HC Deb 13 April 1943 vol 388 cc1035-6
10. Sir H. Williams

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can make any statement about the proposal to expropriate a large agricultural area, the particulars of which have been communicated to him, for training purposes?

Sir J. Grigg

The advanced training of large formations in realistic conditions can no longer be carried out successfully in the existing training areas, and it has become necessary to make available an additional area of considerable size. Many possible areas were considered in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, and every endeavour was made to avoid good agricultural land. The area must however have certain characteristics if it is to be of real value for military training, and the Government have decided that the area referred to by my hon. Friend which is in the East Riding of Yorkshire is the only suitable one from the military point of view. I much regret the inevitable interference with agriculture in the district, and I sympathize with the farmers whose crops and property will suffer damage. Special claims offices are being set up in the area to deal with this. Moreover every effort consistent with military needs will be made to safeguard the production of food as far as possible, and any question of expropriation—that is, requisition—has been deferred until after this year's harvest.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Is not this land absolutely essential for the training of troops, and was it not asked for as long ago as last September?

Sir J. Grigg

That is so, and the fact that it has taken a considerable time to arrive at a conclusion is a measure of the precautions we have taken to make certain that there is no alternative place.

Mr. Granville

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that he, in conjunction with the Minister of Agriculture, is giving careful consideration to all the alternative sites?

Sir J. Grigg

That has been done in every case, and in this instance we have taken months considering every possible alternative site.

Sir H. Williams

Am I to understand that all battles take place on flat land?

Sir J. Grigg

No, Sir, but tanks do not operate on mountain tops.