Salisbury Plain

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 14th March 2005.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West 2:30 pm, 14th March 2005

How much income was derived from the rent of military land on Salisbury plain in each of the past five years.

Photo of Mr Ivor Caplin Mr Ivor Caplin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence

Income received as rent for agricultural land on the Salisbury plain training estate over each of the past five financial years is as follows: £978,000 for 2000–01; £1,039,000 for 2001–02; £1,046,000 for 2002–03; £1,069,000 for 2003–04; and £1,079,000 for 2004–05.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

The latest figure works out at a mere £43 per hectare, which is a ludicrously low rent compared with that charged by the local authority of four times that amount—and that is a subsidised rent. It is decreasingly likely that the Army will use that rented land, because the nature of modern warfare means training for a peacekeeping role, rather than for gaining territory. Should not a fair market rent be charged on behalf of the taxpayer, or the land sold to the farmers?

Photo of Mr Ivor Caplin Mr Ivor Caplin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence

I disagree with my hon. Friend. The simple fact is that Salisbury plain is an important training environment for the British Army and will continue to be so.