I understand that the annual change of land in England and Wales from agriculture to all other purposes as shown in the Agricultural Census returns has averaged over 57,000 acres in the five years 1959–60 to 1963–64. Having regard to current policies, I see no reason to expect any marked change in this rate over the next three years.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, there are already procedures for examining the respective merits of different uses for development but, in addition to that, the regional administrative machinery, whereby, in time, long-term designation of land use will be possible, will go a long way to preventing many of the conflicts that have sometimes arisen in the past.
I am very surprised that the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to have understood the regional setup in the Ministry, and the fact that my right hon. Friend has representatives upon the regional bodies which will be discharging this function of long-term land designation.
This may well be the case. I think that the sort of machinery I have outlined will help to solve some of these problems, and get the best use of land for the respective purposes we have in mind.
Will the Minister consider consulting his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture to see that he understands that land that is being covered with buildings in the South might well be replaced by reasonable grants for the reclamation of land in the Highlands and elsewhere?