Former Hungarian and Roumanian Property (Distribution)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st July 1956.

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Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East 12:00 am, 31st July 1956

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will direct the Administration of Enemy Property Department to delay the distribution of former Hungarian and Roumanian assets, in order to avoid the injustice of irretrievably depriving of their own property those victims of Nazi persecution who have complied with every condition prescribed by the said Department for the release of their own assets, except that they have so far been prevented from crossing the Iron Curtain, but who may, in view of the improving travel facilities from Eastern Europe, fairly soon become able to do so.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

No, Sir. The Administrators of Hungarian and Roumanian Property have a duty to make distributions to the United Kingdom creditors as soon as they are in a position to do so. With every sympathy, therefore, for these unfortunate victims of Nazi persecution, I cannot agree to prejudice the claims of these creditors by deferring their long-awaited dividends for a further indefinite period.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his obvious awareness of the human tragedies behind this situation, may I ask whether he thinks that the creditors, many of whom, although perfectly legitimately, are several stages removed from the original transactions with Hungary and Rou-mania, would not press their claim so hard if they realised that a large part of their hoped-for dividend would come from the total sole assets of these unfortunate people, whose only fault is that they are not now permitted to leave the countries behind the Iron Curtain before a certain date?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

This has been a long and troublesome matter. I think it is right that, if possible, a final distribution of dividends should be made. At the same time, we have been able to make arrangements whereby the sum of about £250,000 should be made available from the remaining German assets for the purpose of providing a charitable source for help in some of the worst cases of hardship of the victims of Nazi persecution.