HC Deb 16 February 1937 vol 320 cc968-70
2 and 3. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether his attention has been drawn to the recent formation of a company called Compensation Brokers, Limited; and whether, seeing that the activities of this company will infringe or assist in evading the provisions of Standstill and other Agreements between Germany and this country, he will take steps to safeguard British interests;

(2) whether, in view of the importance of securing the payment of overdue commercial debts by banks or traders in Germany to British banks or traders, he will introduce legislation to control the operations of companies having as their object the facilitation of trade between the two countries without making provision for the liquidation of such debts?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Dr. Burgin)

I understand that the object of the newly-formed company referred to by the hon. Member is to act as a brokerage concern in regard to barter transactions for the supply of goods from Germany and other European countries with restricted exchanges to parts of the British Empire other than the United Kingdom in exchange for raw materials. The activities of the company will in no way affect the provisions of the Anglo-German Payments Agreement of 1st November, 1934, nor those of the Standstill and other Agreements between Germany and creditors in the United Kingdom, and the promoters undertook to regulate their business in such a way as to safeguard United Kingdom interests and to take steps to ensure that goods supplied under the scheme should not be such as could be supplied by United Kingdom industries. In the circumstances no action appears to be called for on the part of His Majesty's Government.

Mr. Smith

Have the Government approved the policy of this company, and will the Parliamentary Secretary be good enough to give a definite answer "Yes" or "No"?

Dr. Burgin

I have stated that, as far as I can see, the objects of the company do not in any way conflict with any provisions that the Government have made.

Mr. Thurtle

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the promoters of this scheme will carry out the undertakings which they have given to his Department?

Dr. Burgin

I have no reason to be other than satisfied so far. I need hardly say that the transactions of a barter character are such as will require, and will secure, constant supervision.

Mr. Bellenger

May not this arrangement affect some of the re-export trade which passes through this country, possibly from our Dominions to Germany?

Dr. Burgin

Not as far as we know at present, but if the hon. Member has any information to the contrary, I shall be glad to receive it.

Mr. Dalton

Is there any safeguard in this arrangement against the supply to Germany of additional materials suitable for making armaments?

Dr. Burgin

I think so.

Mr. Dalton

Is that so?

Dr. Burgin

The hon. Member has asked a question a long way removed from anything upon the Paper, and I can, obviously, only give the information in my possession. As far as I understand, the material supplied will be raw material, and not of the character to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

48. Mr. Price

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the position as regards the short-term credits owing by Germany to this country; and whether, in view of the £46,000,000 export surplus in Germany's trade balance, steps are being taken by His Majesty's Government to remind Germany of this obligation?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Chamberlain)

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to similar questions on 26th January.

Mr. Price

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the German Government now have power to requisition the funds at the disposal of German citizens abroad, and will he not therefore consider that in the negotiations which are now going on?

Mr. Chamberlain

I think that, if the hon. Member will look at the answer that I gave on the occasion to which I refer, he will see that that matter is covered by that answer.