HC Deb 23 June 1942 vol 380 cc1796-8
22. Mr. Granville

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Requisitioning Order, expiring on 27th June, served by his Department on a certain area in East Anglia, will cause serious hardship to farmers, farm-workers and cottagers, who will have to abandon 3,000 acres of growing corn and a large area of grazing land, farm buildings and cottages; and whether he will consider the alternative area of gorse and common land suggested to him, in order to minimise individual hardship and to preserve valuable food-producing land vital to the war effort?

Sir J. Grigg

I regret the distress caused to the inhabitants of this area by their compulsory removal and I am glad to say that I have been able to postpone the final date to 20th July. The Ministers of the Departments concerned are co-operating with me in giving the people affected all assistance possible in their removal and resettlement. I am also aware of the loss to food production, but the need of large areas for realistic battle training is so imperative that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, has reluctantly acquiesced in this decision; every effort will be made to salvage crops. Every alternative area in the district, including that suggested by my hon. Friend, was considered but rejected for cogent reasons.

Mr. Granville

Has my hon. Friend satisfied himself that the alternative common land suggested to him would prove unsuitable? Further, can he give an assurance that there will be adequate compensation? Also, will the fullest opportunity be given to farmers to harvest their crops?

Sir. J. Grigg

Arrangements have been made for salvaging the crops, though I am bound to say that I think it is quite possible that the crops may be damaged before they are salvaged by the training which is to take place over them. Provision is made for compensation. On the question of whether I satisfied myself personally, the answer is "No," but I satisfied myself that there had been the fullest discussion between my officers and the officers of every other Department concerned, including the representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture on the spot.

Mr. Granville

Will the right hon. Gentleman further consider the postponement of this order until after harvest, and will he see that the Deputy Commissioner has every assistance regarding transport and that great care is taken to assist the old people to get to new and proper homes?

Sir J. Grigg

As regards the second two Questions, the answer is "Yes." The answer to the first Question is, I am afraid, "No."

Sir Joseph Lamb

Has the right hon. Gentleman assured himself that all golf courses available in those areas are being used for this purpose before he takes this agricultural land?

Sir J. Grigg

The discussion took place with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture on the spot, and I am satisfied that we have taken the land which would do least harm to agriculture.

Sir J. Lamb

What good do golf courses do for agriculture? Can the right hon. Gentleman answer that?