HC Deb 19 April 1944 vol 399 cc195-7
46. Mr. J. Henderson

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that, in requisitioning the Mart Billiards Hall, Carlisle, to establish a British Restaurant, his Department is depriving the owner of these premises of his only means of livelihood; and, seeing that the financial terms of this transaction are imposing a great hardship upon this man, will he readjust the same on a more reasonable basis.

The Minister of Food (Colonel Llewellin)

The owner of the premises to which my hon. Friend refers is receiving payments determined in accordance with the provisions of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, and I am not able to adopt my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. Henderson

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this man is 75 years of age and that, after he has met his commitments, he is left with less than £1 a week to live on?

Colonel Llewellin

Under the Act there is no power to give compensation for loss of profits. That is what the House did—not my Ministry.

Mr. Goldie

What is the necessity for this requisitioning in view of the fact that all the licensed premises in Carlisle except two are Government property controlled by the Government under the Carlisle licensing scheme?

Colonel Llewellin

They do not provide quite the same facilities. This is a British Restaurant where you can get meals. The others are mainly places where you can get drinks.

Mr. Henderson

I am positive that it was never envisaged, when the Regulations were passed, that this man should have his livelihood taken away from him and all his assets liquidated.

Colonel Llewellin

I am very sorry. We looked round to see whether there was any other building which could be taken for this British Restaurant, and investigations were made to see whether there was available land to put up a temporary building, but neither was available and I believe it is in the interest of the majority of the people to have these facilities.

Sir H. Williams

Is it not the case that the Act to which my right hon. and gallant Friend refers was passed through the House in September, 1939, that no Member had seen it before he arrived that day, and that we were told that it had to become law that night?

Colonel Llewellin

I do not know that that concerns my Department. I was a Member of the House, and it is in the recollection of every Member.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that other Ministers sitting beside him are exercising powers to compensate people for loss of profits in businesses that have been taken over?

Mr. W. J. Brown

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that under the Act of Parliament that he has quoted there is a gross disparity of treatment, as between railway and shipping companies on the one hand and this kind of case on the other? Will he undertake to look into Section 6 of the Compensation Act?

Colonel Llewellin

That question should be put to someone else.

Mr. Marton

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that there are within 100 yards of the centre of Carlisle four publicly-owned hotels, any one of which could have had its catering facilities extended for this purpose?

Colonel Llewellin

We are guided in these matters by the local authority. It is the local authorities who run these British Restaurants and this was recommended to us by the properly elected local authority of the borough.

Mr. Keeling

Would it not be better to have no British Restaurant here than to have this injustice?

Forward to