged housing positions. They cannot be blamed for failing to subscribe to the doctrine of mobility of labour, to which we all pay lip-service, because they have subsidies of one sort or another for their housing which they would lose if they moved. It is as simple as that.

Here again, we are driving another nail into that particular coffin in Clauses 18–20 under the concessionary crownhold dispositions. This is the worst part of the Bill; but it is the chief point of the Land Commission. I see no other point to the Commission. It will not reduce the price of houses. It will not reduce the price of land, which, I agree with the hon. Member for Darlington, is much too high. It will increase it. Because it is recognised that it will increase it, it is devised that a great part of the property which the Commission seeks to develop and build upon will be disposed of by means of the new—or, rather, old, ancient and reactionary—form of tenure called concessionary crownhold disposition.

It is reactionary, because it means that the person who holds it, whatever his future circumstances, however much he may be tempted to move to another part of the country where his skills may be in greater demand than they are in the place where he has his house, will be unable to do so, because he will be losing thereby a privilege granted to him by some irresponsible authority—I use the word "irresponsible" in the technical sense of the word—on principles that we are not told about, at lower than the market value, and which anyone would be a fool to surrender but will cling on to for ever.

Indeed, so firm are the restrictions upon this form of tenure that even the normal methods of property distribution are to be excluded. Clause 19(6) provides that Section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925 which contains a very valuable and modern provision for modifying restrictive covenants affecting land— shall not have effect in relation to this form of tenure.

If I may bore the House for a moment by explaining this, it means that restrictions which are no longer in conformity with modern conditions—restrictions upon the user or the tenure of land—may be lifted by the court, if the court thinks they are out of date.

This form of tenure which is to be clamped upon the holder for ever is not to enjoy the benefit of Section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925. The holder of this tenure is not to be allowed to go to the court and say that the concessionary crownhold disposition which he was originally granted is no longer in conformity with the circumstances of the day. Therefore, he will not even be allowed to get rid of this incubus.

In the same way, Clause 19(7) is equally indicative. It says: The rule against perpetuities … shall not apply. The rule against perpetuities is a very oppressive, ancient rule which means that the dead hand cannot be put upon the tenure of land for more than a life in being and 21 years thereafter. It has taken several centuries, chiefly of fighting by the Liberal Party, to get rid of this dead hand of the law. Now it is to be brought back upon this particularly feudal kind of crownhold concessionary tenure, that is to say, the rule against perpetuities which prevents anybody keeping the dead had against disposition for more than a life in being and 21 years thereafter shall not apply to this sort of tenure.

This is completely indicative of the sort of straitjacket into which dispositions by the Commission are likely to fall. It is completely contrary to the spirit of our law. It is completely contrary to 400 years of development. It is completely contrary to the principles of the Settled Land Act of the 1880s and of the property legislation from 1922 to 1925, the purpose of which is now forgotten but which has given us great economic prosperity. The purpose was to make land freely disposable, which is to say that there shall not be the shackles of the past upon the land, that those who hold the land shall be able to sell or assign it freely, and that any trusts or anything like that shall be behind the curtain: the purchaser shall not be concerned about this, but shall get a good title, and, therefore, there is a free market in land.

This is now to be reversed. This is the whole function of the Commission, because nobody has yet discovered any other function. Local authorities have full powers of compulsory purchase at present. They have not complained that they have not enough powers. The whole function of the Commission must be in concessionary crownhold tenure and nothing else; that is, compulsorily to take land from the owner and to let it out again, either by freehold or leasehold—or crown-hold, whatever that may mean. I say in passing that I very much resent the introduction of the Crown into this connotation.

The function of the Commission is to let land out in some form of tenure which is similar to the medieval villein who was adscriptus glebae—not allowed to leave the soil. That is the whole point of this, because otherwise they would not be allowed to do it. The Commission will thus let land at less than the market value on these concessionary terms to people whose identity and purpose are by no means defined in the Bill. Nobody knows why the Commission should do this or to whom. If it were said that it was to be for the benefit of the disabled or for some charitable object, one might understand the policy, although one might not altogether agree.

However, we are not told by anybody why people should have this concessionary tenure at less than the market price. If they get it, they will never let it go, because they would be mad in economic terms to do so. It is a most reactionary step. It is completely contrary to 300 years of land history. I think that it will get us into the sort of paralysis which all our forefathers fought so hard against the feudal system to avoid.

I am much obliged to the House for listening to these few impassioned words.

7.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr Alistair Macdonald Mr Alistair Macdonald , Chislehurst

I address myself first to a point made by both the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) and the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), that a speeding up and streamlining of planning procedures might be an acceptable substitute for the proposals set out in the Bill. The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames then rushed on into a tirade attacking the levy, but I do not think that he could have been serious in that because the text of the Opposition's reasoned Amendment expresses approval of the levy. It seems an odd way to support an Amendment to attack what it says. Therefore, I do not take that seriously, though I do take as seriously intended the suggestion that a streamlining of planning procedures might offer a solution to the difficulty.

This suggestion seems very fair and attractive at first hearing, but it calls for careful consideration. There are snags lying hidden within it. First, it assumes that a speedy planning permission is a good thing. I speak as a member of a local council and a member of its planning committee. I assure the House that it is more important to get a planning permission right than it is to get it quickly. The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham remarked that some applications take 44 weeks to be dealt with. This may sound a long time, but we need to have our scale of values correct. Once a planning permission has been given, that is it, and the building which goes up on the site will be there for 44 years or much longer.

When a planning application comes in—I do not suppose that I am telling hon. Members anything they do not know already—it has to be considered by several departments of the local authority apart from the planning department. It has to be referred to the highways department to consider sight lines and access and exit to and from the highways. No doubt, the question of drainage will have to be considered, and perhaps refuse disposal as well. The application has to be considered to see whether it complies with byelaws. In many cases, it is necessary to have discussions with the applicant, because the original proposal is not quite in line with what the local authority would like to see. Rather than give a blunt refusal, the authority will have discussions, which can stretch out over some time, in an effort to shape the application into something more acceptable.

All this is very reasonable and proper. Again, if a proposed development would be quite extensive, it is usual for the education department to be informed so that it can consider possible implications of the new development on the provision of schools in the area. At the last meeting of our planning committee, there was a letter from the police saying that they would like to be consulted when big planning applications came in. Two months ago, I was present at a meeting of the residents' association in my constituency at which a representative from British Railways said that British Railways also would like to be consulted when planning applications came forward because of the implications for the transport system.

All this is very reasonable, and it seems to me entirely proper that deliberate and careful consideration should be given to planning applications before a decision is made. As I say, once a decision is made, that is it; it is done with, except for the possibility of reversal on payment of very substantial compensation.

Therefore, although the idea of speeding up our procedures on planning applications and appeals may have a very fair sound, there would, in fact, be considerable dangers attending it. I am sure that the ratepayers would far rather have an application meticulously considered at length so that the final decision may be just and fair rather than have a decision rushed through. I cannot agree, therefore, that that suggestion is an acceptable alternative to the proposals set out in the Bill.

Some hon. Members opposite have suggested that this is a Measure for the nationalisation of land. Of course it is not, though it is true that it does involve some measure of public ownership. We need no: necessarily be ashamed of that or shrink from it in any way. My thinking on this subject is coloured—if I may bore the House with my own experience—by my own position. I am the owner of the house in which I live, and my mother is the owner of the house in which she lives. When she dies—I hope that that will not be for very many years—her house will become mine and I shall then have two houses. But I did not build my mother's house. I did not buy it. I did not contribute to its purchase. I do not live in it, and neither do I intend to live in it. I have contributed hardly anything at all to its maintenance. Yet, in the event I have mentioned, that house will be mine and it will be possible for me to sell it at a considerable profit.

It seems to me that a society in which this sort of thing can happen is not really a society organised as justly and as fairly as it might be. On those grounds, I warmly welcome the Bill.

7.15 p.m.

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

At the outset, I should declare an interest in the Bill, although it is probably an oblique one. I am chairman of a company which builds houses, a company which is sometimes called a speculative builder. We have heard a great deal from the benches opposite about land speculators, and the idea seems to be that the making of money out of land is something rather bad. The hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald) has given us an example to show that he is such a true Socialist that he does not believe that he should inherit anything. If he has a conscience about it, I suggest that he waits until he has to settle the death duties, when he will realise that the nation takes its true part of his inheritance.

We have been challenged to state what our proposals would be to overcome the land shortage. Land is one of the builder's vital raw materials. We are just as interested in raw materials as is any other manufacturer. In spite of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have the House believe, we believe that building is as much manufacturing as is the making of motor cars. It is somewhat ironical that, when people extract iron ore from the ground to make steel to make motor cars, that is not speculation, but when someone builds a house, a happy home, that is speculation.

What worries hon. Members opposite is the fact that someone is making a profit. Basically, all their arguments come to this: "We must have a system which eliminates profits". That is their basic thinking. But how are these large profits made out of individual pieces of land? No one denies that it happens. Hon. Members opposite are always slightly touchy in saying that this is a Bill not to nationalise land but to take land into public ownership. I would much prefer that they came clean about it. They went into the election saying that they wanted to extend nationalisation. Why are they so coy about it when talking in this Chamber? Are they already thinking about the next election, beginning to see the split in their ranks which we can see from this side, and realising that there will be an early election? Why not come clean? In fact, the total votes of the entire electorate showed clearly that the nation is against nationalisation, and this is the real reason why they hide their ideas by calling this proposal something other than nationalisation.

We are asked what our proposals would be. A high price is caused by shortage, whether it be of land, pepper, copper or anything else. That is what puts the price up. Basically, the shortage of land in this country has been occasioned by our planning procedures. This is why my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) discussed the question in such detail in his speech. I have always contended that the right way to overcome high cost is to produce more of the product. More land could easily have been produced by releasing land more over a long period.

Companies building houses have to have a stock of raw materials exactly as a manufacturer must have his raw materials. Companies have to hold it in stock. They know that it will take three or four years to get it into the development stage. Hon. Members opposite often regard that as the hoarding of land. They talk about farmers hoarding land. But they do not talk about manufacturers hoarding raw materials which are in their stockpile prior to production. It is just that hon. Members opposite do not understand the problem.

Basically, what is wrong with our planning—it has been made worse under the Conservatives because the Conservatives have got on with building houses, and consequently have dried up the supply of land more quickly—is that everybody wants a house for himself, and having got one, he takes a good deal of care that no one else will build another house to spoil his view. I remember a cartoon in a recent issue of Punch. A young married couple were coming out of a hall-built house, and the caption said "This is going well. We shall soon move in. Let us form a residents' association so that nobody else can have a house." That goes on much too often.

What has happened under the Bill? For the second time of asking, the Government have reverted to the old attitude "If you cannot cure a thing, control it". Some of my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite spent some time this morning in a Standing Committee considering the Building Control Bill. That is another example of the Socialist attitude "Let us control it. As long as we can control it, we can stop it". That is precisely what will happen under the Bill before us now. I have compared the Bill with its predecessor which fell as a result of the General Election. It is interesting to note the alterations made in some of the Clauses. I have also compared this Bill with the Building Control Bill. That Bill has just started in Standing Committee, and the alterations which the Government have made to it are not very extensive.

The Government seem to have a phobia that every Government Department must be a tax collector. The Minister of Labour has become a tax collector under the Budget. This Bill makes the Land Commission a tax collector. Are we to have every Government Department with its own taxation? Why cannot it be left to the people who normally take the money out of our pockets—the Inland Revenue? Why could not a simple Amendment be introduced to the 1964 Finance Act to enable the Inland Revenue to collect this levy? My party would not object to that.

However, we do object to the fact that this levy can be altered at the will of a Minister. The idea seems to be "If things do not go quickly enough, we will increase the levy." This is another example of the attitude of Socialism—"If things go wrong, we will bring in more controls." But it is really only bringing about galloping inflation. No one can quote a single example of where something which has been taxed has come down in price. The taxation proposed under this Bill will not reduce prices. We had a big rise in the cost of housing last year. We have had another 3 per cent. put on the cost of building as a result of the Chancellor's latest taxation gimmick. When this Bill becomes law, it will further increase taxation.

