HC Deb 11 May 1922 vol 153 cc2376-8
42. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total sum in sterling paid by Germany since the Armistice to date as reparations to the British Empire and I the Allies in cash and kind, and including moneys paid for the Armies of I Occupation?


According to the statement published by the Reparation Commission in March last the German I payments in cash, deliveries in kind and cessions of State property from the date of the Armistice to 31st December, 1921 (including moneys paid for the Armies of Occupation, the re-imbursement of ad- vances under the Spa Coal Deliveries Agreement and Reparation) are estimated to amount to the total of 6,487,856,000 gold marks. Excluding cessions of State property the total amounts to 3,983,514,000 gold marks. No later figures are available.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Why does not the right hon. Gentleman talk of sterling as requested to do in the question?


It is always difficult to give these matters in sterling: in point of fact it is much more convenient to give the actual payments made in gold marks.


Could the right hon. Gentleman inform the House what portion of this, sum paid and to be paid by Germany to the British Empire is to be allocated as compensation to those who suffered in this country from enemy action?


That is a totally different question: this is upon Reparation Account. The question the hon. Gentleman raises—as I think he very well knows—is dealt with from our own finances, not from what is paid by Germany.

Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY

What is the value in sterling?

Sir R. H0RNE

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes to do so, he can roughly estimate 20 gold marks to the pound sterling. I do not profess that in the circumstances that would be entirely accurate, but it is as nearly as I can give it.

Lieut.-Colonel CROFT

In view of the fact that the vast majority of Members of the House of Commons are pledged to search the pockets of the Germans, may I ask, with a view to lightening taxation in these difficult times, that the right hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that this matter will not be regarded in the nature of a windfall, but that definite reparation will be exacted?


I do not think it very much matters whether you regard it as a windfall or not, but whether it benefits the people when you get it.


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that, in case 110391/1921, the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are imposing the reparation levy on goods of German origin shipped from Amsterdam by a Dutch firm unless the consignees can submit proof of when each article was ordered by the Dutch firm from Germany, the date it was ordered by the British purchasers from the Dutch company, when and how it was delivered by the German manufacturer to the Dutch company, and how and when it was delivered by the Dutch company to the British purchasers; that a Dutch company would allow no deduction to be made from their invoice cost to meet the reparation levy; that, if they did allow this, they could not recover it from the German Government; and that the payment becomes a British tax and not a reparation levy; and whether, in view of the restraint on trade between Holland and Great Britain which such an imposition must obviously cause, he will give instructions that goods shipped by a registered Dutch firm, whose business is certified as a genuine one by a British Consul, shall not be subject to the reparation levy?


All German goods are liable to reparation levy on importation into this country, unless they are shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise not to have been first consigned from Germany to the United Kingdom. In the case referred to the goods were two German pianos, and evidence of the nature indicated in the question has been called for to justify the importers' claim that the goods were not in fact first consigned from Germany to the United Kingdom. The proposal contained in the concluding part of the question would not meet the requirements of the Act, and I am unable to adopt it.


Is it not a fact that, if these goods come direct from Belgium or France, no reparation duty whatever is collected?


No, I imagine that that is not so, though I could not be sure in every possible case.

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