Malicious Injuries Commission.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 11th July 1922.

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Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken to carry out the agreement arrived at with the Irish Free State Government that, in cases of damage to property during recent disturbances, the party responsible for causing the damage was to be the party to bear the burden; whether Lord Shaw's Commission deals with the question of responsibility for causing damage; and, if not, how this question is determined?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

In pursuance of the Agreement referred to by the hon. Member, it has been arranged between His Majesty s Government and the Provisional Government that the latter shall assume responsibility for seeing that all awards of the Commission are duly satisfied, and that the British Government shall reimburse the Irish Government for such proportion of the total amount as, in the opinion of the Commission, represents damage caused by the Forces of the Crown, or persons acting in the interest or supposed interest of the British Government.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

When and how will the Commission arrive at a decision? Will it be on each individual case or will that make an aggregate decision at the end?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

In the first instance the Commission will assess the amount of damage, and after that process is over they will communicate on whom the responsibility rests in their opinion, and there may be some doubtful cases which will have to be discussed between the two Governments. As a result a certain bill will be due from us, and we shall pay that bill to the Free State Government, assuming the Free State Government has already disbursed the sums due for other claims.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

Shall we know case by case what this damage is assessed at or will it simply be an aggregate amount?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I should certainly think case by case, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be able to draw any moral offensive to his country that he may feel inclined to.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the only moral I wish to draw is the excessive cost of the reprisals policy?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Irish courts of law have decided that no compensation can be given in the case of a man whose property has been confiscated without material damage having been done to it: and what steps the Government propose to take to remedy this omission in the law?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answers which I gave to the hon. and learned Member for York on the 3rd instant, and to the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley on the 6th instant.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

In view of the fact that there is no legal means of obtaining compensation in these eases, will the right hon. Gentleman take these cases up at once with the Provisional Government and have the matter out straight, as it is very urgent?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I will take it up as soon as I see a good opportunity, but when a Government is really fighting for its life against wide-spread rebellion and revolution, in its capital as well as other parts of the country, I think one must show a certain amount if discretion and good sense in not pressing an enormous amount of administrative business upon them.

Photo of Sir John Butcher Sir John Butcher , City of York

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he case of these unfortunate men is very urgent?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that as the result of these offences taking place, these cases are increasing enormously in number every day?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I have not been given any figures showing that there has been any very sudden increase in the number of refugees. No doubt there has been a good deal of damage done in the recent fighting.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the approximate number of cases and the amount of the claims to be dealt with by Lord Shaw's Commission; how many claims have so far been dealt with; and what sums of money have been paid to the claimants?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I am not in a position to answer the first part of the question, but the number of cases to be heard is certainly very numerous. In reply to the second part of the question, I understand that 10 cases have been heard by the Commission; but on this point I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. and learned Member for York on the 6th instant. No payments in the cases heard by the Commission have yet been made, but I am assured that there will be no delay in making payments as soon as the consideration of certain general questions has been completed.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that only 10 cases have been heard out of 10,000 cases? Does he think that is a satisfactory progress in regard to these cases, all of which are very urgent?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I understand that the cases selected were representative, key cases, as it were, the rulings in regard to which would apply, with very small modifications, to large categories of cases.

Colonel NEWMAN:

Is it not a fact that the Commission has adjourned for several months owing to the absence of Lord Shaw?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

It is true that Lord Shaw has gone to the United States for a short time to fulfil an engagement which he had undertaken before he accepted the work of the Commission, but as the main principles have been laid down the work of investigation in the interval ought to provide a large number of cases for the decision of the tribunal when it reassembles.

Colonel NEWMAN:

Can the right hon. Gentleman say who are these investigators?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I will, when I know.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS:

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when any money will be paid?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I think payment ought to begin very soon by the Provisional Government to parties whose cases have been dealt with by the Commission, but the general state of civil war which exists in Ireland necessarily restricts smooth working of these processes.

Photo of Sir John Marriott Sir John Marriott , Oxford

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how these people are to live in the meantime?

Photo of Mr Rupert Gwynne Mr Rupert Gwynne , Eastbourne

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of appointing someone in the meantime to take the place of Lord Shaw?

Photo of Sir Maurice Dockrell Sir Maurice Dockrell , Dublin Rathmines

In all cases where decisions of the courts have been made before the sittings of Lord Shaw's Commission, would it not be possible to give some compassionate allowance, as many of these people are on the rocks?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

The next question will afford me a means of dealing to some extent with the Supplementary Question of the, hon. Member.

Photo of Sir John Butcher Sir John Butcher , City of York

When will Lord Shaw resume the hearing of these cases?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

The hon. Member must give notice of that question.