HC Deb 31 July 1919 vol 118 cc2316-7W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that two vessels formerly belonging to the Hamburg-American Line, namely, "Johann Heinrich Bur-chard" and "William Oswald," each of 20,000 gross register tons, triple screw, built in 1914 for the South American trade of the Hamburg-American Line, are now alleged by the Germans to belong to Holland, having been sold to Dutch owners whilst they were under construction, and that this statement was subsequently modified to the effect that the ships were sold to the Royal Holland-Lloyd in July, 1916; whether he is aware that since that date the Royal Holland-Lloyd has been paying the cost of upkeep, insurance, etc., whilst the vessels were lying at Hamburg, and that it is stated that these boats are now to be handed over to the Royal Holland-Lloyd; and whether this proceeding is consistent with the arrangement recently reported to have been made under which no transfer of enemy tonnage to neutrals would be recognised by the British Government?

Colonel WILSON

The Dutch Government have been informed that we cannot recognise the reported sale by Germany of the two vessels to which the hon. Member refers; and the German Government has been instructed that, as these vessels fall within the terms of the Armistice, they are to be dispatched to a United Kingdom port for delivery to British management.