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Ministry Of Land And Natural Resources

Volume 728: debated on Thursday 12 May 1966

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asked the Prime Minister when he intends to abolish the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources.


asked the Prime Minister if he will abolish the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources.

Not at present, Sir; an announcement about future arrangements will be made in due course.

Does the Prime Minister think it satisfactory for the House this afternoon to enter into discussions on a long and controversial Bill which is to be moved by a Minister whose departmental existence is in doubt?

No, Sir. I think that during the life of this Ministry we have been able to produce policies on two very important issues, the land question, in respect of which right hon. Gentlemen opposite entirely failed to produce a policy, and leasehold. This could not have been done if we had not had this separate Ministry, but it is being merged with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and I am sure that today's debate will be very productive. I shall be surprised to learn that our proposals are controversial.

Does the Prime Minister remember saying in his election manifesto that he was going to abolish this Ministry to streamline the Departments of State? Is he going to streamline it, or not? Is he going to abolish this Ministry quickly, or maintain it?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, integration of the staffs has begun. The question of the Minister will depend on legislation, and we have even more urgent legislation ahead of us. Certainly my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will have very important work to do in the next few weeks piloting this uncontroversial legislation through the House.

After the putting of these Questions to my right hon. Friend, has he any further need of evidence that hon. Members opposite regard the making of enormous profits from land speculation as a sacred cow?

I have never really had much doubt about their position. I do not think that we needed this Question for that purpose. What I have been unclear about is what their policy was in view of the omission from their manifesto of what they had previously said was their policy.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what the responsibilities of this Minister are in Wales? If there are changes, to which Minister will these responsibilities be given?

I hope within the next few days to be able to say what the position is not only concerning land but also those parts of the Ministry of Public Building and Works which are to be transferred to the Ministry of Housing. Any consequences for Wales will be notified to the House.