§ Sir J. PENNEFATHER
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies 340W whether any arrangement has been come to or proposed whereby claims put forward by inhabitants of Southern Ireland for compensation for damage committed by the forces of the Crown are to be settled for a sum of £900,000; how many claims were heard by the Committee appointed to investigate; and whether he is aware that, in one of two test cases put forward, the claimant demanded £25,000 compensation for damage that did not actually exceed £25 and dropped the claim when the rebutting evidence was produced?
As the House is aware, His Majesty's Government are under obligation to refund to the Government of the Irish Free State so much of the sums paid by that Government in respect of the awards of the Wood-Renton Commission as arises out of damage done by servants of the Crown. His Majesty's Government are also under an obligation to pay compensation in respect of matters arising in the area which is now the Irish Free State, such as would have given ground for the award of compensation by a War Compensation Court under the Indemnity Act, 1920. There has further been a difference of opinion between His Majesty's Government and the Government of the Irish Free State as to the meaning and scope of the terms of reference to the Wood-Renton Commission.
In these circumstances, His Majesty's Government have provisionally agreed with the Government of the Irish Free State to pay to that Government the sum of £900,000 in full and final discharge of all outstanding liabilities or claims against His Majesty's Government for compensation in respect of property in Ireland, including all outstanding and admitted liabilities under the two headings referred to above, and a contribution towards meeting the claims which, as I have explained, are in dispute. This sum includes the British liability in respect of all awards made by the Wood-Renton Commission under their existing terms of reference since 1st July last, and with the exception of such awards, it is in the nature of a commutation of future liabilities and claims which have not yet been determined, but which it is part of the understanding shall be dealt with by the existing Commission. In reply to the third part, I have no information as to the details of any such cases, but it will, 341W of course, be for the Commission, as hitherto, to determine what compensation ought in reason and fairness to be paid in each ease.