asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that on the occasion of the use of the headquarters of the 2nd County of London Yeomanry in Elverton Street, Westminster, by the Australian Forces during the late War a very definite agreement was entered into regarding compensation to be made for such use of the premises; that the amount of such compensation was definitely and finally agreed by the officials of the Australian Forces with the parties concerned at £1,766; that since June, 1919, when the War Office took over all liabilities in connection with the property under arrangements made directly with that Department, and including the payment of the sum of £1,766, it has been found impossible to secure any satisfaction of the claim notwithstanding innumerable reminders sent on the subject; and that the continued delay of the War Office in effecting a settlement of a definitely agreed amount of compensation is likely to cause still further expense to the public through a further claim now being in course of preparation to cover the subsequent period; and whether instructions will be at once given that immediate settlement of the first portion of the agreed amount, namely, £1,766, is to be made?
I have ascertained by reference to the Australian Force authorities that the amount claimed as compensation by the Territorial Force Association, namely, £1,766. was not considered or agreed to by them. On the contrary the claim, which was in the form of an estimate, was passed by the Australian Force authorities to the War Office without comment on the day after receipt, namely, on 28th August, 1919. On examination, the War Department found it necessary to reduce the estimated claim to £1,334, which amount covered both the period of occupation by the Australian Forces and the subsequent period of occupation by the Navy and Army Canteen Board, referred to in the last part of the question. The local military authorities proposed settlement at £1,334 to the Association in February last, but this proposal was refused. I regret the delay that has occurred in dealing with the case, which is a very complicated one, and if the Territorial Force Association are now prepared to accept £1,334, without prejudice to further consideration of the matter, payment will be made forthwith.
Is it not the case that all the delay which is occurring increases the liability of the War Office?