HC Deb 05 April 1965 vol 710 cc26-8
33. Mr. Costain

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has for the future utilisation of Hawkinge Aerodrome.

Mr. Reynolds

The airfield proper—consisting of about 200 acres of grassland—is being offered back to its former owners. The married quarters are being retained for use by the Royal Air Force. The other sites and buildings—that is, the remainder of the station, covering about 55 acres—are being retained for the time being in Government ownership pending their possible use for the Channel Tunnel project.

Mr. Costain

Is the hon. Gentleman aware what excellent buildings these are? What steps is he taking to keep them in proper repair? Is he in contact with any other Government Departments about their possible use?

Mr. Reynolds

The interest in the 55 acres on which the buildings to which the hon. Gentleman refers are situated is that of the Ministry of Transport. If he wants to know anything further about possible use in the coming year or two, perhaps he will table a Question to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport.

Sir G. Nicholson

Can the hon. Gentleman say what machinery is in existence to consider the disposal or other use of aerodromes which have been given up by the Americans or by ourselves? There are several cases throughout the country about which nothing seems to have been done.

Mr. Reynolds

Most of these aerodromes are technically Royal Air Force aerodromes. If the Royal Air Force has no use for them, information about them is circulated to all Government Departments to see whether they or other organisations indirectly under the Department have any use for the land or buildings. If the Government have no use for them, the matter is usually discussed with the local authority and eventually the property will be sold to the local authority or by public auction.

Mr. Snow

Referring to my hon. Friend's final words about public auction, would he bear in mind the undesirable incidents which have happened recently in the West Midlands where under the previous Administration R.A.F. aerodromes were sold by public auction and got into quite the wrong hands?

Mr. Reynolds

I will certainly bear that in mind. We have certain obligations to the private owners of the land before it was taken over by the Defence Ministry.