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Albania (British Claim)

Volume 524: debated on Monday 1 March 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has been able to recover the compensation awarded by the International Court against Albania for the murder of British sailors in the Corfu Channel.

No, Sir. The present position is that the gold should come to the United Kingdom, unless Italy can establish a better claim before the International Court. The Italian Government have, however, contested the jurisdiction of the International Court.

Does this case not prove conclusively that a wrongdoer can snap his fingers at the International Court and its decisions, while if a person who is wronged takes the law into his own hands he commits a breach of international law?

I do not think this case proves the hon. Gentleman's contention. It has not yet been adjudged by the Inter national Court.

Is it not open to us to take the case to the International Court under the optional clause? Do Her Majesty's Government intend to do that?

Yes, Sir; the matter is now before the International Court. The Italian Government have contested the Court's competence to adjudge it.

Have the Italian Government contested this course in spite of the fact that they agreed that the disposal of the gold should go to arbitration in the first place, and that if they wished to appeal against the arbitrator's decision the case should go to the International Court? Was not that the original agreement when the matter was taken to arbitration?

Speaking from recollection, I think the hon. Gentleman is right, but the fact is that the Italian Government are now contesting the jurisdiction of the International Court.