THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
Seeing the noble Duke the Civil Lord of the Admiralty in his place, I desire to ask a Question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether the Government will postpone the commencement of the operation of their scheme of insurance against damage by aircraft or bombardment to some date which shall constitute a reasonable notice to owners of property that the Government will not pay any compensation after that date to those who have not so insured. As your Lordships will remember, up to Monday last what was known as the scheme of compensation of Lord Parmoor's Committee was being followed, but on Monday the Government brought forward a new scheme, a scheme which requires insurance, and they stated that they had given notice publicly of that scheme by an advertisement in The Times. Apart from the question whether an advertisement in The Times can be regarded as a public notice, I venture to submit that the putting into force of the scheme on the very day on which it was published was not giving owners of property fair intimation of the necessity of taking out an insurance against this sort of damage under the Government scheme. Suppose that on Tuesday last there had been an air raid, and a number of houses had been destroyed in some town near the coast. According to this scheme, no owner who had not insured by Tuesday would receive a particle of compensation. The necessity of insurance was only created by this scheme; yet on the very day on which the scheme is created the Govern- 659 ment announce that they depart from their old practice and will not pay a farthing compensation to any owner who is not insured. Doubtless a large amount of property will be insured in order to comply with this scheme, but surely the Government should give owners of property reasonable notice.
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, His Majesty's Government in deciding this question had to adopt one of two policies—either that of indemnity or that of insurance—and after giving the matter the fullest consideration they decided to adopt the policy of insurance. A strong Committee, with the constitution of which noble Lords are familiar, was appointed, and they recommended that as the policy of insurance had been adopted their scheme should be carried out. That scheme has been carried out, and I understand that the Committee attached importance to the fact that it should come into effect without delay. It is not quite accurate to say that the scheme was announced only by advertisement in The Times. It was announced by the usual process with which we are familiar—namely, by communication to the Press. I understand that the communication appeared in all the London newspapers and in a considerable number of the provincial newspapers. Steps have also been taken by the agents of the insurance companies to bring the matter to the notice of their clients and generally to the notice of the public. My noble friend raised a hypothetical question. He asked what would have been the position of the Government had a raid taken place on Tuesday. I can only shelter myself, I am afraid, behind the fact that a raid did not take place on Tuesday, and that there has been a certain amount of notice of the Government's scheme which has enabled a considerable amount of business to be transacted. The full operations of the insurance companies are now at work with a view of making the scheme known, and I hope that will be sufficient notice. I admit that there may possibly be hard cases, but the Board of Trade attached the greatest importance to bringing the scheme into effect at once. They felt that if there was delay and the two schemes—indemnity and insurance—were running pari passu there would invariably be delay, and owners of property would defer taking out insurance until the last moment.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
May I ask the noble Duke what is the position of owners whose property may be damaged hereafter by aircraft bombs? Are they to receive no compensation beyond that which they obtain from insurance?
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I submit that no notice whatever has been given to owners of property to afford them time in which to insure.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I cannot admit that no notice has been given. Notice has been issued in the Press, and the insurance companies who are taking up the matter are adopting every possible means to cause the Government's scheme to be made known; and I have no doubt the fact that the noble Earl has himself called attention to the subject to-day may act as some little advertisement.