§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Lyttelton (Aldershot) rose—
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
On a point of Order. Before the Debate starts, may I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker? Will it be in Order today to discuss the continued detention of prisoners of war, and their use in this country? If the answer is "No," will there be any possibility of discussing that subject on the Adjournment, as many hon. Members have been trying to raise it for some time?
§ Mr. Speaker
The answer to that question is, I think, in the negative. As this 527 Vote applies to Germany, and not to Germans in this country, I would be bound to Rule it put of Order in this Debate. As to what subjects can be raised on the Adjournment, we must wait and see.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Would it be out of Order to ask if the continued absence from Germany of millions of people had some effect on the recovery of that country?
§ Mr. Speaker
That may be said, but there could not be debate on what those absentees were doing in this country. Therefore, it would be a very limited point.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
As reference is made in the Report to the effects on certain industries in Germany of the retention of Germans in this country, in so far as that was mentioned, would that be in Order?
§ Mr. Speaker
That could be mentioned, but one could not go on to discuss what Germans are doing in this country.
§ Mr. H. D. Hughes (Wolverhampton, West)
I was given a reply to a Question today which indicated that the Minister would make a statement. I hope, Mr. Speaker, your Ruling will not make that impracticable.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)
I had assumed that to speak of prisoners of war would be in Order as the Select Committee had made a recommendation on the matter, in paragraph 45 of their Report.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
Is it the case that it is in Order to discuss prisoners of war in relation to Germany, but not in Order to discuss what is taking place in this country?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The Committee say in their Report, on the broadest general grounds, that it would facilitate our administration in Germany, and raise the morale of the German people, if more prisoners were sent back from this 528 country. I intended to deal with that aspect of the matter Would that be in Order?
§ Mr. Speaker
It would be correct, but what I think the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) is concerned with is to discuss how the Germans here are employed. He says it is slave labour. That would be out of Order.
§ Mr. Stokes
With great respect, Sir, the wording is "both the use of, and further continued detention of." If I might draw attention to the answer given to Question 15 today, the Government are apparently to make an announcement on the release and repatriation of German prisoners of war. Will that be in Order in this Debate?
§ Mr. Speaker
That, I think, will be in Order so far as it deals with the labour supply in Germany itself.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I hope that the decision of the Opposition to devote the 20th Supply Day to the subject of the Control Commission in Germany will be welcomed in all quarters of the House. It is a matter which goes far beyond the concern of this country alone. I will do my best to deal with it on broad lines, and not to descend into detail, and I will be as brief as possible. I do not think any one underrates either the size or the difficulty of the task which confronts His Majesty's Government in the great problem of Germany, and its occupation by the Allies. But it is undeniable that no clear-cut policy by His Majesty's Government has so far emerged or been enunciated, whatever the excuse may be. No one today could give more than the vaguest and most general reply to this sort of question: Is our occupation of Germany likely to last for a decade or a generation? Is Germany to become an industrial nation again? Is our policy punitive or constructive? The Report of the Select Committee—and the thanks of the whole House are due to the Committee for a very illuminating and succinct document, and I place nearly as much emphasis on the second adjective as on the first—reinforces this criticism, because on page 17 of the Report, we find these words:the lack of a clear definition of Allied policy in Germany as a whole, as well as in the North West German Zone.529 etc., I make so bold as to say that in this as in so many human affairs which are complex and obscure, there is all the more reason for a bold and incisive and sharply defined policy. We hope to have this enunciated soon, but we cannot escape the conclusion that it has been over long delayed.
