HC Deb 13 March 1963 vol 673 cc164-6W
Mr. John Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether in view of the recent letter about Chalgrove written on behalf of the Martin Baker Aircraft Company, of which he is aware, he will make a further statement.

Mr. H. Fraser

In view of the evident misunderstanding which has arisen on this matter, I have decided, with the agreement of the Martin Baker Aircraft Company, to publish the correspondence exchanged between the Air Ministry and the Company in July, 1959. The text of the correspondence is as follows:

Air Ministry, W.C.I.

24th July, 1959.


Dear Mr. Martin,

Chalgrove Airfield

I refer to your meeting with Mr. Taylor, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply, and Mr. Airey Neave, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Air on the 15th instant, and, subject to confirmation from you that you are able to give the various assurances referred to below, to inform you that a decision has now been made to place this airfield on offer for sale to your Company. If you accept this I would suggest meeting you at an early date in order that terms can be discussed. The sale would, of course, be subject to all existing planning consents and existing tenancies.

2. At the meeting referred to Ministers explained that some local feeling had been aroused as a result of this proposal, and fears had been expressed that the Company might, at some future date, extend the present use of the property. On this you assured the Ministers that you had no intention of erecting a factory at Chalgrove and that your Company planned to continue to use the airfield for testing purposes as at present.

3. You also stated that in the event of a sale to your Company, you would use your best endeavours to ensure that there was no unauthorised use of the airfield by trespassers—another point to which Ministers' attention had been drawn—and you readily agreed to see that the main gate was kept locked and to take such other steps as might be necessary in order to achieve this object.

4. As to the use of the airfield by Morris Motors Ltd., the sale to you would be subject to this Licence and we are getting into touch with this Company to make it clear that testing should not take place on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays, and on other days should only take place between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. You stated that you would ensure that these conditions were observed.

5. It was stated that certain owners had expressed an interest in repurchasing the land formerly owned by them, and you will appreciate that the decision to place the land on offer for sale to your Company means that the Air Ministry has to disappoint those owners who would otherwise have been interested. You will also remember that the terms of the planning consent issued by the Oxfordshire County Council and dated 24th July, 1958, specified that when the use of this airfield by your Company or its subsidiaries ceased, buildings should be removed, and the land left in a tidy and orderly state. If, at that date, your Company decided to dispose of the land, you assured Ministers that it would be sold for agriculture. Additionally, Ministers would wish to be assured that in the event of your selling the land for agriculture, the former owners would be given the first opportunity to re-acquire the land formerly owned by them—of course, subject to them being prepared to pay the market price at the time.

6. As regards Mr. Fleming, it is known that he would wish to continue in occupation of the land on the airfield which he farms at present arid you told Ministers that you would want to continue this arrangement and foresaw no difficulty in this or, indeed, in continuing the remaining agricultural occupancies.

7. The decision to offer the property for known locally and until it is. I would ask that sale to your Company has not yet been made you should regard it as confidential. In the meantime, however, I should appreciate a letter from you confirming the assurances which you gave to Ministers at the meeting on the 15th instant, as set out in paragraphs 2–6 above, and accepting the additional point contained in paragraph 5. If you can let me have this in the next day or so, I shall be most grateful.

Yours sincerely,

(Sgd.) C. E. R. Hayward,

Chief Lands Officer.

James Martin, Esq., C.B.E., M.I.Mech.E., F.R.As.S.,

Messrs. Martin Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd.,

Higher Denham,

Nr. Uxbridge,


Martin-Baker Aircraft Co., Ltd.

Higher Denham,

near Uxbridge, Middlesex.

29th July, 1959.

AP /JPA/Chal.Airfield

Your Ref. A.323089/59

C. E. R. Hayward, Esq.,

Chief Lands Officer,

Air Ministry,

1–6, Tavistock Square,

London, W.C.I.

Dear Mr. Hayward,

Chalgrove Airfield

Mr. James Martin spoke to me over the telephone this morning, regarding your letter of the 24th of July, for which he thanks you, and instructed me to write to you as follows:

Mr. Martin is prepared to confirm the assurances which he gave the Ministers at the meeting on the 15th of July, as set out in your paragraphs 2–6 inclusive.

With reference to paragraph 5, Mr. Martin confirms his assurance that the land would be sold for agriculture and he is prepared to assure the Ministers that he would give the former owners the option of re-acquiring the land they previously owned, subject to their being prepared to pay the market price at the time. With reference to paragraph 4, concerning the use of the airfield by Morris Motors Limited, Mr. Martin would like more detailed information, with regard to the Licence referred to. The perimeter track is now in poor condition and repairs require to be done. Mr. Martin therefore hopes that this licensing arrangement is only a short term one and would be glad of precise information on this point.

Mr. Martin will be back at these Works on Tuesday, the 11th of August, and would be very glad if you could arrange to call and see him, regarding Chalgrove Airfield, as soon as you can conveniently do so.

Yours truly.

for Martin-Baker Aircraft Co., Ltd.,

(Sgd.) A. Powlett,


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