§ 66. Commander Sir Archibald Southby
asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in the case of business premises compulsorily requisitioned by the War Office, such compensation is paid as will fully cover the amount of rent for the premises for which the dispossessed occupier may be liable under an existing agreement from which he is unable to escape; or whether the rent compensation paid is an arbitrarily fixed sum which does not cover the liabilities of the dispossessed occupier?
§ Mr. Law
My hon. and gallant Friend is under a misapprehension if he supposes that the sum payable by way of compensation in cases of this kind is arbitrarily fixed by the War Department. The amount is determined by the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, and the War Department has no power to go beyond its provisions. Under the. provisions of that Act, compensation in respect of requisitioned property must be, assessed by reference to the rent which might reasonably be expected to be payable by a tenant under a lease granted at the time when the property is taken over.
§ Sir A. Southby
Will my hon. Friend appreciate the case I brought to his notice where the War Department requisitioned premises from an individual who has to pay £250 rent while receiving only £100 from the War Department? As his means of livelihood have been taken away, will my hon. Friend say how the individual concerned will find the other £150?
§ Mr. Law
The rent payable by the War Office, under the Act, can only be what the premises are worth at the time. In a great many cases it is the unfortunate fact that the value of the premises has 1221 deteriorated between the time that the original lease was taken up and the time the War Department took over. We are bound by the Act and cannot do any more.
§ Sir William Davison
Is it not desirable that some change in the law should be made? It was my experience recently that an educational trust with which I am associated had to pay £20 or £30 a year more rent in respect of requisitioned premises than they receive from the War Office who requisitioned the premises.
§ Sir A. Southby
Does my hon. Friend mean that when the War Office requisition premises from an individual, they will pay less in rent than the individual himself is already bound to pay? If so, that is a most unfair and unjust decision.
§ Sir W. Davison
Will my hon. Friend have the whole matter looked into? In the experience of many of us, great hardship is being caused through people having to pay the balance of rent which they are not receiving. The House would, 1 am sure, pass a one-Clause Bill in a short time to remedy the position.