HC Deb 22 June 1915 vol 72 cc1037-8
47. Mr. WATT

asked the Prime Minister whether, when the Government adopts a scheme of insurance against the damages of air raids, provision will be carefully made that insurance companies that have accepted premiums against such risks are not relieved of their liability by the action of the Government, especially in view of the fact that insurance companies, and in particular a company having its headquarters in Perth, in Scotland, have a clause in their policies which, by permitting them to appoint an arbiter in any claim which they dispute, enables them to defer payment of damages by procrastination sometimes for several years?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)

The Prime Minister has asked me to answer my hon. Friend's question. I can assure him that the question as to the liability of insurance companies under policies already issued will be one of those which will be carefully considered in connection with the formulation of any Government scheme.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say how long the consideration is to go on?


As I told the House yesterday, we hope to announce the decision very shortly.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is at present a free market for buildings up to the value of £200,000 on any one policy?


I am not aware that there is any free market. My information is that there is a limited market and that the insurance covers not only buildings but also goods.


Is my right hon. Friend not aware that the market is free up to the amount of £200,000?


No, my information is that many lines of £200,000 could not be covered, and the cost of property in this country to be insured against aircraft dangers is often very much larger than £200,000.


Will my right hon. Friend take care that the insurance companies will not take the benefit of this scheme?


I can assure my hon. Friend that the object of the scheme is not to benefit the insurance companies, but to benefit the insured.