I propose, first, to say something about the organisation in Whitehall as it affects the British zone in Germany, and its administration. There are some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both side of the House who have had some experience in' the war, and in office, of the task of coordinating two or three great Departments of State. The best way, in fact, the only way, to secure a coherent and coordinated policy is either for the Prime Minister himself to take charge of it, or for some other senior Minister to be charged with the task. Even then it is not an easy task, because the coordinating Minister soon finds himself faced by the difficulty that the responsibility of individual Ministers for their own Department in this House naturally arises, and this coordination is apt to lead to friction, friction to delay and delay to compromise, and all these three are the enemies of good administration. But the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a junior Minister, with a sinecure office in the first instance. Yet ho is charged with directing the activities of the Allied Control Commission for Germany, which is partly a military concern —in the first instance it is a military concern, merging very quickly into the responsibilities and policy of the Foreign Office. This junior Minister has, in some way, to hold a balance between the conflicting interests in Whitehall. There are other Departments of State, notably the Treasury, which must intrude into the picture at a very early stage. Their interests in these matters are hardly less deep than those of the other two Departments I have mentioned.
The actual administration itself—I am not for a moment saying that it is unnecessary or undesirable—is hybrid; it is partly civil and partly military. There are several regional commissioners, five, I think, appointed by the hon Gentleman, who are responsible to the Com-mander-in-Chief, and the Commander-in-Chief is responsible to the War Office, and yet his conduct of this difficult task is today probably more the concern of 530 the Foreign Office than of the War Office. If ever there was a need for a true coordinating hand in these matters, it is here. I do not think that this task should have been entrusted to a junior Minister. The hon. Gentleman must, I am sure, have something of the sensations of a minnow floating about amongst the whales. I sympathise with him. I should like to see in the higher administration more of the hand of senior Ministers, such as the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, whose indisposition we all regret, and whose worst enemy would never describe him as a minnow.
I do not pretend to be the hon. Gentleman's equal as an ichthyologist. I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman assume much more direct control over the Allied Control Commission.
I turn to some of the financial aspects, about which some discussion has taken place in this House. The Report of the Select Committee uses strong language, but hardly strong enough, about the great paradox of a victorious nation subsidising its conquered enemy to the tune of £80 million a year, more than a year after victory has been won. The Committee describe the situation as probably without parallel in history. That seems to be one of those characteristics and rather engaging understatements in which the British like to indulge. The late Lord Keynes, in his famous book, "The Economic Consequences of the Peace," after the first world war, threw a blinding new light on the subject of the effect of the exaction by victors of reparations from the vanquished, a book which caused something like revolution in the thought of the world on this subject of reparations. But Lord Keynes, with all his far-seeing lucidity, devoted not a line in that book to a discussion of the effect upon the victors of paying reparations to the vanquished. Not even his penetrating brain imagined that great paradox.
I do not think we got into that situation as a result of a plan, although we get into many funny situations as the result of a plan. I think we have got into this as a result of delays in facing realities, and I urge that the time has now come when we should face up to the position fairly 531 and squarely. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, as long ago as 9th April, used very much the same language as I am now using. He said:the British taxpayers cannot, and should not, much longer be expected to go on paying, on this scale, what are, in effect, reparations to Germany."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1946; Vol. 421, c. 1818.]A long time has elapsed since 9th April, yet nothing has been said, and as far as I know, nothing has been done to reverse, or to attempt to reverse, this intolerable situation, because that is what it is. I think that the best way to describe the nature of the great paradox is to say that this country is now spending a little under £2 per head of the population per annum on the direct support of the German people who fought against it with such ferocity and such cruelty, and a little over 5s. per head of the population per annum on the support of its Colonial Empire and the Colonial subjects of the Crown, who fought for us during the war. The com parison is striking.
At this point, let me say a few words on the subject of the zones. The Potsdam Agreement provided the only practicable system, which was that the several zones should work in concert. This has never been tried out. I think that any criticisms of our present difficulties, which ascribe them to the nature of the Potsdam Agreement, are largely irrelevant. It has not been tried. Any agreement on paper must be unworkable if the signatories cannot work in harmony, to some extent, to a common end, and are not willing to make some personal sacrifices to achieve that end. It has surely been made quite clear that the Potsdam Agreement was not to be carried out by the Russians, and that at the present moment—I emphasise those words "at the present moment"—there is no possibility of Germany being treated as a whole, because of the Russian attitude.
