HC Deb 03 June 1915 vol 72 cc10-1W

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps have been taken by the Government to obtain a complete return and register of all enemy property, contracts, debts, patents, and interests of every kind in this country, and when the Government proposes to obtain such further information as may be required for the protection of British interests; whether the Government will give instructions to the Public Trustee as custodian, under the Trading with the Enemy (Amendment) Act, 1914, to ascertain or to assist British creditors of, enemies to ascertain the full extent of all property and debts due to an enemy who owes money to British creditors; and, in case of difficulty under the present Law, whether the Government intends to ask Parliament for the necessary powers forthwith; and whether the Government is prepared to hold enemies' property first for the payment of the enemy's debts in this country, and next as security for the good behaviour of the enemy in regard to British prisoners and British property in the enemy's hands?


Extensive steps have already been taken by the Government to obtain a return and register of enemy property in this country as is evidenced by the fact that the returns already made to the Public Trustee as custodian show the existence in this country of some £97,000,000 of property belonging to enemies. The Public Trustee has already co-operated with British creditors in assisting them to utilise the machinery provided by Section 4 of the Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act for the purpose of obtaining payment of debts due to them by enemies out of the property in this country of such enemies, and the question of introducing legislation to extend the provisions of the Act is at present under consideration. In considering the disposition of enemy property in this country due regard will be had to what is done with British property in enemy countries.