§ 24. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department how much of the guarantees called up to meet the deficit on the British Empire Exhibition have been paid; how much remains to be paid; how much of the total liability falls on private persons; how much on His Majesty's Government; and whether, in view of the stated benefit to the country from the holding of the exhibition, he will recommend the remission of the amount due from private persons in whole or in part?
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
Before that question is answered, may I ask if the hon. Gentleman is aware that, instead of there being any liability, a sum of money has already been remitted to all the guarantors in full discharge of liability?
§ Mr. DOUGLAS HACKING (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
Speaking in general terms, I am aware of that fact. I was going to suggest to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) that as the answer contains a large number of figures, he should allow me to circulate it in the OFFICI ST, REPORT.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am quite prepared to have the figures circulated, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman would he good enough to answer the last part of the question?
§ Mr. HACKING
Yes. The liquidation has now been completed, and I am not prepared to recommend His Majesty's Government to assume any further liability.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Could the hon. Gentleman not ascertain the feeling of the House on this matter before it is finally closed? I believe I am right in saying that there is a widespread feeling that the private persons who, out of public spirit, came forward, should not now be mulcted in these unexpectedly heavy sums.
§ Mr. HACKING
It was understood that, if the exhibition was not a financial success, then certain persons would make up the deficiency, or a portion of the deficiency. That was the clear understanding, and I cannot see the value of getting guarantors at all, if you are not going to insist upon their contract being carried out. It would be wrong, I think, having obtained other guarantors, that the Government should in any event be responsible for the whole of the liability.
§ Following is the answer:
§ The total amount of the guarantees called up to meet the deficiency on the exhibition was £1,844,986 17s., of which £1,840,838 14s. was paid, the liquidators being unable to collect calls to the amount of £4,138 3s. A refund was ultimately made at the rate of 9.82d. in the £, the total amount refunded being £85,954 13s. 6d. The net amount paid by H.M. Government was £847,745 16s., and by private guarantors 2907,138 4s. 6d., making £1,754,884 Os. 6d. in all, the difference between this amount and the figure £1,755,661 1s. 8d. given in my reply to the hon. and gallant Member on the 3rd April being accounted for by interest paid by certain guarantors. The liquidation has now been completed. As regards the last part of the question, I am not prepared to recommend that His Majesty's Government should assume any further liability.