HC Deb 23 March 1949 vol 463 cc355-6
18. Sir P. Macdonald

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that, in a letter dated 8th November, 1948, with regard to the claim of Mr. E. M. Stewart for compensation for his car requisitioned in Malaya, he stated that this was a matter for the War Office, but that the Under-Secretary of State for War, writing on the same subject on 14th March, 1949, stated that this claim appeared to be against the Malayan Government and was being dealt with by the Colonial Office; and whether, in view of the indignation felt in Malaya about the inability of the various authorities to deal efficiently wth these claims, he will make a statement as to where responsibility in these matters lies, and what is the appropriate remedy for those who are aggrieved.

Mr. Creech Jones

The hon. Member misunderstood my letter. The passages to which he refers did not relate to Mr. Stewart's claim which, it has never been disputed, is a matter for the Federation authorities, who are still investigating it. This claim is, however, in respect of property which was stated to have been purchased, not requisitioned.

Claims in respect of property requisitioned for the use of the Regular Forces are dealt with in the first instance by the local representatives of the appropriate Service Departments. Claims in respect of requisitions by the Civil Government for the use by the Civil Government or by Volunteer forces are dealt with by the Malayan War Damage Claims Commission. Claims either on the military or the civil authorities may be submitted to the Joint Claims Officer in Singapore. Where legal liability cannot be established claims fall to be dealt with as normal war damage claims under the proposed ex gratia scheme for war damage losses in Malaya. Those who are aggrieved have recourse to appeal boards set up under the local Emergency Regulations.

Sir P. Macdonald

Is it not a fact that a very large number of claims in Singapore and Malaya are still unsettled, and that claimants who had their property requisitioned during the war are being pushed around from one department to another and can get no satisfaction whatever? This is only one case from amongst hundreds.

Mr. Creech Jones

The procedure is perfectly clear. Sufficient notice has been drawn to it in the territory. In the particular case to which my attention has been drawn, I think the right procedure was indicated to the hon. Member.