HC Deb 19 October 1949 vol 468 cc534-5
16. Mr. William Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the United Kingdom agreed to permission being given to Japan to pay Siam and Indo-China debts incurred during the war; and why these debts have received priority over debts due to British subjects from before the war.

Mr. Bevin

The hon. Member is doubtless referring to the impending transfer of certain quantities of gold from Japan to Thailand and Indo-China. According to the Legal Advisers of the United States Government there is no doubt that, as a matter of law, this gold is already, and has long been, owned by the Governments of France and Thailand. It is, therefore, not the case that His Majesty's Government have agreed to permission being given to Japan to make payment now to Thailand and Indo-China for debts incurred during the war. Since we had no grounds for refuting the case as presented by the United States Government, that title to the gold had been legally transferred before the Japanese surrender, His Majesty's representative on the Far Eastern Commission was instructed not to oppose the physical transfer.

Mr. Teeling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, at any rate in France, it has been at least semi-officially announced that these were the repayments of debts due—I have seen that myself—and will he assure the House that in no circumstances debts will be paid to any other country before they are paid to British subjects who have been owed this money since before the war?

Mr. Bevin

I gave a lot of thought to this before I instructed our representative on the Far Eastern Commission to agree to the physical transfer. I had the same doubts as the hon. Member, but, in the end, I thought the case was proved.

Back to
Forward to