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Railings Removal (Compensation)

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 2 June 1943

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asked the Parliamentary. Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether he is aware that the 25s. per ton scrap now paid for railings is not regarded in many cases as reasonable; and whether as, after the war, many railings on the ground of public safety and amenities must be replaced, he will undertake eventually to consider compensation for the provision of substitutes so that sanction can be given for replacement expenditure?

The offer of the sum of 25s. per ton as compensation has been authorised by the Government on the assumption that scrap value only shall be payable for railings which are not essential to the use of the land. Railings which are required for public safety are not taken, and the hon. Member is no doubt aware that the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, provides that no account shall be taken of any loss of pleasure or amenity in respect of the diminution in the annual value of the land.

Is it not rather unfair to pay a certain standard rate as scrap for railings, regardless of what type of railings they are?

There is a tribunal to which a person who has his railings taken away may appeal and ask for a certificate of the value.

Could we not have some assurance that this matter of replacing the railings where necessary shall be sympathetically considered?

The answer that I can give my hon. Friend is that they are not taken away when they are necessary. It is only when they are not necessary that they are taken.

Is my hon. Friend aware that people of very small means are having their gates taken away and that these cannot be worth more than a shilling or two to the Minister, but cost £4 10s. to replace?

In reply to a Question last week in this House, I told the House that 400,000 tons of metal had already been smelted for munitions taken from small railings and gates throughout the country, so, therefore, if my hon. Friend tries to assess the value of these gates, as being only a shilling or two, in their totality they are worth much more.

That is not quite a reply to my question. While railings may be of value to the Minister these gates are of little value and cost £4 10s. if replaced by wooden gates, which are just as valuable.

Does the hon. Gentleman consider that it is fair that these private people should only be paid 25s. a ton for railings when the regular trade price is £3 per ton?

Will the hon. Gentleman give the names of the secretary and members of the appeal committee?

There are appeal committees in every town and their names can be obtained from the local authorities. If any one wants to make a claim, he makes it to the local authority, who make the arrangements for the appeal.