HC Deb 20 October 1953 vol 518 cc1849-51

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I should like to ask one or two questions on this Clause. Subsection (2) provides for cesser of interests in property allocated to any Government which was a party to the Paris Agreement on Reparations. Subsection (4) provides, with regard to property which was allocated to His late Majesty's Government, that it shall vest in the Crown. We have here two categories of cases; one, the general cases of allocation to an ally, and the case of allocation to His late Majesty's Government in particular.

I should like to ask whether similar legislation has been passed in other countries where such property is situated. For example, I should like to be assured that the rights of Her Majesty's Government in that property in other countries are not thwarted by higher rights existing in that property. Is there any quid pro quo from other Governments for the kind of legislation which we are passing here in subsection (2)?

Secondly, what is the position in regard to property allocated to an allied Government but which subsequently comes to this country? Would this Clause extinguish all rights in that property before its allocation, or what is the effect of it? I must say that I find myself in some doubt and difficulty on the second point.

Mr. H. Strauss

I am sorry that I cannot give the hon. and learned Gentleman exact information as to what is happening in other countries, but the general effect and purpose of this Clause is really a consequence of a reparations agreement. There was an agreement to set up the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency in the Paris Agreement of 1946 and this Clause is really consequential upon that Agreement; it simply carries it out and gives to it appropriate effect as far as we are concerned. Of course, we are dealing only with what is proper to be done by British legislation, and, whether other countries will legislate similarly is another matter. I am not perfectly certain that I completely understood the hon. and learned Gentleman's question, or whether, indeed, I could instantly give the answer, but if I might look into it and have a word with the hon. and learned Gentleman later, I should prefer to deal with it on those lines.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I should have considered it very unfair to raise this question on a Bill of this kind if I was merely doing so for the first time, but, in fact, these matters were mentioned elsewhere and no sufficient answer was given. I feel a certain doubt about them myself, and that is why I bring these matters up again here.

The second question which I raised was that of the case where, under the Paris Agreement on Reparations, property had been allocated to an allied Government, and, subsequently, that property came to this country. Does this Bill operate in that case or not, or are there other Acts in existence in other countries which would affect that property in the same way as this Bill affects property here? I should like, at some stage, to know what the position is, but I do not press the hon. and learned Gentleman for an answer now.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.