§ 96. Sir GERVASE BECKETT
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many claims are still unsettled by the Ministry of Munitions for goods supplied by engineering and other firms; what steps do the Ministry propose to take in order to expedite the settlement of these claims; and is he aware of the great hardship caused to many small traders by the delay?
There are a few small claims recently received for goods supplied by engineering and other firms to the Ministry of Munitions. These claims amount to, approximately, £3,000 and are still the subject of correspondence. The necessary steps are being taken to expedite their settlement.
§ 97. Sir G. BECKETT
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that a fiat has been granted to permit Mr. T. P. Woodhead, of Leeds, to proceed with a petition of right in the High Court against the Treasury; and whether he will agree that this and other similar cases shall be submitted to an independent referee for arbitration and settlement, in view of the high costs involved by legal proceedings which the petitioners may be unable to bear?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. A claim was preferred by this firm arising out of a contract with the Ministry of Munitions. Acting under legal advice, the Ministry maintained there was no claim in law, but the firm was offered, and accepted, in 1921, a sum of£1,000 ex gratia in final satisfaction of the claim. In these circumstances, I am not prepared to refer the matter to arbitration. Any similar cases will be considered on their merits.
§ Sir G. BECKETT
Will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that he will look personally into this question himself? Will he receive from me papers dealing with the question?
I shall, of course, be happy to look into any facts which my hon. Friend may care to send me.