HL Deb 26 March 1998 vol 587 cc250-1WA
The Earl of Haddington

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 3 March (WA 364) in relation to all claims made against the French Government by British transport companies who were caught up in the French transport strike, how many such claims have been settled and:

  1. (a) whether they have been paid in full:
  2. (b) on what dates they were paid:
  3. (c) what amounts are outstanding; and
  4. (d) what assistance the Government will give to those awaiting outstanding payment to receive interest on that outstanding payment. [HL1135]

Baroness Hayman

I regret that information is not available in the form requested. While our officials have worked closely with the French authorities on the treatment of claims, the settlement and payment of claims is a matter between the French authorities and individual claimants.

I understand that the French authorities have now responded to virtually all UK hauliers' claims for compensation following the 1996 French lorry drivers' strike. Over 100 British claimants have either received a firm offer of compensation, or have been told that they are eligible for compensation and have been asked to provide further information on which an offer may be based. Seventeen British claimants whose claims were initially rejected have now had them accepted as a result of their asking the French authorities to reconsider them.

During his visit to France on 24 March, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister raised the question of compensation with the French Prime Minister and asked him to ensure that outstanding cases could be resolved quickly and sympathetically.

My officials remain in close touch with their French counterparts, and will do what they can to ensure that claims are considered as sympathetically as possible. They remain ready to take up individual cases if asked to do so. I remain confident that the French authorities will ensure that everyone entitled to compensation under French law will receive it.

As I pointed out in my previous reply, all claims must be dealt with under French law, which we understand does not provide for the payment of interest.