HC Deb 17 April 1917 vol 92 cc1517-8W

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that feeling has been aroused in Dublin amongst sufferers from the recent outbreak at the publication of figures alleged to represent the details of compensation awarded to the Freeman Company; whether all shopkeepers have been refused compensation for loss of profit and the "Freeman" has been given £3,700, although its balance-sheets give no grounds to support such an award; is he aware that in the "Freeman" balance-sheet for 1915, lodged with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, all its combustible assets to 31st December before the fire amounted to £32,257; that at least £2,000 of these assets were not destroyed, being horses, vans, and stock housed elsewhere, reducing the destroyed assets to £30,000, and will he say whether the Government have awarded £60,123 on foot of this loss; and, if so, why in this case were the balance-sheets of the company discarded as a guide to value; has the Freeman Company this year, since receipt of compensation, withheld from its shareholders the balance-sheet for 1916; and will the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies take steps in this respect to enforce the law?


I have again looked into the matter referred to, and have ascertained that no compensation has been paid to the "Freeman's Journal" Company in respect of loss of profits. It is the case that the combustible assets of the company had been written down in the balance-sheet to 31st December, 1915, to the sum named, but this amount did not nearly represent the value of the assets from a fire insurance point of view. Portion of the assets were not destroyed, and no allowance was made in respect of such portion. The sum of £60,284 recommended by the Property Losses Committee to be paid covered not only the loss of assets referred to, but also the very substantial value of the superior interests in the buildings, as well as the rents payable by the "Freeman's Journal" Company. The balance-sheets of the company for the five previous years were used by the assessors as part of the evidence of value required by them to arrive at the assessment of the total loss. I have no information as to whether the balance-sheet for 1916 has been withheld from the shareholders. If this is the case, any shareholder has, I am told, a legal remedy. I observe that the company, through its chairman, protests that its legitimate dividends have been reduced by the Losses Committee to practically one-half.