§ 5. Sir J. Eden
asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he is aware of the hardship being imposed on many British citizens as a result of the moratorium which the Ceylon Government placed last year on the remittance of interest, profits and dividends and certain pensions from Ceylon; what has been the outcome of the representations he has made on the subject; what further action he is taking to improve the present position; and if he will make a statement.
§ 9. Mr. Cordle
asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will now seek to expedite the remittance of funds of private individuals from Ceylon to this country.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes)
My right hon. Friend is very much aware of the hardship being imposed on many British citizens as a result of the Ceylon Government's moratorium on remittances. As a result of representations, certain relaxations have been secured. In cases of extreme hardship amongst shareholders in companies incorporated in Ceylon, the remittance of dividends has been allowed: unfunded pensions up to £750 a year are allowed to be remitted and those over that amount are being remitted subject to a quarterly review: sterling is being provided for furlough in most cases. We shall continue to make representations to the Ceylon Government.
§ Sir J. Eden
I am grateful to the Minister of State for that reply, but is it not a fact that sterling company shareholders are particularly hard hit in this respect? Will he do his best further to impress on the Ceylon Government the fact that very considerable hardship is being experienced by people in this country and that we expect the Ceylon Government, in the light of the assistance they are getting from the International Monetary Fund and from other sources, to honour their obligations?
§ Mr. Hughes
We are certainly very conscious of the hardship that exists, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are pressing the Ceylon Government as hard as we can.
§ Mr. Cordle
Will the hon. Gentleman further comment on remittance discrimination in this particular sense, for this, again, appears to be a very real hardship? Constituents of mine, on the one hand, have returned to this country with no remittance whatever, having given lifelong service to Ceylon, and, on the other hand, non-nationals have returned, and enjoy the full compensation and reward of retired pay from the Ceylon Government.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am aware of the hon. Member's constituent's case and have tried to be as helpful as I possibly can. 1324 As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Ceylon Government have throughout continued to allow the remittance of pensions earned by Government service. As I said in my original reply, unfunded pensions up to £750 a year are allowed to be remitted and those over £750 a year are allowed subject to a quarterly review of the position. The Ceylon Government are, as we must recognise, entitled to make their decisions about the priority with which obligations in this regard are met, but we will continue to talk with them about this.
§ Mr. Tilney
Will the Minister of State also bear in mind that the balance of trade between this country and Ceylon is very much in favour of Ceylon?