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Austrian Treasury Notes, 1914 (British Subscribers)

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 20 June 1922

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the total amount of Imperial Austrian Government 4½ per cent. Redeemable Treasury Notes, 1914, held by British subjects; whether the collection of this debt is being dealt with by the Reparations Commission and, if not, by whom; whether the Austrian Government have admitted liability of the debt or have been requested to do so; whether the British Government is in possession of a full list of the British creditors in this respect; and whether he can give any indication of the length of time it will take to effect settlement of this claim and the extent to which it is likely to be met?

I have been asked to reply. The Austrian Government Treasury notes referred to form part of the unsecured bonded debt of the old Austrian Government. Under Article 203 of the Treaty of St. Germainen-Laye each of the Succession States has to assume responsibility for a portion of this debt on the assessment of the Reparation Commission, and bonds held outside these States have to be delivered to the Commission in order that certificates may be issued to the holders entitling them to a due share of the new issues of bonds to be made by the various Succession States. In the case of the particular loan referred to in the question, the definitive Treasury notes bad not actually been delivered by the Austrian Government by the outbreak of War, and the only documents held by the British subscribers are the scrip certificates issued by the London issuing houses. These certificates are being collected by the Department for the Administration of Austrian Property, for delivery to the Reparation Commission. The total value of the certificates collected up to date is £1,220,000. A separate question arises in regard to interest which fell due during the War. Claims in this respect, as lodged by the British subjects concerned, are being presented by the Department for the Administration of Austrian Property to the Austrian Clearing Office, under Article 248 of the Treaty. The Austrian Government has not yet admitted its liability in respect of this debt, but if it does not do so it will be necessary to submit the matter to the Anglo-Austrian Mixed Arbitral Tribunal for adjudication. I am afraid that it is not possible to estimate how long the settlement of the claim will take.