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Italian Estates (Release)

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

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asked the President of the Board of Trade on what grounds the £10 million, held in London for the House of Savoy, has been released for payment in sterling, when all other financial deposits owned by Italians have been made available in lire.

This estate has not been treated specially but was dealt with strictly in accordance with the arrangements agreed with the Italian Government for application to the estates of Italians who died during the war. The property was released from the control of the Custodian of Enemy Property to the Attorney-Administrators so that, upon obtaining letters of administration, they could deal with the estate in the normal course. I may add that my hon. Friend has been misinformed as to the amount of the estate which was very much less than the figure quoted by him.

Nevertheless, is the President of the Board of Trade aware that what has been done has created an extremely unfavourable impression with all Italian Republicans as well as large sections of public opinion in this country, and why should preferential treatment have been given to these people who at the time appeared to be nothing but the tools of Mussolini?

I am not so aware, and as I have stated this case has been dealt with exactly as any other case would be dealt with under the arrangements agreed to with the Italian Government.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say why some of this money has not been taken to meet the obligations of the Italian Government on Austrian bonds held in this country?