HC Deb 16 February 1920 vol 125 cc492-3
49. Colonel NEWMAN

asked the Prime Minister whether, under the terms of the Peace Treaty, debts owing to a subject of this country by any enemy debtor are recoverable plus accrued interest at 5 per cent. per annum; whether a subject of this country is liable to like terms for debts due to an enemy creditor; and is he aware that at the outbreak of hostilities subjects of this country were refused permission to pay off their foreign obligations by handing the moneys over to the Government in satisfaction of the debt?


I have been asked to reply. The answer to the first and second parts of the question is in the affirmative. No arrangements were in existence immediately after the outbreak of hostilities for payment to the Government of debts duo to enemies, but I am not aware of any case where, after the Board of Trade had power to vest property in the custodian, subjects of this country were refused permission to discharge their debts by payment to him.

Colonel NEWMAN

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what he means by the word "immediately"?


In the early weeks or months of the War due arrangements were made for the appointment of a custodian for these debts.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has ascertained that debtors in this country have to pay 5 per cent. interest on debts due to enemies, and is not that a very curious incident, having regard to the fact that it would have been a breach of the law if they had paid these debts while the War war going on?


Yes, I quite agree that there is some difficulty with regard to the cases where payment was not made at all, but early in the War the Government appointed a custodian for these debts to whom payment could be made. There is no interest required on such debts where paid to the custodian.

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