§ Mr. Alexander
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has completed the sale of the Laxton estate; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Wiggin
The House will recall that I announced on 28 November 1979 that the Laxton estate was to be included in the programme of land sales being carried out by this Ministry as provided for in the White Paper on the Government's expenditure plans for 1980–81. I made it clear at that time, and subsequently, that the sale was being treated as a special case and the estate would only be offered to those able to give the necessary assurances about the future of the system and the welfare of the tenants.
I am glad to inform the House that the terms of a sale have now been agreed by this Ministry with the Crown Estate Commissioners for a price of £1 million This price took into account a number of constraints which are due to the Ministry's policy of management resulting from the unique role and structure of the estate. I feel sure that the House will welcome the transfer of this historic estate to a body of such a high reputation. The Crown Estate Commissioners have given me an undertaking that it will be their intention to continue as at present organised the open field system and associated customs which are the principal features of this historic estate, and that reasonable educational facilities will continue to be made available.