HC Deb 22 February 1922 vol 150 cc1937-8W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who are the directors of the International Petroleum Company of Canada; whether there is any precedent for His Majesty's Government engaging in arbitration proceedings with another Government on behalf of a private company, and, if so, what they are; whether he will lay the correspondence between the International Petroleum Company of Canada and His Majesty's Government upon the Table of the House; if the action of the Government is in discharge of their public duties; if so, why they have sought an indemnity from private individuals against the costs of their action; and, if not, why have they undertaken it?


The directors, according to the latest list at my disposal, are:

  • G. H. Smith, President,
  • A. M. McQueen, Vice-President,
  • V. Ross, Vice-President,
  • G. W. Crawford,
  • C. A. Eames,
  • J. L. Englehart,
  • Major H. Keswick,
  • Hon. W. Nesbitt, K.C.,
  • Sir E. B. Osler,
  • C. O. Stillman,
  • J. C. Trees.
International litigation can only take place between Governments, Governments being the only units known to international law. For this reason, it is a common practice, in cases in which differences have occurred between private individuals or companies and a foreign Government, to make an arrangement by which the dispute is submitted to arbitration as between two Governments. If the individual or company concerned is able to bear the expense, an arrangement is frequently made by which the costs are borne by the individual or company instead of falling upon the taxpayer. There are large numbers of precedents for the adoption of this practice, which provides a convenient means of reaching a judicial determination of cases which would otherwise be difficult to settle.

I do not think that the correspondence in this case is of sufficient public interest to justify the expense of laying it before Parliament.