Clause 87

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 8th May 1985.

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Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington 6:30 pm, 8th May 1985

I only wish that my memory were better. I recall a time during the past four years—my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) may have served with me on that Finance Bill—when we discussed an amendment which dealt with land banks being held by building companies. It appeared that they had a tax problem because they were holding such large tracts of land. There is no shortage of land available to building companies today. Indeed, some companies say that they are carrying too large a pool of land. They want a demand for homes and an expansion of public sector moneys to ensure a construction programme. Building companies say that they have the land, yet the hon. Gentleman seeks to prove that more land will be forthcoming. It may be that the building companies do not need the land, as it is already available.

The hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire is a free marketeer and is in the estate agent business, land valuation, or whatever. He is in that set and he knows exactly what I mean. He knows that the only determinant of land values is the free market. If we hand over the net £20 million, we will merely give it to people who do not need it. If it could be proved that the provision would reduce the value of housing, we might have to take the clause seriously, but it cannot be proved. When the Minister replies, he must prove that the abolition will lead to more houses being built, and that the consumer will benefit. If he cannot do that, he should withdraw the clause.