HC Deb 11 June 1942 vol 380 cc1240-1
59. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what grounds the loan of £6,000,000 granted by Britain to Czechoslovakia in 1939 is being used to make payments on account of coupons and interest on private investments in the Skoda works and other Czech corporations?

Sir K. Wood

These payments are being made in accordance with the provisions of the Order of 7th March, 1940, made by the Treasury under Section 2 of the Czechoslovakia (Financial Claims and Refugees) Act, 1940, and approved by this House.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this report has gravely offended the sense of public decency and that money is being paid by British taxpayers to people with certain investments while other people have had to make tremendous sacrifices in investments both at home and abroad?

Sir K. Wood

No, Sir. I have seen one observation made by a particular individual on this matter which, I think, must have been made under a misapprehension. The reply is that when investors bought the loan, the Skoda Works could fairly be regarded as of vital anti-German importance. The interest payment has no connection whatever with the earnings of the works at the moment.

Mr. Bellenger

Have the dividends been paid only to British holders domiciled in this country, or have any been paid outside?

Sir K. Wood

I should not think so, but I will communicate with the hon. Gentleman.

Miss Rathbone

Was not this part of the loan originally granted to Czechoslovakia for the assistance of refugees both inside and outside Czechoslovakia who were injured by the Munich Agreement, and is it not part of that money which is being diverted to the payment of this interest?

Sir K. Wood

I think so, and I am obliged for my hon. Friend's assistance in the matter.