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Development Land

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1974.

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Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind , Edinburgh Pentlands 12:00 am, 24th July 1974

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated total cost of bringing all development land into public ownership.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

No figure is available for the total value of all development land. The cost of our proposals for bringing such land into public ownership will depend on the details of the scheme which will be announced as soon as possible.

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind , Edinburgh Pentlands

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the country will be amazed that this proposal should be put forward without any knowledge of the cost involved? Can he say whether he and his colleagues will be satisfied with the nationalisation of development land or whether, as many of us suspect, it will be merely the thin end of the wedge towards the nationalisation of all public land, including private homes, as advocated by many prominent members of his party?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

The proposals are perfectly clear, and the hon. Gentleman has no right to misrepresent them in that way. It has been made plain again and again that these proposals will not—I repeat, not—touch the owner-occupier, and the hon. Gentleman knows it. The country will not be amazed in the way that he describes because, unlike the hon. Member, people have the sense to see that we are discussing not a public cost but public wealth.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Does my right hon. Friend realise that if there is one matter that offends millions of people in this country it is that landowners should be able to exploit human need in the way they have been doing by withholding their land until they are paid their extortionate prices? Will my right hon. Friend take it from me that if we make this one of the major issues in the forthcoming General Election there is no doubt that the vast majority of people will declare firmly that their native land should belong to them?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

Landowners have made a speculative killing in recent years which has jeopardised good planning and greatly increased inequality and appropriated to themselves a rise in development values due to the actions of the community. We shall make this a major part of our election policy.

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South

What public sector projects will be cut out so that this vast sum can be found without add- ing to the public sector borrowing requirement?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

The hon. Gentleman has not realised that what we are discussing here is not a cost to the Exchequer but an investment which will be one of the best that the country and the Exchequer could make.