§ 5. Lord APSLEY
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the great dissatisfaction at the slow procedure of the Reparation Claims Department; that there are many applicants still vainly waiting definite decisions in their respective cases, in many instances suffering acutely in consequence; whether he will take steps to clear off the arrears of work of this body; and whether he will agree to the appointment of a Committee of this House to investigate the causes of delay, the 1503 sufficiency of the available money, and the steps which can be taken to wind up the work of the Department on prompt and satisfactory lines?
§ 26. Mr. LUMLEY
asked the President of the Board of Trade when the Royal Commission on Suffering and Damage done by Enemy Action is going to report on the, action it recommends with regard to belated claims?
§ 29. Mr. HARMSWORTH
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give any indication as to when the Second Report of the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action will be issued?
The, Second Report of the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action on claims against the £5,000,000 compensation fund is in draft and is now under consideration by the Commission; as soon as the Report has been accepted payment to claimants will commence.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this Report will cover the belated claims that have been put in since?
We have not yet got the Report, therefore I am not quite clear, but I believe that the draft Report, which does cover the belated claims, is nearly completed. Until we get that Report, giving the view of the Commission upon the question of the belated claims, it is hardly possible to say anything.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY
When does the, right hon. Gentleman anticipate that the Report will be presented?
I am sorry that I am not able to say, but I understand the Commission has very nearly finished the draft.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
Is it not a fact that in the last Parliament the Government promised to have an additional auxiliary tribunal appointed? Has it been appointed and, if not, would it not get over the trouble if it were appointed?
§ Lord APSLEY
Is the right hon. Gentlemen aware that a number of 1504 claimants who are unable to get satisfaction are actually on the verge of starvation?
I am aware that a number of these claimants are exceedingly poor, but I believe everything has been done that can be done to quicken up the proceedings. The hon. Member will remember that this Royal Commission is an independent tribunal and is not under the jurisdiction and authority of the Government. We must await the report of the Royal Commission.
§ 10. Mr. RENDALL
asked the President of the Board of Trade why the Reparation Claims Department, in reply to letters complaining of delay, state they cannot say how long it will b before they will have dealt with the applications before them or when decisions on their merits will be made; and whether, having regard to the necessity of many of the applicants, and their liability to die before their cases arc decided, some means can be taken to deal promptly with all the applications?
As to the first part of the question, all matters relating to the distribution of the £5,000,000 compensation fund arc in the discretion of the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action, and the Report of that Commission must precede a definite statement regarding any claim. As to the last part of the question, I would refer to the answer I have given to-day to the hon. Member for Southampton.
§ 15. Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
asked the President of the Board of Trade what action it is proposed to take so that belated claims for reparation may be brought within the purview of the Royal Commission; and if he can give any indication of the date when payment may be expected in respect of reparation for damage, other than personal, caused by enemy action?
As to the first part of the question, belated claims for reparation are under consideration by the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action. Pro- 1505 perty claims will be dealt with in the Report of the Commission, which is in draft and is now under consideration by the Commission. Payment of awards in cases covered by the Report will commence immediately after its acceptance by the Government.
I will undertake that there shall be no delay after the Report comes into the hands of the Government, but I must repeat that the Government cannot control the Royal Commission.
The Board of Trade has no information as to how far the claims now being reported upon will amount to the total of what is left of the £5,000,000. I do not know whether there is any balance or not. We must wait until we get the Report.
§ 27. Sir CHARLES STARMER
asked the President of the Board of Trade 'whether he is aware that the fund of £5,000,000 provided to deal with the claims of British subjects for suffering and damage arising out of enemy action during the War has proved totally inadequate to provide reasonable compensation in such cases; and whether, in view of the widespread dissatisfaction which obtains, it is proposed to allocate any further sum of money for the purpose of providing commensurate compensation to the losses sustained?
§ 25. Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Royal Commission on the Claims of British Nationals for Compensation for Suffering or Damage arising out of Enemy Action has reported; and whether the Government proposes to allot any sum in excess of the £5,000,000 to meet the allowed claims already granted?
The Royal Commission reported on the claims in respect of loss of life, injury to health, maltreatment during internment and loss of personal effects at sea in January, 1923, and nearly 1506 all the sums recommended in cases covered by that Report have been paid. The Second Report of the Commission, in which property claims will be dealt with, is in draft and is under consideration by the Commission. The sum of five million pounds was voted by Parliament as a fund out of which payments could be made to individuals as an act of grace on the part of His Majesty's Government. This is in addition to the insurance schemes which covered the greater number of such cases. Until the Final Report of the Commission has been received, I am unable to express any opinion as to the sufficiency or otherwise of the sum of five millions, but I must not be taken as agreeing to the suggestion that this sum has proved totally inadequate to provide reasonable compensation.
I am not aware that any official statement has been made exactly to that effect, nor can I say now how much of the £5,000,000 has been spent, and, even if I could, that would not gratify the desire of the hon. Member, because we need to know how much has been allocated for claims which are or will be admitted. Until we get the Report of the Royal Commission no idea can be formed as to what the amount will be.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the amount of money which is left over from the £5,000,000 is quite insufficient both to meet the claims that were put in in due time and later claims as well, and will he approach the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a view to finding more money to deal with delayed claims?
As soon as we get the necessary information, for which the right hon. Gentleman himself waited, we shall proceed in the direction which he indicates, as, I am sure he would have done if he had had the same information.
§ Sir C. STARMER
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is not s large number of people who are dissatisfied with the amounts, and whether the claims have not been met in the 1507 spirit of the grant rather than in the spirit of the injuries received; and will he allow a Court of Appeal to those of us who have suffered injury and are dissatisfied?