§ 51. Mr. HARMSWORTH
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that in their final Report the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action state that the total amounts of claims already assessed and audited, and in course of assessment and audit, will amount to £7,223,360, while the compensation fund only amounts to £5,000,000; and what policy he intends to pursue in regard to this deficiency?
The fund of £5,000,000 is one provided by the taxpayer to enable ex gratia payments to be made in respect of suffering and damage by enemy action where not otherwise covered. Payments in respect of claims dealt with in the final Report of the Royal Commission will be made on the scale recommended in paragraph 18 of the Report, i.e., in full up to the first £250 of the assessment and in varying proportions on the excess over £250. The Government do not feel able to ask Parliament to vote further funds in order to enable ex gratia payments on a higher scale to be made.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
As the extra sum of money that is needed is, roughly, just over two millions to meet the claims 1909 in full, and as these people have been waiting already for four or five years since the War for payment, does not the hon. Gentleman think that these people should be paid in full?
The hon. Member knows that this raises a very large issue, that, in fact, it is bound up with the Reparation problem. What is proposed at the present moment is to make the payments on the scale suggested in my reply, within the limits of the £5,000,000. I would suggest that we do that first of all, and that will leave us clear to consider the situation if we desire to do so.
§ Sir A. SHIRLEY BENN
Has the sum of £5,000,000 not been used for advances and other claims, and will it be returned later?
Lieut. - Commander KENIWORTHY
What is going to happen to the large number of belated claims such as those from seamen's widows and others, perfectly proper, though late?
Strictly that does not arise on this question, though I assure my hon. and gallant Friend it is being considered; and even now we are dealing with a large number of belated claims the urgency of which we fully recognise.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
Does the answer to my first question mean that the hon. Gentleman is waiting for the extra amount to meet the claims in full till the money comes from Germany?
I did not indicate that. The problem is one that will probably be further considered; but I cannot at the moment go beyond the terms of the scale I have indicated in my reply.
§ Sir CHARLES STARMER
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that even if the £7,000,000 is paid that payment is only made on the allotments, and that no attempt has been made to deal out justice?
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
In view of the unsatisfactory answer which has just been given, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment Motion on Wednesday night.
§ 52. Mr. HARMSWORTH
asked the Prime Minister what portion of the amount of £2,738,000, stated in the final Report of the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action to be available for claimants the assessment of whose claims is covered by that Report, will be distributed among successful claimants in East Kent?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. A. V. Alexander)
I am asked to reply. Claims are not classified according to geographical areas, and I am afraid that the time and labour involved in ascertaining the information required would not be justified.