asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a War Office motor lorry, driven by a War Department driver, was involved in an accident at Atherton, on 10th August, 1941, when it ran into a private motorcar, causing damage to it and injuring its driver; that a claim for damages has been sent to his Department, but this has been refused because it is alleged the War Department driver was using the vehicle for his own purposes at the time of the accident; that this action is causing concern as the public feel they are entitled to protection in cases of this kind; and will he take steps to cover such claims?
The policy with regard to the grant of compensation in such cases as this is as stated in the answers given to my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Liddall) on 22nd April, 1941, and to my Noble Friend the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) on 24th June, 1941. It is not a policy peculiar to my Department but is common to all public Departments. The circumstances of the present case have received careful consideration, but I regret they are not such as would permit the grant of compensation.
I understand from the reply that the facts as stated in the Question are not disputed—that it was an Army lorry, driven by a gunner in the Army that caused the accident. Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that this will cause great consternation to the public, that although a man is doing wrong they are not to get any compensation? This is a serious matter and must be examined further than has been the case up to the present.
The principle adopted by all Government Departments is that in circumstances under which, if the Government had been a private employer, it would have been legally liable for the torts of the driver, compensation is considered. This is not a case in which a private employer would have been considered liable.