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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.