HC Deb 27 June 1978 vol 952 c1201
9. Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is his policy to let farms on the Otterburn range without giving opportunity to potential tenants to tender for them.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

No. Farms belonging to the Ministry of Defence are normally let by competitive tender, but very occasionally a letting by private treaty may be justified.

Mr. Beith

How does the hon. Gentleman justify doing precisely that in the recent case of Carl Croft? Is he not aware that, whatever value may be found in the use of this farm as an adjunct to the county agricultural college, many farmers in the area very much resent the fact that the normal opportunity to tender for this opportunity to farm was not provided?

Mr. Brown

I can understand the feelings of hill farmers in the Northumberland area, but I am sure the hon. Gentleman will understand that the Northumberland County Council badly needed a hill farm to improve the teaching facilities of the Kirkley Hall agricultural college and wished to rent Carlcroft farm. It was considered to be in the public interest that the farm should be made available to the county council.

Mr. Viggers

When the Ministry of Defence land is let for farming, will the Minister make sure that it is let for farming in acceptable practices? In other words, will he keep his pigs out of residential areas?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Gentleman and I have been in constant correspondence in recent months about pigs, and he well knows that his Gosport constituents should not be troubled by pigs on Ministry of Defence land.

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