– in the House of Commons on 8th May 1923.
asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications have been received by the Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action; how many have been considered; and in how many cases grants have been made?
The number of persons whose claims are covered by the First Report of the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action is 29,017. 21,150 Payable Orders have been issued to such persons down to the end of April. In addition to the balance of persons whose claims are covered by the First Report, claims by 12,000 persons in respect of damage to property remain to be dealt with, and these latter will form the subject of a further Report of the Commission. These figures do not include belated claims, which are at present under examination.
What does the Noble Lord mean by belated claims being under consideration? Is he aware that the Department itself say they have no power to deal with them, and turn them down automatically?
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look at the Report of the Royal Commission he will see that in paragraph 17 it is provided that where claims are delayed, if good reason can be shown, that they shall be examined.
Is the Noble Lord aware that the officials are not carrying that out?
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will bring cases of that kind to my notice I shall certainly look into them.
How long does the Noble Lord think it will take to consider these 12,000 cases?
It is impossible to say, but the Royal Commission has managed to assess 29,000 in two years, therefore I very much hope they will be able to deal with 12,000 claims within the year.
Can the Noble Lord give any indication of the amount to be expended? Has a single claim been brought within these limits?
I understand that the view of the Commission is that they should continue to assess the claims made in time before they finally consider these belated claims.
also asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the hardships which affect a large number of seamen and their dependants, he will press upon the Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action the desirability of giving sympathetic consideration to the position of those who were prevented from making claims at the proper time and of coming to an immediate decision as the admissibility of belated claims?
The point raised by the hon. Member has already been brought to the notice of the Royal Commission. The question of the admissibility of belated claims depends on the circumstances of each individual claim. These are now being examined in order that the procedure mentioned in paragraph 17 of the Royal Commission's First Report may be followed. The Royal Commission must necessarily proceed with the assessment of those claims which are not belated in priority to those that are.
Is the Noble Lord aware that the Commission are only considering the claims received? As to seamen will he not give consideration to the claims which were not presented because able seamen were not aware that their claims had to be presented before the time stipulated by the Department?
I think the hon. Member's mind is slightly confused. The Royal Commission, in regard to all claims, is prepared to take a claim out of its turn if it can be shown that the claimant is destitute: subject to that the Royal Commission is proceeding in the proper order with the examination of all the claims.
Is the Noble Lord aware that there is a very large number of seamen destitute to-day who have sent in their claims to the Royal Commission and have not had them dealt with?
If the Royal Commission takes the view that they are not destitute, no doubt the Royal Commission refuses to make a grant. Where it takes the opposite view, it can make—and has made—a grant out of its turn.
Is the receipt of parish relief evidence of destitution?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the claim of Mr. J. W. Tamsett, of Cross Road, Erith, for compensation for damage done to his forge building by reason of a bomb from an enemy aeroplane falling on it during the War has yet been considered by the Reparation Claims Department; whether he is aware that the claim was submitted some years ago, and that the claimant has been informed on several occasions that it will be dealt with at the earliest possible opportunity; and whether, in view of the fact that this old man lost his means of livelihood through the destruction of his forge and is now being threatened with eviction, he will give instructions for an immediate inquiry into and settlement of this long over-due claim?
The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. Property claims are now under consideration of the Royal Commission, but, owing to their number and complexity, some time must elapse before their report can be published, although every effort is being made to expedite matters.
Is the Noble Lord aware that this old man has been rendered absolutely destitute through the action of enemy aircraft; that this claim has been repeatedly put before the Commission; and will he undertake to treat it as a destitute case as he promised in answer to another question? Is he also aware that this old man and his wife are on the verge of the workhouse and have had writs served upon them?
If it be a case of destitution, I shall certainly raise it with the Royal Commission.
I am raising the question in this way because so many applications have been made with no satisfactory result.