HC Deb 31 January 1940 vol 356 cc1129-30
33. Sir Granville Gibson

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade whether he is aware that under the arrangement for funding and clearing arrears of payments clue to the United Kingdom firms by traders in Turkey, it is proposed to settle these debts subject to discounts varying from 3 to 40 per cent.; whether United Kingdom creditors were consulted before these discounts were agreed to and under what authority His Majesty's Government have deprived United Kingdom creditors of a percentage of the debts due to them; and whether it is the intention of the Government to pursue this policy in the future with respect to debts due to United Kingdom firms from other countries, in view of the effect of such forcible reduction of a debt without consultation with the creditors, on exporters of the country and on our export trade?

Mr. R. S. Hudson (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. For the rest, I would ask my hon. Friend to await the full explanation I hope to give when the Motion confirming the Order comes up for Debate next week.

Sir G. Gibson

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him whether it is not possible to say one or two words at this juncture, in order to allay the feeling of consternation among exporters in this country in respect of the publication of the recently-signed Anglo-Turkish Agreement?

Mr. Hudson

This is a very complicated question with a very long history behind it, and I do not think that I could possibly give an adequate explanation within the terms of a Parliamentary answer.

Mr. Mender

Can we not have an assurance that, in future, persons interested shall be, at any rate, consulted before an agreement of this kind is made?

Mr. Hudson

The hon. Member must not assume that they are not.

Mr. Wilmot

Will the Minister bear in mind the fact that these discounts are rendering no advantage either to the exporter or to the purchaser, since they are payable to financial agents and moneylenders and go-betweens?

Mr. Hudson

I do not think I could accept that implication either. Perhaps the hon. Member will develop his views in the Debate next week.