HC Deb 05 April 1965 vol 710 cc20-1
26. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has for purchasing about 100,000 acres of land to turn into training areas; in what districts such land is being sought; what is the need for new training facilities; and whether he intends to give up any part of the existing training areas, such as Salisbury Plain, for civilian purposes.

Mr. Mulley

I have nothing to add to my replies of 8th March to the right hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Sir M. Redmayne) and the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason). I said then: an extension of the Army's training areas has been under consideration for some time, but no specific plans have yet been decided upon.

Mr. Dodds

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that many hon. Members believe that there is already enough land for the purpose? If new areas are required because of the development of modern weapons, will he do his best to see that some of the land that is not now needed is used for building houses?

Mr. Mulley

I am only too well aware that the House would not look kindly on proposals for increasing the amount of land for training areas, unless we made out an absolutely watertight case. I give the assurance that, regardless of this particular Question, we are always looking and will continue to look for opportunities to dispose of Service lands.

Mr. Goodhart

In view of the interest in this matter since the leak in The Times, can the right hon. Gentleman agree to make a full statement on the subject before the Summer Recess?

Mr. Mulley

I have no knowledge of any leak through The Times. Speculation by journalists is not an unknown exercise and, happily, I am not responsible for it. We shall make this statement to the House at the earliest opportunity, but I should not like to be tied at the moment to any particular date.

Mr. Webster

Is the right hon. Gentleman in consultation with the Minister of Land and Natural Resources on this subject?

Mr. Mulley

There are consultations between the two Departments about the disposal of land and we always take the local authorities concerned into closest consultation.