HC Deb 19 March 1923 vol 161 cc2070-2

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what advances have been made by His Majesty's Government to the Rumanian Government since the Armistice; whether, in making such advances or loans, any attempt has been made by His Majesty's Government to protect the interests and rights of British companies whose oil properties in Rumania were destroyed and who were therefore entitled to indemnity; and whether, in view of the admitted liability of the British Government to the Rumanian Government in respect of any such sums, any conditions were laid down for setting aside out of the moneys advanced to Rumania a sufficient sum to cover the liability?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Major Boyd-Carpenter)

Since the Armistice, His Majesty's Government have advanced about £5,000,000 to the Rumanian Government. A sum of about £3,000,000 was advanced in order to enable Rumania to pay British Government Departments for munitions, etc., supplied during the war period, and was therefore in substance a consolidation of existing indebtedness and not a new advance. About £2,000,000 is due to this country from Rumania in respect of relief supplies given since the Armistice. This is the British share in a general scheme of European relief, under which advances, totalling in all £12,500,000, were made to Rumania by the United States, the United Kingdom, and various European countries. At the time when these relief supplies were delivered to Rumania, the difficulties in connection with the compensation in respect of oil property in Rumania destroyed or damaged in 1916 had not yet arisen, and in any case it would not have been practicable to attach to such advances conditions such as those referred to in the second and third parts of the question. No advances have been made since the 31st March, 1921.

25. Sir P. DAWSON

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Agreement made in 1921 between His Majesty's Government and the Rumanian Government, whereby the indemnification promised by the British Government to the Rumanian Govern- ment for the compensation by them to the British companies for the destruction of their oil properties, carried out by a British Commission acting under instructions of His Majesty's Government, is to take the form of the cancellation of a part of the Rumanian war debt to this country, is in writing; what is the date thereof; and whether a copy of it will be placed upon the Table for the information of Members of the House?


The agreement was contained in correspondence in August, 1920, between the Treasury and the Rumanian Minister of Finance. The essential part of the agreement is as follows: The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Rumanian Minister of Finance agree in principle that it is desirable that the sums due by the British Government to the Rumanian Government in respect of damage done to the Rumanian Oil Wells at the time of Rumania's entry into the War should be set off against a corresponding total of the Rumanian Government's debt to the British Government, subject to satisfactory arrangements being made for the settlement as between the Rumanian Government and the proprietors of the oil wells of the claims of the latter against the Rumanian Government for compensation in respect of damage to the wells. It is further agreed that it is for the Rumanian Government and not the British Government to arrive at an arrangement for settlement of the claims for compensation above mentioned.


Now that there is a Commission in Rumania dealing with British claims, will it not be possible for the Under-Secretary to make a representation to the Commission, so that British claims can be given a fair hearing?


I daresay that is a matter for consideration.