50. Mr. De la Bère
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the action taken by a Government Department whereby it compelled the growers of 24 acres of corn, worth £500 when mature, to cut and sell the corn for a few pounds, which, had it been left for a further six weeks, would have been mature and formed a valuable contribution to the national larder; and whether he will confer with the Department concerned with a view to ensuring that no similar action is taken, and that where land is required for building it shall either be selected on ground which is not utilised for corn-growing or, where corn-growing land has been selected, an opportunity shall be afforded for first harvesting the crop?
I know the case which my hon. Friend has in mind. The area in question was requisitioned after consultation with my Department in the absence of any acceptable alternative site on land of lower agricultural value, and owing to the urgency of the particular requirement it was not found possible to postpone development until the growing crops could be harvested. As regards the latter part of the Question, close contact is being maintained between my Department and the other Departments concerned with proposals involving acquisition of sites for building purposes, and every endeavour is made to minimise disturbance of food production interests. Should selection of land under crops prove unavoidable, all possible facilities for harvesting or salvaging are provided.
Mr. De la Bèere
Is not my right hon. Friend aware that it was a shocking waste of food, and perhaps just a moment more and that waste could have been avoided? What a pity.
§ Mr. Granville
Is it not a fact that there were other sites available, and will my right hon. Friend inform me whether the farmers will have to bear the loss?
There were no alternative sites available, and that is why this particular site was taken.