HC Deb 05 November 1946 vol 428 cc218-9W
91. Mr. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he is taking to reduce delays in the checking and payment of claims under Section 2 (I) b of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939.

Mr. Bellenger

I am not aware of any undue delays in making payments of agreed compensation though the negotiations before agreement is reached may be lengthened in the area which I assume my hon. Friend has in mind, partly by the very great difficulties we have had in obtaining staff there. That area is one of concentrated residential and industrial properties and there has been a particularly heavy flow of claims owing to the rapidity with which we have de-requisitioned the premises. Claims are, however, now being dealt with more rapidly.

92. Mr. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the War Office Lands Branch has recently offered a Huddersfield owner a price of 1s. 3d. per yard super for putting distemper on the walls, whereas the owner's surveyor estimated the cost at 1s. 9d. per yard super and the contractor has tendered 2s. 3d.; and if he will state the basis on which the branch works out its offers of compensation to owners of properties now being derequisitioned.

Mr. Bellenger

I will make inquiries if my hon. Friend will let me know to which property he is referring. On the general question raised in the last part of his Question, the War Department liability under Section 2 (1)(b) of the Compensation (Defence) Act does not necessarily extend to the full cost of the reinstatement work ordered by the claimant but is estimated with reference to such factors as the condition of the property when requisitioned, and in particular the extent to which the normal life of the decorations, repairs, etc, had expired at the date of requisition. In short the claimant is only entitled to the cost, as at the date of derequisition, of making good the damage occurring during, and not before, the military occupation.

93. Mr. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that one property in Huddersfield was de-requisitioned on 25th March, that the claim for compensation was submitted on 23rd May and that nothing, apart from a formal acknowledgment, has since been received by the owner; and whether, in view of the shortage of staff, he will consider appointing panel valuers as has been done by other Departments.

Mr. Bellenger

Assessment of compensation is almost complete in this case, and the claimant may expect to receive our offer in the very near future. As regards the second part of the Question, I have already considered adopting the system of appointing outside valuers to settle claims, but private firms are no less short of staff, and submission of claims is often much delayed already for this reason. I am satisfied that, in general, claims will be more expeditiously disposed of under the present arrangements.