War Damage Payments.

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 6th August 1942.

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Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make inquiries into the case of a man living at Beamish, County Durham, whose name has been given to him, and who, after suffering damage to his household effects through enemy action, has been asked by the War Damage Commission to sign a form stating that the amount payable is £41 12s., and that he is prepared to accept this sum in satisfaction of his claim; and, as no attempt was made to enter into a reasonable settlement with the householder when visited by the valuer and no opportunity is afforded on the form for the claimant to express disagreement with the amount proposed as final settlement, what remedy can be afforded in this case?

Photo of Mr Charles Waterhouse Mr Charles Waterhouse , Leicester South

My right hon. Friend has called for a full report on the case referred to by my hon. Friend, and will communicate with him as soon as his inquiries are completed.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the general practice of those who administer the War Damage Act appears to be to offer as final settlement not more than one-third of the amount claimed, as though this were a principle of law; and whether he will take steps to have a proper valuation agreed to between the valuer and the householder, or his representative?

Photo of Mr Charles Waterhouse Mr Charles Waterhouse , Leicester South

No, Sir. The general practice is not as suggested in the Question. The Inland Revenue valuers who assess claims for damage to private chattels do so on the basis of the diminution in the value of the goods at the time of the damage, having regard to their condition prior to the damage and to the price at which such goods could then be bought; and they are expressly instructed to make every effort to settle claims on broad lines by agreement with claimants. Where the local valuer cannot arrive at such an agreed settlement, the case is referred to higher authority.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

Does my hon. and gallant Friend appreciate that there is a universal impression that it does not matter how much people value their damage at, they are only offered one-third at the most, and that that is the reason why I put the previous Question down, because my experience is that there is no attempt to argue about the matter at all, but that it is just a question of making an offer?

Photo of Mr Charles Waterhouse Mr Charles Waterhouse , Leicester South

I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's statements at all; I believe they are quite contrary to the facts.

Photo of Sir Herbert Butcher Sir Herbert Butcher , Holland with Boston

Is it not a fact that many of these claims have been most satisfactorily and speedily cleared up?