HC Deb 18 April 1973 vol 855 cc485-6
23. Sir H. Harrison

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many acres of land were sold by British Rail in 1972; and how this compares with 1970 and 1971.

Mr. Peyton

7,165 acres, compared with 6,118 in 1971 and 6,600 in 1970.

Sir H. Harrison

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied with this very small increase, and that where some of our railway lines are being closed enough of the available land is turned over for housing or industrial purposes, so that it can be put to a full and proper use?

Mr. Peyton

I do not think one is ever satisfied, but I think that the railways take every reasonable step to get rid of land for which there is no likelihood of any railway use.

Mr. Heffer

In view of the great problem of land in the conurbations, will the right hon. Gentleman have further conversations with the British Railways Board urging that the land available in great conurbations, such as Liverpool, should be given priority for housing, which is our greatest need?

Mr. Peyton

It is the policy of nationalised industries and the Government that the nationalised industries should first offer their land to local authorities. The need for land for housing purposes is completely understood.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my right hon. Friend say what proportion of the latest figure is railway land in the assisted areas, because in undertaking industrial projects those areas which benefit from the Industry Act are often impeded by the lack of suitable land for development?

Mr. Peyton

No, not without notice.

Mr. Kaufman

Will the Minister approach British Rail on the question of derelict railway land at Broome Lane, Manchester, asking the board to tidy it up and to turn it into a children's playground or amenity, or sell it to somebody who would do the job for British Rail?

Mr. Peyton

I have no doubt that the Chairman of British Rail will take due note of what the hon. Gentleman said.