HC Deb 14 November 1955 vol 546 cc12-3
11. Major Beamish

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the present position with regard to the Japanese assets arising under Article 14 of the Japanese Peace Treaty; the total amount of the sums paid out and the amount still in hand; when he expects to make another per capita distribution; and what sum he proposes to transfer to the Far-Eastern Prisoners of War Central Welfare Fund for the welfare of those Far-Eastern prisoners who may be suffering privation and hardship.

Mr. Peake

As the Answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Major Beamish

Am I right in saying that the total sum paid out is rather more than double what it was originally anticipated would be available, and can my right hon. Friend say whether he is able from the residue, if there is any, to make a worth-while sum available for the Central Welfare Fund?

Mr. Peake

I shall be pleased to give my hon. and gallant Friend the two figures for which he asked. The total sum paid out is £2,615,000, which, as he says, is far in excess of what we anticipated when the scheme was launched, and we shall be able to transfer £10,000 to the Far-Eastern Prisoners of War Central Welfare Fund.

Following is the reply: At the end of October, a total of £2,615,000 had been paid to 57,490 beneficiaries. I propose to admit further claims until 31st March, and until that closing date I shall not be able to give a precise appreciation of the financial position. In the meantime, in order to meet needs which are now arising I propose to make the following allocations to voluntary funds especially concerned with the interests of prisoners-of-war of the Japanese—
The Far Eastern Prisoners of War Central Welfare Fund 10,000
The Returned British Prisoners of War Association 3,000
The King's Fund (1940) 10,000

The proportionate amount for benevolent purposes in respect of civilian internees is £4,000, and I propose to place this in a special fund to be administered through the machinery of The King's Fund.

Though, as my hon. and gallant Friend will be aware, it was envisaged that the second distribution to individuals would be a final distribution, I will certainly bear in mind the possibility of a further distribution when all claims received up to 31st March next have been met and the financial situation is clearer. In any case I can assure him that, however any surplus is disposed of, it will all be used to the benefit of prisoners-of-war.

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