HC Deb 23 November 1949 vol 470 cc38-9W
Sir Harvie Watt

asked the Minister of Agriculture what has been the total cost and the total receipts, to the end of September, 1949, of the agricultural experiments in Richmond Park; how many persons are employed there; what has been the total yield in corn, potatoes and other crops; whether he is satisfied that the yield in foodstuffs justifies the loss of so much of the park to the public; how many tons of potatoes were allowed to rot last year; how many acres are now under the plough; and how far it is intended to extend this area.

Mr. T. Williams:

The cultivation of land in Richmond Park was undertaken not as an experiment but as a useful contribution towards increased home food production. By arrangement with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works, the Surrey Agricultural Executive Committee began cultivation in 1943 of some 100 acres, and by 1949 approximately 490 acres were under tillage. I cannot undertake to give any particular costs and receipts and numbers employed for the different areas under the day-to-day management of the county agricultural executive committees.

The land in Richmond Park has produced, in aggregate, the following:

Oats (Straw) 182 (153)
Rye (Straw) 131 (124)
Wheat (Straw) 1,037 (1,09!
Potatoes 2,826
Mangolds 745
Kale 475
Hay 46
Swedes 55

In addition, a total of 600 bullocks have been yarded and fed mainly on produce grown on the land. I am not aware that any of the 1948 potato crop was allowed to rot. I consider that this return in foodstuffs fully justifies the temporary disturbance of public facilities over about one-fifth of the Park. The area will not be extended.