asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how much agricultural land was taken during 1946, 1947 and 1948 by the Ministries of Health, Transport, Fuel and Power, Civil Aviation, Works, and Town and Country Planning and by the War Office, the Air Ministry and the Scottish Office, respectively; and what acreage is expected to be required by these Departments in 1949, 1950 and 1951.
It is impracticable to give the information in the form requested since the necessary records have not been kept in the past and a forecast for the future would take some time to prepare. The existing statistics of the two Agricultural Departments, which cover nearly all the agricultural land in Great Britain, show for the years 1946, 1947 and 1948 an average net annual loss from all causes of some 8,000 acres. I should, however, point out that there are substantial variations from year to year. There was, for example a loss of 73,000 acres in the year 1946–47, and a gain of 80,000 acres in the year 1947–48. I am examining with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries whether figures which would not be misleading could be made available periodically to show changes in the acreage of agricultural land.
In view of the general planning, can the Minister give some indication of the amount of land required, at any rate in the next year? Will he give an assurance that where possible land of secondary agricultural value will be taken and not the best agricultural land?
I can certainly give an assurance on the lines of the second part of the supplementary question. As to the first part, until plans are submitted to me I am not in a position to say how much land will be involved.