Council of Foreign Bondholders

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th March 1972.

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Photo of Mr Peter Rost Mr Peter Rost , Derbyshire South East 12:00 am, 27th March 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has studied the 1971 Annual Report of the Council of Foreign Bondholders; and what action he proposes to take.

Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud

The Council of Foreign Bondholders is an independent body and is in no way controlled or financed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I have seen the council's 1971 report and nothing in it appears to call for action by me. The precise scope of the interests that the council undertakes to represent is a matter for the council.

Photo of Mr Peter Rost Mr Peter Rost , Derbyshire South East

While accepting that the Council of Foreign Bondholders has done useful work in the past, is there not now a case for trying to persuade it to widen its scope so that, quite apart from sitting back and waiting with the forlorn hope that the Czarist debts and the pre-revolution China debts might be honoured one day, it could look into some of the instances where British investors in British companies have had assets expropriated or nationalised? Is there not a Government grant which is the main source of the council's finance? Could not the matter be looked at again?

Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud

The Council of Foreign Bondholders is a rather technical council and it would be unsuitable for it to act internationally on behalf of other kinds of claimants. In the last resort the companies concerned ought to exhaust local municipal remedies. As to the contribution by Her Majesty's Government, that is by the Treasury and Questions about it should therefore be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.