HC Deb 16 February 1956 vol 548 cc2499-500
1. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the composition of the 550,000 acres shown as an addition to food-producing agricultural land in the recently published analysis of agricultural land lost for food production over the period 1939 to 1954.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. D. Heathcoat Amory)

The 550,000 acres referred to by my hon. Friend are the net result of many thousands of corrections and adjustments to our statistical returns of agricultural holdings rather than any addition to the area of land actually in use for producing food. The cost of preparing a detailed statement of all these items over a period of 15 years would not be justified.

Mr. Hall

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that 250,000 of these acres represent land which was not previously enumerated prior to the introduction of animal feedingstuffs rationing? Would he not also agree that it is not an addition to the food-producing land but merely a discovery of land which was previously producing, and that if that adjustment is made the loss of agricultural land is nearer 3½per cent. than 1½per cent.?

Mr. Amory

Yes. I think that I broadly agree. The 250,000 acres is due to the cause which my hon. Friend has mentioned, and I think that the net loss of agricultural land, not counting land transferred to forestry as a loss, would be about 774,000 acres.