HC Deb 22 June 1927 vol 207 cc1844-5
36. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, if he is aware that the land occupied by a Government aerodrome during the War, near to Stonehenge and, since its sale to private individuals, used for pig-breeding, is again on the market for sale, and that this land extending to 50 acres is now in danger of being bought for speculative building purposes with resulting disfigurement to the surroundings of the monument; how much is raised in a year by the entrance fee to Stonehenge itself; and whether His Majesty's Office of Works will consider purchasing the land adjacent to Stonehenge in order to preserve the amenities of this monument for all time for the people of the country?


The First Commissioner understands that the land which was occupied by the Government during the War but never owned by them is now for sale. He would regard it as a calamity if the surroundings of Stonehenge were disfigured in the manner suggested by the hon. and gallant Member, but he regrets that, apart from financial considerations, his Department has no power under the Ancient Monuments Act to purchase land surrounding monuments for the protection of their amenities. The entrance fees to Stonehenge produce on the average £1,400 a year.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is the Under-Secretary aware that under a Bill which is now before Parliament the Minister of Agriculture has the right to re-invest the proceeds from the sale of certain Crown lands in other lands, and will he communicate with his colleagues with a view to the purchase by that means of this land which would be very suitable for a Crown holding?


Yes, Sir, I will certainly communicate with my right hon. Friend on that subject. This is really very largely a matter of finance, and I would suggest to the hon. and gallant Member that if he knows of anyone who is especially interested in this sort of work, or if he can induce some newspaper in the country to start a fund to acquire this land, the Office of Works would give full support and all the assistance within their power. They do realise the importance of this question and the desirability of retaining it for the purposes suggested by the hon. and gallant Gentleman.


Does not that make it all the more desirable that the Crown Lands Office, when investing in land, should invest in areas which are of use for the public service; and is it not a fact that the Crown Lands Office has recently bought up large areas in some counties purely for investment?


I am afraid I cannot answer for the Crown Lands Office, which comes under the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.