HC Deb 13 March 1951 vol 485 cc1278-9
29. Mr. Steward

asked the Secretary of State for War why his Department have refused to pay more than £3,000 as compensation for the restoration of the Excelsior Hotel, St. Margaret's Bay, Kent, which was requisitioned in 1940 and subsequently totally destroyed in house to house fighting exercises, in view of the fact that the estimated cost of restoring it to its original condition amounts to £8,500.

Mr. M. Stewart

The compensation payable by the War Department is restricted by statute to the total value of the property at the time of requisition in April, 1942. This value, assessed on the most generous basis possible, was £3,000.

Mr. Steward

Does the Minister really believe that the owner of this hotel is receiving fair treatment? First he is deprived of his livelihood by the War Office, and now he is refused reinstatement. Would the Minister be kind enough to say what action could be taken to give this man justice?

Mr. Stewart

This hotel was already damaged at the time it was taken over by the War Office. The compensation which has been awarded is the maximum provided by statute. I do not think there is any ground for supposing that justice has been denied him.

Mr. Low

Is it not this sort of treatment which makes the War Office so unpopular in the country? Could not the Minister see that this treatment is not tolerated?

Mr. Stewart

No case has been made out that there has been any unfair treatment in this instance. We compensated for the value of the property at the time it was requisitioned. Do hon. Members suggest that we should have paid more than it was worth at the time of requisitioning?

Mr. R. A. Butler

Can the Minister enlighten the House as to the damage previously sustained by this building?

Mr. Stewart

It was damaged by enemy action.