§ 58. Mr. Hurd
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the statement by the Chief Lands Officer of his Department to the effect that his Department favours the establishment of manufacturing industries on requisitioned land adjoining the airfield at Tarrant Rushton, Dorset, because it would mean that a higher rent would be obtainable from a prospective tenant that if the land were maintained in agricultural use, was made with his approval; and if he will give an assurance that it is his policy to avoid alienating from agriculture a single acre there or elsewhere that is not needed for the Royal Air Force.
§ 59. Mr. Crouch
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the statement by the Chief Lands Officer of his Department on the possibility of industries being established at Tarrant Rushton airfield was made with his approval; and if he will give an assurance that the airfield will only be used for defence purposes and that no agricultural land will be taken for other use.
The Royal Air Force are not at the moment using Tarrant60W Rushton, but the airfield has an important place in our defence plans, and it must be kept in a state of readiness for flying use in emergency. We cannot continue to hold this airfield on requisition indefinitely, and we intend to buy it. My noble Friend considers that the most economical course thereafter would be to allow Messrs. Flight Refuelling to continue their work there on the understanding that we can reoccupy the airfield at once if necessary. This company have been tenants since 1947, and they have been continuously engaged on important experimental work. They are also carrying out defence aircraft contracts.
Reports in the Press presumably refer to a statement issued by a landowner after an interview between him and an Air Ministry official. The passage that my hon. Friends have in mind does not properly reflect Air Ministry policy, and I understand that it is not an accurate account of what was said.
My noble Friend is always anxious that the greatest possible agricultural use should be made of land held by the Air Ministry. I can assure my hon. Friends that there is no intention that any further land at Tarrant Rushton will be withdrawn from agriculture. We hope, in fact, to be able to make more there available for crops.