HC Deb 25 October 1920 vol 133 cc1301-3
3. Commander Viscount CURZON

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received a letter from the Association of British Chambers of Commerce drawing his attention to the delays on the part of the Board of Trade's Clearing House for enemy debts in settling the proved claims of British holders of German Government and municipal bonds and their respective unpaid coupons; and whether he will now recognise the advantage of taking these particular British claims out of the hands of the Board of Trade's Clearing House at Stamford Street, S.E., and entrusting them to the Bankers' Clearing House, in view of the fact that the British joint stock banks are familiar with the process of identifying, verifying, and encashing foreign Government municipal bonds and coupons, and, therefore, more able to wind up, without further delay, a position which a Government Department is apparently unable to handle expeditiously, notwithstanding the fact that the monetary instruments in question are of such a kind that confirmation by the German Clearing House is un necessary?


The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, I think the inquiry of my Noble Friend is based upon a misapprehension. Although the British Clearing Office makes a preliminary examination of claims filed with them before transmitting them to the German Office, it is the latter which is concerned to satisfy itself completely as to the validity of the claim before admitting the debt as due through the Clearing Offices, and it is not practicable, therefore, to place the examination of claims of the nature referred to in the question in the hands of the Bankers' Clearing House. Nor is it the case that the examination of such claims by the German Office is a mere formality, since it is necessary to verify in every case that the holder of the bonds or coupons at the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace fulfils the requirements of the Treaty provisions in respect of nationality and place of residence, and that the bonds or coupons had not been transferred during the War.

7. Mr. A. SHORT

asked the President of the Board of Trade what the percentage proportion is of repayment out of the total monetary amount of British claims lodged with the British Clearing House, Stamford Street, up to 15th August, 1920; what in particular is the monetary percentage of repayment of claims with respect to British-held German Government and municipal securities and their unpaid overdue coupons; and when it is proposed to give a definite date for repayment of the remaining claims?


The amount already paid to British creditors by the British Clearing Office is about 12 per cent. of the total face value of British claims lodged with that Office up to the 15th August. The latter total includes all claims whether admissible or not. I regret that it would not be possible to ascertain the percentage in the case of the particular class of claim referred to in the second part of the question without the expenditure of a great deal of time and labour. In reply to the third part of the question, it is not possible to give a definite date at which the outstanding claims, so far as admitted or found due, will be ready for payment. As I have just explained to the Noble Lord the Member for Battersea, it is necessary to afford due opportunity for the verification of these claims, and some of them may of course have to go for settlement before the Mixed Arbitral Tribunal.