HC Deb 14 February 1949 vol 461 cc767-8
20. Mr. Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will ensure that the question of the taking-over price of the Buenos Aires Tramways Corporation will be included in rile present trade negotiations with the Argentine as a possible asset belonging to this country and that if no figure is soon forthcoming from the Argentine Government His Majesty's Government will insist on an agreed figure being settled before the trade negotiations are concluded in order to use it as one of our assets.

Mr. McNeil

As I informed the hon. Member on 26th January, the Argentine Government are well aware of the importance attached by His Majesty's Government to fair treatment for the British shareholders in the Buenos Aires Tramways Corporation, and His Majesty's Ambassador has instructions to pursue this matter with the Argentine authorities at every suitable opportunity, such as may arise either in the context of the forthcoming trade negotiations or independently of them. As the House will be aware, these very important negotiations will cover a wide field and it would be premature and unusual to commit our negotiators in advance or to disclose our intentions publicly to the Argentine Government.

Mr. Teeling

While fully realising that there are many other problems in this question, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember that if the friendly Argentine Government were to give the £11 million originally offered it would save us having to send out export machinery and other things to the Argentine, and will he assure the House that if by the time the negotiations for the trade treaty have been concluded nothing has been announced with regard to this compensation, the Foreign Office will continue to press the matter both with the assistance of the Bank of England and the Treasury?

Mr. McNeil

The answer to the second part of the question is "Certainly." As to the first part, the Argentine Government are as well aware of this situation as we are.