HC Deb 12 June 1941 vol 372 cc361-3W
Mr. R. Morgan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will authorise a proportionate increase in the amount payable under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, in respect of requisitioning land and goods, so as to recoup the owner for the additional burden represented by the contributions under the War Damage Act, because the basis of payment laid down under the Compensation (Defence) Act implies that the burden of Insurance is to fall on the occupier or, in other words, the Government?

Sir K. Wood

No, Sir. Under Section (2) of the Compensation (Defence) Act war damage is expressly excluded from the liabilities to be undertaken by the Crown in respect of requisitioned premises. Moreover, contributions under the War Damage Act are required by that Act to be treated as outgoings of a capital nature and therefore differ from annual outgoings such as ordinary fire insurance. The Crown has no proprietary interest, and is in a position similar to that of a short tenant who also pays no share of the contribution. As I explained to my hon. Friend in answer to a Question on 29th May, requisitioned goods are exempted from compulsory insurance under the business scheme.

Sir W. Davison

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can now make a statement with regard to the serious hardships imposed on the community by the requisitioning of premises by various uncoordinated authorities, and apparently without adequate inquiry as to alternative accommodation available; and whether the requisitioning of premises will now be put in the hands of one Department who would act on definite principles after a survey of all accommodation available and having regard to the rent payable and other liabilities of the tenant of the premises requisitioned?

Sir K. Wood

In reply to my hon. Friend's suggestion that requisitioning powers should be concentrated in the hands of one Department, I would refer him to the answer given to him by the Lord Privy Seal on 21st May. It is, I fear, inevitable that requisitioning should cause disturbance and inconvenience but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is issuing a note to the Ministers con-concerned inviting their attention to the need so to exercise requisitioning powers as to reduce hardship and economic loss as far as possible and to show all possible consideration to those whose property is required. I append a copy.

Following is the note

The Prime Minister's attention has been drawn to complaint's that requisitioning powers are often exercised harshly. He regards it as of the utmost importance that the national war effort should not be impaired by any suspicion that the wide powers necessarily entrusted to Government Departments are exercised without due consideration, or in such a way as to inflict unnecessary hardship. The Prime Minister accordingly invites the Ministers in charge of Departments which exercise requisitioning powers to take the following measures:—

  1. 1.The arrangements for selecting property to be requisitioned should be reviewed so as to reduce hardship and economic loss as far as possible.
  2. 2.Those in charge of requisitioning staffs should be reminded of the importance of selecting suitable men for the work of serving requisitions and dealing with householders. They should again impress on all requisitioning staffs that the greatest courtesy and consideration must be shown to owners and tenants of requisitioned property.
  3. 3.Steps should be taken (if necessary by strengthening staffs) to ensure that compensation work is kept up to date. Where claims cannot be settled quickly, advances should always be made. Those dealing with claims should be reminded that there is scope for equitable treatment of claims within the framework of the Compensation Act.