HC Deb 30 October 1945 vol 415 cc208-10
2. Lieut.-Colonel Mackeson

asked the Secretary of State for War how many requisitioned premises there are in Folkestone; and on what date derequisitioning will be completed.

Mr. Lawson

One hundred and forty premises in Folkestone are under requisition by my Department. Of these, 25 are already in process of release, and a further 66 are expected to be released by the end of this year. I cannot give a date for the remainder, though I hope thatmore than half of them will be cleared by the end of March, 1946.

Lieut.-Colonel Mackeson

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his reply, which, so far as it goes, will give great satisfaction to some of my constituents, may I ask why, in view of the fact that Shorncliffe Camp can accommodate a brigade group, the whole of the accommodation in Folkestone at present requisitioned by his Department cannot be released at an early date?

Mr. Lawson

I think that in the circumstances, and the duties and responsibilities falling upon the Department, we had better be thankful for small mercies.

27. Mr. Barton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, owing to the pressing nature of the housing problem in the borough of Wembley, he will arrange that all houses and flats now occupied by the Army shall be released and made available for civilian occupation.

Mr. Lawson

Under the plans already made it is hoped to release during the next two months about two-thirds of the properties still held by my Department in the borough of Wembley. I cannot at present say anything about the release of the remainder but they are very few in number.

44. Mr. Dye

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the repeated requests for the derequisitioning of houses and farms in the area covered by the battle training school in the vicinity of Thetford, Norfolk; and if he will come to an early decision on this matter in view of the contribution both to the housing problem and for food production the release of these villages would make; as the people involved were promised in 1942 that this requisitioning would only be for the duration of the war, and as many of those who willingly gave up their houses are in difficulties and unable to make proper arrangements for the future.

Mr. Lawson

I have been considering the repeated requests for derequisitioning of houses and farms in the vicinity of Thetford. The whole of the requisitioned area is now being used for the preparation of troops about to be despatched to take the place of troops due for release or return from overseas theatres. It is as yet not possible to say which portions of this area can be released shortly and which the Army will seek to acquire for future Army training. I am making a survey of all lands now in use by the Army with a view to deciding which must be retained. This area will, of course, be considered in the course of the survey and full weight will be given to these representations. No decision can be given until the survey is complete, and that depends on the future requirements of the Army, its composition, and commitments.

Mr. Dye

Do I understand my right hon. Friend to say that he is considering using this area as a permanent training ground?

Mr. Lawson

What I wanted to make clear was that I am making a reassessment of the country as a whole in view of the complaints we have had from various parts as to the wide areas that are being used for training purposes. I have to consider this question as a whole.

Lieut.-Colonel Hare

Is the War Office prepared to carry out the pledges that were given that these areas would be returned to their owners at the end of the war?

Mr. Lawson

I should like to see what those pledges were and whether they were given with the authority of the War Office or not. In any case, I want to look at this question as a whole because we want to do justice all round and, at the same time, to do justice to the Army in its training.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of visiting the areas in question and seeing the facts for himself?

Mr. Lawson

I cannot give a promise.