§ Sir ARTHUR FELL
On a point of Order. There arc three questions standing in my name on the Paper. The first and third relate to the same subject, but the other question has been put between them. Would it not be possible that the questions on the same subject should be put together, and not separated in this way?
§ 36. Sir A. FELL
asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make more satisfactory arrangements for the settlement of claims for dilapidations of premises occupied as billets by soldiers for the past two or three years at the East Coast sea resorts; if the assessor for claims at Great Yarmouth is Captain Buckingham, of Lowestoft; if it will be possible for this assessor unaided to make the assessments under many months; and if they are not done immediately the whole letting season for the premises will be lost and great damage be suffered?
§ Mr. FORSTER
As regards the first part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on the 22nd May to a similar question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom. With regard to the rest of the question, Great Yarmouth is included in the area dealt with by the War Department valuer at Lowestoft, but the valuer is not single-handed, as the question would seem to imply. The desirability of settling these cases without delay is fully realised, and all possible steps are being taken to effect this.
§ Sir A. FELL
Will the Secretary of State for War personally look into this subject, because the delay, owing to the system of having this gentleman coming round now and again to assess compensation, has caused a great deal of dissatisfaction?
§ 38. Sir A. FELL
asked the Secretary tary of State for War if it is with his knowledge or authority that the assessors of damage done to premises in the East Coast towns which have been occupied by the military offer to the owners about one-third of the valuer's assessment of the damages, and if this is not accepted they tell the owners that they must present a Petition of Right against the Crown, and by this means try and force them to accept whatever is offered them?
§ Mr. FORSTER
I have no doubt there is often a difference of opinion between the War Department and property owners as to the amount that ought to be paid in settlement of dilapidation claims. I am informed that in the great majority of these cases the War Department valuers find that owners have not made an adequate allowance for reasonable wear and tear, or for the state of repair of the premises when the military authorities entered into occupation. The War Office has always deprecated any tendency on the part of valuers to adopt the attitude indicated in the latter part of my hon. Friend's question. If claims cannot be agreed locally, they are generally referred to higher authority at Command Headquarters, and, failing agreement there, to the War Office. Procedure by Petition of Right is regarded by the Department as a last resource, to be adopted only when all attempts to arrive at an amicable settlement have failed.
§ Sir A. FELL
May I ask whether it is not a fact that a Petition of Right is the only remedy these people have for the recovery of damages?