HC Deb 11 November 1947 vol 444 cc193-4
40. Mr. John Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the total acreage of land in the British Isles held by the War Office, and the total acreage still under requisition; what acreage of this it is proposed to cultivate, in view of the need for food production in the present emergency; and what area of land is to be derequisitioned.

Mr. Shinwell

The War Department owns some 330,000 acres of land in the British Isles. On 31st October, 1947, some 300,000 acres were under requisition under Defence Regulation 51, including areas containing buildings. The maximum agricultural use is made of this land consistent with military requirements. I am unable to give figures for the amount of land that is to be derequisitioned, since the total acreage required for training purposes is under consideration by the Government. Of the land at present under requisition some 20,000 acres are being held pending clearance of unexploded missiles, and further acreages are held so that various kinds of rehabilitation can be carried out.

Mr. Morrison

Will the right hon. Gentleman set a good example for the encouragement of food production by making sure that all land that the War Office own or still retain under requisition which it is possible to cultivate will be cultivated; and will he release as soon as possible land that is not wanted by the Army?

Mr. Shinwell

I am very anxious to avoid using agricultural land, but in some instances it is inevitable.

41. Mr. J. Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for War what acreage of the County of Wiltshire is War Office property, and what acreage is still under requisition; what acreage it is proposed to de-requisition and to hand back in view of the need for growing food at the present time; and what area of War Department land is to be cultivated.

Mr. Shinwell

The War Department owns 92,800 acres of land in Wiltshire, of which 17,720 acres are under cultivation and about 50,000 acres are let for grazing. There are some 5,200 acres under requisition of which about 4,000 acres are being grazed. I am not yet able to say what area can be derequisitioned. The maximum amount of land is, however, being cultivated, so far as this is possible, having regard to the military requirements for which it is in use.

Mr. Grimston

Why is it necessary to keep on requisition any land in Wiltshire, having regard to the fact that the Wax Office have already in their own possession 92,000 acres?

Mr. Shinwell

We require this type of land for the purposes of training, and I am afraid I cannot avoid that.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Does this land that is under requisition come under the powers of the county war agricultural executive committees?

Mr. Shinwell

I am afraid I should re quire notice of that question.