HC Deb 08 March 1920 vol 126 cc942-3W

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the most lately ascertained amount owing to British subjects by enemy debtors resident in Austria on the outbreak of War, recorded with the Custodian for England and Wales; in view of the fact that property held by and recorded with the Custodian in this country belonging to persons resident in Austria and Hungary exceeded in November last the property in Austria and Hungary belonging to persons resident in the United Kingdom, what steps, if any, are being taken for the protection of British creditors of Austrian subjects, both generally and where the debtors cannot now be traced; and is it the intention of the Government to demand from the Austrian Government payment in full of debts due to British subjects, and at what rate of exchange?


I am informed that the total claims recorded by British subjects resident in England and Wales against persons or firms carrying on business in Austria as on the 31st January last, including some claims in respect of property in Austria, amounted to £15,560,208. The original record of claims has been reduced by the amount of claims which have been ascertained to be against persons who are not now Austrian subjects, and further reductions will no doubt be made in this respect. I am afraid that the property in this country of Austrians and Hungarians will not be sufficient to secure the payment of British claimants in full. In reply to the remainder of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on the 19th February to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry (Mr. Manville) and to the answer given on the 23rd February to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Bartley Dennis).