HC Deb 18 June 1951 vol 489 cc22-3
31. Mr. Renton

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that no costs are awarded to the successful claimant after an award has been made in accordance with the Second Schedule of the Transferred Undertakings (Compensation to Employees) Regulations, 1950; and whether he will take the necessary steps to ensure that provision is made for the costs of the award to be granted to the successful claimant at the discretion of the Tribunal.

Mr. Barnes

I am aware that no costs are awarded to either side in employees' compensation appeals decided by boards of referees. I have no power under the Transport Act to ensure that provision is made for the award of costs in these cases.

Mr. Renton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, bearing in mind that these appeals consist mainly in the fixing of monetary awards, the effect of these awards, if the appeal is successful, can be to a great extent nullified by the paying of the costs of the proceedings? In the interests of justice will he not make some such provision as I have suggested?

Mr. Barnes

The procedure is kept as simple as possible. The hon. Gentleman ought to appreciate that if this power were given it might cut both ways and be very onerous on claimants who have costs awarded against them. There are more cases dismissed than proved.

35. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Minister of Transport whether full compensation has yet been paid to the owners of road haulier businesses which have been taken over by the Road Services Commission: or to what extent payment is in arrears.

Mr. Barnes

The British Transport Commission inform me that payment of compensation to the former owners of road haulage businesses acquired by them is not in arrear. In accordance with the provisions of the Transport Act, provisional ascertainments of compensation had at 31st May been completed in 2,323 out of the 2,709 cases of firms compulsorily acquired, and payments on account totalling £26 million or approximately 90 per cent. as provided in the Act, had been made. In the 386 cases outstanding at that date, of which 148 were transferred in May, it had not been possible by that time to calculate the compensation payable, as the necessary accounts and other particulars required from the transferors were not available or had only recently been supplied.

The final settlement of compensation depends in each case on the two parties reaching agreement, on the basis of established principles. Differing interpretations placed on certain of the compensation provisions of the Transport Act can be finally resolved only by the Transport Arbitration Tribunal or by the Court of Appeal. As far as lies within the Commission's control, they have assured me that they are taking all possible steps to expedite final settlement in every case.

Mr. Boothby

On a point of order. Has the House any protection against answers of extraordinary length like this being given?

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid that the House has no protection against long answers. I am trying my best to get through Questions, but we have had some very long answers this afternoon. Cannot long answers be put into HANSARD? These are answers which really do spoil Question Time.

Sir T. Moore

I do not wish to put an interminably long supplementary question, Sir. The only point that arises out of that very long and complicated answer is: What does the word "arrear" mean? The right hon. Gentleman said "not in arrear." Why cannot all these transactions be carried out on a businesslike basis and compensation paid in three months?