HC Deb 31 March 1960 vol 620 cc1491-2
19. Mr. Morris

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether his attention has been drawn to recent studies on the loss of agricultural land for various purposes; and what are the estimates of losses for the next 10 years.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

My right hon. Friend is aware that studies have been made from time to time. Information from the agricultural censuses suggests that, in England and Wales over the last 10 years, the net loss, excluding land transferred to allotments and forestry, has averaged about 30,000 acres a year. Present indications are that losses over the next 10 years may be of the same order.

Mr. Morris

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary aware that, according to a recent book on the study of competition for farmland, 1½ million acres have been lost to agriculture during the last 30 years? As this is a small island, will he consider setting up a central organisation to judge each case on its merits where land is proposed to be taken away from agricultural use?

Mr. Godber

I have not seen the actual figures to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but we are always concerned about the loss of agricultural land. On the other hand, we must recognise that in certain cases we cannot hold out against very proper develop- ment that has to take place. It is a matter of getting our priorities right.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that in several cases very good agricultural land has been taken away from the farming industry for building purposes and other things? Will he consult his colleagues and make certain that waste land rather than rich agri-cultural land is used for these purposes?

Mr. Godber

In cases like this my Ministry is always consulted and wherever there is a possible alternative site we bring it to the notice of those concerned.

Mr. Peart

Will the Minister confirm that the old, existing method of consultation between the Minister of Housing and Local Government and his Department will continue, and will he ensure that his Department is in no way put in a position inferior to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government?

Mr. Godber

Certainly consultation continues. As to the matter of inferiority, we do not accept any inferiority between Departments in this country.

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