HC Deb 23 November 1920 vol 135 cc249-50W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the serious position of British citizens resident in France whose property and works have been destroyed; whether the German Government are going to provide the funds as stated under the Treaty of Versailles to restore these losses; whether he is aware that the French Government have made advances to the French subjects; and whether, in these cercumstances, it would be possible to give these people some assistance?


The position of British subjects resident in France, whose property or works have been destroyed in the War, and who have claims against the German Government under the reparation clauses of the Treaty, have been carefully considered by His Majesty's Government. I have every hope that the German Government will carry out the provisions of the clauses in question. As the hon. Member will have seen from the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain) on 4th May, His Majesty's Government propose to set aside the first £5,000,000 received from the German Government in respect of reparation as a fund out of which assistance can be granted to individual British subjects as an act of grace. I am aware that the French Government have, in certain cases, made advances to French citizens in respect of reparation claimed by them, but I regret that, in view of the urgent necessity for economy, and the difficulty of differentiating between various claims against the German Government, His Majesty's Government are unable to adopt the course suggested in the last part of the question.