HC Deb 14 April 1927 vol 205 cc553-5W

asked the President of the Board of Trade what the present position is in regard to British-born women who by marriage became German subjects and had property rights or interests within Article 297 of the Treaty of Versailles; whether he can ascertain from the British Ambassador in Germany particulars showing what percentage of such assets credited through the Clearing Office to the German Government has been in fact received by the claimants in question from the German Government; what income is being received by such women in this country from the administrator of German property out of the total income of which, but for the Treaty of Versailles, they would be in full enjoyment; whether it is the duty of the administrator of German property to answer questions by such British-born women who are German subjects by marriage about their property subject, to charge under the Peace Treaty; and whether there have been since 1923 any questions of policy bearing upon the subjects of the previous questions, and, if so, whether any decision has been come to?


It has been open to British-born women, who by marriage became German subjects, to make applications to Lord Blanesburgh's Committee under its terms of reference for recommendations for the release of their property, rights and interests in this country subject to the charge created pursuant to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, and, in fact, releases have been made and are still being made to such applicants on the recommendation of the Committee. Income that is not so released is the subject of a credit given by the Clearing Office in account with the German Government under Article 297 (h) of the Treaty, and on receipt of that credit, which is the equivalent of payment, the German Government is under an obligation to pay compensation to the German nationals concerned. I understand that the compensation hitherto paid by the German Government under its internal legislation relating to this matter represents only a small percentage of the amount of the sterling credit notified by the British Clearing Office. This, however, is a matter for which His Majesty's Government is in no way responsible, and I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by requesting His Majesty's Ambassador in Berlin to make the inquiry suggested by my hon. and learned Friend. The figures of the releases made to British-born women are not kept separately from those of releases to other classes of applicant, and the extraction of the figures asked for would entail a very large amount of additional labour and considerable expense. The Administrator of German Property is prepared to answer any questions which come within his province relating to German property subject to the charge. As regards the last part of the question, I am sending my hon. and learned Friend a copy of the Special Report of Lord Blanesburgh's Committee (Cmd. 2046), where he will find set out the terms of reference which were approved by the Board of Trade in 1924. It has been decided that the scope of releases in the case of British-born women cannot be further extended, and that any income not released must be credited through as explained above.