HC Deb 01 August 1905 vol 150 cc1151-2
SIR SEYMOUR KING (Hull, Central)

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that a final judgment against the Turkish Government was obtained by the administrator of the estate of a British citizen named Corpi, in 1901, in the highest Turkish Court in Constantinople, and the British Ambassador's co-operation, in accordance with the universal practice and precedent there, was requested in collecting the judgment from the Sublime Porte, which was refused, although without the assistance of the Ambassador no claim can be recovered against the Turkish Government; whether he is aware that at a later date the instructions sent by the Foreign Office to the British Ambassador to interest himself in the collection of this claim were ignored, and that the Ambassador contented himself with simply writing a note and never asked for an answer, although in Turkey an answer is never given unless asked for; what reason he has given for his inaction; and whether, seeing that since October, 1902, the French Ambassador has recovered pound; 400,000 on French judgments for his fellow-citizens, the German over £1,000,000 for his, and the Russian £300,000, while the British Ambassador has not collected a piastre of this and many other British claims, he will say if this neglect of commercial interests has the sanction of His Majesty's Government; and, if not, whether categorical instructions will be sent to Sir N. R. O'Conor to obtain pay- ment of this admitted claim without further delay.

(Answered by Earl Percy.) 1. Mr. Corpi was a native of the Turkish island of Scio, but was admitted to British protection in 1873, and therefore on his death his estate was wound up by the British Court. The decision on which the claim against the Ottoman Government is based was the result of an action brought in a Turkish Court by the administrator of the estate, who was an Italian subject; and of the seventeen heirs of Mr. Corpi only one is a British subject (by marriage). 2. The whole claim has received the support of the British Embassy, while the parties interested in it, who are French and Italian subjects, have also received the support of their Embassies. The question of referring the claim to a Commission is now under consideration. 3. I have no knowledge of the total amount of claims recovered by the French, German, and Russian Governments. During the period mentioned His Majesty's Government has recovered the bulk of the British claims. The amounts still outstanding are small, and Sir N. O'Conor has discharged his responsibilities in connection with the supervision of British interests at Constantinople to the complete satisfaction of His Majesty's Government.