HC Deb 19 February 1920 vol 125 cc1037-8

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the event of the British property held in Austria and Hungary, now registered with the Foreign Claims Department at £17,554,678, being found, after investigation, to be intact and of the value registered, and in a proper state to be handed back to the claimants, it will be possible to use the value of the property in this country registered with the Public Trustee at a value of £17,693,807 belonging to nationals of Austria and Hungary for the purpose of liquidating the debts due by Austrians and Hungarians to British creditors; will he state what steps will be taken to ascertain the condition of British property-held in Austria and Hungary and the amount of reparation required; and will he state what steps the British Government propose to take in the absence of a clearing house to apply the proceeds of the surplus of Austro-Hungarian property held in this country to the liquidation of Austrian debts due to British nationals?


I have been asked to reply. The following gentlemen have consented to consider and advise the Government what steps can be taken to make the Austrian assets in this country available to meet the claims of British nationals:—Sir William Plender, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dulwich, my right hon. Friend the junior Member for the City of London, Sir Alan Garrett Anderson, and the Hon. Malcolm Macnaghten. I hope to be able to make an announcement on the subject shortly. In reply' to the second part of the question, the British owners of property in Austria should themselves take steps to ascertain its condition upon restoration to them. The value of property in this country quoted by my hon. Friend appears to relate to property not only of persons who, under the Treaties of Peace with Austria and Hungary, will remain Austrians or Hungarians, but also to property belonging to former Austro-Hungarian subjects who have become Allies. The latter class of property will not be available to meet British claims.