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British Nationals' Claims

Volume 466: debated on Monday 27 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he proposes to take to grant compensation for war losses suffered by British nationals in China who had been told by His Majesty's Government that they must look to Japanese reparations for relief, in view of the fact that the Government of the United States of America have made the decision that no further reparations shall be exacted from Japan to meet the claims of allied nationals.

The United States have suspended allocation of reparations authorised under an interim scheme, but have not made any such decision as is suggested by the hon. Member. British nationals have not been told that compensation for their war losses in China must await the receipt of reparations payments from the Japanese. They have been informed that consideration will be given, at the conclusion of a Peace Treaty, to the presentation of claims against Japan for individual war losses suffered by Allied nationals in China and elsewhere.

Is the Minister aware that he himself told me, in answer to a Question on this very point, that the hope of getting compensation must depend upon Japanese reparations? In view of the fact that the Government have recently made an ex gratia payment towards a similar effort in Burma, does not the Minister feel that something ought to be done for these unfortunate people in China?

I was distinguishing between claims payable under reparations and claims against Japan made as part of the treaty by individual claimants. I think my answer makes that point clear.

Has any protest been made to the United States Government about the use of unilateral action of this kind, since no question of urgency can possibly arise on this subject?

It is not a question of a decision by the United States Government. They have merely put forward proposals which are now before the Far Eastern Commission.

In arriving at a decision will the Minister take into account the large quantities of material from British sources that were found in Japan and shipped to America, representing many tens of millions of dollars?