§ 30. Mr. Osborne
asked the Secretary of State for War if he will immediately release the firing range of 700 acres, at Nettleton, North Lincolnshire, which has not been used since last June, is now full of weeds and thistles, and is good agricultural land which has not been cultivated for six years; and why the promise to the Caistor Rural District Council has not been more promptly carried out.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Shinwell)
This area of 700 acres will be released as soon as it has been cleared of unexploded missiles. The delay in release has been caused by the acute shortage of skilled personnel who can be placed on clearance of areas. The whole Nettleton range cannot be cleared satisfactorily by visual search; the greater portion requires a more thorough search by mechanical means. My Department is aware of the agricultural value of the land and has placed the area on a high priority for clearance. I have no knowledge of any promise to the Caistor Rural District Council.
§ Mr. Osborne
Will the Minister look again to see when the promise was made to clear this land and does he not think it is criminal for him to refuse to use it as a firing range and still not allow agriculturists to grow food on it? Why should it not be used for one or the other?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I have a very great deal of sympathy with the hon. Member and those concerned, but until we can get the necessary labour to clear the ground it is impossible to go further.