HC Deb 04 April 1957 vol 568 cc556-7
20. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many acres he estimates have been lost to agriculture since 1945 through the building of houses, schools, factories, etc.; and what is the approximate increase in production per acre since 1945.

Mr. Amory

Precise figures for the loss of agricultural land in England and Wales are not available. The Agricultural Returns, which exclude holdings of one acre or less and those parts of agricultural holdings not used for agricultural production, suggest that the net loss of agricultural land in England and Wales to building has been 327,000 acres between June, 1945, and June, 1955.

The volume of agricultural net output per acre of the total agricultural area in the United Kingdom is estimated to have risen by 20 per cent. over the same period.

Mr. Osborne

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will use all the power he can to prevent good agricultural land from being gobbled up at this rate, since such land is obviously limited and one day we may need it for the growing of food instead of for other purposes?

Mr. Amory

If by "gobbled up" my hon. Friend means used for some purpose other than agriculture, what he asks will continue to be my aim and intention.

Mr. T. Williams

Has the Minister a vague estimate of what area of land has been reclaimed within these two dates?

Mr. Amory

I have, but I cannot give the figure from memory. If the right hon. Gentleman puts down a Question, I think I can give him the answer.

Mr. Crouch

Is my right hon. Friend aware that by the use of modern methods, better grass seeds, more fertilisers and better cultivation we can increase the area of fertile land by bringing back land which has been out of cultivation for a long period? Does he not think that that will replace sonic of the fertile land lost to agriculture?

Mr. Amory

Yes, I do. I thoroughly agree with my hon. Friend that most amazing results can be, and I am glad to say are being, achieved in many cases. I hope and believe that that kind of progress will more than make good any loss of land which we may have to suffer for other purposes.