Austrian Conversion Loan (Italy)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a formal request to the Italian Government to end their default on the drawn bonds of the Austrian Conversion Loan, in view of the fact that they have sufficient sterling credit for the purpose and that the Governments of France, Belgium, Sweden, Holland and Denmark have fulfilled their obligations on such bonds.
We have already pressed the Italian Government to meet this obligation, and we shall continue to do so.
Would the Economic Secretary say whether the Italian Government have been informed how much their credit would improve if they joined the company of States which have honoured their obligations on these bonds instead of remaining bracketed with the only other defaulter, Czechoslovakia?
I am sure that the Italian Government will take note of what the hon. Member has said.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what allowance he proposes to make in cases where payment has been accepted in commutation of legacy or succession duties, in view of the increased charge of Estate Duty in substitution for these duties.
I must ask the hon. Member to await the publication of the forthcoming Finance Bill.
Will the right hon. Gentleman at least give an assurance that the Chancellor, having eaten his cake, does not propose also to have it?
I do not know what the hon. Member means by that supplementary question. Of course, this point will have to be dealt with when we reach the Finance Bill.
Will the right hon. Gentleman carefully study that question in HANSARD?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will detail the goods and their value which we received under the European Recovery Programme during 1948–49.
During the period 4th April to 31st December, 1948, the total value (f.o.b.) of arrivals of E.R.P. commodities for which procurement authorisations had been granted or were expected at the end of the period was approximately 845,750,000 dollars. For details of the goods involved, I would refer the hon. Member to Table B appended to the Second Report on Operations under the Economic Co-operation Agreement published as Cmd. 7654. Reports on the operations in subsequent quarters will be published in due course.
Bathroom Cabinets (Taxation)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why permission was given to Modern Industries, Limited, of Kingston-on-Thames, to dispose of recess bathroom cabinets, without the addition of tax, up to 31st March, 1949, when at that time such goods were generally held liable to tax; and what steps have been taken to ensure that similar privileges are not granted to other individual suppliers to the detriment of their competitors.
This situation arose from a misunderstanding. The circumstances are not likely to recur.
Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that no discrimination of any kind took place in the exercise of the authority of the Treasury?
Yes, certainly. I think there was a genuine misunderstanding. We are taking steps to see that it does not occur again.