Oral Answers to Questions — Bank for International Settlements

– in the House of Commons on 1st October 1942.

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Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the British representatives on the Bank for International Settlements have the special permission of His Majesty's Government to enter into business relations with enemy aliens, and whether he will give their names?

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the present position of the Bank for International Settlements?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The President of the Bank is an American citizen and the conduct of the Bank, which is guided by a strict policy of neutrality, is wholly in his hands. No transactions have taken place since the war between the Bank of England acting as a member of the Bank and enemy Central Banks forming part of the institution. There have been no meetings of British and enemy directors since the war and there are no business relations between them. There is no British member of the Management at Basle. The two British Directors are Mr. Montagu Norman and Sir Otto Niemeyer. The only British subjects on the staff at Basle are three subordinate officials and they have nothing to do with the policy or management of the Bank. The Report just issued is that of the American President of the Bank. No one else has any responsibility for it and neither of the British Directors is concerned in it. No copy of it has in fact yet reached this country, and it was not submitted to the Treasury or the Bank of England before publication. This country has various interests and rights in the Bank under International Trust Agreements between the various Governments and it would not be in the national interest to change our connection with the Bank as at present constituted and conducted.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

In view of the fact that the great majority of the shares are owned by the Nazis, either directly or indirectly, would it not be very much more satisfactory if the British Government and the Bank of England dissociated themselves from the Bank for International Settlements by withdrawing any representation and arranging that their interests should be looked after through Swiss sources—by Swiss bankers?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

No, Sir, there would be no public advantage in that at all. We have substantial interests in the Bank, and we have to safeguard them so far as we can.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

Will my right hon. Friend say whether when this Report does reach this country a copy can be placed in the Library?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the issue of this Report has been received in Germany with warm approval?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I have no knowledge of that, and I do not know how we can comment on it. So far as we are concerned, no copy has reached this country.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

Could the right hon. Gentleman inform us on what date this Report was issued to the public Press here and on what date it was communicated to the Bank of England?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

No, Sir. No communication has reached the Bank of England about this Report, and no copy of this Report has reached this country.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on 5th September the "Frankfurter Zeitung" devoted a whole page to the details of this Report?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

No, Sir. Whatever may have appeared there, no copy of the Report has reached this country.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Although the Report has been issued on the authority of an American citizen, does not that by implication also commit our own directors of the Bank as well, and therefore should we not entirely dissociate His Majesty's Government from the views expressed in the Report?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

No, Sir. I have already stated quite explicitly that this Report was issued on the authority of the American president of the Bank alone. I do not know, in fact, what is in the Report or whether it is open to any objection.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

In view of the difficulty of dealing with this important question by this method, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.