HC Deb 01 June 1891 vol 353 cc1387-8
MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury with reference to the answer of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, dated 28th August 1890, to the Memorial of the representatives of the late Baron Clement Joseph Philippe Pen de Bode, praying for compensation for the confiscation of certain estates by the French Revolutionary Government in 1793, whether the claim preferred by the late Baron for such compensation had been defeated on purely technical grounds, and whether that claim had been in 1852 earnestly recommended by a Select Committee of the House of Lords to the favourable consideration of that House as a case of "great hardship and injustice," and had been from time to time supported by a large number of influential Members of both Houses of Parliament; and whether, having regard to the fact that a large surplus of the money paid by the French Government for the satisfaction of these claims had remained in the hands of the British Government, and been devoted to other purposes, the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury would, in the event of the strong moral claim of the late Baron's representatives for such compensation being established to their satisfaction, consider the justice of making them some grant, as compensation for the very heavy loss they had sustained mainly through an erroneous decision of the Commissioners originally appointed to investigate these claims?


The full answers to the questions raised by my hon. Friend are too long for me to give now, but I can briefly Bay the claim preferred by the late Baron was not defeated on purely technical grounds. The question is one that has often been brought before the House; but the answers given have always been the same, namely, that Her Majesty's Government deny both the justice of the claim and the possession of means for meeting it, and have always invited the production of proof. The Treasury have no power to make any grant to the late Baron's representatives, as Parliament alone can make it. If the hon. Member wishes it, I shall be very glad to show him a Memorandum which deals fully with all the points he raises.


Does the right hon. Gentleman invite the representatives of the late Baron to give proof of their claim?


The Courts are open to the representatives of the late Baron de Bode if they have any legal claim to assert.