HC Deb 23 February 1944 vol 397 cc805-7
1. Sir John Mellor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make a statement with regard to the United States Claims Commission in the United Kingdom.

The Minister of State (Mr. Richard Law)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 3rd February to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). As my right hon. Friend has already informed the hon. Gentleman, he hopes to be able to arrive at an early settlement of this question.

Sir J. Mellor

How much longer is this matter to remain undetermined? The American Forces have been driving vehicles about this country for a very long time, and is it not most unfair that people who are injured by American Army vehicles should be in a worse condition than those injured by British Army vehicles?

Mr. Law

My right hon. Friend hopes to get a very early settlement of this matter. I hope there will not be very much longer delay. This is an extremely complicated question, and it is important that we should get a comprehensive settlement. That is the reason for the delay.

Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes

In view of the comparable nature of the jurisprudence of the United States of America and this country, is it not possible to set up an acceptable impartial tribunal for the adjudication of these claims?

Mr. Law

As I have said, negotiations for a settlement of this matter are already in progress, and I hope the settlement will not be long delayed. When this has been arrived at, my right hon. Friend will make a statement, and I think the House will be well advised to await that statement. My right hon. Friend is fully conscious of the urgency of the matter.

Mr. Silverman

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the House is to have any opportunity of knowing in advance along what lines negotiations are proceeding, or are we to wait until agreement has been reached, to be faced then with its acceptance or rejection?

Mr. Bowles

Will any such agreement cover the question of the criminal law as well?

Mr. Law

We must follow our usual practice in these matters and await the final negotiations.

Captain Strickland

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we had a similar reply on 10th November to the effect that the matter was under discussion; and surely it does not take all this time for the American Forces to realise their moral responsibility in these matters in this country?

Mr. Law

This is an extremely complicated question, and that is the reason for the delay. As I have said, I think there will be a very satisfactory settlement soon.

2. Captain Strickland

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to an accident which occurred, on 21st December, 1943, at Mount Sorrel, Leicestershire, when an American army lorry collided with a stationary motor car causing considerable damage; and whether he has anything to report on the progress of negotiations to secure a proper recognition of liability in such cases.

Mr. Law

Yes, Sir. My attention has been drawn to this accident and inquiries have been made about it to the United States Claims Commission. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor).

Captain Strickland

But can my right hon. Friend explain why it was that after an application to the American authorities, no reply whatever was made?

Mr. Law

I am afraid I am not familiar with the details of this case. As I have said, we are doing everything we can to expedite a solution of the matter.

Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that police patrols are very active in stopping British cars driving at an excessive speed and will he do something to slow down American traffic?

Mr. Silverman

Is it not true that, under a recent Act, our police have no jurisdiction to interfere with American drivers?

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