HC Deb 15 November 1920 vol 134 cc1487-8
3. Mr. A. SHORT

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction at the delays of the British clearing-house for enemy debts, involving the retention by that Department of many millions of British money for which British claims have been duly lodged and proved several months ago; whether he will take steps to have diplomatic pressure brought to bear upon the German clearing-house authorities in Berlin, so that the machinery of the British clearing-house may not be blocked by the inefficient methods of the German authorities; whether he is aware that nearly a year has elapsed since many of the British claims were lodged and proved with the British clearing-house; and what steps he proposes to take in the British clearing-house itself to speed matters up?


Claims cannot be paid until they have been properly found due in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Treaty of Peace, but claims by British creditors to the amount of £10,000,000 sterling have already been paid or will be paid this month. I do not think that any occasion for taking diplomatic action has arisen. I am aware that claims were lodged with the British Clearing Office soon after it was opened in January last, but they could not be notified to the German Clearing Office until the latter was established at the end of April. The British Clearing Office is working under extreme pressure, and I am satisfied that there has been no delay on its part in dealing with the claims of British creditors.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say the same as to Germany?


My hon. Friend must recognise that this is a very, very large matter. I do not wish to criticise the German operations. I think our own have been more efficient. We are doing everything in our power to expedite the satisfaction of these debts.