HC Deb 03 June 1924 vol 174 cc1044-5
4. Colonel Sir CHARLES YATE

asked the President of the. Board of Trade if he will state what is the present cost of the Clearing Office for Enemy Debts; what is the increased cost for this year over last year; and whether he will now consent to an examination into the staffing and methods of this office and into the delays of the Mixed Arbitral Tribunal with a view to the speeding up of the work and the reduction of expenditure?


The information asked for in the first part of the question will be found on pages 79 to 81 of the Estimates for Civil Services for the current year, from which it will be seen that the administrative expenses of the Clearing Office have been considerably reduced. As I informed the hon. and gallant Member in my reply on the 1st April, the staffing and organisation of the Clearing Office are constantly under review by the Establishment Departments of the Treasury and the Board of Trade, and I do not think that any further investigation is required. With regard to the Anglo-German Mixed Arbitral Tribunal, I would refer to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford on the 13th May. I am having copies of these previous replies sent to the hon. and gallant Member.


Is this expenditure to go on indefinitely while nothing is done?


Is it a fact that a third mixed arbitral tribunal is being set up?


The whole of this establishment is being constantly reviewed and steadily reduced as the work diminishes. Already as regards the Clearing Office dealing with Germany no less than £65,500,000 has been recovered and paid over to British traders, so that it can hardly be said that nothing has been done. In reply to the second supplementary question, there is only one Anglo-German Mixed Arbitral Tribunal. At first there was only one division. Then there was a second division in order to expedite the work. Discussions are now going on with a view to establishing a third division.

6. Mr. A. M. SAMUEL

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Hungarian Clearing Office has notified its acceptance of the recent judgment of the Anglo-Hungarian Mixed Arbitral Tribunal as applicable to British claims in respect of the secured debt; and, if not, will he state what the difficulty is and why the British and Hungarian Clearing Offices have not yet come to an agreement?


The Hungarian Clearing Office has admitted in full the particular claim which was the subject of the Award of the Mixed Arbitral Tribunal, and has expressed its intention of admitting other secured debt claims for the period up to Juno, 1919. The objection of the Hungarian Clearing Office to admit the full obligation on these secured bonds is based upon a decision of the Reparation Commission under the Financial Clauses of the Treaty of Peace whereby the secured debt of Hungary was apportioned as from July, 1919, among the various States which succeeded to territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary. This objection does not, however, extend to claims in respect of loans allocated wholly to Hungary by the Commission. The matter is still the subject of communications between the two clearing offices.


As the decision of the Hungarian Government does not refer to matters connected with the Hungarian debt, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it advisable to publish a resumé of the correspondence so that the public may see whether there is intentional obstruction or not?


I am advised that the Board of Trade has no reason to reproach the Hungarian Government in this matter. The Hungarian Government have not failed to honour any award by the tribunal, and it is only a question as to the other cases to which a particular award may be applied. Negotiations are going on between the two clearing houses, and while they are in progress it is not desirable to publish ex parte statements.