HC Deb 22 March 1950 vol 472 cc1935-6
8. Mr. Driberg

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the future use of his Department's grid at Burnham-on-Crouch; and if he is aware of the importance to the people of Burnham of the maintenance of this grid.

Mr. W. J. Edwards

The Admiralty recently received from the owner of all but a small part of the site on which the ship repairing grid at Burnham-on-Crouch stands an offer for the part of the grid on his land of such an amount as to make it impossible for them to justify proceedings for compulsory purchase, in view of the terms of Section 10 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945. The possibility of compulsory purchase under Section 38 (2) of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, by the local authority had already been considered by the Minister of Town and Country Planning, but he had decided that it could not be justified as immediately necessary in the interests of the proper planning of the area. In these circumstances the Admiralty, whose responsibility is limited to securing the value of the grid on release of its site from requisition, had no alternative but to accept the offer. The future of the grid must now he a matter for the private interests concerned.

Mr. Driberg

Is my hon. Friend aware of the great anxiety felt by the Urban District Council and other people locally about the future of this grid, because of its contribution towards full employment in the town? Could he look again, personally, at Section 10 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, because its interpretation does not seem to be anything like so simple or definite as his answer would suggest?

Mr. Edwards

I regret that this matter cannot be looked at again, because we have made definite arrangements with the owner of the property. I feel we have a moral obligation to the owner of the property to restore the land to him as soon as we possibly can. With regard to employment prospects, I feel they have not been worsened as a result of return of this property to the owner. It is quite likely that private interests will make use of the property.

Sir Herbert Williams

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House what the word "grid" means, because some of us do not know?

Mr. Edwards

I will show one to the hon. Member.