Mr Harold Boardman: The subject that we are about to discuss concerns the National Coal Board's proposals for the working of an opencast site at Atherton, in Greater Manchester. Before discussing this matter, I should mention that I have received a note from my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper), whose constituency is adjacent to mine, saying that he wishes to be associated with what I have to say...
Mr Harold Boardman: I am glad to have my hon. Friend's intervention. That is precisely the point I am making, precisely why I say that this is more than a petty point made into headlines criticising my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I criticise my right hon. Friend for different reasons. This situation is probably not his fault, but it ought to be changed. I believe that his decision in this case has...
Mr Harold Boardman: The surprising thing about the Bill is that it was ever presented. It comes odd from a Government who pride themselves on their willingness for consultation. No one can complain that there has not been consultation on this matter. There have been consultations with the insurance companies and with the several trade unions involved, but all this has come to nothing because they have told the...
Mr Harold Boardman: It was my intention to speak briefly in this debate. Having listened to the excellent and all-embracing contributions I propose to be even more brief and confine myself to putting two questions. Before doing that I want to make one point. It is ironic that, had the textile industry been asking for money from the Government, its case would have been met quickly. That is the sad thing about it...
Mr Harold Boardman: asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now introduce legislation to eliminate middle men from transactions concerning land with development prospects.
Mr Harold Boardman: Has the Minister's attention been drawn to last Friday's edition of The Guardianwhich reported that a piece of land in Manchester was sold for £36,000, resold for £64,000, then put up for auction and withdrawn at £98,000, and then sold for over £100,000, all within a period of seven months? Is not the Minister aware that people who have no direct interest in land prices are becoming...
Mr Harold Boardman: In a debate of this nature there is bound to be repetition, and in order to relieve the agony a little I shall confine myself to two points. Before I do so, I should perhaps say that we are today discussing a very old story. Some 25 years ago I brought a deputation to see the late Sir Stafford Cripps to discuss precisely this subject: the need for development area status for Leigh, Atherton...
Mr Harold Boardman: asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has made of the effect on land prices generally of sale of land by auction.
Mr Harold Boardman: Is the Minister aware that the escalation of land prices at auction sales is probably greater than the escalation of prices of works of art? Will he consider a fair and practicable alternative to auction sales of land and ban such auctions?
Mr Harold Boardman: asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the response of local authorities to his circular 10/70, Land Availability for Housing.
Mr Harold Boardman: In view of the stubborn refusal of many local authorities to release sufficient land, will the Minister impress upon local authorities that the maintenance of scarcity values is the biggest single factor in the current exorbitant price of land and that they are responsible?
Mr Harold Boardman: asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many textile mills were operating in Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley in 1961 compared with the number in operation in November, 1971; and what were the number of operatives at those dates.
Mr Harold Boardman: Does the Minister agree that those figures, coupled with the figures associated with pit closures, present a serious threat to the future of this area? Will he now give serious consideration to the textile industry's plea that a low level of quotas should run alongside the proposed tariffs?
Mr Harold Boardman: asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of disputes concerning suitability of apparel for school wear being subject to the opinions of individual school heads, she will request local education authorities to lay down guide lines to apply to all local authority schools within their jurisdiction.
Mr Harold Boardman: Is the Minister aware that disputes of this nature are becoming more frequent, and that they cause embarrassment and annoyance to the head teachers concerned and very often humiliation to the parents? If the local education authorities have these powers why does not she insist that they use them?
Mr Harold Boardman: asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if, in view of the decline in employment in the textile and coal industries, and the threatened closure of Irlam Steel Works, he will now provide incentives for new industry in the south Lancashire area.
Mr Harold Boardman: Whilst I appreciate that there is not much foot-loose industry at the present time, if the eventual closure of this steel works is confirmed, will the Minister act quickly to encourage alternative industry to go in?
Mr Harold Boardman: asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will state the number of closures of building firms in the North-West in the past two years.
Mr Harold Boardman: To what extent are those failures due in part to a false scarcity of land brought about by a too rigid green belt policy which in turn brings about a phenomenally high price for land? There is also the effect of S.E.T. to be considered. If the Government want to do something about housing, should they not do something about these two problems?
Mr Harold Boardman: I understand that South Lancashire is excluded from the list. How can my right hon. Friend possibly justify the exclusion of an area like Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley, where pithead gear and textile mills are falling like nine-pins?