HC Deb 21 February 1934 vol 286 cc339-41

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been drawn to the widespread system of incendiarism and corruption, as revealed by evidence advanced at the recent trials of Leopold Harris and Captain Miles, initiated after investigation by the principal insurance companies; if he is aware that the burden of financial responsibility involved in the collation and sifting of evidence was borne by these insurance companies; and if it is the intention to take steps to render assistance to the interested parties with a view to probing this scandal?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Gilmour)

My attention has been drawn to the facts disclosed by the evidence in the two cases to which my hon. Friend refers. I am aware that subject to allow-


Under the provisions of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, the parish ceased to be the area of Poor Law administration on the 15th May, 1930, and I regret, therefore, that separate figures relating to parishes are not available after that date. The area of administration is now that of the county (including small burghs) and the large burgh, and I propose, with the hon. Member's permission, to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement giving the information asked for in the question in the case of the County of Lanark (including the small burghs) and of the large burghs referred to.

Following is the statement:

ances recoverable under the Costs in Criminal Cases Act, 1908, in the main the burden of financial responsibility in respect of the two prosecutions has, with the full approval of the insurance companies and underwriters concerned, been borne by them, but with regard to the second case, as has been publicly stated, the cost of proving the charges relating to the perversion of justice will fall as a burden on public funds. All necessary police assistance has been given to them in the proceedings referred to and will be available, if required, as to any further matters of a similar character which appear to require investigation.


Would my right hon. Friend say whether he received any representation from the offices concerned which paid these expenses?


No, Sir. I understand they are perfectly content.


Is the Home Secretary aware of the very widespread belief in this country and abroad that the Government are in some way responsible for the London Salvage Corps, and will he make it clear that neither the Government nor any local authorities are in any way responsible for or connected with that organisation?


I am glad indeed of the opportunity to disclaim any responsibility on the part of the Government or the local authorities.

Commander MARSDEN

Is it in the public interest and reasonable, when it is almost certain that a crime of this description has been committed, that the Public Prosecutor should leave the proceedings to private interests, in view of the fact particularly that if the private investigations are not adequate it would mean that the criminals would not be brought to justice?


I have no reason to suppose that these questions are not closely watched by the proper authorities. If it were otherwise, undoubtedly it would be desirable that further steps should be taken. But in this case I think justice has been achieved, and so far as I know the responsible authorities have been in close touch with all the proceedings.