§ 72. Mr. WALLACE
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, on the 14th March, 1918, the Admiralty requisitioned a large portion of the property belonging to Inverness College, Limited, and have since occupied the subjects; whether they refused to pay rent; whether, in order to obviate proceedings, the secretary for Inverness College, Limited, intimated that he would accept in settlement whatever sum the Admiralty's district valuer fixed as reasonable; whether, after some 1913 months' delay, the Admiralty directed their district valuer to report what sum he considered fair and reasonable; whether the district valuer reported that the rent of the property should be made up to £200; whether the Admiralty have carried out this arrangement recommended by their district valuer, and, if not, why not; and what is the sum which the Admiralty consider should be paid in respect of their occupation of the premises mentioned?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The facts in this case do not wholly accord with my hon. Friend's question. The property was requisitioned on the 19th April, 1918, to provide additional accommodation for the Fleet in connection with the Inverness Base. The premises had ceased to be used for educational purposes, and were only partially occupied at the date of requisitioning. The college authorities have throughout impugned the legality of the Admiralty requisitioning action, and have also contended that they had a legal claim for rent on a commercial basis, and they have refused to make a claim for adjudication by the Losses Commission on the basis of monetary loss. It is true that they expressed a willingness to accept in settlement whatever sum the district valuer might advise, but as a matter of fact it was found that such a settlement would only be accepted if on the basis of a rental calculation, rather than on a monetary loss basis, upon which the Commission fixed their awards.
The Admiralty have been legally advised that the requisitioning action was in order. It is not the fact that the district valuer reported that the rent of the property should be made up to £200. The college authorities claim that amount as rent, whereas the Valuation Department, on the basis of monetary loss, are only able to advise a yearly payment of £21 15s. 11d., which is the sum which would be recommended to the Losses Commission for payment if the college authorities would consent to go before that body. I am advised that there has been no delay preventing a settlement, as the college authorities have from the commencement of Admiralty occupation declined to go before the Commission, or to recede from their claim to legal right to payment on a rental basis. Under these circumstances no payment has been made by the Admiralty in respect of their occupation of the premises, nor is it competent to them to make any payment.