I now want to look at the Bill in some detail. Clause 27 is one of the most interesting Clauses. I call it "the whip with six thongs". If one is not caught with one whip, the Bill makes absolutely certain that one is caught with the next. This produces an absolute lawyers' paradise. Case A is described as: Where the land is disposed of by way of any such disposition as is mentioned in section 29(1) of this Act which is made on or after the first appointed day. Case B is described as: Where the land is disposed of by way of any such disposition as is mentioned in section 30(1) of this Act which is made on or after the first appointed day. So we go on. Each one is a different whip in case somebody gets away with something. That may be all right, but each of these items produces more confusion and doubts for those who want to get on with the job.

A Bill of this sort must be a very dull document, but I congratulate the Parliamentary draftsman on introducing a little humour into it. Clause 61 contains a beautiful bit of ironical humour. It says that a person with land in hand on 21st September, 1965, can build a house for an adult member of his family and be exempt from the levy. It is slightly different from the hon. Member's inheritance problem. When it comes to an owner, there is one choice that he can make. He can choose between his mother-in-law and the illegitimate daughter of his wife. This is a broad-minded approach. But who is to make this vital decision? Will the Government feel that there ought to be a Royal Commission to decide whether the mother-in-law or the illegitimate daughter of the wife should build the house? The draftsman who produced this must have a splendid sense of humour.

In Clause 62 we come to the dilemma about the first appointed day. This date was one of the unsolved mysteries of the last Parliament, and it will be one of the unsolved mysteries of this Parliament until the actual day is announced. The quicker the Minister can give some indication of the date the better will business be able to carry on.

Clause 67 divides the projects uncompleted on the first appointed day into pre-first appointed day and post-first appointed day categories in respect of which there may be exemptions. Is the Minister going to interpret the Clause vertically or horizontally? That has a great bearing on it. There is no definition of a project. Perhaps I may explain what I have in mind. During the slump in the building industry my company decided to build Dolphin Square. Because of its size, we had to build the project in two halves. There was not the ability to find sufficient finance to do the whole job in one, and there was also the imponder- able about whether it would let quickly enough. So we built it in two halves. If that sort of project had started off before the first appointed day and the second half did not start until after the second appointed day, can the Minister say how he would arrive at the levy in that case?

The whole Bill is unnecessary. As hon. Members keep letting the cat out of the bag, and as the Prime Minister let the cat out of the bag, the basis of the Bill is that it is a subtle opportunity of getting hold of and nationalising land. By nationalising land, the Government will control one of the main assets of the nation. Then they are able to take over any builder or organisation they please.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the scheme would produce land for the small builders. If that is the intention, I hope he is right, because it is the small and middle-sized builders, not the large firms, which produce the greatest amount of housing, and it is these builders, employing between 100 and 500 people, who have the greatest difficulty in getting the cash flow in order to purchase land.

The right hon. Gentleman says that the Bill will help them. How will he allocate the land among them? Will he pick out of the 20,000 or 30,000 firms involved those whose plans and elevations he likes or those which have some connection with local government? Thank goodness, in this country we are very free from that sort of thing, but when more and more controls are imposed the easier it becomes for nepotism in allocation. Or will the right hon. Gentleman allocate the land to the highest bidder? If he does that, there will be a further increase in the cost of housing and no one will benefit. Does the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) wish to interrupt?

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

This machine is to be set up to "collar" land at a very low price, which appeals to hon. Members opposite. Then the machine will reallocate it. If it does so at the market price, then it will achieve nothing. Why set up such a machine and why impose controls that can lead to nepotism? It is too much to hope that the Bill will not be given a Second Reading. With the majority the Government now have, we on this side cannot win Divisions. But we are winning arguments and during the Committee stage we hope to win arguments that will put at least a certain amount of sense into the Bill.

7.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Sydney Bidwell Mr Sydney Bidwell , Southall

This is my maiden speech. The hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) thought, when I was straightening my back in preparation for my speech, that I wanted to interrupt him. There were several times in his speech when I wanted to interrupt but I thought that it was best to wait my turn.

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I wonder whether he and other hon. Members opposite are really living in Great Britain, 1966, at all. He spoke about the housing provision that he has been dealing with and another hon. Member—I am sorry that I cannot refer to many hon. Members yet by constituency—did not want any serious disturbance of existing measures because the rate of housing was, he thought, going along quite well. I shall read his speech with considerable interest in HANSARD, because I represent a constituency where there is a grave shortage of accommodation. I am beset the whole time by people with serious complaints about their bad housing circumstances. Despite the upturn in the provision of homes since the return of the Government in 1964, we have still not achieved the pre-war record of housing. We hope to reach it and to surpass it. These are the facts of life so many years after the war.

With all respect to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I had hoped that Mr. Speaker himself would be in the Chair when I spoke, because I wanted to thank him directly for the ready hand of friendship that he extended to me on my first appearance in the House. I value that and I hope that you will convey my thanks to him.

I stepped aside, as it were, from my notes, which were in the time-honoured tradition of delivering a maiden speech, because I felt incensed by the complacency that hon. Members opposite are showing in what is a somewhat gloomy atmosphere in the Chamber. It is difficult for a new boy like myself to stand here, having had some experience of speaking but nevertheless feeling the occasion, to shut my eyes for a moment and to think seriously about my constituency and its problems and of the kind of people from whom I come.

Possibly because of a certain publication, my background and experience will now be fairly common knowledge. In any case, perhaps as a result of this attempt tonight, curiosities will be aroused and hon. Members will fly to a rather creditable publication which has just come off the stocks and which not only gives our pedigrees, so to speak, but also our pictures as well.

However, I am sure that hon. Members are not too interested in my background and will be more interested perhaps in my bright foreground in this House. I understand that maiden speeches should follow a certain pattern, albeit when one starts that pattern it seems to me the signal for hon. Members to leave the Chamber.

I follow a distinguished predecessor in Mr. George Pargiter, a long-time active member of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, who served in this House for 21 years. He achieved the distinction of being awarded the C.B.E. and became a Deputy-Lieutenant of the County of Middlesex. For many years he was leader of the Labour Group on Middlesex County Council and became Chairman of the Council a few years before it went out of existence when assimilated in the Greater London Council, which we on this side of the House did not want to see come to pass. Mr. Pargiter has been most kind and helpful to me and I hope to draw on his experience in my introduction to some of the procedures of the House.

My constituency is known as Southall, although I prefer to have it as Southall and Hanwell. It afforded some special interest during the General Election itself. It is fairly common knowledge that it has a larger concentration of Indian peoples than any other constituency in the land, although some must come very close. As a result we have our special problems of assimilation.

It is true that we have a special problem, as many of my constituents continuously point out to me, with the coming of the Indian peoples—and I prefer to call them so rather than "immigrants" because the term "immigrant" really only means people going from one place to another. We have in Southall the special problem of accommodating and living with Indian peoples, many very delightful, whose problems and background, culture and religion I am beginning to understand very well.

As a result of the new warmth which is being accorded by the older inhabitants of my locality to the Indian peoples in our midst, new friendships are developing. That is not to say that we are unmindful of the fact that their coming has aggravated the accommodation problem in the constituency. But I draw great warmth from the fact that the atmosphere at the last General Election was very different from that of 18 months before. It was a remarkable change from which we on this side of the House, and to a lesser extent hon. Members opposite, can draw considerable heart as Socialists and internationalists.

Having subscribed to the idea that there should be some limit on speeches under some new form of Standing Orders, I am conscious that I should not take too long in this my initial attempt. The subject under discussion, land and its usage, is basic and the problem of land speculation and development cannot be divorced from the problem of housing, which is the most urgent of our time. We cannot tackle it with the old system of land speculation and dearness.

The Bill does not go as far as some of us would like and I must confess that I do not like that part which suggests the possible resale of some land which has come into public ownership. I find it rather strange that the Liberals have not united to back us on the Bill, because although it may not proclaim the historic cry of the Liberal Party—"God gave the land to the people"—to the extent that their forebears would have desired, at least it moves towards that, and it should be welcomed because of that.

My background has not been academic, as hon. Members will have realised, and I would not say that I am particularly scholarly. However, I am experienced in the Labour movement as a whole and especially in trade unionism, and I was formerly a trade union education officer. But to conclude, I recall not the words of a pioneer Socialist, but those of a figure respected and revered not only in this House, but in the other place, namely, Lord Samuel. The occasion was when he spoke in Westminster Hall in 1956 when the memorial bust of Keir Hardie, the first leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, was presented to Mr. Speaker Morrison. Lord Samuel made what I thought was the best of the speeches. Alas, only one of the voices on the recording which I took at the time survives, that of Lord Brockway, who was the Chairman of the Keir Hardie Memorial Committee. The words of Lord Samuel which I commend to all hon. Members are from Shakespeare—it took me a long time to find out where they came from. They are: Take physic, pomp;Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel".

7.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) on the occasion of his maiden speech. I congratulate him, as I am sure would all who heard him, on an excellent maiden speech. Others who are not in the Chamber and who read the speech in HANSARD tomorrow will also feel that they can look forward to hearing his future contributions. He displayed a warmth and an understanding of the problems of his constituents and of the very mixed population of Southall and has given all of us a much clearer picture of conditions there. There seems to be a tendency for maiden speeches to become more controversial, but perhaps that is a welcome sign. I was delighted that the hon. Gentleman's was impartial in his controversy and attacked both sides in his criticism of the Bill.

Few people have yet realised the extent of the power which the Bill will give to the Government. Nor have they yet realised the massive, expensive and uneconomic nature of the Government machine which the Bill will set up. We are seeing the creation of a gigantic white elephant, which in racing parlance is born out of party dogma, weaned on Socialist theories and which will place yet another burden on future house owners.

It is supposed to ensure the availability of land for development, but by planning procedures and compulsory purchase procedures local authorities already have that ability. The Bill was not necessary to make that a practical proposition. It is further supposed to ensure that the community shares in the increased value of land due to its suitability for development. I am one of those who entirely agree that, when planning consent is given and there is no work on the part of the owner of a field or farm the value of which by a planning decision has suddenly rocketed, the community which has made the decision should have a share in the increase in value. But it was not necessary to bring in the Bill and to create this gigantic new machinery in order to do that, for it could have been done much more simply through the existing tax system, possibly by some special rate of speculative gains tax or something of the sort. Nevertheless, the tax authorities could have been the means by which social justice was achieved without all the vast new Department which is to be set up.

I want to consider the effects of the Bill and to pose a question of fundamental importance. What determines the price of land, for the price of land is the key to the hopes and happiness of many young people? I represent Basingstoke, a constituency which has a massive number of young people coming into it. The price of land, reflected in due course in the prices of the houses they occupy, has a major effect on personal hopes and plans. But the price of land is determined by the law of supply and demand, as with any other commodity, and if less land is offered for development and the demand remains the same, prices go up. There is no method of hedging round this which can alter the basic operation of the market.

I want to ask the Minister whether he considers that people will be as ready to sell land after his Bill has become law—whether they will be ready to bring forward land for buiding purposes, for development. There is a 40 per cent. levy to be paid, which is hardly an encouragement to people. There is the loss of an asset which they are probably holding as a hedge against further inflation. I would draw the Minister's attention to the very grave effects which the Capital Gains Tax is going to have on the hopes of the Minister for the operation of this Bill.

Supposing a piece of land is worth £100,000. With inflation, certainly under this Government, it will go up at something like 5 per cent. or more per annum. Therefore, over a year it will go up at £5,000 and over ten years it will have gone up by £50,000. The decline in the value of money, plus the fact that there will be no more land on the market, will mean that, although there has been nothing of a speculative nature about this, when the land comes up to be sold it will attract Capital Gains Tax at the rate of 30 per cent. This is as a result of inflation accelerated a little by the policies of this Government There will also be, in addition to the Capital Gains Tax, anything that the Minister is cooking out in the way of his levy. This amounts to 30 per cent. of £50,000—some £15,000. What man is willingly going to enter into a contract which is going to result in him losing £50,000 of his capital and the income he has derived from it in the past?

