asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the Admiralty are now purchasing compulsorily a number of small dwellings in Portsea, Portsmouth, immediately adjacent and forming a salient into the Royal Dockyard under powers given by the Defence Acts and the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919; that the price given thereunder to a dispossessed owner is the market value as at the date of the notice to treat; and, whether as the effects of the war in vulnerable areas like the city of Portsmouth have seriously deteriorated the market values, he will consider taking a fairer basis than depressed market values upon which to enforce the purchase of lands such as those referred to?
The decision to acquire the small properties which form a salient into His Majesty's Dockyard, Portsmouth, was taken in January, 1938. Prices for about half the properties concerned were agreed with their owners in 1938 and 1939, and contracts were made for their sale at those prices, to be completed when the owners were ready to give possession. The purchase of these properties has since been duly completed at the prices agreed. Agreements for the acquisition of the remaining properties had not been arranged at the time that the damage or destruction of many of the premises by enemy action made it urgently necessary, for reasons of safety, to clear the entire site. The Admiralty therefore compulsorily purchased the properties, in their damaged state, at their then market value, being advised that this was the right and proper basis in the circumstances of the case, but arrangements were first made with the War Damage Commission for all the premises to be surveyed, in order to conserve to the owners their full statutory right to compensation under the War Damage Act, 1941.
As I have already stated, the basis adopted was considered to be the right and proper one in the circumstances. I cannot at present say whether any other basis could be substituted, but I am having the matter examined and will inform my right hon. and gallant Friend of the result.