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Buenos Aires Transport Corporation

Volume 463: debated on Monday 11 April 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what are the exact claims which His Majesty's Ambassador in Buenos Aires is putting before the Argentine Government as due to the British shareholders in the Buenos Aires Transport Corporation; and how far has the Argentine Government failed to comply with agreements, contracts, or guarantees entered into with this Corporation since 1936; and how much money is involved;

(2) whether, in view of the conversations going on at present between the British Ambassador in Buenos Aires and the Argentine Foreign Secretary concerning compensation to be paid to British shareholders in the Buenos Aires Tramway Corporation, any postponement of the liquidation of the assets scheduled for Tuesday, 12th April, can be arranged until some arrangement has been reached.

The instructions of His Majesty's Ambassador at Buenos Aires are to try to bring about direct negotiations between the British companies forming part of the Buenos Aires Transport Corporation and the Argentine Government, with a view to the purchase by the latter of the companies' holdings at an acceptable figure. If agreement on this course can be reached, the date fixed for the liquidation of the Corporation will, presumably, be deferred. The Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company consider that the Argentine Government has not adhered either to the terms on which the Buenos Aires Transport Corporation was set up in 1938, or to the terms of a financial agreement signed in 1942 between the Argentine Government, the Buenos Aires Transport Corporation and a financial group. My right hon. Friend has not been informed of the total amount claimed by the various companies concerned, nor what figure they would regard as acceptable.

While appreciating that the hon. Gentleman cannot go into any further detail while the negotiations are in progress, may I ask him if he will bear in mind that the original sum suggested by Senor Miranda, amounting to over £11 million, would mean something like 4d. on our meat ration? As the sum claimed by the Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company for the Buenos Aires Corporation is about £20 million, which would be about 8d. worth of meat on our meat ration, will he assure us that British shareholders' claims will continue to be backed by the Government even if liquidation is forced within the next few days?