Land Commission Bill

Oral Answers to Questions — Land and Natural Resources – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1967.

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Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames 12:00 am, 23rd January 1967

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what is the date by which he assumed the Land Commission Bill would have received Her Majesty's Assent when he fixed 6th April, 1967, as the first appointed day under that Measure.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I assumed that the date would be soon enough to allow full time for the laying of the necessary regulations under the Bill before the first appointed day.

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

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that professional men and others will have adequate time to study and to understand the immensely complicated provisions of the Bill in the very limited interval which there must be between Royal Assent and his appointed day? Would he not give his Bill a better chance if he postponed the appointed day till the autumn?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

The right hon. Gentleman will recognise the difficulty of any interim period, but I am fully satisfied that professional bodies will have opportunity fully to understand the Bill.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise he is going to cause chaos by bringing the Bill into operation as soon as this? Would he take the advice of his noble Friend, Lord Silkin, and postpone it to 1st January, 1968?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

The hon. Gentleman is the last person who should say this, because I understand he has well prepared his commentary on the Bill.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources how much extra expenditure will be incurred by his Department on advertising and promotional or information material in 1967 in order to explain the Land Commission proposals to the public.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

In view of the complications of the Bill, does the Minister think this is adequate? Since his specialist advisers can hardly understand it, how can the public understand it? It will require enormous expenditure to get this across to the public and to the interested bodies. Would it not be better to drop the Bill than to incur the expenditure of this amount of money?

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

The hon. Member will not expect me to answer the purely political points in the latter part of his supplementary question, but I am quite satisfied that the three publications which the Ministry is preparing will be adequate. Indeed, there is very much greater understanding of the Bill than is sometimes suggested.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

Would the hon. Gentleman explain what he means by three publications? One is usually enough. I admit that the Bill is so very complicated that it may require three.

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

Perhaps I may remind the hon. Member of the information I gave him about this at an earlier stage. There will be a general leaflet for the public, a leaflet for builders and surveyors and a third one for other practitioners, including solicitors.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources whether he will make a statement about the implications of the proposed postponement from 1st March to 6th April of the first appointed day under the Land Commission Bill on land transactions where the completion date falls between 1st March and 6th April.

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

The postponement of the first appointed day will simplify the problems of dealing with the interaction of betterment levy and taxes, as that date is the start of the tax year.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that this change of the date will inflict hardship on many parties who have already contracted, on the assurances given by the Government that the appointed day would be 1st March? Purchasers have agreed prices on the basis that they would not have to pay a development levy, which the change in the date will now make them have to pay. Will not the Minister make up his mind and try to do something that will alleviate hardship and not create it?

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

The hon. Member will, in fairness, realise that the selection of any date usually disadvantages some, just as the postponement of the date by a few weeks will advantage others. This is inevitable when one chooses a date, but it does not mean that one does not choose one.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources to what extent revenue resulting from the Land Commission Bill will be devoted to compensating local authorities for exorbitant land prices paid by local authorities and thus to reducing council house rents.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

The yield from the levy is a factor of which general account has been taken in considering the support which the Government is giving to local authorities under various measures. It would be impracticable and inequitable to relate this assistance directly to the levy raised in particular authorities' areas, rather than to the needs and resources of the authorities.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

May we take that as an assurance that the Government intend to devote the proceeds of the levy mainly to this purpose and also that this will be additional to the limited subsidy for expensive sites given under the Housing Subsidies Bill?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

This means that we will implement the assurance which we gave in the White Paper.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

What exactly does the Minister mean by that? Does he mean that the levy goes to the local authorities? That answer leaves us in very much doubt.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I remove that doubt at once by saying that a considerable part of the levy will go to aid local authorities.