22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 3

Compensation for Damaged Property

The findings of the Weir Committee on war damage to fixed property, could not be left as the last word in a matter which so vitally affects confidence in a vast and essential industry. The promise of the Government to provide com- pensation " on the highest scale compatible with the cir- cumstances of the country after and not before the conflict " is so vague as to afford no business security or any confidence to building societies ; and the Weir report, whilst acknow- ledging the need of better provision, was unable to produce a scheme of its own. The question, which is of great urgency, has been taken up by an authoritative committee convened by the Chambers of Commerce. It puts forward proposals for supplementing such compensation as may be paid by the State with a mutual indemnity scheme spread over the whole property-owning community. Under the plan all property-owners would be required to pay during the war a fiat rate annual premium of 2$. per cent., and after the war a further annual premium if more money should be required. It is a sound argument that since the incidence of damage inflicted by an enemy is obviously fortuitous, it would be unfair that individual sufferers should bear the whole loss. It is right that the State should pay as much as it can and the new proposals suggest a reason- able method of making up a deficit, if any.