I do not see how in the organisation of our own zone, any attempt to bring that zone into economic balance, or any arrangement we can make for cooperation with the other Western zones, would make ultimate settlement with the Russians more difficult. I cannot see that. I think it should make it easier. We have delayed too long in tackling this trouble, out of a mistaken idea that it would make our task with the Russians 532 easier. I think it will make it more difficult if we do not begin now. The longer we go on thinking that something which, manifestly, is not going to happen at once, is going to happen at once, the longer and heavier will be the burden which the hard-pressed British taxpayer will have to bear. The fact that the Russian zone is isolated and insulated from the others, of course, greatly increases the difficulties of the whole German problem. This aspect is so well-known that I will not dwell upon it for long.
The dense industrial population of the Rhineland and the Ruhr were fed in peace-time by the agricultural surpluses of those countries which are now in Russian occupation. I was very glad to see that the Select Committee, I think for the first time, have given authoritative although admittedly not complete figures on this subject. They are given on page 12 of the Report and I must quote the words:It is known that in 1936 Eastern Germany exported 2, 100,000 metric tons of 'bread grains,' and that 1,800,000 metric tons were imported into North-West Germany.It goes on to give the comparable figures for potatoes and sugar, and it ends with these words:Thus Eastern Germany could in normal times have supplied the import requirements of these foodstuffs for North-West Germany. Today the food movement from East to West is virtually non-existent.In the words of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, "We have the mouths, and the Russians have the food." Having touched upon the difficulties of the subject—I think they do not require over-emphasis—and having said that the burden on the British taxpayer is intolerable, I feel the argument would be futile, unless I make some attempt to suggest how the situation could be remedied. I would like to carry the House with me in stating some conclusions to which our reason appears to direct us. First, I do not believe that we have the correct concept of how Germany should be administered, and I think this is partly due to hesitancy and muddle or faulty organisation at the top. This is brought out very clearly in the Report itself. Reading between the lines, I think we are trying to do too much with too many people in Germany.
533 I will make a comparison between our present concept of the administration of Germany and our one-time concept of the administration of India. I think it will illustrate what I mean. When we really governed India, the British element in the Indian Civil Service amounted to about 1,500. There were, in addition, a few police officers and personnel in the Forestry Department, and so forth. At the time of which I am speaking, India had a population of about 300 million, speaking over 300 different languages, and spread over a vast area; whereas the area which we are now attempting to administer in Germany is only a little bigger than Great Britain and the population we have to deal with is about 22 million. We have 26,000 administrators doing this job. I believe firmly that if we had the right concept of how we are to administer Germany, it should be possible to administer our zone with a maximum of 3,000 British personnel instead of the present 26,000. We are trying to do too much, and we are assuming unnecessary burdens and undertaking unnecessary tasks. If my information is correct, there are several hundred British officers engaged at this moment in the Forestry Commission in Germany. Presumably, they are employed in training the Germans how to grow trees but, as German forestry methods were about two generations in front of our own before the last war, this would hardly seem to be necessary. All that is required is to tell the Germans how many trees to grow, where to grow them and, perhaps, what to do with them. It does not require a great staff to do that.
There are 5,000 or more officers in the trade and industry division. Again, it is surely quite unnecessary to teach the Germans how to run factories. I have sometimes thought they run them rather too well. That is an unnecessarily large number of officers to deal with that subject. I think our attitude upon certain cultural matters verges on the hubristic. It is hardly necessary to teach the Germans how to love Beethoven, but we have that kind of thing going on as well. In all these matters, I do not consider that more than the top level administration should be necessary. It is quite sufficient for the administrative authority to run the policy. They should not try to supervise every detail and look into every grievance brought to their ears. The Select Com- 534 mittee make these arguments. More than once in the Report, reference is made to the need for quality rather than quantity in our administrative staff. I have tried to cross the t's on this matter.
