HC Deb 11 February 1941 vol 368 cc1203-4
16. Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps are being taken to make the utmost use of agricultural land and particularly of the gardens of houses now occupied by the Army; and whether such steps will include cropping and supervision of such areas by experts who can arrange for distribution and marketing of foodstuffs?

Captain Margesson

Agricultural officers have been appointed on the staffs of the War Office, commands, areas and districts to ensure the cultivation, so far as possible, of all land in military occupation and particularly to arrange that, when houses with gardens attached have been requisitioned, the soldier occupants should cultivate the gar- dens if the owners cannot continue to do so. The bulk of the labour will be supplied by the troops, but a nucleus of trained men is being provided to give advice and to maintain cultivation where soldiers are withdrawn and not immediately replaced. Advances of cash are being made for the purchase of seeds and tools, and the expenditure incurred will be repaid from the proceeds of the sale of produce. As a general rule, the produce will be sold to the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. The fullest use is being made of the advice and co-operation of the local representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries throughout the country and with the War Agriculture Executive Committees. When land can best be cultivated by being let to local farmers and market gardeners, this is being done.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman bear in mind that, in view of the constant changes of military units, there is necessity for continuity of supervision and responsibility, otherwise this system may fail?

Captain Margesson

Yes, Sir.