HC Deb 22 November 1920 vol 135 cc52-3

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture whether he is aware that Mr. George Sidney Lewis bought, in 1913, three freehold plots of building land on the Rayleigh Park Estate, Essex, where roads were made and named with the idea of building upon them; that, on the out- break of war, Mr. Lewis went into the Army, but on his return, four and a-half years after, prepared to take in hand arrangements for the building of houses, found that the land had been taken by the Government and let to a seed-grower at a rental, and Mr. Lewis has been unable to obtain any satisfaction; that the plots in question and the surrounding land have been ploughed and Mr. Lewis has been informed that it cannot be stated when the plots will be restored to him, although his title is not prejudiced; whether he will explain the reason for commandeering this land without acquainting him of it and the reason for not restoring it to him now; and whether, in view of the necessity for encouraging the building of houses, he will have the land restored to the owner without delay?


I would refer the hon Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for North Hammer smith on the 1st July last, when I stated fully the circumstances of this case. I then pointed out that if Mr. Lewis were to produce evidence that he proposed to build on the land, to cultivate it or to sell it, the land would be restored to him. He has, however, failed to produce such evidence, and, meanwhile, it is considered to be in the national interest that the land should continue to be cultivated and not be allowed to revert to its former derelict state. While possession of the land is retained, Mr. Lewis is entitled to claim compensation for any loss actually sustained by him in consequence of its retention, and he has been invited to make a claim.


Has not Mr. Lewis informed the right hon. Gentleman that he was prepared to and was anxious to commence building houses on the land at once?


He has given no signification of his intentions.