I suppose objection could be levelled against an attempt to admininster Germany with such a small number as I suggest. It could be said that it would be much easier for the Germans, if there was only a small number of officers, to sabotage the efforts of the occupying Powers, particularly the efforts to demilitarise Germany. It should be emphasised that Germany has been largely demilitarised already by the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force, and that the Germans are not such complete fools as to wish to sabotage the administrative efforts of the occupying Powers when every German knows that his country is living on the brink of starvation. During the next 10 years the problem will be quite different. The struggle of German industry will be to exchange goods for the things needed by its people. In this period, in my opinion, it will not be difficult to prevent any steps being taken towards rearmament. Naturally, if Germany is to be administered by this much smaller number of officers it will involve a much more audacious and a much quicker use of Germans in local and central government. Instead of waiting until German exports are large enough to pay for this large number of British administrators, I suggest that the sooner the details of the government of Germany is left to Germans, who can be paid in marks, the better for everyone.
Another salutary effect of an audacious policy of devolution on the Germans will be to induce a sense of responsibility for their own affairs with a corresponding increase in the morale of the German people. At present, the effect of our over-administration is to delay the formation of responsible public opinion in Germany. I hope the Committee do not think I am underrating the risks inherent in such a policy. They are there, but in my opinion they must be accepted. We should not forget that whatever we do there are risks. Few of us are ignorant of the fact that the Social Democratic Government, after the first world war, broke every single clause of the Peace Treaty right under our noses. In those days we were not in occupation. If that 535 happened now, as a result of a farseeing and audacious policy, then such breaches could be visited with condign punishment on those who attempted them. I think that our attitude to the subject of the devolution to Germans is again too hesitant and too timid.
While I am touching on this subject, I would like to say something about the cognate problem of what we are pleased to call the de-Nazification of Germany—the purge of Nazi elements. No one, I suppose, will deny that our objective is clear and unexceptionable. It is to build up a democratic Germany with a respect for democratic institutions and the democratic system of Government. In pursuit of this aim, we have, according to the Select Committee, no less than 40,000 persons in concentration camps, none of whom have been subjected to any process of legal trial.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
It is, I think, apparent that, in attempting to spread and foster democratic institutions in Germany, we are slipping into the use of one of the most odious features of the Nazi rule. No one would deny that some such measures were necessary at the beginning, but what I am saying is that the time is long past when the guilty should be brought to trial, and those who are not dangerous, or who are nearly innocent, should be released. It seems to me to be a far from happy way of fostering democratic institutions in Germany to tear up every provision of Magna Charta and Habeas Corpus and rub them in the noses of 22,000,000 people; and I cannot think that that situation should be allowed to continue any longer. My argument is that we should reduce the number, and, consequently the expense, of those administering Germany, and devolve, much more rapidly than we are doing, many of those tasks upon German shoulders, whatever the risks attendant upon that policy may be.
I turn to the economic and industrial aspect of the subject. The Potsdam Agreement states that one of the purposes of the occupation was the complete disarmament and demilitarisation of Germany, and the eliminiation of control of all German industry that could be used for military production. If we are to 536 avoid Germany being a bottomless liability for the British taxpayer, these words must not be construed in a slavish way. We can adopt methods which will fulfil that objective completely, but, frankly, I do not know what the policy of the Government is in regard to German industry. All we do know is that the production now attained in Germany is short of the level permissible under the Allied agreement which, I believe, is 55 per cent. of the 1938 volume. I suggest to the House that it is abundantly clear that, with regard to German industry, a highly selective policy of destruction is the only sensible course to pursue. Nearly all industries in a modern state have some elements of a war potential in them, and if an indiscriminate and non-selective policy of destruction of industry is to take place—and I think it has been taking place—the burden on the British taxpayer will not be removed, but will be increased.
