§ Mr. Baldry
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the outcome of the claims negotiations with China.
§ Mr. Eggar
Discussions between the two Governments led to the signature of a claims agreement between China and the United Kindgom in Peking on 5 June 1987. The agreement was signed by the Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Zhou Nan and Her Majesty's ambassador to China, Sir Richard Evans, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.
The agreement takes the form of a mutual waiver of all claims which had arisen before 1 January 1980. In recognition of this waiver the two Governments have agreed to pay each other a sum of compensation. The Chinese Government will be paying us a total of £23,468,008 in two instalments. We will pay China a total of US$3.8 million, also in two instalments.
The Government have decided that the whole of the balance of money remaining after the US$3.8 million has been paid to China should be distributed amongst British private claimants. There will thus be a sum in excess of £20 million for the private claimants. The Government have waived their entitlement to share in this money in respect of their own claims. All the money will be distributed to the private British claimants, both corporate and individual, or to their heirs and successors as well as to the British holders of bonds issued or guaranteed by successive former Chinese Governments prior to 1 October 1949 who acquired these bonds on or before Thursday 4 June 1987.
A cut-off date of Thursday 4 June 1987 has been set on which bond holders must show that they held British nationality. This has been done in order to avoid transfer of the bonds from foreign to British hands. British bond holders who wish to share in this distribution will be required to make a formal statutory declaration that they had acquired the bonds on or before Thursday 4 June 1987.
It is hoped that an Order in Council will be made shortly and laid before Parliament providing for the distribution of this China fund.