36. Brigadier-General BROWN
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the 67,000 acres shown as totally lost to the agricultural area of England and Wales in the Agricultural Returns for 1929 was land taken over by local authorities for road making, building, and developed for municipal enterprises, or to what was the loss of agricultural land due; and what were the losses of agricultural land in 1927 and 1928 from similar causes?
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Dr. Addison)
The figure of 67,000 acres quoted by the hon. and gallant Member represents the total reduction in the acreage of arable land and permanent grass, but there was at the same time an increase of 35,000 acres in the acreage of rough grazings. The net reduction was, therefore, 32,000 acres. Corresponding figures for 1927 and 1928 were 28,000 acres and 34,000 acres. This yearly reduction is, no doubt, due in some measure to the diversion of agricultural land to commercial, building, roadmaking, and other non-agricultural purposes, but no precise information is available.
Is it not a fact that every year thousands of acres of our best land are lost through these causes and could it not be seen from the annual agricultural returns and could 1733 not the Minister publish the number of acres lost through local authorities' schemes?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think the present method of making the return is somewhat fallacious, and will he consider whether he cannot carry out my hon. and gallant Friend's proposal in distinguishing land taken for building and other purposes and land lost through depression?
§ Dr. ADDISON
The point raised by the Noble Lord and the hon. and gallant Gentleman has been considered, but so far no practicable method of obtaining the information has been found. I will, however, look further into it.