HC Deb 01 March 1967 vol 742 cc500-1
36. Mr. Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Defence why the sale of land at High Ercall, Shropshire, Airfield was advertised in the local Press before negotiations had begun with certain former owners for the repurchase of their holdings.

Mr. Reynolds

The part of the land which was advertised is being sold by public auction, and the results will be helpful in assessing the current market value for the remainder of the land at High Ercall, which is being disposed of by private treaty sale to former owners.

Mr. Fowler

Is my hon. Friend aware that the adoption of this procedure has caused great worry to many local farmers about whether the Ministry will honour the pledge to resell this land? Can he give an assurance that the price will not be artificially inflated in consequence of the adoption of this procedure?

Mr. Reynolds

The landowners are aware of what is happening, and negotiations will start with them after the auction has taken place. The auction will give us the true value of the land, which will be one of the items to be considered in deciding the price at which to sell it back.

Mr. More

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of other disgraceful cases such as the notorious case of Ditton Priors in my constituency? His Lands Branch is grossly dilatory and inefficient. Will he order an immediate public inquiry into all the cases in which it has been involved in Shropshire during the last four years?

Mr. Reynolds

I am aware of the case and the grossly exaggerated remarks which the hon. Gentleman has made about it.