§ 27. Mr. Langford-Holt
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that his decision, that his agreement in advance that the cost of acquisition of land or property will rank for grant when such land is incorporated in a highway improvement is conditional upon the land not being included in the highway before he gives his approval for the scheme, has had the effect of neutralising these areas so that they cannot be used for some years pending his approval, the costs of fencing off and loan interests being borne by the local authority; and whether he will ensure that his grant is payable at the time when his agreement to the acquisition is given.
§ Mr. Hay
I realise that highway authorities may not in every case be able to find an interim use for land which they acquire for a road improvement scheme in advance of approval of the scheme, though in practice some good short-term use can often be found. As to the second part of the Question, we must continue to devote sums at our disposal for grant purposes to urgent schemes which can be put in hand at once, rather than to the cost of land for schemes which it may not be possible to carry out for some time.
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is very seldom an occasion on which a local authority can 402 put to good use an area which amounts mostly to flat rubble on the side of a road? Would it not be much more economical in the long run to make sure that the material is incorporated in the highway, which probably would be the cheapest form of dealing with it?
§ Mr. Hay
I cannot altogether agree with my hon. Friend. Our experience is that in the great majority of cases land held for future road work is employed for useful purposes. Sometimes it is let on a short lease, sometimes it is used for amenity purposes such as parkland and so on. On the whole, the system works very well.