Unused Land (Cultivation)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington 12:00 am, 24th July 1952

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give an estimate of the acreage of land not required for other purposes which is at present unused for food production and which could be cultivated.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I regret that there are no statistics of the amount of land that is not used for food production nor required for other purposes. We know the total area of land in the kingdom, and can subtract from that the total area of land that is under cultivation; but it is a very difficult matter to calculate and subtract also the area used for every other known purpose, and to say that the residuum is lying idle. Any such conclusion would be subject to a very wide margin of error.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am less interested in the arithmetic of this matter than in the cultivation of idle land? Will he do everything to encourage the use of such land, and, at the same time, consider boosting the use of allotments for the purpose of additional food production?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we must not waste land which could be used for growing food, but we must always remember to look at the economic side of this problem. I will look into the point he raised relating to allotments.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Although financial aspects cannot be entirely ignored, will the Minister be good enough to regard the cost as a secondary consideration in view of the need for food production in this country?

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

Will my right hon. Friend look particularly into the question of unused land in the possession of the Air Ministry, much of which is now only growing weeds?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I am in very close touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air on this problem.