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Building Land (Minister's Statement)

Volume 643: debated on Tuesday 4 July 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether the statement regarding building land speculation made by the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs on 19th June in London represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

If the hon. Member is referring to a report in the Daily Mail that day of an interview with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, the answer is, "Yes, Sir".

Is the Prime Minister aware that I was referring to the report in the Daily Mail, which discloses no policy whatsoever on the part of the Government? In those circumstances, how can the Prime Minister agree with a nil policy, or is he saying that the one flashing phrase of the Minister of Housing and Local Government

"I am not sitting around doing nothing"
is a declaration of the Government's policy?

No. The hon. Gentleman has completely misrepresented what is in the article. As I understood my right hon. Friend, he reaffirmed our determination not to allow the green belt policy and other important planning objectives to be sacrificed and said that those who were speculating in land in the hope that pressure would be brought to abandon the green belt policy were likely to burn their fingers.

Is the Prime Minister aware that we on this side welcome the warning to speculators against the danger of getting their fingers burned, providing that the warning is backed up by some kind of policy? Is he now telling us that all that the Minister of Housing and Local Government meant was that he would not give way on green belts but would do nothing else to deal with the scandal of land prices?

No. The Minister of Housing and Local Government made some other observations. I was picking out one which I thought particularly apt in view of the misrepresentation of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly).

When may we expect from the Government an announcement of their policy in this matter?

If the right hon. Gentleman reads the article he will see that it contains some very valuable statements of policy.

Is not the Prime Minister aware that it is precisely because it contains no content whatever that I asked him when we would have a statement on policy?

The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. He is associating himself with the mis-statement made by his hon. Friend below the Gangway.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.