HC Deb 04 December 1952 vol 508 cc1732-3
9. Mr. Follick

asked the Minister of Agriculture what acreage is idle covering the whole country, and in Leicestershire in particular; and why these idle acres are not put to agricultural uses.

Sir T. Dugdale

There are no statistics readily available to show the acreage which is capable of agricultural production, but which is not in agricultural use at the present time. The hon. Member probably has in mind airfields and military camps no longer in active Service use. I am not aware that there is any significant neglect of food production on these sites.

Mr. Follick

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of very large tracts of abandoned willow-growing land in the vicinity of Castle Donnington, which used to have a prosperous basket-weaving industry, and that these would make admirable grazing and poplar-growing areas? Will he find out why the county agricultural executive committees are not giving much more attention to such waste lands, which could be made to give our people the benefit of greater production?

Sir T. Dugdale

I received the hon. Member's letter this morning. I will look into the matter and write him a full and detailed reply.

Mr. Manuel

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the decrease in the tilled acreage during the past two years?

Sir T. Dugdale

I cannot give an approximate figure.

Mr. T. Brown

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to survey all industrial areas, particularly those in the north-west and the north-east, to see if some of the land now lying idle under water or covered by pit-heaps can be restored for agricultural or tree-growing purposes, in view of the great inroads being made upon our agricultural land for airports and housing?

Sir T. Dugdale

I am watching the situation in all parts of the country. Hon. Members will appreciate the difficulties of getting any figures which would be of help to the House.