§ 9. Commander Viscount CURZON
asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the percentage of the 34,000 claims lodged with the German clearing house by the British clearing house prior to 15th May last that were undisputed by the German clearing house on expiry of the time limit fixed by the Treaty of Peace at 15th August, 1920; whether these undisputed claims have yet been paid by the British clearing house; and, if not, what authority have the British clearing house for withholding the money due to British claimants or for varying the terms of the Peace Treaty, which provides that claims cannot be disputed by the Germans after the expiry of the time limit on 15th August for the claims lodged before 15th May last?
§ Sir R. HORNE
Of the 34,000 claims referred to, 40 per cent. had been admitted by the 15th August and have been paid. The remaining 60 per cent. were either contested by the German clearing office, or the time for dealing with them was extended under the provisions of the Treaty. As to the third part of the question, I would refer my Noble Friend to the reply which I am giving to-day to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Skipton (Lieut.-Colonel Roundell).
§ 18. Major BREESE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Treaty of Peace provides that British claims lodged by the British clearing house with the German clearing house on 15 or before 15th May, 1920, can only be disputed by the German clearing house not later than 15th August, 1920; whether a large number of claims were lodged by the British authorities on or before 15th May, 1920; whether such of them as have not been disputed by the German authorities on or before 15th August, 1920, have been paid by the British authorities to the British claimants; and, if not, what legal right, under the Treaty of Peace or the British Common Law, has the British clearing house to withhold payment till now of claims undisputed by the German clearing house within the time limit?
§ 10. Colonel ROUNDELL
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the minimum period of three months, prescribed by paragraph 7 of the Annexe to Article 296 of the Treaty of Peace, has been departed from by the British Clearing House for enemy debts; if so, by what Parliamentary sanction; and, whether he is aware that in that case funds belonging to British creditors are being retained by the British Clearing House in contravention of the terms of the Treaty of Peace?
§ Sir R. HORNE
Owing to the magnitude and complexity of the task imposed upon both the British and German Clearing Offices, it has been necessary to extend the minimum period referred to in the case of both offices in accordance with the discretion accorded by paragraph 7 of the Annexe to Article 296. The Parliamentary sanction for this action on the part of the British Office is the Treaty of Peace Act, 1919. In reply to the third part of the question, no funds are applicable for payment to British creditors of their debts until these have been admitted or found due in accordance with the terms of the Treaty.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am not sure I follow the question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but the date has been extended by reason of the difficulties found by both offices in making the necessary arrangements. Both offices are endeavouring to clear up all these matters as rapidly as possible.