HC Deb 11 December 1963 vol 686 cc370-1
3. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Defence if he will appoint a committee to investigate how best to achieve the speedy removal of abandoned war-time hostels, military camps and airfields in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir; but if my hon. Friend will let me know the details of what he has in mind, I will investigate the matter myself.

Mr. Ridley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the country is covered with old sites which are not only eyesores but a very serious waste of agricultural land? Does he agree that Government policy in the past has made it extremely difficult, for financial reasons, to get these sites restored to their proper use? Will he take action in this matter? It is far too long since the end of the war to have these relics still disfiguring our countryside.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am only suggesting to my hon. Friend that there are better ways of doing these things than by appointing a committee. Some of these sites are owned by my Department, some are not. I cannot do much about those which are not owned by my Department, but if my hon. Friend will let me know, in writing or verbally, precisely what his proposal is, I will do what I canto investigate it myself.

Mr. Pager

Is the Minister aware that these sites are worth to a small nation such as ours a value quite different from their worth to an individual owner? We cannot afford to leave our countryside cluttered up like this. Will the right hon. Gentleman co-ordinate his policy with that of the Minister of Transport under which a lot of hard core is required for the road programme? If these two policies were co-ordinated it could make the clearance of these sites, as is certainly happening in a number of districts, very much cheaper. Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that this road building opportunity is not missed?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I will certainly bear the point in mind.