asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that farmers who are dispossessed of their farms by war agricultural executive committees can sell their land in the open market at prevailing prices, whereas farmers whose land is commandeered by Government Departments can be paid, under the 1939 Defence (Compensation) Act, only at the value as at the outbreak of war; and whether he will take steps to remedy this anomaly?
I cannot perceive any anomaly from the terms of the Question as put by the hon. Member. An occupy- ing owner of land who is dispossesed by a war agricultural executive committee can only sell the land subject to the committee's right of possession, and he or any purchaser can only claim compensation under Section 2 of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939. An owner of land requisitioned by any other Government Department is in precisely the same position.
Is not the Minister aware that when a farmer is dispossessed of his land by a war agricultural committee he can let his land at current prices, whereas when land is requisitioned by a Government Department all that can be paid is rent appropriate to the level at the outbreak of war, and that between these two things there is often a wide gap? Will he not close that gap?