Pre-War Debts, Germany.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ex-Service Men. – in the House of Commons on 11th May 1922.

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Sir HENRY COWAN:

67.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the dilatory methods of the German Government in dealing with British pre-War debts; whether representations made by the Controller of the Clearing Office to the German authorities have, in many cases, failed to secure a settlement; whether the alternative procedure of bringing cases before the mixed arbitral tribunal involves considerable expense; and whether, in view of the hardships imposed upon British traders who urgently require the moneys withheld by the German Government, steps will be taken to expedite the ad- mission and settlement of such claims by bringing pressure to bear upon the German Government.

Photo of Sir William Mitchell-Thomson Sir William Mitchell-Thomson , Glasgow Maryhill

Constant pressure is being brought to bear on the German authorities to expedite the admission of outstanding claims in respect of pre-War debts. Where, notwithstanding this pressure, there is undue delay, claimants are recommended to refer their claims to the Anglo-German Mixed Arbitral Tribunal. In ordinary cases the expenses of proceedings before the tribunal should be inconsiderable, having regard to the fact that no fees are payable to the tribunal, which also has power to award a sum to the successful party in respect of expenses.

Sir H. COWAN:

Is the hon. Baronet aware that persons who are unable to recover these debts by the ordinary procedure are deterred from making claims though the Mixed Arbitral Tribunal because of their belief that the charges are excessive and, in the case of small claims, out of proportion to the amount recovered?

Photo of Sir William Mitchell-Thomson Sir William Mitchell-Thomson , Glasgow Maryhill

I hope no one will be deterred by that consideration. As I have indicated in my answer, it is exactly contrary to the fact to say that the charges made by the tribunal are prohibitive.