HC Deb 15 June 1945 vol 411 cc1899-900W
Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the position, details of which have been submitted to him, of British shareholders in a commercial enterprise in Estonia whose property has been confiscated since the incorporation of that State in the U.S.S.R.; what compensation will be paid to British nationals thus affected; and whether Estonian assets frozen in this country will be used for this purpose.

Mr. Mabane

With regard to the first part of the Question, my right hon. Friend has received details of a number of such cases. Since the hon. Member does not give the names of the British shareholders to whom he refers, it is not possible for me to comment on the particular case he has in mind. As the hon. Member is no doubt aware, the Board of Trade opened a register in the summer of 1940 for the purpose of collecting all available information regarding property and debts in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania belonging to, or due to, persons and companies of British nationality. If particulars of the property in Estonia to which the hon. Member refers have been registered with the Board of Trade, he may rest assured that the interests of the shareholders will not be overlooked when the time comes to make a general settlement.

As regards the second part of the Question, the position is that in January, 1941, His Majesty's Government informed the Soviet Government that they reserved the right to claim full indemnification in respect of all property belonging to British subjects which had been expropriated in Estonia. It is hoped that a settlement covering all the property involved will eventually be negotiated with the Soviet Government; if and when such a settlement is reached, its terms will no doubt determine the amount of compensation to be paid to the British persons and firms concerned.

No decision has yet been taken regarding the disposal of the Estonian assets now frozen in the United Kingdom.