HC Deb 08 December 1927 vol 211 cc1567-8

asked the Prime Minister whether, seeing that the French and British Governments during the War sequestrated certain commercial properties belonging to Swiss subjects, and known as the Basle Mission Company, trading in India and Africa, under the belief that these properties were largely enemy controlled, his attention has been drawn to the findings of the French court of inquiry which established to the satisfaction of the French Government that no enemy influence or capital was employed; whether he has any information as to the action of the French Government on this question; and what steps he Intends to take in the matter?

87 and 98. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether he is aware of the negotiations between His Majesty's Government and the Basle Mission and the Commonwealth Trust; that an offer has been made by the Basle Mission to resume their properties in the Gold Coast on certain terms; that these terms were refused by the Commonwealth Trust; and what steps does the Government propose to take to make the directorate of the trust comply with the wishes of His Majesty's Government;

(2) whether, seeing that the Swiss Government has drawn the attention of His Majesty's Government to the sequestration in India and Africa during the War of the properties of the Basle Mission Commercial Company, and that the French Government has ordered a complete restoration of its portion of the pro- perties so seized, and that the Swiss Government has asked for the restoration of these properties sequestrated in the belief that they were enemy-controlled, he will say when he expects to be able to assure the Swiss Government that these properties will be returned to the original owners?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)

I have been asked to reply to the questions. I have not received any official information as to the actions of the French Government, but I understand that the facts are as stated. The properties of the Basle Mission Trading Company in Africa were sequestrated during the War on the ground of enemy association not of enemy control. I am well aware that negotiations have been proceeding with the Commonwealth Trust, Limited, as well as with the Basle Mission Trading Company. Negotiations are still in progress, and I do not propose to prejudice them by premature statement. I am not aware of any steps by which the Government can make the directorate of the Commonwealth Trust alter its policy.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to get the Official Report of the French inquiry?


Yes, I will ask for it.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that there are in the trust deeds of the Commonwealth Trust, powers reserved to the Government to change the directorate, if necessary, and so change the policy of the Trust?


That is hardly the question. The inquiry in Question 87 is not whether there is power left to the Government to get rid of the directorate but to make the directorate comply with the wishes of the Government.