HC Deb 16 May 1938 vol 336 cc5-6
7. Mr. Thorne

asked the Prime Minister if he can now state whether the £8,000,000 outstanding debt of Austria to this country, repayable by instalment and interest, has now been accepted as an obligation by Germany?

Mr. Butler

On 23rd March His Majesty's Embassy in Berlin were informed that the German Government desired to revise the Anglo-German Payments Agreement of 1st November, 1934, in order to meet the commercial questions arising from the inclusion of Austria in the Reich. On 12th April the German Government were informed in reply that His Majesty's Government were prepared to enter into discussions which would cover both the trade and financial interests of the United Kingdom. It was stated that His Majesty's Government assumed that the German Government accepted full responsibility for all financial liabilities of the former Austrian Government in respect of its external indebtedness. The German Government have now verbally informed His Majesty's Embassy that they are willing to make the problem of Austrian foreign indebtedness one of the subjects of the negotiations which are due to begin on 24th May. His Majesty's Government, for their part, are prepared to take the opportunity afforded by the negotiations to discuss this matter with the German Government, but I ought to make it clear that they consider that the German Government should negotiate arrangements on an international basis providing for payment of all issues of Austrian Government loans.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Have not the debts to the United States already been repudiated by Germany?

Mr. Bellenger

Is the reply from the German Government taken by His Majesty's Government to mean that Germany is not prepared unequivocally to accept responsibility for the Austrian debts to this country?

Mr. Butler

I would prefer the hon. Gentleman to study my statement and to await the negotiations.

Sir Percy Harris

Does not the hon. Gentleman's answer mean that the position of Austria is a matter of negotiation and that it is not automatically accepted by Germany as a liability?

Commander Locker-Lampson

Is this not provisional repudiation?

Mr. George Griffiths

Will the same kind of note be sent to Germany as was sent last week to the Mexican Government?

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