HC Deb 10 June 1964 vol 696 cc436-7
18. Mr. Harper

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has yet reached his decision on the future use of Pontefract Barracks; and what his plans are regarding the barracks sports field.

Mr. Ramsden

It is necessary to retain Pontefract Barracks for the time being but I will consider sympathetically any application by local bodies to use the sports field.

Mr. Harper

While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask him how long is "for the time being"? It is more than 14 months since these barracks were vacated. Does not the Minister think that it is time that they were utilised for other purposes? For example, with slight modification—as the services are there—they could be used as a teacher-training college, or for the proposed scheme of the West Riding County Council as a college for sixth formers. In view of the shortage of playing fields in the Pontefract area, will the Minister give an undertaking that this playing field will not fall into the hands of the greedy speculative builder?

Mr. Ramsden

I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that we shall not keep any barracks that we do not need for longer than we must, but the future of these barracks is tied up with the possible future moves of Army units, and it is not possible for me to say at the moment when they could be disposed of.

I appreciate that there is a shortage of sports fields, and I think that this sports field has already been offered to the local authority, but if any further discussions which I could arrange would help, I would certainly be glad to cooperate.