HC Deb 03 February 1947 vol 432 cc1371-2
29. Major Peter Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the facts recently brought to his attention of the case of the subsidiary company of E. Green & Sons, Wakefield, he will give support to British firms which are being improperly charged with French taxes by the French Government.

33. Mr. John Foster

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why, in view of the fact that the Spanish, Swedish, Swiss, U.S., Belgian and Dutch Governments are claiming and obtaining exemption from the French Government in respect of the payment by their nationals of the taxe /de solidarityé, His Majesty's Government has refused to claim, and discourages British subjects from claiming, the same exemption in respect of the property of British subjects under Article 11 of the Anglo-French Treaty of 1882, which confers similar benefits on British subjects.

Mr. Mayhew

According to my information, the hon. Member for North-wich (Mr. J. Foster) is mistaken in stating that any of the six governments to which he refers have obtained exemption from the French Government in respect of the payment of National Solidarity Tax by their nationals domiciled in France. His Majesty's Government have decided not to invoke the provisions of the Anglo-French Convention of 1882 in order to seek exemption from liability to the tax on behalf of British subjects. The reasons for this are fully explained in a statement which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman). It will, however, he seen from this statement that His Majesty's Government have no intention of discouraging British subjects from taking steps to claim exemption from the tax if they desire to do so.

Major Roberts

Is not the Under-Secretary aware that the point of my Question is that British interests are being improperly charged, and that it does not raise the whole issue of the legal position? Surely, it is the duty of His Majesty's Government to protect British interests where they are being improperly charged?

Mr. Mayhew

In the first place, I should have thought redress should be sought in the normal way through the courts. If the hon. and gallant Member will read the reply, it may perhaps help him.

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

Can the Under-Secretary say whether this Convention has not the power of law in the French courts, and whether or not it is accepted by the British Government, and that consequently British nationals can claim and invoke the Convention by law?

Mr. Mayhew

I should need notice of that question.