HC Deb 28 November 1967 vol 755 cc229-30
16. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what consideration he has given to the amendment of the law controlling the use of land allocated for allotments; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Skeffington

The report of the independent Committee, under the chairmanship of Professor Thorpe, appointed to review general policy on allotments is expected within nine months. My right hon. Friend will then decide whether to propose new legislation.

Captain Elliot

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that, although much of this land is used for its proper purpose, a great deal of it is lying derelict? In view of the acute shortage of land, particularly in areas where allotments are to be found, does not he think that this matter should be considered?

Mr. Skeffington

The truth or otherwise of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's observation depends on the areas. It is perfectly true that in some cases statutory land allocated for allotment purposes is not being used. In other cases there is a severe shortage. It was precisely to find out the facts and to have the recommendations of this expert committee that it was set up.

Mr. Graham Page

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is not so much policy which is leaving this land derelict as law, and that the law has been in a chaotic state for many years? Would he consider referring the matter to the Law Commission?

Mr. Skeffington

Perhaps that would not be the wisest course, since the Committee is looking at all the aspects. It may be that there will have to be statutory changes in order to make the accommodation which present conditions demand.

Mr. Ogden

Would not my hon. Friend agree that our allotments should be a national asset? Would he give an assurance that his Ministry will do all it can to help allotment associations, particularly in present circumstances?

Mr. Skeffington

That is very much in my right hon. Friend's mind. What we have to do, as always, is to try to achieve the best balance between land within a town which may be urgently needed for building and land which is urgently needed for recreational activities as well as for food production.