GM on Farming Today & OFT Landbank investigation

james armstrong james36army at
Sun Sep 7 07:59:37 BST 2008

letter sent to BBC's farming Today. (Radio 4)
Farming today this week Saturday 6th September 2008

Having got rid of a million farmers and agricultural workers, now less than 200,000 farms  control the production of food in UK and  receive a private tax imposed by  C.A.P. of £3billion per annum to help.
The  'National Farmers Union' representing this oligarchy is the dominant commercial influence on Farming Today.

One giant supermarket significantly controls the supply of food.
Less than 189,000 families control  two thirds of the land in UK.
Seven giant housebuilders in 2002 controlled land with planning permission sufficient for the nation's total
annual housebuild.
Giant  corporations have been branded like criminals and individually fined  up to $50million. These include, Microsoft, Woolworths, and B.P. The fine on  B.B.C.was £400,000.
A central current economic issue is world corporate control of land, energy , oil and food.
In April, our own Office of Fair Trading issued a statement of objection against one hundred and twelve giant contruction firms for rigging bids for  public contracts.

GM crops are a means of selling branded seed, creating an exclusive market for the dedicated weedkiller,  controlling  seed prices, selling the exclusive weedkiller, and excluding self collection of seed.

Granting  one giant international corporation the poweer to throttle world food supply is  madness.

Both the oilseed rape farmer who 'consulted' the universally anti 'urban fringe' (sic)  - and then proceeded  with the  GM crop  and  'Farming Today' just doesn’t get the message.

James Armstrong



Office of FairTrading

Sent 2nd Sept 08

OFT are requested by this letter  to investigate the underlying causes of the Housing Crisis as instances of monopoly used against the public interest.   

In 2003 I wrote to to ask the OFT to investigate the monopoly of land.

My purpose in writing now is to ask the OFT  to reconsider declining this request, in the light of subsequent developments and changed circumstances.

The interesting reply of OFT  , ref LOO 9603        dated  19th Feb 03          stated, "For the purposes of the statute, the supply of goods and services does not cover the ownership of land" 
The occasion of my letter then was the apparent unnecessary restriction on house supply, houses not being available at reasonable prices to would-be occupants who had no alternative means of solving their  existential need for houses for shelter and homemaking, which difficulty I interpreted as arising from the underlying monopoly of bulk land ownership and attributed to :- 
a)  the practical difficulty of individuals getting  ownership of building land or purchasing it except at an out-of reach premium, which if even if it could be achieved individually could not be reproduced  for society as a whole under  present restrictive monopoly land ownership conditions. 
b) the existence of a planning regime which restricted development of new houses except to sites with planning pemission, and which effectively is granted only to owners of an interest in land,and in the great majority of cases to owners of bulk land which gets preferred planning consideration.
I should  add   a historical note and  comment, 
  The underlying premise on which an equitable planning regime is based is that there is an effective 'free' market in land and houses. Clearly neither then nor now do such 'free'  open or effective  market conditions prevail(house provision being the reason which inspired the central 
(1947) planning act which introduced the present regime.) Explicitly the drafters of the Act recognised that landowners were punitively witholding land for the required houses and to help 'liberate' the market for land for houses, £300 million was paid by a hard pressed HMG in conditions of post-war  rationing, to compensate landowners for taking away their previous development rights. (see Hansard, Nov 1946 )  Such adverse conditions have currently recurred.  
     Land is peculiarly vulnerable to monopoly used against the public interest, in that ownership in one locality (and particularly powerfully in the case of ownership in bulk) always carries with it a monopoly which is complete within that same footprint,one parcel of land not being able to substitute for another  in a different area. Access to land is a pre-requisite of human existence and currently denied the generality of people in the U.K. except under punitive conditions.
       Since the interesting OFT reply of 2003,  the following changes have taken place.
a) The Barker report has been published  detailing many categories of 'market failures'
 Amounting to  'Market Failure" see particularly chapter 5 of the Interim report . 
b) My current request is re-worded as follows.   " Will the OFT investigate:-  
-the market for land with planning permission  and potential planning permission, 
-the local monopolies of planning applications and market failures , specifically of housebuilders' landbanks as detailed in Barker,   
-the monopoly of supply of new houses which the monopoly of such sites and potential sites permits 
- the antecedent monopoly of control of bulk land where less than 5% of the population own or control two thirds of the land of Great Britain.?"       ( see 'Who Owns Britain'  by Kevin Cahill. )
      c) The OFT has, on April 17th,2008, issued an SO (statement of Objection)  naming 91 (112)construction firms whom it objects to on the grounds of rigging bids for public contracts, This list includes large house construction firms.  This number indicates widespread abuse of the law. 
      d)   OFT has awarded increasingly substantial fines and in several instances,  which may be regarded as representing a  reinterpretation of the role of OFT as having adopted  a more  rigorous policy.
e) Since 2003 there  has been two amalgamations between four giant housebuilders one of which amalgamation  controlled landbanks, (2002), with perrmission or outline permission of land sufficient  for 24 years supply at their then current  building rate.  Seven then controlled such surplus land sufficient for  the total national housebuild. Is more obvious proof needed?    
f) OFT have, subsequent to  their letter, specifically addressed issues of  ownership of land-with- planning-permission, see the cases of OFT v Tesco as evidence of a new willingness to consider land issues.
g) Not taking steps to ensure a functioning land and housing  market frustrates the will of parliament in passing the Town and Country Planning and Compulsory Purchase  Act with its wide implications for the environment and critical role in the provision of housing, since this Act predicates an effectively functioning market for land, free from distortion..    
h) The large number of fines each of £millions in US, Europe and in UK (by OFT) imposed on giant well known firms, from Woolworths, Microsoft, Shell etc, and operating in different market sectors  shows breeches of competition law are now widespread, more numerous, not confined to one market sector and so  commonplace as to  be expected, and  no longer exceptional. (see 'c')   
j)    Self provision of housing is a human right now effectively denied in UK by market distortion. 
k)   Perhaps  the most conclusive circumstance suggesting the current need for OFT  to reappraise the abuse of this disfunctional land 'market' is the current housing crisis which has at root the disintegration of the high prices caused by monopoly landbanks, and high prices encouraged by the joint policy  of the Treasury and the  Bank of England  to generate excessive  housing debt credit.      JA,  Dorchester 


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