HC Deb 13 April 1891 vol 352 cc385-6

I beg to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that applications are being made for capital in the London Money Market for public enterprises in Servia, founded on concessions from the Servian Government; whether it is not the fact that cases have been brought officially under the notice of the Foreign Office showing grave irregularities in the administration of justice, and total disregard of the rights of foreigners in Servia; and whether, having regard to the insecurity of property thus manifested, and the apparent unwillingness of the Servian Government to give reasonable satisfaction and protection to the just claims of foreigners, he will, in the public interest, communicate Papers on the subject to the House?


I am aware that certain enterprises in Servia, founded on concessions from that Government, are being submitted to the public here. I do not know of any case affecting British subjects, except one in which my hon. Friend is interested, in which it can be said that— "Grave irregularities in the administration of justice have occurred, and a total disregard of the rights of foreigners in Servia. Several cases have been reported in which monopolies have been conceded and cancelled during their currency, on the alleged ground that the concessionaires had failed to comply with the conditions of their contracts and had made inaccurate returns. In these cases, on the representation of Foreign Ministers, payment was made for the plant of the companies and pecuniary compensation. In the case in which the hon. Member and others are interested, and which concerns the refund of moneys advanced by them many years ago without any desire for gain, but to save the credit of the Bank of Servia, and incidentally of the Servian State—for years these gentlemen have been subjected to postponement, but in 1890 the Servian Government undertook to take the debt upon themselves. Up to this time,- I regret to say that, in spite of the constant representations of Her Majesty's-Minister at Belgrade, no settlement had been obtained. According to a Despatch just received, the Servian Ministry states that the matter will be immediately considered by the Cabinet, and I earnestly hope that, in view of its importance to Servian credit, it may be settled without further delay.