22 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 3

A Reckless Insurance Scheme

No worse method could have been adopted than that of the War Risks Insurance Act for insuring commercial stocks against war damage. The Act imposes a flat rate of 3os. per cent. for three months, or 6 per cent. per annum, on all stocks irrespective of their character and liability to damage, without regard to the frequency of turnover, on the assumption, wildly hypothetical, that one hundredth of the commercial stocks in the country will be destroyed by enemy action in twelve months. The insurance premium is in fact a tax falling with varying degrees of hardship on different commodities. The tax is passed on to the retailer, and by the retailer to the public ; and since the manufacturer does not know what his turnover will be under war conditions, he is already in many cases playing for safety by assuming a year's turnover instead of three months—that is to say, the tax is handed on quadrupled. Since it is the whole community which bears the. consequent rise in prices, why should not the community pay for an insurance by the Government out of the national purse?