HC Deb 19 March 1946 vol 420 cc1687-8
57. Mr. Marples

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is able to announce the result of his meeting with the Council of Foreign Bondholders.

Mr. Dalton

With permission, I will circulate in the Official Report a copy of the statement issued to the Press after this meeting.

Following is the statement:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon received representatives of the Council of Foreign Bondholders, the London Stock Exchange, the Association of Investment Trusts and the Issuing Houses Association. Lord Bessborough, on behalf of the Council of Foreign Bondholders, asked for the Government's support for the Bondholders and said, "We are here today to ask you to take the earliest opportunity of publicly making the following points clear:

Among those who took part in the ensuing discussion were Mr. Edwin Fisher, Sir Robert Pearson, Mr. Thomas frazer, Mr. E. H. Lever, Mr. Lionel Fraser and the Hon. A. O. Crichton.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer reminded the deputation of statements which he had already made in the House of Commons, including the statement on 5th March last that "all steps which are appropriate to each particular case, will be taken to protect our overseas investments," and his affirmative reply

to a Parliamentary question on 1st November last asking" whether he will see that every remaining overseas investment is conserved so far as practicable to increase the yield of income in sterling to swell our invisible exports."

In reply to Lord Bessborough's questions the Chancellor said that he himself had never used the word "impropriety" in relation to investments in Japanese or any other foreign bonds, though, looking back over the course of events, it now seemed clear that some of these investments, and particularly those in Japanese bonds, had been unwise, and in so far as they had strengthened the military and industrial position of Japan, had not served the national interest. As regards bonds issued by countries which subsequently became our enemies, he could not agree to the proposition that these bonds should rank before reparations, nor that, if they ranked behind reparations, the holders should be compensated at the taxpayers' expense.

The Chancellor repeated that, in the particular case of Japan, there were so many other claims including those of great numbers of our fellow citizens in the British Empire, that his remark that the prospects of the Japanese bondholders were "not very bright "represented an obvious fact, and since he had been asked this question in Parliament, he had no option but to make this truthful reply.

In conclusion the Chancellor said that he had welcomed this opportunity for a frank exchange of views.

13th March, 1946.