HC Deb 10 March 1958 vol 584 cc26-7
45. Mr. Paget

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action the Italian Government have taken towards implementing that part of the Anglo-Italian Peace Treaty which deals with the Italian Government's responsibility for war damage to property belonging to British nationals.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Briefly the obligation of the Italian Government is to return all British property in Italy or, where this is impossible or where such property had sustained war damage, to pay compensation. In general, the return of property has been completed. The settlement of war damage claims is still proceeding.

The Italian Government have so far replied to 1,016 claims of the 1,230 presented through Her Majesty's Government. The Treaty laid down no time limit in respect of these claims, but by a Memorandum of Understanding between our two Governments signed on 29th March, 1957 (Command 241), the Italian Government have agreed to time limits for the presentation, examination and payment of the claims. Compensation is paid direct to the claimants in Italy without reference to Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Paget

Do not Her Majesty's Government regard twelve years as something of a long time?

Mr. Harvey

Yes, Sir; certainly we do.

Mr. Teeling

Is my hon. Friend aware that I have a constituent claimant who has lira frozen in Italy? Does he not think it is time, as Italy is now in a better position than immediately after the war, for the exchange of the money to be arranged? My constituent has to spend the money either on holidays, which she does not want to do, for she cannot go there, or on buying property there, which she also does not want to do.

Mr. Harvey

If my hon. Friend will send me details of the case of his constituent, we will certainly examine it.