HC Deb 10 December 1957 vol 579 cc1048-9
8. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Works how many houses and parks have been bought by the National Trust with the aid of contributions from public funds; what was their total value at the time of acquisition; and in what circumstances these contributions were made.

Mr. Molson

Only Croft Castle, Herefordshire, which, together with some 1,370 acres of woodland and farmland, has recently been bought by the Trust for £40,000 with a grant which I made on the recommendation of the Historic Buildings Council for England. The Trust has obtained a substantial endowment for the upkeep of the property from the previous owner's family. I have made a further grant to the Trust towards the initial repairs necessary to the castle.

Mr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he has not answered my Question? I asked how many have been bought in all, not just recently. Would he agree that some possible practical use might be made of some of these houses by, for example, turning them into short-term accommodation for old people? Does he not think that we have by now acquired a sufficient stock of old houses, and could not we avoid spending any more of the taxpayers' money for this purpose?

Mr. Molson

In reply to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary, I would point out that he asked me how many houses and parks had been bought by the National Trust, and I replied that only one had been bought. As to his other point, there is in my Ministry a special bureau which is trying to find useful purposes for historic houses. I do not think that it would be the general view of the House that we should not go on preserving ancient and beautiful buildings which are part of the heritage of the country.