HC Deb 30 April 1923 vol 163 cc976-7
82. Mr. N. BUXTON

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is yet able to state, having regard to the fact that between 1919 and 1922 over 1,000,000 acres of land in England and Wales went out of arable cultivation, and that in the same period the total area returned as permanent pasture or as rough grazing has increased by less than 500,000 acres, to what purposes the balance of over 500,000 acres is now employed?


The reduction of 500,000 acres to which the hon. Member refers is spread over several years, during which there were material changes in the distribution of land. During the War the area devoted to agricultural purposes largely increased, but a proportion of this land was only diverted to agriculture as a temporary measure, and it was natural that after the conclusion of the War much of it should revert to its previous uses. While, therefore, part of the decrease is explained by the withdrawal of land for building and industrial purposes or for occupation in areas of one acre or less, a proportion is due to the reversion of land to non-agricultural purposes, such as allotments, which are not included in the Agricultural Returns, building estates ploughed up during the War, and park land.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think his information is now complete, or whether, as he suggested a week ago, there is still some doubt about it, and, if so, will he name a date when further statistics might be given?


I am not entirely satisfied that we have found this half-million acres of land, but to go exhaustively into the question would involve examining every Return that has been made during a considerable number of years, and really, as this is more a question of theory than anything else, I do not think it would be worth the trouble and expense of doing it.

83. Mr. BUXTON

further asked the Minister of Agriculture the percentage increase of the present acreage of arable land over the pre-War acreage in England and Wales?


The acreage of arable land in England and Wales in 1922 was practically 3 per cent. greater than in 1914. The increase in acreage was 312,000 acres.