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Enemy Debts (Payment)

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to the discrepancy between the Official Report of Mr. Egerton S. Grey, Controller and Administrator of the Clearing House, stating that the amount paid to British creditors on account of enemy debts is approximately £20,000,000, and the figure appearing in the "Board of Trade Journal" of the 2nd November, that the payments to British creditors on the same account amount to £11,000,000; to what class of claimant has the sum actually paid been disbursed; whether the major part of this sum has been distributed to various considerable trading companies; whether the small claimant, who after internment in enemy civilian camps was repatriated, and who is in many cases suffering seriously in health as a result of enemy action and is now perfectly destitute is being accorded any measure of priority in the settlement of material claims; and, if not, can assistance be granted from Government funds pending the settlement of the claims of these claimants?

The figures do not, as the hon. Member supposes, refer to the same account. The figure of £20,500,000 in the Controller's Report is the amount of debts and interest thereupon paid to British creditors up to the 31st March last, and these payments, as stated in the article in the "Board of Trade Journal" to which the hon. Member refers, have now reached £29,000,000. The sum of £11,000,000 represents payments made to British claimants in respect of the proceeds of liquidation of their property in German territory under exceptional war measures. Debt payments have been made to 39,253 creditors and proceeds of liquidation paid to 630 claimants. As regards claims of the nature referred to in the last part of the question, which fall within the purview of the Royal Commission on Compensation for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Bowerman) on the 25th October.