New Clause. — (Compensation in re- spect of looting of chattels.)

Orders of the Day — War Damage Bill. – in the House of Commons on 12th February 1941.

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Where, after damage by enemy action, further loss is incurred by looting, such further loss may be the subject of claim under the chattels scheme.—[Mr. Woodburn.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and Eastern

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I move this new Clause in order to obtain an explanation as to whether looting will be covered under the chattels scheme.

Photo of Mr Charles Waterhouse Mr Charles Waterhouse , Leicester South

It is not the intention of the Government to include loss from looting under the Bill. The Prime Minister, in his statement on which this Bill is based, used the following words: Damage by enemy action stands on a different footing from any other kind of loss or damage, because the nation undertakes the task of defending the lives and property of its subjects and taxpayers against assaults from outside. Unless public opinion and the judgment of the House were prepared to separate damage resulting from the fire of the enemy from all those other forms of war loss, and unless the House was prepared to draw the distinction very sharply between war damage by bomb and shell and the other forms of loss which are incurred, we could not attempt to deal with this matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th September, 1940, col. 42, vol. 365.] We feel that looting, although clearly connected with war damage, does not follow directly or necessarily from war damage. No doubt the hon. Member read the other day that there has been less crime and that the prisons have been more empty since the beginning of the war than at any other time in recent history. I think that is the best answer to the suggestion that looting should be included under the Bill, and I hope the hon. Member will not press the Clause.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and Eastern

The only point that arises is whether local authorities would be responsible for any damage resulting from looting, in view of the fact that they had failed to protect people from that damage.

Photo of Mr Charles Waterhouse Mr Charles Waterhouse , Leicester South

Although the local authorities have to do their best to prevent looting, in this particular respect the responsibility would have to rest on the individual.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and Eastern

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.