HC Deb 25 February 1946 vol 419 cc1562-4
59. Mr. R. S. Hudson

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the apprehension caused to local farmers by proposals to extend the aerodrome at Burscough, Lancashire; that land in that area is among the most fertile in the United Kingdom; and what action his Department has taken to prevent such a reduction in home-food production.

Mr. T. Williams

A proposal to extend the aerodrome at Burscough, Lancashire, was referred last year to my Department for observations. In view of the highly productive quality of the land, strong objections were raised on agricultural grounds, and my Department has recently been informed that it is not intended to proceed further with the proposal at the present time.

Mr. Hudson

I am much obliged.

63. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give an approximate estimate of the acreage suitable for arable cropping on airfields; on what date W.A.E.C.s were sent instructions to crop this land; and what acreage he expects will produce crops for the 1946 harvest.

Mr. T. Williams

Particulars are not available of the estimated acreage suitable for arable cropping on airfields, but arrangements are being made by the Government to ensure the maximum use of all land on airfields which can be made available for agricultural purposes. As already announced, some 75,000 acres were available for agriculture on 15th January and a further considerable area of additional land has since been freed. Part of this area consists of approximately 150 airfields which have been loaned to my Department. The first of these airfields were loaned in November last when County War Agricultural Executive Committees were instructed to bring the land into the fullest productive use at the earliest moment, and the numbers have increased as further airfields have become available. It is hoped that more land will be freed for cultivation shortly. As all arrangements are being made locally, I cannot at present say what acreage will actually produce crops for the 1945 harvest, but I hope that it will be considerable.

Mr. Hurd

If I put this Question down again in a fortnight's time, will the Minister be able to give more definite information?

Mr. Williams

I will do what is possible.

Major Legge-Bourke

.Is the Minister aware that some of the commanding officers of these aerodromes are under the impression that they themselves cannot give permission for any agricultural activities on their airfields, whereas others have taken the matter into their own hands; and will the right hon. Gentleman consult the Secretary of State for Air, with a view to getting this matter "tidied up "?

Mr. Williams

The Noble Lord the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and my Department are in constant consultation with the Department of the Secretary of State for Air on the question of airfields and agriculture, and I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that they are very sympathetic to our approach.

Mr. York

Will the Minister take a journey from London to York on the L.N.E.R. and count the number of airfields on which no cultivation is now being undertaken?

Mr. Williams

I take that journey as often as I possibly can.