HC Deb 20 June 1921 vol 143 cc873-4

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade whether a credit cash balance, belonging to a British subject, in a German bank during the War was a debt owing by the bank to the British subject; if so, why a regularly proved claim for such a debt lodged 18 months ago with the British Clearing House for enemy debts has remained unpaid; and what are the grounds upon which the German or other authorities allege that such debts have lost their character of debts and have become the proceeds of liquidation, in view of their sequestration by the German authorities under German war emergency legislation?


A credit cash balance in a German bank belonging to a British national resident in British territory on 10th January, 1920, is a debt within the meaning of Article 296 of the Treaty of Versailles, provided the balance existed before the War or arose out of a pre-War transaction as defined by that Article. A great number of claims in respect of such balances have been admitted and paid. In certain cases, the German banks have paid the moneys to the German public trustee under war emergency legislation. With regard to these cases, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Exeter on the 15th inst.


asked the Prime Minister what is the position of British creditors in respect of debts due to them by Germans; which debts have been paid to the German public trustee; what steps should British creditors take, under the Peace Treaty of Versailles, to compel the Germans to pay these debts; and whether each individual British creditor must go to the expense of bringing each case before the next arbitral tribunal?


I have been asked to reply. As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the right hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Exeter on the 15th June. It may be assumed that when the question of principle has been decided by the mixed arbitral tribunal in the test case referred to, it will be accepted by Germany as governing similar cases.


Does that mean that the particular creditor of the German will be obliged to go before this tribunal?


No, as I understand it, the German Government will accept the test case as governing the others.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this tribunal has met only once or twice, and is there any prospect of its resuming?


I hope it will do so without delay.