HC Deb 02 August 1923 vol 167 cc1715-6

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that certain rum requisitioned by the Admiralty for the use of His Majesty's Navy in 1917 has not yet been fully paid for; that litigation has been proceeding ever since May, 1918; that, notwithstanding the contentions raised by the Admiralty, in reliance upon which they have withheld payment of the balance claimed, judgment has been given in favour of the claimants on three separate occasions, by Mr. Justice Salter on 12th February, 1920, by the War Compensation Court on 7th November, 1921, and by the same Court on 4th July, 1923, the last being in a test case selected by the Admiralty themselves; and that, although this judgment was given by the tribunal appointed by the Government under the Indemnity Act, 1920, for determining questions of this character, the Admiralty have given notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal, which must necessarily delay for a long further period the settlement of the numerous outstanding claims; and whether, seeing that this amounts to a denial of justice to those persons who, at inconvenience and loss, unreservedly placed their stocks at the disposal of His Majesty's Government in war-time, and that the test case selected by the Admiralty has been decided against them, he will give directions to have the appeal withdrawn and all outstanding cases settled on the principles now so definitely laid down?


Yes, Sir; the facts are substantially as stated, except that it is incorrect to say that the Admiralty selected the test case. Full payment has been, or is being, made of any sums awarded by the Court, and payment to the full extent which the Admiralty considers to be fair has been made or offered in every other case. Having regard, however, to all the circumstances of the case, and to the heavy additional expense to the Exchequer involved if the claims of all persons concerned in the commandeering of the rum referred to were to be met on the basis recently awarded by the War Compensation Court, the Admiralty, after careful consideration, does not see any reason to forego its right of appeal in this matter.