§ Mr. G. Longden
asked the Minister of Works when he expects that work on the removal of temporary defence works on private land will be completed.164W
§ Mr. Eccles
During the past seven years approximately £3½ million has been spent by my Department on the removal of temporary defence works on private land, and substantial progress has been made. In the present economic circumstances it is not possible to provide enough money for me to carry out the residue of work quickly and it has been decided to discontinue the programme of restoration for which my Department has been responsible. Sites will be de-requisitioned and site owners will be paid terminal compensation assessed in accordance with the terms of the Compensation (Defence) Act. 1939. as subsequently amended.
In cases where it is desired to clear the defence works from the derequisitioned private land and the compensation is not sufficient to pay for the cost, it will be open to owners to apply to the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Housing and Local Government or the Secretary of State for Scotland for financial assistance under the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945. A local planning authority which takes action for removal of such works under the powers of the Town and Country Planning Acts, 1947, may apply similarly for financial assistance. My right hon. Friends the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Scotland are issuing circulars to local planning authorities explaining the procedure.
I must emphasise that it will only be possible for Ministers to give financial assistance in cases where they are fully satisfied that restoration is really essential in the national interest. The economic circumstances which make it impossible for large sums of money to be made available to me for a programme of restoration will severely restrict the number of cases in which it will be possible for other Ministers to give financial aid.
I am anxious that every facility should be afforded to site owners to remove defence works, and any applications for building licences needed for the work of restoring war damaged land will be considered as sympathetically as possible.