I say that with this qualification or, rather, with this addition. That can only be achieved if there be added to category of Miscellaneous Receipts the sum to be received from Germany, loosely and roundly described in our case as reparation, but in truth payment for the upkeep of our Army of Occupation on the Rhine, which is the first charge, as hon. Members will recollect, upon the funds which Germany is able to pay. Other countries have up till now received far more in payment in connection with their armies than we have, and there are large sums due to us now, which, at the meeting held in Paris in August, were agreed by all parties concerned to be payable to us. At that meeting, as the House will remember, there were collected the Finance Minister of France, the Finance Minister of Belgium, the Finance Minister of Italy, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this country. We discussed these matters for a week, and we came to an agreement which we all signed without qualification except the Minister of Finance for France, who signed under reference to his Cabinet, although the meeting was held in Paris. In any case, up till now, the agreement has never seen finally ratified.
What is the amount?
The amount I should expect under this head would be roughly between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000. I would only remark that I have a confident expectation that that agreement will be ratified, because I cannot imagine any sound reason why the conclusion at which this meeting arrived should not receive the confirmation of the French Cabinet. I am going confidently upon the assumption that the agreement will be met. Under these conditions, as I have said, I do not expect that there will be much, if any, reduction on Miscellaneous Receipts for the year.
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of Miscellaneous Receipts, may I ask whether the Government are justified in taking the sale of surplus stores as revenue?
That is a large question, which has often been debated in the House before, and I do not think it would really be helping in the present case if I spent any time in discussing it. This is really, I take it, an occasion upon which the House wishes to know where we stand at the present time.
Is the £40,000,000 to which the right hon. Gentleman refers to be understood as coming into this country in priority over any further payments made by Germany to any of the Allies?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say in what form it will come in?
The position is that, with regard to certain block payments which Germany has made, Belgium obtains a share, and the principal share. Belgium, as the House will remember, was granted by the other Allies a priority in respect of payments from Germany, and in respect of that priority she obtains the amount which remains after the British claim for the expense of the Army of Occupation is satisfied. The money has been paid, and most of it is in the United Kingdom now. It is merely a question of the ratification by the French Government of the agreement at which the Finance Minister of France arrived with the Finance Ministers of the other Allies.