When that happens he will immediately say to himself, "I want to have nothing to do with it. I would rather keep my capital intact. I would rather be worth £15,000 more and draw the income from it. I do not want to give my substance to the Government."

As time goes by and the inflationary effects become bigger and bigger, along with Capital Gains Tax liabilities, there is going to be a greater restraining effect upon people offering their land for development. This will mean that progressively fewer sellers will come forward and the price of land will be increased more and more as the shortage accentuates the imbalance between supply and demand. This is going to have a second effect. If people will not sell their land voluntarily, then the Commission will have to acquire it compulsorily. This will mean immense work for the valuation officers, who are already overworked. It is going to mean great procedural delays with the operation of compulsory orders.

Then there is the problem as to what price should be fixed when, as will frequently occur, the Land Commission and the vendor disagree over the price to be paid for the lend. I hope we all want to see that the price paid is fair to the citizen whose land is being compulsorily acquired.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

I am glad to see the Minister nodding his agreement. The question is at what price. At the market price? How does one establish a market price when there is a monopoly power? Is it on the assumption that there is a willing seller, which it is under existing compulsory purchase valuations? But there is no willing seller. The man does not want to sell and, therefore, one begins with a premise which is false. There is disagreement, and there frequently will be disagreement, as to the value to be put on the land and the district valuer's valuation will often be disputed.

Then the matter has to go to the Lands Tribunal. I believe that I am correct in giving the procedural sequence. It is somewhat involved to follow it through the many Clauses of the Bill. The Lands Tribunal is perfectly fair in its valuation, but there are many people who do not dare to use the appeals procedure before the Lands Tribunal because of the risks involved. There is the risk, in the event of losing the case, of having to pay the costs, which may be very high. To the smaller, less wealthy citizen this is a real problem.

Secondly, the district valuer, in acquiring separate plots of land around a particular area in order, as the Minister has said in introducing the Bill, to get a larger collection of property together for development, is going to pick first upon the properties where there will be little resistance on the part of a seller to a sale. He is going to pick first upon properties where sales can be concluded simply and easily. As a result the district valuer will build up a picture of the weaker sellers from whom he has been able to squeeze a good price, and use this in front of the Lands Tribunal for fixing a correspondingly low price for the man who sticks out. As a result considerable unfairness will be caused to many citizens.

There is another point I would like to raise, and it is one which gives me, as Member for Basingstoke, where this sort of thing happens, very serious concern. As I understand the Bill, and perhaps the Minister will clarify it later, while argument is going on about the price the Land Commission can take possession.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

I see the Minister nodding. The Commission can do this with- out waiting for the compensation to be fixed. It is agreed that the sale should take place at a price which shall be fixed later by appeal to the Lands Tribunal. Therefore, no compensation is paid to the man who loses his land. All that he gets is subsequent back-dated interest on the sum of money eventually awarded. What is he suposed to live on in the meantime? To take a practical example, a man owns a caravan site near a town, which is going to be taken over by compulsory purchase for development for housing purposes. He does not agree that the price offered is fair and so he goes to the Lands Tribunal. The council come in and can take over the land under this Bill. It can say to the man, "Take your caravans away, we are going to develop this". He has nowhere to put his caravans. What does he get for income? He has to sell his caravans, his means of livelihood, and he is told that he will eventually get interest. He has probably borrowed from the bank on the value of the land, and if he gets an initial payment from the district valuer it will be taken by the bank to be offset against the overdraft, as the collateral has been sold.

There will be many examples of unfairness affecting ordinary people when they make an appeal in front of the Lands Tribunal. I beg the Minister to understand this, because I have heard of some sorry cases. There will be an understandable reluctance on the part of a citizen to take his case to the Lands Tribunal. There is the risk of the costs if he fails, and the way in which the whole procedure is rigged against the man who sticks out. There is the way in which he will suffer during the time that his land is taken away from him and he has not had the payment.

There are many serious aspects of this, and I hope that the Minister will give them further consideration. There is the cost which is not a light one. I understand that there will be some £7 million for administration of the white elephant which the Minister is setting up. There is £45 million initial payment rising to £75 million. I have no doubt that he will be back for more as inflation begins to add its voice to this equation. There is the borrowing, at about 6 per cent., I suppose. Then there is the cost of the transactions, at perhaps 4 per cent. Some 10 per cent. will be added to the cost of the land by reason of the administration. Last year, the price of land for housing went up by an all-time record of 10 per cent. Built in here, I can see the way in which even greater increases will occur before very long.

Then may I put to the right hon. Gentleman a practical problem about factories which are invited by the Government to modernise themselves by building on new extensions, and so on? Will the piece of land which is to be changed from, say, a playing field into factory development have to pay the levy? If it has, that will be an additional cost which will have to be borne by industrial firms seeking to modernise and expand their businesses to help our exports.

Having drawn attention to all those disadvantages, I come back to the point that I made at the beginning. For what purpose do the Government seek to bring in this white elephant? I believe that the real reason pinpoints a fundamental division in political thinking between those opposite who seek to concentrate power, wealth, land and property into the hands of the State, and those on this side who, by contrast, believe in spreading those things as widely as possible throughout the community.

We take pride in the fact that there are 8 million freeholders in the country—not leaseholders or crownholders, but men who can say that they own every brick of the houses in which they live. Under the Tory Government, the incidence of owner-occupation went up from 28 per cent. of the population to 46 per cent. Were we in office today, it would be nudging 50 per cent. That is a fundamentally different approach, and it is at the heart of much of the controversy between right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite and ourselves. It is illustrated more than ever by the Bill.

One of the earlier contributors to the debate brought forth the old battle cry, God gave the land to the people. Yes, but not to the Land Commission.

8.2 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I would have been more impressed by the contri- butions from the benches opposite had there been any consistency in them. I share the views of the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) when he says that there is far too much delay in dealing with planning applications and appeals, and that the delay holds up development. But it is equally true to say that more development, especially by local authorities, is held up because of the slowness in getting through compulsory purchase orders. We have now arrived at a situation where local authorities and members of the public selling their properties to local authorities are all complaining that there is delay in getting through the compulsory purchase orders.

If one is going to be consistent about wanting to speed up planning appeals, one has also to be consistent in insisting on speeding up the processes of making land available to build more houses.

The same is true about the attitude of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to land speculation and complaints about concessionary freeholds. I doubt if anyone in my constituency would complain if instead of getting land at £2,000 a plot he got it at £1,000. No one would complain that he had been treated like a feudal villein. The bulk of the criticism ought to be against people making large profits from speculators, rather than against people being able to get cheap houses.

The same inconsistency occurs when we talk of releasing land for development. There is not enough land zoned for housing, and that leads to a shortage in some places. But what right hon. and hon. Members opposite are thinking of is releasing farm land for profitable development, whereas I would like to see office land such as that on the other side of the river rezoned for residential development. The trouble is that the money is not available to do it, and the land would cost several million pounds per acre. However, the rezoning has to come at both ends of the scale, with more agricultural land rezoned for residential purposes, but also, in places like London, office and industrial land rezoned for the same purposes.

I accept that the Bill has to be machinery, and it provides rather more machinery than philosophy. I agree that the machinery of purchase has to be made available, but I should have liked to see more philosophy in it. It amounts rather more to a fiscal Measure than one which for all time places the development value of land into the hands of the community.

When the developable incident takes place, a tax will be charged on it which will pass to the Exchequer. What I should like to know, and what we do not know at the moment, is what is to happen to it then. I am rather disappointed that there is not some permanent levy charged on the development value of the land when a developable situation takes place, so that for the rest of time the development value will belong to the community. I see the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) nodding his head, but that is something which was advocated three or four years ago in a pamphlet issued by Transport House. I hope that that principle might be adhered to. There might be administrative difficulties in assessing rentals and reassessing them every 21 years, but it is a pity that the development value of land is not to be put into the hands of the community for all time.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

The hon. Gentleman is advocating the precise policy of the Liberal Party and the cause of our objection to the Bill. I am most grateful to him.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

May I strike a note of accord? The Land Commission may dispose of crownhold and retain to itself the prospective development value. The Land Commission buys net of levy and makes no payment to the Exchequer.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I understand that where the Land Commission operates, but there are other situations where the Land Commission will not step in but, nevertheless, the levy will be charged. I understand that there are administrative difficulties, such as the shortage of staff, which make that impossible for the time being, but I hope that it will come in the future.

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

Is not the argument that my hon. Friend is putting forward an argument for the much more extensive use of the Land Commission, particularly the crownhold provisions of it, which have the effect which he suggests is desirable and which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) also appears to regard as desirable, although he opposes that Section of the Bill?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Yes, I accept that, and I think that the probable way out of the administrative difficulty is that the extension of the operation of the Land Commission increases as time goes on.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I am not suggesting that the Land Commission is the right means of doing it but, to answer the point that the hon. Gentleman himself raised, the collection could be done by the local authorities, as happens at present with rates.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

That is a very fine suggestion, but I hope that the hon. Member for Bodmin, while realising that there might be some difference of opinion, will agree that we are moving in the right direction and, when it comes to the vote at the end of the day, will give us the support which he really considers should be ours.

I should like to see in a statement by my right hon. Friend some idea of how the money which is being collected by way of levy is going to be used for other planning functions. For instance, I should like to see how it is proposed to use the money which is to be raised by a levy on agricultural land being developed outside London. I should like to see it used in one way or another to rezone sites in London such as those on the South Bank of the Thames from office user back to residential user. That would help to solve the shortage of land for housing in central urban areas.

It would be much better if the local authorities were able to obtain the levy for themselves when they acquired land. I know that under the Bill, where a local authority develops the land, it is not going to pay the levy. There may be a local authority which has some housing land, gets planning permission for it at a future date and puts up houses. Obviously, it would be wrong to charge the local authority the levy in those circumstances. If another local authority enters the field at a later date and acquires the land for development, I cannot see any reason why it should not be able to keep the 40 per cent. levy, instead of the situation arising where the vendor of the land has to pay the levy to the Land Commission, it then goes to the Exchequer, and may eventually find its way back to the local authority by way of a housing subsidy or high land cost subsidy. I would much rather have a direct incentive to local authorities to acquire land for development, for urban renewal, and for central redevelopment schemes. We should give them a direct incentive to do this by allowing them to keep the levy, without the whole thing passing through the machinery of the Land Commission.

8.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I should like to look at the situation as it will affect would-be home buyers under the proposals set out in the Bill. To us on this side of the House the spread of home ownership is of tremendous social importance, and we want to discover whether the aspirations of would-be home owners will be encouraged or damaged under the terms of the Bill. I cannot see any real benefit ensuing to would-be home owners under the proposals as specified in the Bill.

What we have to do is to look at the method of disposal as specified, and also at the nature and quality of the ownership which will flow to each individual owner under the system of crownhold land, and here I must declare an interest. I am a practising solicitor who acts for a number of companies which carry out private development, and I am a director of one of those companies.

There are two kinds of disposal under the crownhold system as described in the Bill. The first is a simple crown-hold disposal whereby all future development value is reserved to the Commission. As I understand it, under Clause 17 the sale of this kind of crownhold will be effected on a fee simple basis, at market prices, subject to a crown covenant which restricts the user of that site to, say, a church, or whatever may have been agreed between the Land Commission and the prospective buyer. There will be a sale of the fee simple, subject to a covenant on the part of the purchaser, that he will use the land only for that specified purpose, and he will pay the full market price for the land.

The second form of disposal is where there is a concessionary crownhold which is for housing purposes, and where the disposal is below market price. In this case it is proposed that the value of the concession—the extent to which the property is below the market price—will be reserved to the Commission. As I understand it, the Commission will have the first right to buy back the site, with a house on it, and to buy it back at a price which will be reduced in value correspondingly to the value of the concession on the initial sale. Both forms of disposal pose severe valuation problems. I hope the Ministry is fully aware of this, because a large number of valuers will have to be recruited to cope with the practical problems arising from this kind of transaction.

