HC Deb 17 December 1928 vol 223 cc2593-5
17. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Secretary of state for Dominion Affairs the number of claims of Southern Irish loyalists in respect of loss and damage to person and property which have still to be disposed of by the Irish Grants Committee; when it is expected that the hearing of these claims will be completed; whether the outstanding balance still due to those who have already had their claims heard and settled can now be paid; and, if not, when it is expected that this balance will be paid?


With regard to the first two parts of my hon. Friend's question, I would refer to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Colonel Howard-Bury) on the 12th November. Since that date 120 further cases have been dealt with by the Irish Grants Committee. As regards the last two parts of the question, it will be recalled that the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated on the 20th February last, that a sum not exceeding £1,000,000 would be held available as required in satisfaction of these claims, that all awards up to £1,000 would at once be paid in full, that of the excess over that figure 60 per cent. would he advanced immediately, that the residue would be applied to the recommendations at the close of the Inquiry so far as they had not already been implemented, and that this decision must be taken as final so far as His Majesty's present advisers are concerned. It has now become clear that payment on the above scale—that is, payment in full of all awards up to £1,000, and 60 per cent. of the excess over that figure—will involve the expenditure of at least the sum of £1,000,000 which was allocated, and in these circumstances no payments in addition to those on the scale now authorised can be made. I may add that under the operation of the authorised scale 32 per cent. of the recommendations so far made by the Committee have been paid in full. In the case of the remaining recommendations, two-thirds of the claimants, or another 12 per cent. of the whole, have been paid amounts varying from 75 to 99 per cent. of the full amount recommended.


Do we understand that the British Government are declining to be responsible for 40 per cent. of the damages to which these unfortunate people have been held to be entitled by a Commission specially appointed with the authority of the British Government?


No, Sir; my hon. Friend is not quite correct in his figures. The payment made in respect of these claims is not 60 per cent. of the awards, but the whole of the awards up to £1,000 and 60 per cent. of the remainder. As I pointed out in my answer, that means payment in full of 82 per cent. of the awards, and from 75 to 99 per cent. of the full payment in the case of another 12 per cent.


Is it not true that there is a difference of over 50 per cent. being claimed?


In many cases that and more.


What is the reason for the application of the epithet "Loyalist" to one particular section of His Majesty's subjects in Ireland?

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Do we understand that £1,000,000 has all been expended, or does a substantial balance remain to meet outstanding claims?


£1,000,000 has been set aside as the final sum the Government are prepared to pay. Out of that £1,000,000, very considerable payments have already been made in full payment of awards up to £1,000, and of full payment of the first £1,000 and 60 per cent. of the rest. The satisfaction of all the claims awarded or likely to have an award is likely to involve, at the rate of £1,000 plus GO per cent., a sum of possibly £50,000 over £1,000,000.


Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say the Government are quibbling at these small sums and are not going to pay the full recommendation of the Committee which they themselves set up to inquire into the case and which has done it so very thoroughly and carefully?


We discussed the matter very fully in February, and the Government, while paying every tribute to the care and impartiality of the Committee, did announce that £1,000,000 represented the sum total of the payment that was going to be made: