HC Deb 27 May 1941 vol 371 cc1704-6
42. Sir Annesley Somerville

asked the Prime Minister, whether, in view of the many cases of inconsiderate and arbitrary treatment of requisitioned property by minor officials, he will take steps to provide that the livelihood, housing and compensation of owners and occupiers are treated with care and consideration?

The Prime Minister

If my hon. Friend has any specific cases in mind, perhaps he will bring them to the notice of the appropriate Department.

Mr. Maxton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, when approached the appropriate Department say that they are bound by Statute and that it will require legislative change to improve the position?

The Prime Minister

There is no Statute which prescribes inconsiderate treatment of anyone, but I shall be ready to be informed of any cases of this kind which may be in the knowledge of hon. Gentlemen.

Sir H. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the complaint is widespread, that many people are having their property taken, that they have to pay rent for it and rent for other property, and that they are getting no compensation?

The Prime Minister

My attention has been drawn to this question from various quarters, and I shall be glad to receive information upon it, provided that the matter cannot be satisfactorily adjusted with the Departments concerned.

Mr. Levy

Is my right hon. Friend aware that where tenants are deprived of occupation they are still liable to the landlord for the rent? Does that seem equitable, and ought not the liability for rent to be postponed?

The Prime Minister

That is a larger question, and it will certainly receive attention.

50. Sir William Davison

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his attention has been called to the fact that various Government departments, the London County Council and other public bodies are in the habit of requisitioning premises and paying a rent in respect of such premises arbitrarily fixed by themselves which is often less than the rent reserved under the lease or agreement under which the said premises are held; and whether, in view of the serious hard- ship thus occasioned to private individuals, immediate steps will be taken to enable this injustice to be removed?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Kingsley Wood)

Departments have no power arbitrarily to fix a compensation rent. The Compensation (Defence) Act provides that the rent payable for requisitioned premises shall be a sum equal to the rent which might reasonably be expected to be payable by a tenant in occupation of the premises, during the period for which possession of the premises is retained, under a lease granted immediately before that period. This rent may be greater or less than the rent payable under a former lease. In the latter event the compensation paid should reflect the cost of similar accommodation in the same neighbourhood and there is, I think my hon. Friend will agree, no reason why the Crown should pay more. Any claimant who is dissatisfied has the right of appeal to the Tribunal set up by the Act.

Sir W. Davison

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that one of my constituents, who was the proprietress of a prosperous private hotel, held on a 21 years' lease at a rental of £675 a year, has recently had it commandeered, and that she is receiving only £500 a year? She has therefore not only lost her livelihood but has to pay £175 a year without getting anything in return.

Sir K. Wood

Perhaps my hon. Friend will let me have the case, and I shall be glad to consider it.

Sir W. Davison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is quite a number of these cases which want looking into, and that there is great lack of sympathetic treatment in a great many cases?

Sir K. Wood

I must say that I am not altogether satisfied with the way in which this Act has been administered. The Lord Privy Seal is also interested in this matter, and if any cases are sent, I will see that they are carefully examined with a view to seeing what can be done.