§ 52. Mr. J. Idwal Jones
asked the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has for the disposal of the land owned by his Department at Wrexham and occupied until recently by the Rubber Directorate; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Jay
I have authorised the opening of negotiations for the sale of the freehold of this 140-acre site to Firestone Tyre Rubber Co. Ltd. The company wishes to build on this site a large tyre-producing factory which will be an addition to its existing productive capacity in the United Kingdom. The project is expected to result in an increase in exports and a decrease in imports, and to bring employment opportunities to an area whose long-term employment prospects might otherwise have been problematical. I am aware that a statement was made in this House in 1961 by the previous Government that this site would be offered back to the former owners. That statement was based on the supposition that this site was subject to the policy evolved after the Crichel Down case. While I accept that the statement was made in good faith, the premises on which it was based do not seem to accord with the facts; the site has many old Royal Ordnance Factory buildings on it and cannot now be regarded as agricultural in character. Nevertheless, in view of the 1961 statement, the Government are prepared, in respect of cases submitted to them, to discuss makingex gratia payments to the former owners of the site or their successors.