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Malicious Injuries Commission

Volume 154: debated on Monday 22 May 1922

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asked-the Prime Minister whether an arrangement could be made between the British Government and the Provisional Government in Ireland under which the references to Lord Shaw's Commission could be extended so as to enable it to deal with cases of compensation that have arisen since 11th July, 1921?

(Mr. Churchill—who returned to the House after a recent accident)

As my right hon. Friend stated in reply to a question by the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for York, on the 15th instant, the Provisional Government hope that it will be possible to deal with these cases in due course of law. It is obviously preferable that such cases should be so dealt with, rather than by the exceptional method which it. has been necessary to adopt in the case of damage arising prior to 11th July last; and unless and until it becomes clear that the csaes referred to cannot be adequately dealt with under the existing law, His Majesty's Government would be reluctant to make any such proposal to the Provisional Government as that suggested in the question. I may add that these arrangements would, of course, be reconsidered in the event of any decisive change in the situation.

Is the right hon. Gentleman, whom we are very glad to see back, aware that there is a certain number of cases under which people are suffering great hardship, not being able to get compensation, and is he not further aware that Lord Shaw's Commission has all the machinery for dealing with them; and would it not be possible by mutual consent with the Provisional Government to have these cases dealt with, without prejudice to the obligation of the Provisional Government in future?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a great number of cases have been dealt with most satisfactorily since July of last year, and that litigants have no wish for intervention by Lord Shaw's Commission?

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us some assurance that these gross cases of outrage on the lives and property of British subjects will be dealt with by someone and compensation be paid, either by His Majesty's Government or the Provisional Government?

The position we took and which the Provisional Government took in these discussions was that the local authorities would be responsible for the damage, and that is a position which I do not think we can abandon in any way. The Irish local authorities are responsible for all the damages of any kind to anyone since the Truce and the Treaty. If that condition were to he overturned, a new situation would arise.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that that responsibility will not be evaded?