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French Debt (Great Britain)

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 22 June 1922

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28 and 44.

asked the Prime Minister, (1) whether the French Government have endeavoured to raise the question of the cancellation of the debt owed us by them, either in connection with a reduction in their claim on reparations from Germany or for any other equivalent change in French policy; will he see that no steps are taken to cancel the French debt unless a cancellation of our debt to America is taken into account at the same time;

(2) whether any further steps have been taken with a view to obtaining payment of interest on the debt owed to us by France, or the funding of this debt in some such manner as has been done in respect of our debt to America?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, though the subject has naturally been mentioned in informal conversations between representatives of the two Governments. In answer to the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement which I made in this House on the 31st May, in the course of which I made it clear that in the opinion of the Government the taxpayers of this country cannot afford to remit the sums due to Britain in respect to advances made to other countries during and after the War if payment is pressed of interest and capital in respect of loans made to this country to aid in the prosecution of the War. For that reason we have already communicated with the countries to whom we have made money advances that we must be regarded as free to ask for interest in cash as from October next. We deeply regret the necessity for giving such notice, but in view of the heavy burden of taxation under which we labour, we have no alternative.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the rate of interest charged will be the same as that charged on the debt?


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the harmful effect of the still unsettled condition of the reparation question upon the trade of Europe, and Great Britain in particular, His Majesty's Government will offer to surrender in favour of France some or all of its claim on the Reparation Fund; and also make some proposal for adjust- ment of debts due from France to Great Britain?

I do not think it is desirable that at the present time I should add anything to the statement which I made in the Debate on the 31st May.