HC Deb 15 December 1966 vol 738 cc644-5
25. Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for securing the use of Territorial Army drill halls, when suitable, for purposes of physical recreation.

Mr. Redhead

My hon. Friend has asked regional sports councils to assess the suitability of redundant Territorial Army Centres for use as indoor sports centres. Under the new arrangements announced last October in Circular 57/66 issued by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, the county and district or borough council will have first option to purchase any such centres which are surplus to Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve or any other Government requirements.

Mr. Noel-Baker

While expressing my gratitude to my hon. Friend, may I ask him to be good enough to keep me informed about developments in Derby and Derbyshire?

Mr. Redhead

I will most certainly do that.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Whilst I agree that it is a good thing that local authorities should have some sort of option on buildings such as these, will the Minister bear in mind the need to pay attention to the commercial value of the premises so that they can play some part in building up the economic strength we must have to keep going at all?

Mr. Redhead

The hon. Gentleman's point will he duly noted.

Mr. J. T. Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that when I made a similar inquiry of his Department not long ago as to the possibility of releasing one of these drill halls for recreational purposes, I was informed in the official correspondence from the Department that, provided no other Government Department required it for other purposes, the local authority would be considered after that process had been gone through? Is he aware that this antediluvian process of offering building like this, which are needed by local people for real purposes and not for bureaucratic purposes, is something to which we in Lancashire strongly object?

Mr. Redhead

The reply my hon. Friend received from the Department was in every way consistent with the reply I gave to the original Question. I would not dismiss other Government requirements in this respect in quite the derisive terms my hon. Friend used.