But what caused me more concern this afternoon was when the Minister listed the organisations to whom concessionary crownholds will be made available. He mentioned, first, housing associations, and here I agree with him because I think that the housing associations represent the kind of movement that should benefit from this sort of transaction. He then listed local authorities having an intention to build properties for sale, but, having seen a local authority operating in this respect in a rather unsatisfactory fashion, I am very doubtful about this proposal.

As I understood it, the Minister then went on to say that other disposals of this crownhold concessionary land would be disposals by the Land Commission, and I felt that the right hon. Gentleman was hedging and not saying openly whether private developers would take part in the operation and be concerned in development which involved crownhold concessionary estates.

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

Perhaps it may save time if I intervene now to say that if no other organisation is available, and there is a group of individuals, or a private developer, who would like to build houses for letting and to operate them on a crownhold basis, there will be nothing to preclude the Commission from coming to a special arrangement with them. It will depend on whether the developer, or the group of individuals, for whom no other arrangements can easily be made, desires that form of holding. This will be for the Commission to do, and it will let in private developers if they so desire.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his explanation. From the emphasis that he put on his reply, I take it that the prime purpose will not be to make this land available to private developers because this is a matter of policy on which the Minister will have to make up his mind, and very quickly. The Bill is not at all clear in this respect. If one looks at Clause 18 in particular, one sees that the Minister's intentions with regard to the Land Commission's operations in this respect are not at all clear.

If private developers are not brought in with regard to concessionary crownhold estates, a tremendous obligation will be put upon the Land Commission as developers. It will have considerable responsibilities throughout the country, because it will have to operate over this wide field to find sites, to prepare plans and layouts, and to make decisions—very important and sometimes difficult decisions—as to the suitability, siting, and ultimately the saleability of any development.

Those are big business decisions, and in the light of the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, the Land Commission will have to deal with a large number of practical development problems. The Minister will, therefore, have to build up a large development organisation to cope with these requirements. He will require a vast organisation, including experts, if he is to deal with these problems in any way which can benefit the housing situation.

If this organisation is not built up very rapidly the Minister will undermine the plans of the Minister of Housing and Local Government for private housing—so far as we understand them from the way in which they have been announced in the House, and as they are planned for the future—because his requirements for development cannot possibly be met unless the Land Commission, with its ambitious proposals for land holding, also embarks aggressively on a programme of housing development as a contribution towards the figures specified by the Minister of Housing and Local Government as forming part of his programme.

The housing figures are already falling, and in two years' time, unless decisive and rapid steps are taken to set up the organisation which I have described, there could be disastrous consequences to the housing problem which will cause severe disappointment to people who are struggling now to save their deposits to qualify for home ownership, particularly the large number of young married couples throughout the country who have these desires and aspirations.

Yet if, as the Minister has now told us, the Commission is to develop and sell houses, he must go further in explaining its policy. How are the purchasers to be chosen for the favoured bargains of concessionary priced housing? How are any local authorities carrying out development for the sale of houses to select those who are to be in this privileged position? This will be a continuing problem of selection. Under the concessionary agreement on the sale by the original occupier the property goes back to the Commission, and it again has to decide who will be chosen to have the favoured occupancy of the house at a below-market price. What principles will be applied? It is tremendously important that the system should be fair, because its consequences throughout the country will be extremely important and will be painfully felt by those who do not benefit.

We want to see what calculations and philosophy lie behind the choice. When Birmingham Corporation, a few years ago, developed a small number of houses on a similar basis and sold them at a low price they chose occupants from hundreds of applicants by way of a lottery. Perhaps the Minister has that in mind. If not, he should tell us in detail how he proposes to deal with this problem.

I now turn to the question of the quality of ownership which is available under crownhold. Remembering the restriction that exists and will exist throughout the period of the life of the house, and remembering that the so-called owner has to sell it back to the Commission at a price which takes account of the concession, in my view it will be regarded as a poor and pale version of true home ownership. It will put a man at a strong disadvantage if he has to move about the country, going from concessionary housing to free market housing. It also means that the demand for free market housing will be extremely strong. In my opinion the price of that free market housing will rise even more drastically in the years ahead than has been the case in the last year, when we have had a record rise in house prices in any event.

8.23 p.m.

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

In his entertaining maiden speech from the Liberal benches the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) said that for many years we seemed to have been running as hard as we could in order to stay in the same place. It would be truer to say that we had been running around in a circle in order to arrive back at the place from which we started—and the place from which we started was the situation which existed before the 1947 Act. We would not have had to run around in that circle if it had not been for the doctrinaire beliefs in a free market displayed by Conservative Members, which resulted in the destruction of the system created by the Act.

Today it would appear from the contributions of Members opposite that they do not now hold their former belief in that doctrinaire system. Whether the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South West (Mr. Powell) still believes in that doctrine—as he did in the past—we may never know, because he is apparently not now allowed to tell us. But the result of their belief in that doctrine has brought us to the position in which everybody agrees that something must be done about the present planning system, because of the two great problems which have been thrown up.

First, there is the problem of inequity which is produced by a system in which the community takes no part of the benefit which it itself has created, and secondly, there is the problem of the distortion of planning which results from the free market system. It is at least some comfort to know that the Opposition have moved from where they once started in connection with the problem of inequity. It is a comfort to know that today, whatever they may have thought about it only a few months ago, they recognise that it is right that the community should take back some of the profit created by its own actions.

But what amazed me as I listened to the debate—just as it amazed me as I listened to the comparable debate on the Second Reading of this Bill in the last Parliament—was that, having paid lip-service to that principle, again and again hon. Members opposite attacked the way in which the Bill sought to give effect to it. When the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) spoke this afternoon from the back benches he repeated almost word for word the criticisms that he made of the development levy when he spoke from the Front Bench in the comparable debate in the last Parliament and attacked the levy as a tax on industry, at the same time saying that he supported the principle that the community should have a reasonable share in the fruits of its own efforts. I found it impossible to believe that he was not harking back to a day not very long ago when the policy of the Opposition was quite different from that which they have set down on the Order Paper today.

The criticisms of the Bill which we have heard from hon. Members opposite—and we have not heard any positive views from them as to the way in which these two problems can be solved, other than the way in which the Bill proposes to solve them—stand on two legs, which, as often happens, tend to contradict each other. In the first place, they say that the Bill does not go anything like far enough, because it does not solve the problems of planning procedure, and in the second place they say that it goes much too far because it sets up a body which is quite unnecessary for the solution of the problem.

So far as that first leg is concerned, I agree entirely with the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames in disagreeing with his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon). I believe that it is necessary for us to improve our planning procedures. We shall require legislation to do this. The arguments which my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald) put forward in support of present planning procedures are formidable arguments, but at the same time one must be aware of the fact that development is held up for long periods, that this greatly increases the risk of the developer and makes him less inclined to develop as a result. I hope that we shall at some stage in the not-too-distant future be able to debate this. It is a separate matter from the Bill, but none the less a most important one—

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I do not quite follow where the disagreement is among myself, my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald). I thought we were all agreed on the importance of improving planning procedures. That might itself involve some legislation, but the powers of the present Bill do not require further legislation.

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was present for that part of his right hon. Friend's speech when he made this point. If he had been, he would have heard his right hon. Friend say that he did not entirely agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Perhaps he could look up the reference in HANSARD tomorrow morning—

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Now we agree with each other.

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

I hope that we do, in the light of what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Everything cannot be done in one Bill. This Bill is not intended for that purpose and I hope that another Bill will do something a great deal better in that direction. That, of course, is not the only matter which needs to be cured. The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames criticised the Bill, among other reasons, for the fact that it adds another authority to 1,500 or 1,600 authorities which at present enjoy compulsory powers. But that is not a criticism of the Bill. It may be a criticism—I think it is—of our present penny-farthing local government structure.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing is setting up the Royal Commission to look into our local government structure. I believe that it is vital, if we are to have an efficient local government system—in nothing more than our planning system—that we should go in for financial size and power of local authorities so that they have the power and ability to have properly-trained staff who are able to do the job. I do not see that in the 1,500 or 1,600 authorities which exist today.

I hope that the outcome of that Royal Commission will be a drastic revolution in our local government structure. But these are not matters with which the Bill is concerned. It is concerned with the betterment levy and the system of the Land Commission which is contained in the other part of the Bill. On the betterment levy, one need not spend a great deal of time other than comment on the way in which hon. Members opposite still seem to wish to be getting the best of both worlds by attacking something with one breath and supporting it with the next.

However, I accept that it is necessary to justify the structure which the Bill intends to set up, which no doubt will cost money—we have been told perhaps £4 million a year—and one has to justify that by positive results, which one anticipates will come from those provisions. I believe that the justification exists. As shortly as I can, I want to give the House a number of reasons why I hold that view.

One of the things repeated again and again by hon. Members opposite is that one can go a long way towards solving the problem of the price of land if one allows people to buy land as far in advance of development as possible, that is to say, if one released far more land on to the open market, as the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) said—allowed the private developer to hoard land—so that he could use it when the time came for the development to take place. But that, of course, is precisely what the Land Commission is intended to do. This is one of its primary functions—to buy land far in advance of development. For the very reason that hon. Members gave why land would be likely to be cheaper if a private developer were able to buy land far in advance of development, the land will be available cheaper to the ultimate user, the public as a whole, because it will be bought cheaper by the Land Commission.

Secondly, the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham, in opening the debate for the Opposition, said that planning is not all one way; he said that some land owners get the benefit of planning proposals which enhance the value of their land but other land owners suffer as a result of planning restrictions. I agree with him, and I also agree with him that that creates inequities. But it will not be solved by the levy system which hon. Members opposite apparently support. That will do nothing to solve the problem. I believe that it will be solved by the Land Commission system, under which land will be bought at its existing use price irrespective of the levy—and that will apply irrespective of the purpose to which the land is ultimately put. It will not matter a scrap what planning restrictions have been put on the land in respect of its future use. The owner of the land will be able to sell it at the same value as that at which he could have sold it had it been in the market for existing use. In my view, that will be a substantial constribution towards solving this inequity.

Thirdly, some hon. Members opposite strenuously argue that the levy system is preferable. Apparently, they support the levy system although we have heard them argue again and again that it would put up the price of land. Why they should support a system which in their view is likely to put up the price of land, I do not understand. The more they argue that case, the more, in fact, they argue the case for the Land Commission, one of the purposes of which is to see that land is purchased at a fair price. If, contrary to the view which we hold on these benches, the price of land goes up as a result of the levy; if people hoard their land and do not sell it, possibly in the hope that there will be a change of Government and some reduction of the levy or even an abolition of the levy, then in such circumstances, if they do not place their land on the market, the Land Commission will be able to step in and purchase the land at a fair price.

Fourthly, the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham and other hon. Members opposite have spoken about the supposed effects of the Bill on the private developer. I believe that the Bill is a very great support for the private developer. The person at whom it hits is the land owner who is able, fortuitously, by the efforts of others, and in particular by the efforts of the community at large, to make wholly uncovenanted profits out of the land which he happens to own. The Bill does not hit at the builder who earns his living by development. On the contrary, he will be assisted by the Bill, because the Land Commission will make the land available to him at a fair price for the use to which he intends to put it. I believe that he will be assisted even more by the fact that the Land Commission procedure will bring an end to the form of blackmail which one sees again and again today, under which a private owner of a vital piece of land in the middle of a large scheme of development holds on to the land until he can blackmail the developer into paying him a wholly exorbitant price for it. That system will disappear as a result of the Land Commission proposals.

Fifthly, I support wholeheartedly the concessionary crownhold position which has been attacked by two or three hon. Members opposite. I support it on the very ground on which some of them have attacked it. I agree entirely that in the world in which we shall live in the future one of the most important factors will be mobility of labour. That means the ability of people to move from one home to another easily, quickly and cheaply.

