asked the Minister of Agriculture when he expects to announce a decision as to the future of land in South Essex which he is proposing to acquire by compulsory purchase under Section 85 of the Agriculture Act, 1947, and in respect of which objections have been lodged by the owners concerned.
There are several areas in Essex which my right hon. Friend is considering for acquisition under Section 85 of the Agriculture Act, 1947. In some cases representations made by the owners are still under consideration and in others appeals to the Agricultural Land Tribunal are waiting to be heard. I cannot say when decisions will be reached.
In view of the fact that many of the owners concerned were promised the return of their land and that subsequently they discovered, during the summer, that the Minister intended to acquire the area compulsorily, would the Minister speed a decision and give the most sympathetic consideration to these cases in order to avoid the undoubted distress which has already been caused?
I do not accept the first part of that supplementary question. In any case, the Agricultural Land Tribunal is absolutely independent of my right hon. Friend, he could not influence either their speed or their decision.