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Stanford Battle Area (Petition)

Volume 440: debated on Tuesday 22 July 1947

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I beg leave to present a humble petition from 6,308 sometime inhabitants of the parishes of Stanford, Tottington, Sturston, Hilborough, Ickburgh, Little Cressingham, Lynford, Croxton, Merton, Stow Bedon, Thompson and Wretham, all in the County of Norfolk, as well as dwellers in the parishes adjoining these, and others besides who are concerned for the cause of justice, for the preservation of the life of these villages and the beauty of our land, and for the urgent needs of agriculture at this time. The whole or parts of these villages have been, since June, 1942, contained within the Stanford Battle Area, in which lie 19,100 acres of land, and His Majesty's War Department—

The hon. Member need not read the whole Petition, but should state its purpose, and read the Prayer at the end.

The main purpose of the Petition is contained in the following paragraph:

"In June 1942 at the behest of His Majesty's Government, all owners and tenants in this area gave up their homes and holdings at four weeks' notice, in the interests of their country then at war, sustaining much hardship thereby, but being assured by solemn promises given on behalf of His Majesty's Government by the General Officer Commanding Eastern Command at the time, General Anderson, and by the Deputy Regional Commissioner for Eastern Region, Lord Cranbrook, to many persons publicly assembled, that on the cessation of hostilities these houses and lands would be restored to them.
Two years have already passed since hostilities ceased; but His Majesty's War Department still retain their hold on the Stanford Battle Area; and now we learn that it is proposed by His Majesty's Secretary of State for War that the solemn pledges given in 1942 shall not be fulfilled, but on the contrary that those who left their homes and lands shall be deprived of them perpetually, the life of three whole villages being thereby at an end, and many farms and houses lost to the people of our country, who sorely need them."

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that, in pursuance of solemn promises given in that behalf, the said villages, parishes, land and property may be restored to the lawful owners and tenants thereof, and that the owners and tenants of the said adjoining Land may be left in peaceful possession of their homes and land, that thereby food in abundance may be produced: And your Petitioners, as in duty hound, will ever pray, etc.

Petition to lie upon the Table.