Of course, there will be many people whose employment is so stable that they will wish to own their own home. We on this side of the House are very much in favour of the principle of home ownership for those who desire it, as we have shown in the past and intend to show in the future. But a growing number of people will be likely to move around a great deal and will not want to own their own homes but will want to rent a house at a fair and reasonable price. I see the concessionary crownhold provisions of the Bill giving impetus to, for example, the housing association movement and local authorities to rent homes, which will make it very much easier for people to move from one part of the country to another.

Finally, and most important of all in my view, the Bill is vital for removing the distortion which exists in the planning system. When I speak about "distortion" I have in mind the sort of thing about which my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. John Fraser) spoke. He pointed to the other side of the river and said that instead of offices he would like to see housing development in certain parts of the area. I entirely agree with him. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but it is not only I who agree with my hon. Friend. A predecessor from the benches opposite of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government also agrees with him, because at one time he proposed to zone part of that area for housing and was persuaded to alter the zoning simply and solely because of the distortion of our system created by the free market as a result of which he was assured that no local authority or private developer could possibly afford to buy land at office or commercial value and then develop it for housing purposes.

The Land Commission system will enable fiat to be done on a countryside scale because, as I understand the Bill, the land will be acquired by the Commission at its existing use value—that is to say, office or commercial value—and will be sold to the developer, whether private enterprise, local authority or housing association, at housing land prices if houses are to be put on it. The Land Commission will take the loss, perhaps, in London and make the gain, perhaps, in the North, Scotland or Wales to which the development decentralised from London is likely to go. This can be done only on a national scale, no longer on a local scale. For that reason, some such Measure as this would have been necessary even if the 1947 Act had not been destroyed by hon. Members opposite.

In concluding my last speech on this matter I said, and I conclude this speech by repeating with even greater emphasis, that I believe that we are creating with this Measure something which will be a permanent part of the fabric of our planning system.

8.44 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

This Bill sets up a vast bureaucracy and, therefore, it is incumbent on the Government to justify it up to the hilt. The hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) brushed aside the Land Commission's administrative cost of £4 million a year as quite unimportant—

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

The hon. Gentleman must be fair. On the contrary, I said that costs of that kind must be justified, and I sought to justify them. I did not brush them aside at all.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

Perhaps the hon and learned Gentleman will hear me out. It is not only a question of the cost in money but the cost in valuable experts. This huge bureaucracy is to be set up at the expense of many other aspects of our national life. One of them, of course, is that the rating revaluation has had to be put aside.

The Land Commission's purpose is to acquire land. If the land is disposed of voluntarily, acquisition is not necessary, but behind this purpose is compulsory purchase, and the compulsory purchase powers given by this Bill need looking into very closely. The Commission is also to act as a freeholder for a whole lot of crownhold land. Again, we shall have to judge whether all this expenditure and the accumulation of experts is necessary in that respect. Thirdly, the Commission is to act as a collector of the levy, which is a separate cost of £3 million over and above the £4 million we have already discussed.

I believe that everyone has so far treated compulsory purchase very lightly. The idea is that the owner of land is some villain, some speculator who has acquired it, but he will not always be a speculator of whom it may be said that the land should be taken from him in the interests of the people. We are dealing with the ordinary people of the country. People with small parcels of land will also be affected by this provision, and it is necessary to ensure that they have the right to resist compulsory purchase orders.

The Minister spoke of the provision of land being frustrated by owners withholding their land. Who are these landowners who withhold their land? In the main, the speculators are those who particularly want to see their land developed. Those who withhold their land are people who have acquired it perhaps to protect their own amenities. They may want a large garden round the house, or there may be a field across the way which they have acquired because they want an open view and do not want the field to be built on.

They are not criminals when they act like that. That is the way to protect one's own amenities. Town and country planning does not exist to protect private amenities, but public amenities. Anyone wanting to protect a private amenity does so by acquiring land. People must have the right to resist compulsory purchase. We need to judge compulsory purchase in relation to most reasonable people as well as to the complete speculator.

For reasons of equity, it is necessary that the defendant in a compulsory order case, if I may so call him, should know the purpose to which the land is to be put. If he can prove that the needs of the community for his land are less than his own needs, the compulsory put-chase order is not confirmed. Let us judge, therefore, whether the compulsory purchase is necessary and whether the defendant gets a fair chance.

By Clause 6(4), the Commission can, after the first appointed day, acquire either undeveloped land or land in a designated new town area, and can do so for four purposes. The first purpose is to secure early development. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dulwich spoke of getting land in advance of requirements, but I think that he must have been referring to the time after the second appointed day. The purpose after the first appointed day is to secure early development. That refers to a piece of land on which early development is necessary, so the Commission would not be acquiring it well ahead of requirement. This we do not complain of, because it is liable to happen any day in any village—there is a need to acquire land for more council housing, and if the development is needed quickly that is the normal process.

The second purpose is to secure the development as a whole. Thirdly, the Land Commission can acquire land as an agent for a body which already has power to acquire the land. This seems slightly unnecessary. This should be well justified by the Minister. The Association of Municipal Corporations considers this provision entirely unncessary and its views must carry some weight in this House.

The fourth reason is in order to acquire land for crownhold. We have to read that last statement about acquiring for the purposes of crownhold as meaning that the Land Commission can take any land it wishes and say that it wants it for crownhold. Under Clause 16(5) land acquired for one purpose can then be used for another. Claiming that it wants land for crownhold and then using it for another purpose may be perfectly legal, but it is desperately unfair. Here is a case where the individual owner has not a chance if he is told that the Commission needs the land for crownhold and then it turns out that it is to be used for an entirely different purpose.

After the second appointed day things become much wider. Then the Land Commission can take by compulsory purchase all land intended for building—the provision is as wide as that—where there is planning permission. Anyone can apply for planning permission—not only the owner of the land, but anyone. If a person has an enemy who has a nice tennis court and resents his ownership of that court, he can get planning permission to put a bungalow on the site even though it has nothing to do with the person making the application. The Land Commission can then compulsorily purchase the land without the owner being able to complain. No one can protect his own amenities in the way I described earlier.

The second area in which after the second appointed date the Land Commission can act is the area of a new town. Any land in the area of a new town can be acquired. Anyone who owns land, if a compulsory purchase order is put on it, will find that it is not worth owning because no one has to show that there is a need to take that land. The bare fact that it is within the designated area of the new town means that the land can be taken by compulsory purchase. All the rights of the individual are removed once the second appointed day has taken place. I sincerely hope that the second appointed day will never take place but that it will be found totally unnecessary.

Clause 8 operates after the second appointed day. Then a more speedy compulsory purchase order procedure can be followed and an inquiry and objection can be dispensed with if the Minister considers that expedient. Again, the rights of the individual are completely taken away. This is land being commandeered for an unknown purpose by an undemocratic body. This is what the House is asked to accept. We should realise what is being put before the House.

The second purpose of the Commission is to operate crownhold. This is completely out of keeping with people's wishes. The Minister should know this, because he has just produced a White Paper on leasehold enfranchisement. He knows the keen desire people have to own not only their own houses but the land on which the houses stand, so that every brick belongs to them, so that they can do what they like, so that they do not always have to refer to the ground landlord if they want to make alterations, and so that at the end of the lease there is no requirement that they must hand the house back in proper condition to the landlord. Although the Minister knows all this, he is now introducing a new form of leasehold which has all the evils of the leasehold system. This is completely inconsistent. The right hon. Gentleman should try to be a little consistent and justify himself in some way before he disappears without trace in the Ministry of Housing.

The alleged purposes of the Bill are, first, to secure that land shall be available; secondly, to take part of the betterment; and, thirdly, to reduce the cost of land. Whether land will be available must be a matter of opinion. If the Commission is to operate in the buccaneering way that I have indicated it is empowered to operate, it may be to the great hardship of many owners of small parcels of land that more land does become available. However, this is not likely, because small parcels of land will not solve the problem. Five hundred thousand houses a year, 50,000 acres a year needed for houses—that is not made up of small plots. It is clear that the Minister will not get that amount of land.

I have not time to deal with the subject of betterment. I must have a word in private with the hon. and learned Member for Dulwich, who spoke about the merits of charging betterment on factory land. I wish I could have said much more on that subject. In any case, it is certainly not necessary to establish a Land Commission to operate betterment. This subject is absolutely nothing to do with a Land Commission. It could have been done equally well by the Inland Revenue.

Finally, we have heard a great deal of argument designed to prove that this will reduce the cost of land. I believe that it will not, except in one or two minor cases. It will not reduce the cost of land to the private individual.

This Bill is nothing more nor less than a Measure to bring about the State ownership of land, as some hon. Members have been honest to admit. The subterfuge of calling this body a Land Commission and alleging that it will be of great help to all householders has been shown to be absolute poppycock. This is a bad Bill, and I am looking forward to voting against it tonight.

8.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Hilton Mr William Hilton , Bethnal Green

Anyone listening to the discussions tonight might be led to believe that we were discussing the bureaucratic administration of the Bill and that no underlying moral principles lay behind it. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) is not present at the moment. He indicated that, in his view, the basic difference between the Conservatives and the Socialists was that his side wanted to turn an honest penny or two and that we were trying to stop them. I wanted to take up one or two points, but in view of the small amount of time at my disposal my speech will be an echo of the four-minute mile, because I know that the Minister is waiting to speak.

The highest and fastest rise in house building costs which occurred in the last 20 years did not occur last year, and I speak from 14 years' research experience in the industry. It took place in the period immediately after the 1957 Rent Act introduced by the present Opposition, which raised land prices so high that final house prices also rose. This was when the highest rise in total building costs took place in this country during the last 20 years.

The other point I make follows the line taken by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin). Many small builders, in discussions with us in the trade union movement, have said that they believe that they are losing in the financial battle to try to obtain land. They think that the large builders and the combines will crush them out. Their attitude to the Bill is quite different from that of the big builders who are inclined to pontificate about their concern for the small builder. If this Measure is not passed, the advantage will be to the large builder, not to the small builder at all.

I have been interested to hear in the emotional words coming from the benches opposite concern expressed for the small man. We did not hear this expression of concern during the debates on the 1957 Rent Act. What a change of heart. It occurs to me that it is a peculiar physical fact that Conservatives have to be bodily transported from these benches to the Opposition benches before their hearts begin to function. One of the reasons why action must be taken now on the whole subject of land and, particularly, speculative prices is that the rate of profit obtained from land was accelerated by the 1957 Act introduced by right hon. and hon. Members opposite.

The hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe concluded that, although he and his right hon. and hon. Friends were in the minority in the House, they usually won the argument. In fact, of course, the argument on this matter was settled on 31st March last. We won the argument then, as we shall win it again tonight.

9.2 p.m.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

We have had the pleasure today of hearing several maiden speeches, and I know that the House has been delighted and interested to hear the new hon. Members. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Robert Davies) marshalled his logical argument for the development of his constituency in most interesting fashion, as he did his argument for the encouragement which would be given to it by the provisions of the Bill. I cannot say that I agreed, but I had great pleasure in listening to him. I did agree with the hon. Gentleman's plea along the lines that, if there is to be a betterment levy, we ought to be thinking about "worsenment" compensation. If there is a good case for a betterment levy, there must be a good case for compensation to those whose property is injured for the benefit of the community.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) gave great pleasure by his speech, and I was particularly pleased to hear it because he is my Member of Parliament. I was not only proud to hear his description of where I live, but I was proud to be represented by such a Member. I am sure that he will always command the attention of the House when he speaks, if I may say so, even more controversially than he did today. I certainly share his disappointment with the Bill, and for much the same reasons, which I shall come to in a moment. Briefly, my hon. Friend put them expressively when he said that on-cost would not reduce prices and that the proper agencies to deal with this matter were the local authorities.

The hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner) made the House turn its mind to the relief of poverty, not so much poverty of the individual but poverty in public amenities. His plea for a substantial levy in order therewith better to carry out public works and services evidently came from deep thought on the subject and, therefore, stimulated the thought of hon. and right hon. Members.

The hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), in his entertaining and—I think this may be the right expression—uninhibited speech, made us forget at times that it was a maiden speech and wish to interrupt him. Nevertheless, he expressed the Liberal policy on land values very clearly and firmly, showing its foundation on historical fact. I hope that he will get his replies to Liberal policy from the Parliamentary Secretary tonight. At any rate, we enjoyed his amiable pleasantries and his underlying seriousness.

Finally, the speech by the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) was of great interest to me because I recently appeared professionally in the Boundary Commission inquiry involving Southall. So I know the hon. Gentleman's very serious problem of the Indian community there. He showed the House his great understanding of that problem and his sympathy with those people.

In accordance with the traditions of the House, I must declare an interest as a director of a building society and of a property trust company.

I want now to refer to the objectives which the right hon. Gentleman has frequently stated are the objectives of the Bill. They appear in the White Paper on the Land Commission, but perhaps I may quote the right hon. Gentleman's own word from the debate on 31st January, when he said: The objectives of the Bill"— after all, it was much the same Bill then as it is now— are, first, to secure that land is available at the right time for the implementation of national, regional and local plans; second, to secure that a substantial part of the development value created by the community returns to the community and"— I should have thought that this was "third"— that the burden of the cost of land for essential purposes is reduced."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 697.] We on this side of the House agree with those objectives, but we wholly disagree with the implements provided by the Bill to carry them out—the Land Commission and the betterment levy. We believe that these implements will not only fail to achieve those objectives but will eventually—I might even say soon, if they are put into operation—bring chaos and disaster to building development, whether industrial, commercial or residential, whether factories, offices or houses.

At the moment the Government's building policy is in ruins. If the Bill becomes law, it will successfully demolish those ruins entirely. The right hon. Gentleman brings the Bill to the House at a time when for every five houses which were being completed when the Labour Government first took office, only four are now being completed. That is Labour progress. The Bill will not cure that defect in the Labour Government's policy. It may not sound a very great social problem when one expresses it as five houses then for four houses now, it may not sound a very great social problem expressed as a drop of 20 per cent. in the rate of house building, but when it is expressed as the difference between 107,000 houses in the first quarter that the Labour Government were in power and 85,500 houses in the last quarter for which we have figures, it means that now 21,000 fewer families per quarter are getting homes than when the Labour Government took office.

In face of that backward march away from all the election promises which the Labour Party gave, is it any wonder that we look with some suspicion on the further proposals which come forward in this Bill? The proposals are designed, as I have said, to attain the objectives which I have quoted by the implements of a Land Commission and a betterment levy. The right hon. Gentleman having chosen those implements, I do not believe that he can escape on a Bill of this sort. I do not think that, having chosen the implement of a Land Commission, the right hon. Gentleman could escape from giving it the autocratic powers that it is given in the Bill. I do not think that, having chosen the implement of a betterment levy, he could have escaped from the elaborate classifications and valuations of the levy's chargeable transactions, as they are called in the Bill. These powers and complicated classifications are inherent in the Commission and the levy as they have been thought up by the right hon. Gentleman. They are wholly irrelevant to the present situation and the problem of the 21,000 people a quarter who are being deprived of homes by the Government.

It is, I admit, necessary to have a Bill of this magnitude if the Commission and the levy are to be imposed on the public. It is a very strong argument against the Bill that the powers of the Commission must necessarily be so oppressive of the individual that it is entirely alien to our ideas of the liberty of the subject and therefore ought to be rejected on that score alone. It is a very strong argument against the Bill that the betterment levy must necessarily be so complicated that it transgresses, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) said, all the rules of taxation and ought to be rejected on that score.

I will, if I have time, come back to the objectionable superstructures, if I may call them that, of these legislative monstrosities, but for the moment I want to attack the two implements root and branch as basically and fundamentally wrong for recouping the Government's deficiencies in building, and particularly in building homes for the people.

Any idea that the prospect of the Land Commission will increase the number of houses this year or next year or even in the foreseeable future has to be abandoned. Now, I understand, the target is not to be 400,000 houses for 1966. In fact, it is not to be 50 per cent. of that figure for the local authorities—they have been cut down to 185,000 for the year—and very much less, I suppose, will be achieved in the private sector, as is clearly forecast by the Building Societies Association and by the National Federation of Building Trades Employers.

Both the Commission and the levy as proposed by the Bill cannot achieve any increase in the rate of building or in cheapening the cost of building. The Bill is put forward, according to the right hon. Gentleman, firstly as necessary to secure that land is available at the right time for the implementation of national, regional and local plans. Let us take each one separately.

How can the right hon. Gentleman continue to say that the Land Commission and the betterment levy are necessary to secure implementation of local plans? Where have the local authorities failed? In what respect are the local authorities' powers insufficient to carry out local plans? The Town and Country Planning Act, 1962, and the Housing Acts from 1957 onwards have given to the democratic local authorities substantially as extensive powers as are to be given to the nominated Land Commission.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman could not resist tying a few frills to these powers to ensure that the unfortunate John Citizen does not escape from the tentacles of this bureaucratic octopus. In general, if any local plans are not being implemented, it is not through lack of powers of the local authorities. It may be through the lack of some local authorities in not using these powers, but they have only themselves to blame for that. Generally speaking, it is that the Minister and the Treasury have failed to provide the sanction for borrowing the money to implement these powers. If any special circumstances exist in any locality in which the local authority feels that it needs extra powers, Parliament is not reluctant to give those powers by Private Bill. We have 30 or 40 Private Bills from local authorities every year asking for such extra powers and Parliament is not reluctant to grant them. The argument that the Commission is necessary for this purpose is so weak as to be an insult to the House.

The Bill is an unnecessary and dangerous duplication of these powers against the individual. There has been no con- vincing argument that land has been withheld from local authorities. The right hon. Gentleman said again today in vague terms that land had been withheld. If that were true, it could have been put right by tidying up the powers of local authorities. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames said, it is not a shortage of land which is the trouble in development or in price, but the shortage of land with planning permission, and I shall return to that in a moment.

The second reason which is given is that regional plans are frustrated and that the Commission is necessary to secure that land is available at the right time for the implementation of regional plans. What regional plans? The House should be told what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. Parliament should not be asked to give a blank cheque to what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) called this irresponsible body, the Land Commission.

Parliament is always ready to grant powers for specific projects, but not to give a blank cheque to a nominated body of this sort. Regional development schemes which come to mind are such as the development of the Highlands—and we passed an Act about that only recently—and the development of the Lea Valley, about which a Bill is now going through the House. Are any regional plans being frustrated by lack of the Land Commission?

It is said finally that the Commission is necessary to secure that land is available at the right time for the implementation of national plans. What national plans are being frustrated by the absence of a Land Commission? The right hon. Gentleman has made a great point of this not only in the House, but in interviews which he has given and speeches which he has made outside the House, when he has said that if we are having a national levy, we must have a national Land Commission and that local authorities cannot, or do not want to, carry out national plans.

We have not needed a Land Commission to build the motorways, to undertake harbour developments, to have hydro-electricity, gas storage, new towns, or national parks. We have not even needed a Land Commission to take over Alexandra Palace, about which an Order is now going through the House and heaven forbid that we need a Land Commission to take over Aintree! This vague phrase about national plans has not been at all justified by the Minister.

The Commission is wholly purposeless for the objectives which the right hon. Gentleman has set forth, except—and this may be important—to take out of the control of Parliament consideration of national plans and regional plans and exceptional local plans and perhaps, secondly, eventually to carry out the nationalisation of the land, or, as the Prime Minister chose to express it, to take urban development land into public ownership. There can be little doubt that the powers given to the Land Commission under this Bill are the forerunners of full nationalisation.

The powers can easily be used for the purpose of nationalising the land. As on the first objective the Land Commission and betterment levy are quite purposeless so it is on the second objective. The case for the betterment levy is that it will secure that a substantial part of the development value created by the community returns to the community. This case is wholly unproven.

As set out in the Bill, the betterment levy involves extremely difficult and highly artificial valuations of market value, base value, and the most damaging periods of delay and uncertainty which will frustrate development. The last thing that it will produce is an increase in building development. The impossibility of a betterment levy could not be shown up better than by the Clause which has already been quoted introducing that extraordinary phenomenon, Case F. The Minister apparently got through five letters of the alphabet, successfully defining what he meant at each stage, but when he got to the sixth he just chucked up the sponge and said, "I will think of something later. If anything comes to mind when the Bill has gone through both Houses of Parliament, we will stick it in by means of a regulation." Even after four and a half months since the first Bill was published he has not been able to think of a proper definition for Case F.

That is an inherent difficulty in the betterment levy. It cannot be defined. An- other is the complication of assessment. Take Case C, which is the case where the levy is to be charged on a project of material development. A person, in order to carry out such a project, has to wade through Clause 32 to find what an assessable interest is, Clauses 64 to 72 to ascertain what the project is, give six months' notice before he can even cut the ground to start development, wait six months for a reply and produce documents and so on to the Land Commission.

Then the Land Commission need not make the assessment for six years. If this unfortunate developer puts one foot wrong he is liable to a fine of £500 plus the levy, or three times the levy. If the Land Commission serves a counter-notice it apparently makes him a criminal at once. It is an extraordinary Clause which throws some light on the whole of the betterment levy and the system which is worked out. Subsection (3) of Clause 39 says that where the Land Commission serves a counter-notice that shall have effect as if the proposed developer had not served a notice at all. This means that if the Land Commission serves a counter-notice the developer is a criminal right away. He has not served the notice and has committed a crime.

This has not been thought out and I do not think that it can be thought out. It is an impossible system to apply. How will this add one single building, whether industrial, office or house, to the country? I ask this at a time when house building has slowed down by 21,000 homes a quarter. The final objective put before us by the right hon. Gentleman is that the burden of the cost of land for essential purposes is reduced. I do not think that he can, after two Second Reading debates, maintain that the Bill will reduce the cost of the land if one taxes the land on which it is built.

How can it reduce the cost of a commodity when one is going to collect £80 million a year in tax on that commodity? Who is going to bear that £80 million a year? It is too naive to say that it is going to be the vendor in every case. The Bill does not recognise that, because the man who has to give notice and set the ball rolling for the collection of this levy, and I am taking Case A now, is not the vendor but the purchaser. The man who goes to prison for two years if he fails to give that notice is not the vendor who is supposed to be paying the levy, but the purchaser. The right hon. Gentleman cannot keep up the pretence any longer that all the money will be paid by the vendor and not put on the land at all.

There was an open letter written to the right hon. Gentleman in the Sunday Telegraph of 3rd January, 1966, to which he replied the following week. I observe that the writer, Mr. Kenneth J. Robinson, challenged the Minister on a number of points, one of which was this: You are also doubling up on the work of the Inland Revenue and giving the impression that you will be bringing in an additional £80 million a year to the Exchequer. In effect, the £80 million will include £60 million now obtained by the Capital Gains Tax. Much of the remaining £20 million is now found by means of Corporation Tax. So you will be passing to the Exchequer an annual sum of money it is already receiving. I should have thought that that challenge was strong enough for the Minister to answer. He replied to the letter in five columns of the Sunday Telegraph the following week, but he omitted to answer that challenge, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us tonight whether the £80 million in tax is £80 million, or is the Land Commission really going to make a loss? What is the net result of the £80 million a year which is to be collected? Does it really include £60 million Capital Gains Tax and £20 million Corporation Tax? If it does, we are paying £7 million in expenses to keep the Land Commission going for no purpose.

Having said that I agree with the objectives, I have admitted that there are defects to be remedied. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me to put forward constructive alternatives to the proposals in the Bill, and I will spell those out for the hon. Gentleman.

First, I would reform the planning procedure at the inquiry stages. I would get away from the toothpaste tube system of planning where, from time to time, little bits of land are squeezed out, and I would ensure that enough land came forward to kill scarcity value.

