HC Deb 06 May 1924 vol 173 cc195-7
1. Mr. A. M. SAMUEL

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a passage in the Special Report of Lord Blanesburgh's Committee [Cmd. 2046], in which it is calculated that, if the maxima exemptions in favour of German nationals recommended in that Report were granted, the existing position of the British claimants for compensation for damage done by the Germans by exceptional War measures would not suffer to any extent exceeding 2s. or 2s. 6d. in the £ of their claims; and whether he can give the figures on which this calculation is founded and, in particular, the estimated amount of the claims referred to, the estimated amount of the funds out of which such claims would be payable, and the estimated amount by which such funds would be reduced by granting the maxima exemptions recommended in favour of German nationals?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Webb)

The passage to which the hon. Member refers was based on figures which could not safely be used for any calculation more precise than that for which Lord Blanesburgh's Committee employed them. I have ascertained from the Committee that they intended to indicate the limit of prejudice which could possibly affect the position of British claims for compensation if the Committee were to exercise to the full the extended and revised powers of recommending releases in favour of German nationals and if each of these recommendations was in its entirety approved by the Board of Trade. On this hypothesis the Committee estimated the possible limit of their recommendations at a sum not exceeding £3,500,000, and the possible claims for compensation referred to by the hon. Member at £28,000,000. In their Special Report, the Committee point out that the claims for compensation ultimately admitted may fall far short of this figure while, for the reasons to which they refer in paragraph 18 of that Report, the exemptions actually to be recommended can now never reach their maxima.

It is impossible to estimate, even approximately, the amount of the fund now available, and which may hereafter become available, for payment of claims, for it is dependent upon various factors, which cannot be predicted, such as the result of pending proceedings in the American Courts, the determination of the value and ownership of unrealised property, and other matters.


Are there not some figures in existence, and, if so, will the right hon. Gentleman allow those figures to be published, so that the public interested in these matters can go into them?


I will inquire into that. My impression is that there are no figures existing which can be published without leading to entirely misleading inferences.