May I ask a question? Is it a fact that, all through last year and even up to quite recently, machinery has been removed from the Western Zone and exported to Russia? I know that machinery has been destroyed, and I think it has also been taken from the Western Zone and exported to Russia. If that has been done, it is a very serious mistake. It is what, in the jargon of our century, we call a unilateral sacrifice. Whether that question is answered in the affirmative or not, I do not believe that a selective policy of dealing with Germany's war potential has been followed. I read in the Select Committee's Report some endorsement of what I have been saying. Paragraph 40 of the Report states:The citizen of Hamburg, where employment has centred on the port, sees gantries being blown and docks dismantled; the inhabitant of Essen, where employment has centred on Krupps, witnesses rolling mills being dismantled and the manufacture of railway engines, for which the whole of Europe is crying out, prohibited. And neither has any idea what is to take the place of what he sees being destroyed.That quotation has particular significance in regard to what I have been saying. Let me turn to the financial aspect in order to illustrate the point. The amount of money which aid to Germany is now estimated to cost is £130 million, out of which £50 million, it is estimated, will be recouped from the proceeds of German exports. Therefore, if the equation is to balance, or, rather, if the two sides of 537 the account are to balance, we should have the objective of building up German exports to £130 million, which cannot possibly be achieved if the indiscriminate destruction of German industry is taking place.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I never backed the Morgenthau plan; the answer to that question is very simple There are certain key industries—and I always held this line of thought in the Coalition Government — which should be completely destroyed, and I assert with the utmost conviction that, if we do this and if some proper account is taken of the present state of Germany, the chances of rearmament can be completely dismissed from our thoughts. That does not mean, with regard to other industries, that we might not have to maintain a system of inspection. I am only saying that, with reasonable inspection and the destruction of certain key industries, the possibility of rearmament can be dismissed from our minds. The selection of these industries is a subject which I need not go into—the ball-bearing industry, the high pressure fixation processes and the aircraft industry will readily occur to the minds of hon. Members — but there is one industry which brings out the point which I have been making rather sharply, namely, that concerned with the production of oil from coal. It is, broadly, true to say that oil derived from coal will always be more expensive than the natural product I am quite aware that the plants are now destroyed, and I am now discussing the question whether that is an industry which ought to be allowed to revive in Germany, I say "No," because oil from coal will always be more expensive than the natural product, and, provided that Germany has the means of getting foreign exchange, then the production of oil by one of the two processes will not add to the economic strength of Germany but will detract from it. It seems to me, therefore, that this is one of the industries which we ought to prohibit.
There is a much wider issue involved in this subject. I think that the thoughts of the English-speaking world change very rapidly as the memories of war recede, 538 and I say that, if we are selective and eliminate three or four key industries from Germany, on which military potential, in the main, depends, we should have the opinion of the United States and the United Kingdom behind us perhaps permanently, but, if we go further and look ahead up to five or ten years hence, when some of the scars of war are healed, we shall not be able to enforce supervision of Germany industry as a whole and a policy of indiscriminate prohibition will appear to us like a Carthaginian peace or a measure of Thracian severity. In short, I believe that public opinion would endorse the prohibition of the manufacture of aircraft in Germany, or the fixation of nitrogen beyond a certain quantity, but I do not believe it would understand or support a policy of removing a knitting mill. It is absolutely necessary to get into a much more selective frame of mind and not to go splashing about as we are now doing. If Germany has enough foreign exchange, why should she produce, and add to her own economy, oil from coal? There is only one answer—war—and I think that people will understand that 20 years hence.
I must devote a few words to Germany's foreign exchange position because that is the root of the whole subject which we are discussing this afternoon. If we destroy her industries and she cannot export, Germany will become our permanent pensioner. Therefore, I am glad to see that the Select Committee puts in the forefront of its recommendations a drive to revive German exports so that she may become self-sufficient. I know that a raising of German exports may give rise to fears and anxieties in the Board of Trade. They are very natural. We all feel that we may be building up competitors for our export industry, but one cannot get a better line on these anxieties than by looking at it from a quantitative point of view. I imagine that life in the Western zones of Germany would be tolerable on exports of, say, £200 million. Adjusted to today's prices, German exports before the war would amount to £700 million, so that, on examination, if those figures are correct, our anxieties need not be too intense.
