§ 41. Mr. LAMBERT
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, as no provision has been made in the Budget for the payment of War Loan interest to America, he will say out of what fund the Government proposes to make such payment?
§ 48. Mr. MABANE
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now able to make a statement on the payment of the instalment of the American debt due on 15th December; and in what manner payment will be made?
I would ask my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend to await the statement which I expect to make in the course of the Debate tomorrow.
§ 46. Colonel WEDGWOOD
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any arrangements have been made in his recent conversations in Paris to meet the debt payment due to this country next March?
The position in regard to this question is that stated in the reply which I gave to the right hon. Gentleman on the 6th December, and in 188 the reply which I am giving to my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) to-day. No arrangements which would modify this position were made during my recent visit to Paris.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Has the result of the right hon. Gentleman's visit to Paris been that we are going to pay America and France is going to pay America, but France is not going to pay us?
Perhaps the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will await the statement which I am going to make to-morrow.
§ The following question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. CHURCHILL:
§ 50. To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is in a position to give an assurance that His Majesty's Government will in no circumstances consent to the preferential discrimination of France and Italy in favour of their War Debt payments to the United States of America as against their payments of similar debts due to Great Britain; and whether he will demand equality and simultaneity of treatment for Great Britain from these two countries in order to prevent all payments by all countries to the United States of America on 15th December being made at the sole expense of Great Britain?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
May I, in putting this question express regret that the Prime Minister, to whom it was originally addressed, is not in his place to answer it?
I think my right hon. Friend is not aware that the Prime Minister is unwell and is confined to the house.
In the letter which I addressed to the French Minister of Finance at Lausanne on 8th July, 1932 (which was published in Command Paper 4129), it was stated that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would have been very glad if it had been possible for them to cancel the War Debt of France as part of an all-round cancellation of War Debts and Reparations, but that in the actual circumstances they could not enter into any definite commit 189 meats modifying the existing War Debt Funding Agreement; they agreed, however, that the annuities due under that Agreement should be suspended until the coming into force of the Lausanne Agreement or until it has been decided not to ratify that Agreement. His Majesty's Government earnestly trust that the examination of the whole question of War Debts in their relation to world recovery, which the United States Government have agreed to, will result in a settlement which will enable the Lausanne Agreements to be ratified. In the meantime His Majesty's Government consider that it is of the utmost importance that no decision should be taken at the present time to the effect that the Lausanne Agreement cannot be ratified. Consequently, assuming that this view is concurred in by the other Governments concerned, the suspension of Reparations and War Debts will remain in force, but all the rights of His Majesty's Government under the existing Agreements will, as stated in my letter of 8th July, 1932, be integrally reserved.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Are we then to understand that His Majesty's Government are unable to give the assurance asked for in my question and that all payments to the United States on 15th December will be made at the expense of this country?
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
If the right hon. Gentleman is not going to reply to the. right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), will he tell me without trenching on the Debate of to-morrow whether it is not the fact that France has agreed, quite irrespective of any payment from Germany, to pay this country £11,000,000 per month or;£12,000,000 per year, in respect of the agreement which was entered into?
Yes, Sir. The agreement with France provides that the payments are due to us, quite irrespective of any payments received by France from Germany. If I may answer the question of my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), I wish for a moment to refer to the terms of that question again. I did not understand from his question that the discrimination to which he refers was confined to one payment. If, therefore, the question is of a general character—
The answer, in that case is that His Majesty's Government will not consent to any such discrimination, which, indeed, has not been asked for, but, if it applies only to the payment of 15th December, then that payment is covered by the terms of the Lausanne Agreement which requires that the payment shall be kept in suspense until a final settlement is arrived at.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House whether American willingness to consider war debts in their relation to world recovery is compatible with the settlement at Lausanne; and is that not likely, in some circumstances, to widen the scope of the reference at Lausanne?
I do not see anything incompatible between American willingness to consider a revision of war debts with a view to world recovery, and the arrangement that was made at Lausanne, which in my opinion was an essential preliminary to settlement.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, while this matter is under discussion, the advisability of postponing the collection of debt from the Irish Free State?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Do I understand that it is the intention to debar us from obtaining any separate settlement with the United States on this question? Are we now confined to act-tins on a united front versus the United States, or may we still act independently?
We are not bound to a united front. We are entitled to, and intend, if we are able so to do, to make a separate settlement with the United States.
§ 16. Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS (for Mr. CLARRY)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether in view of the attitude of the United States of America on debt repayments and our adverse trade balance with that country, he will consider a substantial increase of import duties on some goods and total prohibition of certain other goods coming into this country?
§ Dr. BURGIN
I cannot at present add anything to what was said in paragraphs 19 and 20 of the British Note to the United States Government of the 1st December.