HC Deb 07 March 1917 vol 91 cc399-400
92. Sir J. SPEAR

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the destruction of fishermen's houses at Hall-sands, Devon, by the sea; is he aware that such destruction was caused by the removal of sand and shingle which formerly protected these houses from the sea; and, seeing that this was done with the consent of the Government, will he cause a substantial sum of money to be paid to these fishermen by the Government so as to assist them to rebuild their dwellings?


My attention has been called to the serious damage caused by recent storms at Hallsands. The effect on the beach at Hallsands of the dredging carried out by a firm of contractors in Start Bay fifteen to twenty years ago with the consent of the Board of Trade was fully considered in 1904, and an ex gratia payment of £3,250 was then made to the inhabitants of Hallsands by the Government and others, and was accepted in full settlement of all claims past, present and prospective, which might be said to be attributable to the dredging operations. In these circumstances the Board of Trade are not prepared to assume any responsibility in regard to the unfortunate effect of the recent storms at Hallsands. I am, however, sending my hon. Friend a copy of a letter which the Board caused to be addressed on the 21st ultimo to the Chairman of the Devon Sea Fisheries District Committee, dealing more fully with this matter.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the receipt he spoke of was forced from the fishermen by the threat that if they did not sign it they would get absolutely nothing, and that owing to the conditions attached to the grant only half of it went to compensate the fishermen who lost the dwellings which belonged to them?


The hon. Member should give notice of those particulars.