HC Deb 19 May 1919 vol 116 cc24-5
49. Colonel BURN

asked the Prime Minister whether the indemnity in respect of the losses to merchant shipping due to enemy action in contravention of international law includes compensation for the cargoes destroyed and adequate compensation for the losses inflicted upon shipowners owing to the destruction of the earning powers of their ships; whether a full statement of claim relating to losses to British merchant shipping by unlawful enemy action has been prepared; and whether such statement, setting forth the number and value of ships destroyed, the value of cargoes carried by such ships, and the estimated loss of the earning power of such ships, respectively, from the date of destruction to the 11th November, 1918, can be presented to the House?


Such a statement as is suggested in the question has been prepared, but all such statements of the Allied Governments are subject to examination and no details of them can be given.


asked the Prime Minister, in view of the serious loss of British ships, numbering 2,217 vessels, representing 7,733,212 tonnage, as against American loss of 80 vessels, representing only 341,512 tonnage, what steps he is prepared to take to claim a share of the enemy shipping, in proportion to the losses sustained by us, of the vessels detained in American waters?


As I have already stated it is not possible for me to discuss the division amongst themselves of the claims which the Allies have presented to Germany.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the maritime fleet of America has increased twenty-eight times during the period of the War?


I can assure my hon. Friend that we fully realise the importance of this, but the House, I hope, will trust the special delegates to do what they can to protect British interests.


Would not this be a convenient opportunity for President Wilson to prove the sincerity of his idealism by making no claim for these ships, and by giving them up to those who have borne the burden and brunt of the War?