Then there is the matter of coal. The production of the Ruhr and the Saar amounted to over 150,000,000 tons a year, and it is not too much to say that 539 this production represented the motive force—the prime mover—of the whole of the industries of Western Europe. If my memory serves me aright, I think that that production had fallen just after the Armistice to a rate equivalent to 6,000,000 tons a year. The problem of restoring this production is an immensely difficult one. We should congratulate the North-Western German Coal Control on the job they have done, although the production is not enough for the needs of the world or Europe. The Select Committee refer to the vicious circle—insufficient coal, no foreign exchange with which to buy food, insufficient food and a falling coal production. I am more than glad to see the recommendations which they make. The only way to break out of the circle is by retaining more of the German coal inside the frontiers of Germany. If we do that, it will pay a handsome dividend, but, at the moment, it requires a certain far-sighted forbearance on the part of the people now receiving that coal. That recommendation is one which deserves being tried out to the full.
I have tried to describe in critical, but I hope not unconstructive, terms the broad aspects of the problem which the report of the Select Committee discusses. I will conclude by saying that if some clear-cut decisions are made many of the difficulties will disappear. If, for example, it is decided that we are to occupy Germany and supervise her administration for a long time, it would be possible to make the job of an officer in the Control Commission into a career and to give him some security of tenure. At present, neither of these elements is there, and the quality of the officers whom we employ is declining. Moreover, the recruiting system, which I think is the responsibility of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, beats in slowness almost any other process of Government, and that is saying something. The fact that the quality of these officers is declining is bad from all points of view, because the prestige of the occupying Powers is of prime concern. Above all, it is necessary to come to a decision, and to announce that decision, upon the policy for industry in Germany. I urge that it should be ruthless with regard to a handful of activities and products, and not, as I believe it to be now, rather severe for a great many, and not very well-selected industries.
540 If the British taxpayer is to be relieved of this burden, which is intolerable, Germany must export in order to import her deficiencies. Again, if it is our policy to promote democracy in Germany, it cannot be based on our destruction of Germany as an economic unit; it must be based upon her education and regeneration. If we continue our present line of action, we shall be in great danger of putting into the mouths of the Germans, the same words which Tacitus put into the mouths of the Gauls. He said:"Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant."—where they make a wilderness, they call it a peace. It would be disastrous if the Pax Britannica were so described.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)
I understand that it is thought to be to the convenience of the House that the Government should, at this stage in the Debate, say something about the Report which has been presented by the Select Committee. I would start by offering a very warm expression of gratitude to the Committee for the work they have done, thus joining myself with the words used by the right hon. Member for Alder-shot (Mr. Lyttelton) who opened the Debate. We welcome the Report, and I venture to think that it is an admirable example of the efficacy of our free Parliamentary institutions. It is the result of free and untrammelled inquiry by a committee of independent Members of Parliament into the Government's conduct in one of the most important, most difficult and most momentous tasks with which they have been charged. If I may say so, with respect, it seems to me that the Committee has fulfilled its duties, not only with energy and assiduity, but with imagination and qualities of heart and mind which reflect great credit on its members. I am certain that the Report will be of the utmost use in forming public opinion in this country and throughout the world. It will not only furnish this House with the basic facts and with a coherent and intelligible body of thought about a most difficult subject, but it will be useful, in a high degree, to the Government, and to all those in this country and in Germany concerned in the administration with which it deals. Both Parliament and, I think, the administration will receive a valuable stimulus from 541 the Report in the exercise of the grave responsibilities with which they are charged.
The main purpose of the Committee in their journey was to consider, not the whole problem of German policy, but the cost of the British administration to the taxpayer in this country, why there is so great a gap between the expenditure and the revenue, and what can be done to make that gap smaller. Its purpose was, largely, to throw a searchlight on the figures which form the basic problem which we faced. The figures, already recalled by the right hon. Member for Aldershot, represent a total cost to our Exchequer of £130 million. Of that sum, £100 million represent essential imports for the German population. Revenue from exports amounts only to £50 million, leaving a net deficit in the current year of £80 million. In considering these figures, the Committee were led into examining the general work of our administration They had to make an estimate of what we are getting for our money, what has been done, what results have been attained and whether they were worth while or not.
