HC Deb 27 November 1946 vol 430 cc1607-8
49. Mr. H. D. Hughes

asked the Minister without Portfolio what is the total acreage of land in Great Britain at present occupied by the Services; the acreage they propose to retain for training purposes; and how much of the latter is land belonging to the National Trust or in areas proposed for national parks.

Mr. Bellenger

The total acreage of land in Great Britain at present occupied by the Services, including their permanent prewar estates, is in the region of 1,100,000 acres, in addition to which they have rights of user over some 1½ million acres under Defence Regulation 52. Of these totals some ¾million acres are at present in process of being derequisitioned and cleared of unexploded missiles. I do not think it would be desirable to give any figures of proposed postwar retention until the discussions on the Interdepartmental Committee have been carried further.

Mr. Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that a very large section of public opinion in this country is extremely worried by the proposal to retain areas of special attraction such as Martindale, Cader Idris, Ashdown Forest and so on, and when the present Interdepartmental Committee has finished its review, will he arrange for a complete statement of the position to be presented to this House?

Mr. Bellenger

I am well aware of the public interest in this matter, and I may say that to a certain extent I share it myself. In regard to the latter part of my hon. Friend's question, I think it will be possible, when this review has been made, to make a statement to Parliament.

Mr. Turton

Is the Minister of Town and Country Planning represented on the Interdepartmental Committee?

Mr. Bellenger

Yes, indeed; it is under his auspices that it functions.

Mr. Henry Usborne

Is the Minister considering fully the possibilities of developing training areas in the Dominions, where there seems to be much more space?

Mr. Bellenger

Yes, that matter—and many other matters as well, including Germany—has not been entirely overlooked, and surveys have taken place.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Could the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance to the House that no land will be retained or acquired without a public inquiry?

Mr. Bellenger

I think that matter has already been dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.