HC Deb 03 April 1917 vol 92 cc1229-31

In the case of damage to property caused by enemy raids an insurance company who pays or becomes liable to pay compensation for such damage shall not be entitled by subrogation or otherwise to the rights of the insured person, and the insured person who has received such compensation shall have no rights against any other party in respect of the damage for which he has received compensation.—[Mr. Boyton.]

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

I have been induced to put down this new Clause because in one of the recent air raids a property to the value of some £3,000 was destroyed by Zeppelin bombs. The freeholder in that case had insured with Lloyd's, and Lloyd's paid him under that policy, but they claimed the right of subrogation in order to force him to enforce against the lessee of the freeholder the covenants which the lessee had agreed with the freeholding lessor to perform, namely, to maintain, support, sustain, uphold, and insure. The lessee was not a party to the policy. No doubt the underwriters of Lloyd's were strictly within their legal rights in their demand for subrogation, but if seems very hard that in times like these such power should be in the hands of anyone. In fairness to the underwriters of Lloyd's I should state that, on further litigation taking place, that is, upon the freeholder taking action at their request against the lessee, Lloyd's underwriters did, in fact, allow the repayment of £2,550 to the lessee. Nevertheless, in times like these, accidents of the kind are bound to happen. The policies are taken out not with the same exactitude that they would be taken out in times of peace for fire and other purposes, and in an emergency like this a freeholder might insure the property against enemy air raids and omit the name of the lessee or not consult the lessee, or the lessee might do the like, and the freeholder's name might not be inserted. The Government, as a Government, ought to be very merciful to my suggestion, because there is very little doubt that they are making large sums of money out of their aircraft insurance. Their payments out must be of a very small amount, while their intake must be of considerable magnitude. I would ask the Solicitor-General whether he cannot see his way at a time like this, purely as a matter of emergency—I know there is a question of legal rights, which in other times would form good ground for solid argument, and that it would not be right to interfere between freeholders and their lessees in this way—but in times of emergency such as these when such a dire calamity has happened to this property, and may happen again to property in various parts of the country, it is only fair and reasonable that no rights of subrogation should be given to an insurance office or Lloyd's or any other person who insures or in like manner if money is expended upon the property by the person who receives it.


I fear that I cannot accept this new Clause. There is no doubt that the matters to which my hon. Friend refers are matters of difficulty and grievance, but they are also matters of contract, and I am not satisfied that there is a grievance either of such a character or so widely prevalent as would make it desirable for me to accept this Clause. This Bill deals only with difficulties and grievances arising by reason of the War. It by no means professes to deal with all of them. The proposal to which my hon. Friend has referred is one which, upon the information before the Committee, we cannot accept.

Question put, and negatived.