Secondly, I would hive off the great majority of planning appeals to an in- dependent tribunal. If cases in courts took 11 months from the time of setting them down for hearing to the time they came on for trial, there would be revolution in the country. But that is what happens in the Ministry. It now takes, on average, 44 weeks, which is again a backward march, since it was 32 weeks last year.

Thirdly, I would use some procedure similar to the new town procedure, with centrally financed development corporations, in cases where local authorities found difficulty in using their powers effectively within their own towns.

I have no doubt that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will read what I am saying in HANSARD tomorrow, but it would be a little more helpful if they would listen to what I have to say.

Fourthly, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) suggested, I would use the National Building Agency to assist local authorities in processing their development plans rapidly. There is an agency set up for this purpose, able to assist local authorities in their plans.

Finally, as to the levy itself, I would develop the Capital Gains Tax so that it takes into account a tax on the increment in value caused by the granting of planning permission, and that tax to be assessed at the time of the grant of planning permission so that the developer knows what he has to pay, and made payable on the realisation of that increment in value.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Hilton) said that in our speeches we on this side of the House had perhaps disregarded some underlying moral principle behind the problems dealt with in the Bill. I do not think that we have. There is an underlying moral principle. The Bill creates oppression on the individual, to no good purpose. It will not reduce the price of land. It will not reduce the price of houses. It will increase the cost of houses and of all other building. It will not increase the rate of building, a fact of which the Government should be thoroughly ashamed, and I hope that the House will reject the Bill.

9.31 p.m.

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

I must first, and I do it with great pleasure, add my congratulations to the whole host of excellent maiden speeches which we have had the pleasure of hearing this evening. I should like, first, to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Ro pert Davies). He and I have had many associations through our local government work over the years. He raised two very interesting technical points about his constituency, and, with his permission, I will write to him about these in order to save time now and because they are somewhat technical and may not be of great general interest.

We had an admirable speech from the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi). It is only fair to say that I did what I could to prevent him coming here, and we were very nearly successful, but, nevertheless, as he is here, I welcome him very much and hope that we shall hear him on other occasions.

We had a moving speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner), and also from my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell), a next-door constituent of mine, a friend whom I have known for many years and admired his public work, and I am sure that the constituency will be as well represented in the future as it has been in the past.

Last, but by no means least, we had an eloquent speech from the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), with a rather endearing reference to myself, which guarantees that I must reply as fully as time allows to the points he made. I very much enjoyed the axioms and the truth as enunciated by David Lloyd George, and I noticed that he turned deliberately to the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), and the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) when he made those observations. I think that he must have been as disappointed as I was in their general reaction to the political philosophy summed up in what he said.

It may be tedious for the House to have two Second Reading debates, but it has at least one advantage in that one is able to review all the arguments and to weigh carefully all the evidence from both sides of the House. I have had the opportunity of doing this during two days of these debates, as well as during five sittings of the Committee. My conclusion is that perhaps my own speech was almost un- duly moderate on the 31st January, and that while we have had many interesting and detailed technical points—some of which I shall try to reply to this evening, and the rest by correspondence—there have been no new arguments of substance against the Government's proposals since we debated this matter on 31st January.

We welcome to the debate the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hexham, whose absence from our deliberations in all these matters we have missed personally if not politically. I hope he will not mind if I say, without wishing to cause any friction between himself and other right hon. Gentlemen, that I thought he deployed his arguments rather more attractively and relevantly than did the right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Front Bench on the last occasion.

Before I become too engrossed in the more fundamental matters on which we must touch in a Second Reading debate, I should like to give one or two answers, if I can, to some of the shorter points which have been raised.

First, the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham asked whether we could say anything about the first appointed day. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Land and Natural Resources had originally hoped that it would be towards the end of the year. This is still our objective, although it may be a few weeks late. He also asked about the second appointed day. For obvious reasons, he will realise that I cannot say anything about that at this stage. It depends upon other developments.

He also asked whether the Council on Tribunals had been consulted. The answer is "Yes". The Council considered the Government's proposals and its officials sought other information on various points, including one that has troubled many hon. Members, namely, the speedy compulsory purchase procedure outlined in Clause 8. The Council was given full information and every co-operation many months ago.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Can he say what reply the Council has given?

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

To the best of my knowledge it sought information and that was given to it in October last year. I do not think that we have heard anything further. I hope that is as satisfying to the right hon. Gentleman as it is to us.

He then asked about concessionary crownhold, as did many other hon. Members. We have spelt out this concept on a number of occasions but I should like to make three or four quick points on it. First, in the normal way considerable discretion will be given to the Land Commission in making these arrangements. Normally—and certainly in the initial stages—discussions on this form of concession will be operated through bodies like housing societies, housing associations and co-operatives, and such local authorities as desire to engage in this kind of quasi-owner-occupation.

But as I said in an intervention, this would not rule out other arrangements with individuals if they wished to engage In this type of operation, or groups of individuals who wanted to form some kind of body in order to get the advantage of the concession. It is important that the concession should not be exploited when it has been given. It will be a very valuable one, and that is why, normally speaking, the Commission will work through bodies of this kind rather than directly.

The right hon. Member made some reference to the fact that when the holder of a concessionary crownhold came to dispose he would be at a disadvantage because he would have to sell at less than market price. The right hon. Gentleman has not quite followed the proposition. That is not the case. The disposer would be able to sell at full market price, less the value of his concession. This is common practice. [Laughter.] Certainly. That is the whole point. It is in order that the concession shall not be exploited. This is sensible. It is done by housing associations and co-operative bodies, and it has operated very successfully with, as far as I know, no difficulties.

The hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) drew attention to the fact that, as he saw it, our crownhold concessionary scheme was a complete contradiction to leasehold enfranchisement. I do not want to go into the argument at great length on this occasion, but he is misleading himself. In the case of a concessionary crownhold the house always belongs to the person who has bought it. He never loses it at the end. He never loses the value of improvements he has put into it. It is quite different from the private leasehold system. I hope that this elementary point will now be appreciated. The hon. Member also pointed out that every transaction would have to be notified to the Commission. It has to be notified under the existing procedure. There is no change at all, and it involves no extra work.

The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames asked about the effect on the extractive industries. I am glad to tell him that discussions are going on with those concerned. These industries have been treated on a different basis ever since the 1947 legislation. My right hon. Friend will have very wide powers under Clause 71 to make Regulations. I will say no more at the moment, except that I believe that a happy solution will be reached as a result of the negotiations now going on—

Photo of Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke , Darwen

If the hon. Gentleman is leaving the question of the concessionary crownholds, could he give some indication as to what qualifications there will be for this concession? The only qualification which he has mentioned so far is the fact that one is a member of a group. Why should that be a qualification for getting a considerable financial advantage, and what other qualifications will there be?

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

I am afraid the whole history of society is that great benefits arise when people co-operate. Certainly, in the early stage, to get the schemes going, one would want to co-operate with groups of people able to police the concession, able to look after and advise their members, though the Commission has wide powers of discretion so that it can make other arrangements later on. In the early stages, it should be available to these people who want to take advantage—no one is forced to do so—of what is a substantial concession—

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

I will give way once more, but I got into some trouble last time. I want to be the servant of the House and give such information as I can, but I do not want to be reproached later on for not having answered all the points.

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

The hon. Gentleman said something about what I said about the extractive industries. Is the object of the discussions to which he referred to find a means of exempting them from the levy in the same way as Clause 58 of the Bill exempts the National Coal Board?

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

The object of the discussions is to give them the special treatment to which the extractive industries have always been entitled, and which would enable them to carry on their operations in such a way that they would not be at risk, as they might at present. The difficulty is that if one gives the right hon. Gentleman some answer, he always wants more. I would ask him not to press me further on the present occasion.

I will, in fairness, answer one further question. He drew a horrifying picture of the possibility of the levy operating badly on factory extensions. What he said was wholly illusory, although I do not suggest that this was due to malice on his part. First of all, small extensions—that is to say, up to roughly 10 per cent. of the area of the factory space—are not material development within the Bill and therefore would not attract the levy. Proposals are being circulated about the definition of material development which would attract the levy to all the interested bodies, including the Confederation of British Industry and it is proposed—though I want to be careful of the way in which I say this—that those extensions which will be material development will be assessed for levy at the time that they are constructed, but collection of the levy will be postponed until either the extension is used as a separate factory or the extended factory as a whole is sold. So the levy may never be levied so long as the extension remains part of the factory and is not sold. I hope that this puts at rest the right hon. Gentleman's fears.

The hon. Member for Cheadle asked me about the Liberal Party's view on the taxation of site values. I was delighted to hear him say that the general objectives of these proposals—which are, first of all, to see that land is available which does not normally come forward through the market mechanism, which is the great difficulty of the existing system, and which hon. Gentlemen opposite apparently do not yet understand, and at the same time to collect part of the betterment for the community—are principles and objectives on which the Liberal Party are entirely in accord with the Government.

He went on to ask why the Government did not then use the long-held tradition of the taxation of site values. There are three brief reasons which I will give him at this stage.

First of all, when the original theory of site value was put forward—he mentioned 50 years ago—there was no town and country planning, and it was at least arguable that if a tax were put on land which was not developed, this would be an inducement to bring the land forward for development. But today the criterion whether land is brought forward or not cannot be solely that of the tax, because we have an elaborate system of town and country planning. This is one reason why the levy by itself is not enough. The decision whether land is brought forward might not be accelerated if we imposed a tax alone.

The second objection is one of unfairness. We believe that the scheme would perhaps create even more anomalies than the existing rating system. If one puts a tax upon the potential development of land a number of things happen. First, the individual has to pay the tax before he has received any benefit from the development. This is the whole point of putting the tax upon it. It may be that in the development plan of a city there are development programmes outlined 10, 15 or 20 years before development takes place. We think that it would be extraordinarily unfair to ask an individual to pay the tax ten years before he received any benefit from the development.

I could give two other examples of unfairness, although the objective is a good objective. Suppose there were a moderately sized shop in the high street where an individual service has been given—the kind of shopkeeper who might perhaps be induced to vote Liberal. He does not want to sell out to the supermarket and he retains the family business. But the development value of the site might be ten or 15 times its present value if it were reconstructed. We should be placing a very heavy tax indeed upon that site, to be paid now by someone who will get no benefit from it. We think that that would be unfair.

I am sorry that I did not have an opportunity of deploying this argument earlier, especially as I do not think that the Liberal Party have thought their proposal through under modern conditions. There might well be a farm in respect of which a third party gets planning permission. We all know that this happens. From that moment, under the old scheme at any rate, on the principle of the taxation of site value the farmer would be faced with the levy. We say that the Liberal Party scheme would be unfair, would be uncertain and would not bring land forward, because this is not the only criterion on which land is brought forward.

Finally there is a very difficult point about valuation. I looked very carefully at the survey at Whitstable. This was a bold and splendid attempt, but I am certain that if we put a tax on site value, as has been very conscientiously done by an individual valuer, and there were appeals to the Lands Tribunal, those valuations would not be sufficiently accurate to decide the case. For all those reasons we believe that the Government proposal is much fairer, because it is levied on the person who has received the value of the land being developed when he sold it—not on the future. Our scheme would impose the levy on what he gets now and when he gets it whereas the Liberal scheme would relate to the future. We therefore say that their scheme is impracticable and unfair.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

The description which the hon. Member has given of our proposals is completely distorted and inaccurate. Has he carefully read the Whitstable Report? What he said cannot possibly flow from a proper reading of that document.

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

I thought that I had gone into some detail on this matter and that I was giving a constructive alternative. I believe that I am right, and if anything I have said is wrong or inaccurate, no doubt the hon. Member will correct me. That is the position as I understand it and as my advisers understand it, and we ask the House to express the view that the Liberal proposal is unfair and uncertain and unlikely to bring land forward, for the reasons which I have given.

The new Clause 81, which corrects a grave injustice of the 1959 Act, now the consolidated 1961 Act, has broadly been welcomed. At least no hon. Member opposite has dared to suggest that this remedy is wrong.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I should correct the hon. Gentleman at once. It was not mentioned because we had so much else to mention and criticise in the Bill. It will come up in Committee.

