HC Deb 02 April 1946 vol 421 cc1088-9
33. Mr. Vane

asked the Secretary of State for War how many acres of agricultural land including rough grazings in Westmorland are occupied by his Department; what is the total net Schedule A assessment of such land; to what extent he estimates that normal farming is interfered with through occupation by his Department; and what early plans he has for releasing a substantial proportion of this land to agriculture.

Mr. Bellenģer

The War Department is in occupation of some 5,200 acres of agricultural land in Westmorland. It is not possible without a great deal of research to give a total net figure for the Schedule A assessment, since the value of the various areas is different and most of the land taken is part only of individual holdings. Where possible arrangements are made to allow parts of any land so occupied to be used for farming purposes, for example, grazing. Some 1,700 acres are in the course of being transferred to the war agricultural executive committee for restoration to full agricultural use.

75. Mr. Dye

asked the Secretary of State for War when the battle training area adjoining Thetford will be returned to its agricultural and forestry purposes.

Mr. Bellenģer

A review is being carried out as quickly as possible of the Army's requirements of land as a whole, and until this review has been completed and discussed with the other Departments concerned I cannot say what the future of any particular area will be.

Mr. Dye

Is the Minister aware that the trees of the Forestry Commission are deteriorating very rapidly as a result of an incursion of the Army into this area, and furthermore that a large part of agricultural land is still out of production?

Mr. Bellenģer

Unfortunately, I am afraid that is so and that a considerable proportion of England is out of production for this reason. It makes it all the more necessary to hasten the decision in conjunction with other Departments to release such land as we can.

Mr. Grimston

When is this review likely to be completed?

Mr. Bellenģer

This is a very extensive matter, which affects not only my Depart-merit but other Departments as well.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Will the Minister bring to the attention of his colleagues, who are considering this matter, the position disclosed in the White Paper recently published?

Mr. Bellenģer

I am sure that they are well aware of that.