HC Deb 22 December 1919 vol 123 cc974-5

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that persons resident in Alsace-Lorraine are tendering payment against pre-war debts in German marks at the present rate of exchange; that English merchants and manufacturers are consequently sustaining losses due to the depreciated value of the mark; whether this mode of payment, is sanctioned by His Majesty's Government; if so, on what grounds do they decide such process; and how do they propose to compensate suitably the English merchants and manufacturers?


The provisions of the Treaty of Peace with Germany under which pre-war debts due to British subjects have to be discharged in sterling at the pre-war rate of exchange do not apply in the case of persons resident in Alsace-Lorraine. In these circumstances, there is no power to compel the payment of the debts referred to by ray hon. Friend at the pre-war rate of exchange, and the settlement of such debts is a matter for private arrangement.


Will the right hon. Gentleman further consider the provision of compensation in view of the fact that many men who were traders before the war, and who accepted service, are now being almost ruined as a result of their patriotism? I suggest that the Board of Trade should do something to compensate them.


I am afraid that no amount of compensation by me would modify the terms of the Treaty of Peace.

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