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.
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?
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.