Sir H. COWAN:57.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, seeing that under the Reparation Clause of the Allied Conference the German Government is required to levy a special duty of 26 per cent. on all exports from that country, he will state whether the amount of such levy has been paid by the German Government to the Allied authorities; whether the German Govern- ment has raised the amount required to meet such payment by actually levying the specified duty on exports, or whether the sum required is derived from general revenue; and, if so, seeing that this method of raising the tax is an evasion of the agreement between Germany and the Allies, and calculated to defeat the object which the Allies had in view in imposing a tax on exports from Germany, will he make the necessary representations on the subject?
By the Schedule of Payments Germany is obliged to pay to the Committee of Guarantees as security for the Reparation Annuities inter alia a levy of 25 per cent, on the value of German exports, unless the German Government offers and the Committee accepts other funds in substitution. The hon. Member, however, is in error in supposing that the object of this arrangement was to impose a tax on exports. It was proposed solely as a means by which the German Government could secure foreign currencies, and it was specifically provided that the equivalent of the levy shall be paid in German currency by the German Government to the exporter. I understand that in June last the Committee of Guarantees accepted a proposal of the German Government not to enforce the levy pending the preparation of an alternative scheme by the German Government, on condition that equivalent amounts were paid to the Committee each month as from 15th November last. The German Government has put into operation a scheme under which exporters, as a condition of the grant of an export licence, must make out their invoices in foreign currencies and hand over to the German Government the whole or part of the proceeds in foreign currencies. This scheme has been operating since August last, but the German Government failed to pay over the proceeds before 31st December last, alleging the necessity of meeting other outstanding liabilities. I understand that since 1st January the equivalent of the levy has been duly paid under the provisional arrangements now in force.