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War Damage, Burma (Payments)

Volume 466: debated on Friday 24 June 1949

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether His Majesty's Government have now given further consideration to the position of United Kingdom interests which suffered losses resulting from war damage in Burma; and if he will make a statement.

No scheme of war damage compensation has been introduced by the Government of Burma. As regards private chattel losses my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is making a separate announcement covering Burma as well as British territories in the Far East. Without prejudice to any further action which may be taken by the Government of Burma or to any claims made against that Government, His Majesty's Government have decided to make an ex gratia payment of limited amount to United Kingdom business interests whose property sustained war damage in Burma primarily for the purpose of assisting them in overcoming their capital handicaps in the task of rehabilitation. They accordingly propose to seek Parliamentary approval for an ex gratia payment of £10 million to be allocated on the advice of an independent committee consisting of Mr. W. Carter, C.B.E. (Chairman), formerly of the Royal Insurance Company and Adviser to the Board of Trade on war damage matters; Mr. J. A. Halford of Messrs. A. L. Sturge (underwriters to Lloyds) and Mr. F. K. Davies of Messrs. Robinson Davies and Little (Fire Loss Assessors).The Committee will receive applications in respect of war damage to property in Burma (other than private chattels) which occurred between 8th December, 1941, and 31st March, 1946, from persons being British subjects domiciled in the United Kingdom or companies wherever registered which are mainly owned or which are managed and controlled by British subjects so domiciled.Applications should be forwarded to the Secretary of the Burma War Damage Committee, Board of Trade, Romney House, Tufton Street, London, S.W.1.

His Majesty's Government will deal separately with a claim from the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in respect of war damage to its fleet and coal stocks. The Ministry of War Transport had entered into an Indemnity Agreement with this Company in 1942 against war risks to its fleet and coal stocks in Burma in consideration of its continuing to operate as far as practicable, and of the Minister being given general direction and control. By a later Agreement made in December, 1945, to which the Governor of Burma was a party, the Indemnity Agreement of 1942 was cancelled, the intention being that the Governor of Burma would meet claims and that the Company would receive an amount calculated in accordance with the terms of the 1942 Agreement. No compensation for these losses has been given and in the special circumstances His Majesty's Government propose to seek Parliamentary approval for an ex gratia payment to the Company equivalent to the amount which would have been payable under the 1942 Agreement. The exact amount so payable is now being determined and is likely to be somewhat over £1 million.