asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why the Defence Land Agent has failed to pursue his negotiations for the offer to the previous owners of any of the 636 acres of agricultural land surplus to Service requirements at the former Molsworth Airfield, in spite of the recommendation of the Defence Lands Committee (the Nugent Committee) on page 204 of its Report that those 636 acres should be disposed of.
There has been no such failure. Under the normal procedure for disposal of surplus land, offers are made to the other Government Departments and public authorities first. The Central Electricity Generating Board may need the property, and its decision is awaited.
Is it a fact that the CEGB wants the land for a nuclear power station? Would it not be a bad site for such a station? Is the Minister aware that the land has been blighted for three years? It is a good farmland. Why is the hon. Gentleman withholding it from production because of the speculative possibility of a power station there?
It is not a question of withholding it from agricultural use as a matter of deliberate policy because there is a speculative possibility of a power station. The procedure laid down has been followed by successive Governments. Questions as to whether nuclear power generation is a suitable use of the land should be directed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. All I would say is that if a decision in favour of such a station is made by the CEGB, in consultation with my right hon. Friend, the planning procedure must be gone through. Planning application must be made.