HC Deb 26 April 1926 vol 194 cc1716-7

I turn next to the French War Debt. In my negotiations with M. Caillaux, the standard payment of £12,500,000 was not to begin until the year 1930. There was to be a ladder—échelle was the word used—of gradually increasing payments, which were suggested by us. Subject to any reaction which may be produced by the Franco-American settlement on the principle of pari passu, the quota appropriate to the present year was to have been £4,000,000. The many changes in the French Ministry of Finance and the political situation in France has hitherto delayed the final conclusion of this arrangement. I have good reason, however, to expect a visit from the French Minister of Finance very shortly after the Budget, and I have received from M. Peret an assurance that, without prejudice to the settlement between us, the French Government undertake to make an unconditional minimum payment of £4,000,000 during the current financial year, on the sole credit of France. This practical step, this interim step, which M. Peret has taken, shows his desire to arrive at a settlement, and it is, I am sure, a good augury for our coming discussions. The Committee should also welcome it as a proof of the determination and evidence of the power of France to strengthen her credit by the appropriate regulation of her external debt.