13 DECEMBER 1940, Page 3

The 'vVar Damage Insurance Bill

The Government's long-awaited War Damage Insurance Bill has at last been published, and in its main provisions is in accordance with the forecast. It is based upon a com- pulsory contributory scheme for damage to all buildings and business assets, and a voluntary scheme of insurance for per- sonal chattels and furniture; and compensation, of course, will be retrospective. The original Government undertaking to pay compensation at the end of the war so far as the country can afford it seems to be merged in the provision that compensation claims for the period covered (from the outbreak of war till August 315t next) exceeding £200,000,000, will be met to the extent of a further £200,000,000 by the Exchequer, any further excess being met equally by the Exchequer and in- creased contributions. This decision means that the Govern- ment has decided that the country cannot afford to pay more than half the value claimed, as a maximum, and that the remainder must be collected from all property-owners through compulsory insurance. The premium will be 2S. in the pound on the net rateable value of property, except in the case of agricultural property, rightly reduced to 6d., and churches and chapels, which, also rightly, will not be required to pay anything. The financial terms for obvious reasons are fixed only for the first two years of war—it remains to be seen whether 2S. in the pound is enough, or too much. The Government adheres to the original plan to make insurance of furniture voluntary. Why this arbitrary distinction? Furni- ture is as necessary as a house to live in, and there is no good reason why it should not be insured on the same terms.