HC Deb 14 June 1944 vol 400 cc1948-9
3. Earl Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if it was with his authority that a company, named "European Claims, Limited," issued a circular stating that the body in question will assist claimants in the preparation and conduct of all types of claim arising from the spoliation of Europe by the Nazi régime for a commission on the amounts recovered; and if he will give an assurance that no official assistance will be given to this company.

Mr. Eden

My attention has been drawn to the circular in question. understand that the avowed object of this company is to act as agents for the investigation, assessment and preparation of claims of every description, and that it offers to prosecute claims on payment of fees by way of commission on amounts recovered or otherwise and to undertake or advise as regards the lodgment of such claims on behalf of refugees and others who have suffered losses as a result of the present war. I am glad to have this opportunity of issuing a warning in this House against dealing with persons or companies who issue advertisements or notices of this nature, and to state that His Majesty's Government are entirely opposed to international claims being dealt with by any persons or bodies on a commission basis, or any similar basis. The objection to the assessment and presentation of international claims on any such basis is similar to the objection to the assessment and presentation in this way of claims before municipal courts, which I am advised is illegal under the law of this country. The Foreign Office, who are as a rule responsible for the presentation of international claims, will refuse to accept claims put forward through persons or bodies acting in such conditions as are specified in this circular. Claimants who require professional and legal assistance in the preparation and presentation of their claims should, in their own interest, have recourse to qualified professional and legal practitioners, who will receive remuneration for their services in accordance with the well-established rules of their professions.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Is not this solely a question of Government responsibility? If any action has been taken which is contrary to the interests of the people concerned, should not the case be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions?

Mr. Eden

I thought this warning would, perhaps, be timely and adequate.

Mr. George Griffiths

And if not, what then?