HC Deb 23 November 1937 vol 329 cc1036-7
54. Sir William Davison

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the serious anxiety felt by building societies and other property owners now that insurance companies have declined to insure them against war risks; and whether the Government will consider the desirability of the formation of a national fund, with Government contribution, for the protection of individuals from the risks referred to?

55. Mr. David Adams

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the inability of local authorities to obtain insurance cover for war risks of any kind, it is the intention of the Government to accept full responsibility for damage to municipal property caused by acts of war?

Mr. Stanley

I have received representations on the subject of war risks insurance from property owners, including the Building Societies Association. As regards the general question involved, I have nothing to add to the answers given on 2nd and 9th November to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Joel).

Sir W. Davison

Does not the Minister think that it would be most desirable in time of peace to form a nucleus of a fund designed to meet the undoubtedly heavy expenditure which would fall upon the Government in the event of war, especially having regard to the great anxiety of all classes of property-holders, including small holders in building societies?

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that members of his own party are now drawing attention to the failure of private enterprise?

Mr. Stanley

I think the first supplementary question raises a matter which is dealt with in the answers to which I have referred.

Sir W. Davison

They do not deal with the question of the desirability of doing this in the national interest. Having regard to the heavy burden of expenditure which would fall on the Government in the event of war, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it would be very good business on the part of the Government to make preparations in time of peace for the eventuality for such expenditure?

Mr. Lansbury

I wish to ask, through you, Mr. Speaker, whatever Minister will answer me. whether we are to take it for granted that war is absolutely certain, and that therefore we must get ready for it?

Mr. David Adams

Is the Minister aware that my question had reference to municipal property; and in view of the fact that there is great anxiety upon the subject among municipalities partly due to the loose handling of international affairs by the Government, will he not consider the suggestion in my question?

Mr. Stanley

If the hon. Gentleman will look at the answers to which I have referred, he will see that they apply equally to municipal property and other forms of property.