HC Deb 14 December 1939 vol 355 cc1259-60
48. Colonel Baldwin-Webb

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that in cases where the State, through any of its public services, acquires land for any purpose, war or civil, after an agreement with the landlord, the farmer and smallholder on the land thus acquired by the State shall have redress for disturbance, loss of profit, loss by forced sale of stock, improvements, etc.?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

I have been asked to reply. The Government have under consideration the introduction of legislation regarding the permanent acquisition of land for Defence purposes. In so far, however, as my hon. and gallant Friend may be referring to the taking of possession of land for temporary user by the State under emergency powers, the compensation will fall to be dealt with under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, of the working of which the Government must have experience before they can consider whether or not further legislation of the kind suggested is required.

Colonel Baldwin-Webb

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this Act operates hardly, giving no real compensation to those small farmers who are dispossessed, and that even though farmers may be paid temporarily their whole savings, all that they have worked for for years, will be lost and will never be made good under the present legislation?

Sir W. Womersley

I will draw the attention of my right hon. and gallant Friend to what the hon. Member has said.

Sir J. Lamb

Is the Minister aware that the attention of farmers has already been drawn to the matter by the fact that the farmer is denied the ordinary compensation which in the past the State has compelled landlords to give to their tenants who have been dispossessed?

49. Colonel Baldwin-Webb

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, taking each county separately in England, Wales and Scotland, he will state the amount in acreage of agricultural and non-agricultural land, respectively, which has been requisitioned by any Government Department for the purposes of any of the fighting Forces?

Sir W. Womersley

My right hon. Friend regrets that he has not the information asked for, and he does not feel that he can at the present time ask the Departments concerned to incur the expenditure of time and labour necessary to furnish the particulars required.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Why is it that the most productive agricultural land is always chosen for requisitioning by the Departments? Will my hon. Friend take this up with his right hon. and gallant Friend?

Sir W. Womersley

There now is liaison between these activities. I will call the special attention of my right hon. and gallant Friend to this matter.