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Training Area, Imber

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 10 May 1961

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32 and 33.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether, under the reorganisation of Southern Command, any of the land occupied by the Army at Imber, Wiltshire, will be released;

(2) when he expects that the Army will cease to occupy the village of Imber, Wiltshire.

The reorganisation of Southern Command affects in no way our need to keep the Imber training area; and as my right hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) on 1st March, there is no prospect of this need coming to an end.

In view of the bitterness felt by the dispossessed villagers of Imber, and their feeling, right or wrong, that the war-time undertakings and agreements have not been honoured by the War Department, will the hon. Gentleman consider meeting some of them so that, once and for all, this bitterness and misunderstanding can be cleared out of the way and they can put their questions to him and get answers?

Naturally I will consider any suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman. I am satisfied that the Army locally is very well in touch with local feeling and very appreciative of it and does its best to smooth over difficulties which inevitably arise from time to time.

This happens to be in my constituency. Will my hon. Friend suggest to the hon. Gentleman that it would be as well if, instead of butting into other people's constituencies, he took a little trouble to find out what the actual feeling is?

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that it is because the villagers are not satisfied that they have asked somebody else to look at this?

The close co-operation of the Army on the spot, to which I have referred, especially as it concerns myself, has been much helped by the information I have had from my hon. Friend.