HC Deb 30 October 1918 vol 110 cc1449-50
28. Sir F. HALL

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that a considerable quantity of property owned by British subjects in Roumania was destroyed on the direct instructions of British officers; whether, in consequence, some of the owners thereof have been reduced from affluent circumstances to the verge of poverty; and whether, considering that the loss of such commerce must eventually be made good, the Government will now make reparation to the owners of the property, either in payment in full or by a payment on account, instead of waiting until after the cessation of hostilities?


I presume that this question refers to the destruction of oil property in Roumania at the end of 1916 for the purpose of preventing its being utilised by the enemy for military purposes. This destruction was effected by the direction of the Roumanian Government, and was carried out under the supervision of Roumanian, French, and British officers. Any claim for compensation must therefore be, in the first place, one against the Roumanian Government, and no question of any payment being made by His Majesty's Government can be considered until the matter has been adjusted in consultation with the Roumanian and the other Governments concerned. I would point out that even if the destruction had not taken place the British owners could have received no income from their properties so long as these remained in the hands of the enemy.


As the property to which I refer was destroyed on the express instructions of His Majesty's Government, will the matter be reconsidered?


I will consider any additional facts which my hon. Friend may bring before me, but I do not think that it is accurate to say that anything was done by British officers except as agents of the Roumanian Government.

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