Farming Land (Non-Agricultural Use)

Oral Answers to Questions — Land and Natural Resources – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th May 1965.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe 12:00 am, 10th May 1965

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what is the acreage of farming land which he estimates will be required annually in the next three years for industrial and domestic building and other non-agricultural use.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

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.

Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe

What steps is the Minister taking to see that the best agricultural land is not used for building purposes, and that the least productive land is used for building purposes?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

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.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

As the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend is not responsible for planning decisions, will the Parliamentary Secretary tell me how the Minister, in fact, carries out this policy?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

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.

Photo of Mr Evelyn King Mr Evelyn King , South Dorset

Is the Minister aware that, apart from agricultural land, there are large areas of rural land covered by scrub and silver birch, and that owing to the negative attitude of many rural planning authorities, this land is, in fact, sterilised.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

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.

Photo of Mr George Mackie Mr George Mackie , Caithness and Sutherland

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?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will take note of the hon. Gentleman's comment.

Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South

Was the figure given by the hon. Gentleman an England and Wales figure or a United Kingdom figure?