HC Deb 24 June 1941 vol 372 cc925-6
59. Mr. Rostron Duckworth

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether, in requisitioning premises for State purposes, he will cause prior inquiry to be made as to the volume of unavoidable charges payable by the tenant on the building thus requisitioned; and whether such charges, at least, will be met by the State in taking over the premises compulsorily?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings (Mr. Hicks)

Before premises are requisitioned for official purposes, inquiries are made as to their suitability in various respects and consideration is given to the amount of compensation likely to be payable; but it would be impracticable to delay the taking of possession pending investigation of the exact charges payable by tenants. By unavoidable charges I presume the hon. Member refers to rent, rates and services. The rent, if reasonable, is covered by the compensation payable under Section 2 (1) (a) of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, and the Department endeavours to relieve the tenant of liability for rates and services from the date the premises are taken over. If he pays a rent inclusive of rates and services, there is an adjustment with the landlord with a view to his being relieved of such charges. If for any reason this is impracticable, the tenant's claim for compensation would cover rates and services. There are other charges which arise in connection with the requisitioning of premises, e.g., cost of telephones, wages of staff, etc. Allowances are made under Section 2 (1) (d) towards the cost incurred in cancelling arrangements under this head.

Colonel Arthur Evans

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that no tenant will be out of pocket?

Mr. Hicks

I cannot guarantee that.

Sir William Davison

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when property is taken in the ordinary way it is taken with all its liabilities attached to it? If there are liabilities attached to a property taken by the Government, surely the Government should make arrangements with the persons to whom the liabilities are payable or due and not leave it to the unfortunate tenant whose property is taken?

Mr. Hicks

Every endeavour is made.

Mr. Levy

Is the Minister aware that, although tenants are deprived of beneficial occupation, they are still liable for the rent, and that, in a number of cases where buildings have been requisitioned more than once, the tenants have been deprived of beneficial occupation more than once, and are still liable for both rents? Does the Minister consider it fair that such arrangements should be made?

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

Is it not a fact that when premises are requisitioned by the War Office the rents paid by the occupier or owner are not covered by the War Office?

Sir W. Davison

I have given a number of cases where a person is having to pay £50, £60 or £100 more than he is receiving from the people who have taken his property.

Sir Irving Albery

Will the Prime Minister ask the Attorney-General to look into the question?