§ 2.35 p.m.
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will state the reasons given by the Japanese Government for the inordinate delay in settling the British pre-war claims against Japan which were filed in 1946, and whether they have made it clear to that Government that they expect those claims to be settled at a very early date.]
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Viscount for kindly postponing this Question from March 10 when I was absent. I am very much obliged. A number of factors have contributed to the delay since discussions with the Japanese Government first started, but I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by my enumerating them all now. Progress has been made over the last nine months, but, as I explained to the noble Viscount on December 16 of last year, we ran into difficulties over defining terms of discharge in the Agreement. A revised formula is now under active discussion. The answer to the second part of the noble Viscount's question is, Yes. We have made clear that we are disappointed at the slow rate of progress.
My Lords, I thank the noble Marquess for his Answer. May I express the hope that very soon he will be able to announce a satisfactory settlement of these long outstanding claims?
§ LORD OGMORE
May I ask the noble Marquess whether we may take it from his Answer that there are no points of substance outstanding; that it is merely a matter of draftsmanship?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I do not want to overstate the case. It is a question of legal technicalities of the terms of discharge.