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

We have at least got on record the fact that the kind of scandal—because it was a public scandal—which went on concerning the Lavender Hill allotments is supported by the Opposition Front Bench.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

The hon. Gentleman must give way.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to twist my words in that way. It may well be that the Clause needs amending to protect the small owners who will get badly caught if that Section of the 1961 Act is repealed. We want to look at this matter carefully.

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

I thought that there had been universal agreement in the debate up to this point. I am sorry that this is not the case. I regret that it has taken us from 1959 until now to get on the Statute Book a reform which is long overdue to deal with a scandal. I am delighted to think that the Amendment which my hon. Friend moved in Standing Committee on 15th February, 1959, has at long last been shown to be right.

We start the major discussion realising that there is a cleavage here. If anyone has any doubt about the difference in attitude between the parties, certainly land problems bring it out. For decades, not just since 1959, right hon. and hon. Members opposite—and it appears from the major speeches which we have heard today, although not from all, that it is still true—have advanced a kind of doctrine of despair about land problems. They said, "They are so difficult that you cannot do anything about them".

So allegedly progressive a Conservative as the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), when he was Minister of Housing and Local Government, said on the basic problem of land supply: … even if more land than is needed for the next few years could be released"— that is the solution put forward this afternoon by the parties opposite— it is unlikely that prices … would come down substantially. Developers and middlemen would tend to put the land released into stock. That is the short answer to what we have heard today, and that is what is happening.

I gave a great many examples of this on 31st January. Then the right hon. Gentleman made two other astonishing conclusions, although perfectly logical if once we accept the general theory. He said: There are some good effects to be gained from high prices … because greater prices and greater competition for large sites may force some developers back into the towns and cities". Anyone who has seen what has happened in the Home Counties knows how false that has turned out to be. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman went on to say: High prices persuade us to make full use of the land we have".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th July. 1960; Vol. 627, c. 159.] Nevertheless, we made some progress. We continued to put the case of the growing scandal of land prices and the way in which they were twisting development in the community. By the time that we come to 4th May, 1964, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East who was Minister of Housing, said—and this largely concedes the case which we are putting before the House today: We need an agency which will acquire the land, make the plan, provide the services and then dispose of the land according to the plan, either by selling or letting it to private or public enterprise. It is a by-product of this necessity that produces betterment; that is, the increase in the value of the land as it is brought into development will be either a total or partial compensation to the public …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1964; Vol. 694, c. 949.] So the new agency was to acquire land, to make the plans, to provide the services, to dispose of the land and to take part of the betterment for the public. It makes the Land Commission appear rather puny. Compared with the two speeches to which I have referred, this was almost as celebrated a transformation as the one which happened on the road to Damascus. There was to be the one qualification that the agency was to be for planned expansion schemes, but that really meant all major developments, because all the big developments must, if we are to get the number of houses, be planned developments of that kind.

The right hon. Gentleman had another moment of clairvoyance, because he said that quite clearly the new agency would have to deal with the problem, because one cannot leave all this entirely to the 1,500 local authorities. The local authorities have a job to do. They have powers, but no responsibility beyond their own boundaries. If schemes go over their own boundaries they may be prohibited by law from carrying them out—

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

I have looked into this very carefully—they will very often be precluded. Furthermore, the cost of acquisition and development by the smaller authorities means such a rate burden that it is often beyond them, and they cannot do it.

The right hon. Gentleman had certainly come to this conclusion by 4th May, 1963. This is where the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham came in, because on 18th November previously, when his right hon. Friend had first spelt out this idea of new machinery, it was the right hon. and learned Gentleman who said, "We do not need any new machinery". He said that then, and he says it again today. That is the astonishing thing. Here is the modernised Conservative Party, the streamlined party, going back now to a completely free market in land—as, indeed, the Amendment points out.

I would remind the House that when we are taking on this Bill the decision we shall take very shortly, we will be deciding on one of the fundamental issues which confronts our society. Land speculation and the exploitation of land monopoly by a few gives rise, as we have all seen, and as so many of my hon. Friends have said, to some of the greatest evils in our society. The uncovenanted gain of the few landowners is the most unearned of all unearned increments. The party opposite has been entirely timid in its plans to deal with that problem.

The Land Commission provides two solutions. First, it returns to the community a part, a very moderate part, of the land value that the community has created. Secondly, it is a national instrument that we have hitherto lacked to see that land is available for the schemes we shall want to include in our long-range building programme. As Mr. Neil Wates said the other day There is not so much a technical problem of getting the houses; it is a town planning problem of getting the land. That is one reason why it is no use merely allocating land. We know that that is not enough. We have seen the Oxford case, and we know what the President of the Building Societies Association has said. We can allocate the land, but as long as there is this increase in price resulting from the 1959 Act—which is as irrelevant to getting land as the Rent Act was to dealing with rents—there is a great inducement for land

owners always to hang on to the land to the last moment.

Before I ask the House to give this Bill a Second Reading, and decisively to reject the Opposition Amendment, I would commend to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite the words of St. Gregory the Great. He said: This is the way in which we must preach to the people who keep what they have got and help not others. We must give them clearly to understand that the land has been given by God to be the common property of all men, and that its fruits ought to be used for the benefit of all and that therefore it is ridiculous for them to think that they are not robbing others, and plundering, where they are simply retaining what they have got. I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading and reject the Amendment.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 210, Noes 147.

Division No. 8.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Albu, AustenDunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Anderson, DonaldDunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)
Armstrong, ErnestEadie, AlexHowie, W.
Ashley, JackEdelman, MauriceHughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N)
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Ellis, JohnHughes, Roy (Newport)
Barnes, MichaelEnnals, DavidHunter, Adam
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodEnsor, DavidHynd, John
Bidwell, SydneyEvans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)Janner, Sir Barnett
Bishop, E. S.Faulds, AndrewJeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras S.)
Blenkinsop, ArthurFletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Booth, AlbertFletcher, Ted (Darlington)Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurFoley, MauriceJudd, Frank
Bowden, Rt. Hn. HerbertFord, BenKelley, Richard
Boyden, JamesForrester, JohnKenyon, Clifford
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Fowler, GerryKerr, Russell (Feltham)
Bradley, TomFraser, J. D. (Norwood)Lawson, George
Bray, Dr. JeremyFraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)Ledger, Ron
Brooks, EdwinFreeson, ReginaldLee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Gardner, A. J.Lee, John (Reading)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Garrett, W. E.Lestor, Miss Joan
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)Garrow, AlexLever, Harold (Cheetham)
Buchan, NormanGordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Gourlay, HarryLipton, Marcus
Cant, R. B.Gray, Dr. HughLoughlin, Charles
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraGreenwood, Rt. Hn. AnthonyLuard, Evan
Chapman, DonaldGregory, ArnoldLyon, Alexander W. (York)
Coe, DenisGrey, CharlesLyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Corbet, Mrs. FredaGriffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Crawshaw, RichardGriffiths, Will (Exchange)McBride, Neil
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardHale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)MacColl, James
Darling, GeorgeHamilton, William (Fife, W.)MacDermot, Niall
Davidson, A. (Accrington)Hamling, WilliamMacdonald, A. H.
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Hannan, WilliamMcKay, Mrs. Margaret
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Hart, Mrs. JudithMackie, John
Davies, Robert (Cambridge)Haseldine, NormanMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
de Freitas, Sir GeoffreyHazell, BertMacPherson, Malcolm
Delargy, HughHenig, StanleyMallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Dell, EdmundHerbison, Rt. Hn. MargaretMallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Dewar, D. C.Hilton, W. S.Mapp, Charles
Dickens, JamesHooley, FrankMarquand, David
Donnelly, DesmondHorner, JohnMayhew, Christopher
Mellish, RobertPavitt, LaurenceSkeffington, Arthur
Mikardo, IanPentland, NormanSmall, William
Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)Spriggs, Leslie
Molloy, WilliamPerry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)Symonds, J. B.
Moonman, EricPrentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.Taverne, Dick
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)Tinn, James
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Price, William (Rugby)Tomney, Frank
Morris, John (Aberavon)Pursey, Cmdr. HarryUrwin, T. W.
Moyle, RolandRedhead, EdwardWainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Mulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickRichard, IvorWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Murray, AlbertRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Wallace, George
Neal, HaroldRoberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)Watkins, David (Consett)
Newens, StanRobertson, John (Paisley)Weitzman, David
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)Wellbeloved, James
Norwood, ChristopherRobinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Ogden, EricRoebuck, RoyWhitaker, Ben
O'Malley, BrianRogers, GeorgeWhite, Mrs. Eirene
Oram, Albert E.Rose, PaulWilley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Orbach, MauriceRoss, Rt. Hn. WilliamWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Orme, StanleyRowland, Christopher (Meriden)Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Oswald, ThomasRowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)Ryan, JohnWillis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Owen, Will (Morpeth)Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)Winnick, David
Padley, WalterShore, Peter (Stepney)Woof, Robert
Pannell, Rt. Hn. CharlesShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Parker, John (Dagenham)Silkin, John (Deptford)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)Silkin, S. C. (Dulwich)Mr. Whitlock and Mr. Harper.
NOES
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Grieve, PercyOnslow, Cranley
Balniel, LordGrimond, Rt. Hn. J.Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Batsford, BrianGurden, HaroldPage, Graham (Crosby)
Bell, RonaldHall, John (Wycombe)Pardoe, J. W.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Berry, Hn. AnthonyHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Peel, John
Bessell, PeterHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Biffen, JohnHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Price, David (Eastleigh)
Biggs-Davison, JohnHarvey, Sir Arthur VerePrior, J. M. L.
Blaker, PeterHawkins, PaulRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Body, R.Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir LionelRees-Davies, W. R.
Bossom, Sir CliveHeath, Rt. Hn. EdwardRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.Heseltine, MichaelRidley, Hn. Nicholas
Braine, BernardHiggins, Terence L.Ridsdale, Julian
Brewis, JohnHiley, JosephRippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Brinton, Sir TattonHogg, Rt. Hn. QuintinRodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. Sir WalterHolland, PhilipRoots, William
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Hooson, EmlynRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Bryan, PaulHornby, RichardRussell, Sir Ronald
Bullus, Sir EricHunt, JohnScott, Nicholas
Carlisle, MarkHutchison, Michael ClarkSharples, Richard
Cary, Sir RobertIremonger, T. L.Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Clegg, WalterJenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Sinclair, Sir George
Cooke, RobertJennings, J. C. (Burton)Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Cooper-Key, Sir NeillJohnston, Russell (Inverness)Summers, Sir Spencer
Corfield, F. V.Kaberry, Sir DonaldTapsell, Peter
Costain, A. P.King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)Kirk, PeterTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Crawley, AidanKnight, Mrs. JillTemple, John M.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir OliverLangford-Holt, Sir JohnThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Crouch, DavidLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryThorpe, Jeremy
Cunningham, Sir KnoxLloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Currie, G. B. H.Loveys, W. H.Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Dance, JamesLubbock, EricWainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)McAdden, Sir StephenWalker, Peter (Worcester)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)Maclean, Sir FitzroyWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Dodds-Parker, DouglasMcMaster, StanleyWall, Patrick
Doughty, CharlesMaddan, MartinWalters, Denis
Drayson, G. B.Marten, NeilWard, Dame Irene
du Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardMaude, AngusWeatherill, Bernard
Eden, Sir JohnMawby, RayWebster, David
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Whitelaw, William
Eyre, ReginaldMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Farr, JohnMilts, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Worsley, W. M.
Fortescue, Tim
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)More, JasperYounger, Hn. George
Gibson-Watt, DavidMorrison, Charles (Devizes)
Glover, Sir DouglasMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Grant, AnthonyMunro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughMr. Pym and Mr. R. W. Elliott.
Grant-Ferris, R.Nott, John
Bill read a Second time.
Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).