HL Deb 12 April 1916 vol 21 cc699-700

My Lords, a short time ago my noble friend Lord Lansdowne promised that he would inquire into certain matters connected with the German Athenaeum Club, and I would ask the leave of the House to put the Question standing in my name—

To ask His Majesty's Government whether the German henteura Club in Stratford-place was dissolved on the outbreak of war whether the club was reconstituted into the United Forces Club for officers of the Army and Navy whether some of the former members of the German Athenaum Club, in order to evict the British officers of the United Forces Club, paid off a mortgage of £15,000 held on the German Athenaann Club whether it can be stated who paid off this mortgage; whether one of the Committee of the German Athemeum Club is a Privy Councillor of German nationality: and whether, under the Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act, 1016, the Board of Trade has made an Order requesting, the business of the German Athenteum Club to be wound up. But I do not intend to press that part of the Question where it is asked whether it can be stated who paid off the mortgage on the German Athenaeum Club.


My Lords, I am glad to be able to give my noble friend the information which I promised to collect for him. The facts are as follows. The German Athendeum Club in Stratford-place was closed in September, 1914. In July, 1915, a meeting of the members of the company by which the club premises were held was called in order to consider the passing of a resolution for winding up the company, but the resolution, it appears, was not passed. In April, 1915, the club premises were let by the German Athenteum Club Company, Limited, to the United Forces Club Company, Limited, for the use of the Services Club, which is, as my noble friend knows, a club for the use of the officers of the Army and Navy. Then with regard to the third Question, I find that on January 27, 1916, the mortgagees of the lease of the club premises applied for and obtained the appointment of a Receiver by the Court. An application by the Receiver for liberty to enter into a tenancy agreement with the United Forces Club Company was opposed by the German Athenaeum Club Company on the ground that it was proposed to pay off the mortgagees and take a transfer of the mortgage. The necessary funds were found, the mortgages, were paid oil, and the Receiver was discharged. In answer to my noble friend's fifth Question I have to say that Sir Edgar Speyer, a naturalised British subject of German origin, who is a Privy Councillor, was a director of the German Athenmum Club Company and a member of the committee of the club. The answer to my noble friend's last Question is that the Board of Trade made an order requiring the business of the German Athenmum Club to be wound up on March 23 of this year.


It surely is a very invidious position for a Privy Councillor to be in to find himself under the lash, if I may so put it, oi the Trading with the Enemy Act, under which the business with which he was concerned had to be wound up.