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Requisitioned Premises

Volume 411: debated on Tuesday 29 May 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for War if he will reduce the number of hotels and other properties requisitioned in the towns of Cromer and Sheringham.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now inform the House of the result of his inquiries as to the possibility of releasing schools which have been requisitioned for various military purposes; and whether he is aware that pupils of London schools who were evacuated to the country are in many cases returning with their parents, their country billets being no longer available, and are receiving no education by reason of the occupation by his Department of their schools.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is the policy of his Department to de-requisition shops at the earliest possible moment, so that men discharged from the Services who were previously engaged in retail trade may find premises available.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that East Bilney Hall, Dereham, which was requisitioned by his Department, has not been occupied by troops for a considerable time and that the owner, who is a soldier who has served with distinction in the Middle and Far Eastern theatres of war, urgently requires his home for his family who are obliged to leave their temporary accommodation; and as he is liable to be posted for further duty abroad, whether East Bilney Hall can be derequisitioned forthwith.

The reports on the properties held by the War Department are virtually complete and a programme of de-requisitions is now being drawn up. I will make a statement as to this in a fortnight's time. As I have repeatedly said, priority in de-requisitions will be given to small dwelling houses and schools, and these will definitely come before shops and hotels. A considerable number of small dwelling houses and schools have been released already and of course the process is continuing.

If the programme is now complete, cannot a statement be made next week?

I have very carefully studied that question. I shall be glad to make as full a statement as possible, but I should be grateful if I could be allowed a fortnight in which to produce the answer rather than a week.

Do I understand my right hon. Friend to say that the scheme w0ould begin only after his statement in a fortnight's time?

Not at all. The last sentence of my answer, to which my Noble Friend could not have listened, was that a considerable number of small dwelling houses and schools have already been released and of course the process is continuing.

Cannot my right hon. Friend give a specific answer to this quite simple question in view of the great dissatisfaction that exists, certainly in the town which I represent, in regard to these matters?

As I said, I am in the final stages of an exhaustive review, and if my hon. Friend will allow me, I will make a full statement about it in a fortnight's time.

Is it not a fact that even after derequisition it takes some time to assess the damage done to property?

That is one of the very important elements in the process of de-requisition. It is necessary that the dilapidations statement should be agreed between the parties concerned.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the delay which has taken place in derequisitioning properties which have been commandeered by his department and which are now standing empty, he will take steps to overhaul the existing department dealing with these matters with a view to securing increasing efficiency and understanding, having regard to the urgent public need of increased accommodation.

If my hon. Friend will refer to the answers I gave him on 13th March and 15th May he will, I think, find that there is no lack of understanding, at any rate in the War Office, on these matters. I might remind him that the number of requisitioned and part requisitioned properties still held in Evesham, Pershore and Broadway is less than one-half of the peak figure.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that there are still far too many unoccupied premises retained by the War Department, and will he and his Department have enough common sense to derequisition them?

Yes, I have looked into those particular cases. There are not a very great number, and what there are are earmarked for the return of troops from North-West Europe in connection with the release process.

Is the Secretary of State aware that the officials of his Department read his answers before he delivers them but the House of Commons cannot hear them?