HC Deb 26 June 1956 vol 555 cc258-9
45. Mr. Ian Harvey

asked the Prime Minister how far it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government that property occupied by a Government Department should, when no longer required by that Department, be offered first to another Government Department before being made available to other potential purchasers.

The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)

Land and buildings which are no longer needed by a Government Department are normally sold. There is a procedure for notifying other Departments which might require the property before it is sold. If another Department needs land and the property is otherwise suitable, it is transferred so as to avoid the need to acquire land in private ownership. As regards agricultural land, special arrangements were introduced in 1954. These restrict the transfer of land from one Department to another, except where the second Department would have been prepared to use compulsory powers to acquire it for an immediate need.

Mr. Harvey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this procedure gives rise to a certain amount of concern in areas such as Harrow, where a high percentage of Government Departments are already established, and, if the procedure of handing on the land from one Department to another goes on, local authorities and private citizens cannot get a sufficient look in?

The Prime Minister

If my hon. Friend will be good enough to give me examples, I shall be very glad to look into them. It is a very difficult and highly technical question. What I am anxious to see is that the Government do not get more land at the end of the business than they had before.