HL Deb 09 May 1946 vol 141 cc139-40

5.12 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government (1) Whether they are aware that in 1943, after the necessary enclosure for military vehicles had been wired off in Burnham Beeches, an additional outer ring of barbed wire, extending in most places to the main roads, was put up to safeguard the vehicles from fire or sabotage.

(2) Whether, now that the vehicles have been taken away, and there is no further need for this outer ring of wire, except possibly in a few places, it can be removed forthwith, thereby opening up some much needed space for the public during the summer.]


My Lords, arrangements can be made for the removal of the barbed wire, but the War Office have been asked by the owners, the Corporation of the City of London, not to begin until the area can be made safe to the public by the removal of the inspection pits and other dangerous obstacles within the perimeter. Reinstatement work of this kind is not as a general rule the responsibility of the War Department, who normally pay the appropriate compensation, the physical reinstatement being arranged by the owners. As regards works on public land, where early reinstatement is considered to be in the public interest, the responsibility rests with the civil Departments concerned. The City of London Corporation have been advised how to proceed and are discussing the question with the relevant Departments.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his answer. It seems to be very confusing to the public as to who is really responsible for re-admitting them to the ground which they have used for so many decades. Arising out of the answer, I am quite aware that there is a certain amount of the land off which the public must be kept, both for reasons of safety and for reasons of repair and damage, but there are still many acres of woodland which the public could be perfectly safely admitted to at the present time, where there have never been any troops, or any lorries, or any damage. I hope the noble Lord will kindly pursue the question a little further to see whether some of these acres cannot be restored to the public, in whom I know he is interested. I am quite aware of the views of the City of London Corporation, but I only speak for the British public on this occasion and I hope he will do what he can to admit them acre by acre to this valuable ground where they come down on the week-ends to get some fresh air.