HC Deb 02 November 1939 vol 352 cc2139-40W
Brigadier-General Brown

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any measures have been taken to deal with the numerous and increasing complaints of damage done to agriculturists and other inhabitants of the countryside by training camps and other Defence establishments of the Army and Royal Air Force; and whether he will consider setting up on the staff of each home command a staff officer and a land agent, as was done in the Northern Command in the last war, to go round and assess damage done and to act as a liaison body between the Defence authorities and the aggrieved persons through their county war agricultural committees?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Every effort is made by the local military authorities, in consultation with the Land Commissioners, to minimise the disturbance to agriculture caused by the training of troops. War Department land agents are stationed at command headquarters and are being established at sub-offices throughout the commands and are always available for consultation; and my Department are in frequent touch with the Ministry of Agriculture to consider the improvement of arrangements for local co-ordination. Compensation for damage done on land of which the War Department have taken possession is payable under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, and the lands staff has been specially strengthened to deal with such claims. They will also deal with compensation for damage due to training on land of which the War Department have not taken complete possession.

So far as the Royal Air Force is concerned, I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air that every endeavour is made in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture to minimise disturbance to agriculture when sites for Royal Air Force training establishments are selected, and there is little likelihood of similar disturbance to agriculture resulting from training activities. Should any case arise, my right hon. Friend will, of course, be prepared to receive a claim for compensation, which will be considered similarly on its merits.