First Schedule. — (Amendments relating to the principal Act generally.)

Part of Orders of the Day — War Damage (Amendment) Bill. – in the House of Commons on 18th June 1942.

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Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

My recollection is not good enough to enable me to say whether my Noble Friend, who has been on military service, was able to attend all our Debates on the original Act. I do not think he was here but if he had been I think we would have realised that this is not an entirely new point. What we had to do when the Bill was first introduced and what, indeed, Parliament agreed to do, was to find some sort of basis on which contributions were to be raised, and we decided that the Schedule A valuation was a reasonable valuation to adopt. There were practical reasons for that. It was, of course, impossible in war-time to make a valuation of the whole country's assets. It would have taken up an enormous amount of time and trouble and would have meant that we should not have been able to get in contributions. So Parliament, under the original Act, agreed that contributions should be based on Schedule A. While accepting that as an essential part of the scheme it was, however, admitted—and always has been admitted—that there were bound to be all sorts of anomalies and inequalities. Parliament recognised that but said that rather than have no scheme at all they would accept this, in spite of some of the difficulties which were bound to emerge. I think my Noble Friend must bear that fact in mind because it has coloured all the discussions on this Bill and the principal Act since the scheme was introduced.

That being so, the only cases in which we have taken value payments on Schedule A 1939 values for contributory purposes have been those where there is alteration in structure. If my Noble Friend will reflect upon this he will see there is no unfairness in it, for the reason that where property is physically unchanged there is no real difficulty in accepting the Tightness of the 1939 Schedule A charge. After all, what happens if there is damage? If there is a cost-of-works payment, then payment is made according to what is the cost of the work. But if it is a question of a value payment under the Act, payment is calculated by reference in the general formula to the values as they were in March, 1939. That being so, it is reasonable that the contribution should also be levied on that basis and should not be altered. If you altered it as my Noble Friend suggests you would still get value payments on the 1939 values but that would hardly be a reasonable proposition. He instanced the case of a house in a row which might have been let, and then ceased to be let because the owner went to live in it with the result, as I understand it, that there was a change downwards in Schedule A valuation. It is true that, as far as that house is concerned, its letting value may have altered, but not its value by reference to the 1939 rates of compensation. We base the whole payment on compensation out of formulas arising from the 1939 figures.