Nobody who has read their Report will fail to echo their tribute to the work accomplished by the British Army and by the Services which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy now controls. They define the task as that of bringing order out of chaos. They say that it is an astonishing thing that we should now have to do that. We conquered Germany. We met furious, insane resistance from the Nazis. To break that resistance, we had to smash the production and transport systems of Germany as no country has ever been smashed before. The administration of the nation completely collapsed. It fell into chaos. And now, as the Select Committee say, we have to bring order back to the conquered people. It is a striking proof of what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, for whose absence from this Debate, and from the Conference in Paris, we all grieve. I am glad to tell the House that today he is getting on much better; I hope he may make a speedy and complete recovery and be able to take up his duties again in the early future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I think the Committee's Report and the language they used is a striking illustration of what my right hon. Friend said the other night 542 when discussing the South Tyrol and Trieste. He said that everybody still talks loosely about the independence of nations, while, in the modern world, the fundamental fact of international life is their inter-dependence. The Committee say that we had to bring order out of chaos; and we have to, because it is our national interest to do so—our plain, national interest which no one, least of all the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton), would now deny.
I remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), in what I then thought and still think a very remarkable speech, said somewhere about 1941—I think it was in a speech at the Mansion House, but it may have been another—the right hon. Gentleman said that we could not in the future afford to have Germany in a state of economic misery and depression, as a running, festering sore in the body of Europe. It is not our tenderness for the German people; it is not that we forget the crimes which Hitler and others committed with their support. It is because it is our interest and the interest of the world that Germany should make her proper contribution to the wealth which the whole world must share.
This Report shows, in a narrower and more immediate sense, what we have got out of the process of restoring order to the German people. I was sent last September to Germany by the Cabinet to consider, with the administration in the British zone, what measures could be taken to prevent the spread from Germany of epidemic disease which might cost us and the world a great price if it were not stopped. When I went on that journey I did not forget the work in which I was engaged after the last war in trying to combat the epidemics which then happened. Everybody remembers the influenza which carried off 13 million people against the 10 million who were killed in the bloody conflict. Fewer people remember that, in the Soviet Union alone, there were 30 million cases of typhus. If we had had disease on that scale, or on a smaller scale, spreading from Germany to other countries and eventually here, it would have been a colossal setback to the process of reconstruction. When I got to Germany I found that, in fact, there were, so to speak, endemic cases constantly recurring—not only typhus but typhoid and diphtheria on a serious scale.
543 I found the administration facing the facts of which the Committee speak in their Report—the fact that 92 per cent. of the railway traffic was out of action, that the housing situation in our zone was almost desperate—3½ million houses out of 5½ million were either totally destroyed or badly damaged—and no fuel for cooking or heating for old or young through the winter months.
I found that already in September the military authorities were desperately anxious about the shortage of food. The generals in charge at that time were making herculean efforts to secure some kind of shelter for everybody in the British zone. They were organising great gangs of German workers to cut their forests to provide timber for shelter and fuel for their households; they were organising the health services, both Allied and German. They were beginning to carry through the immense campaign of inoculation against epidemic disease, of which the Report speaks, and which has given so magnificent a result. They were already beginning to make every effort to increase food supplies, to stamp out an incipient black market and to call the attention of our Government and of other governments to the urgent need for more imported food which would inevitably come. I think, looking back to that journey last September, that we have got something very real for this country by the expenditure which has been made. By avoiding epidemic disease, and by avoiding all that would have happened if we had had a collapse of organised administration in Germany, we have obtained for this nation something very well worth while.
I would now like to say one or two words about the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot, leaving most of them to be dealt with more fully by my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he replies tonight. I begin with what he said about the arrangements in this country for the control of the administration. He spoke about a Minister of junior rank. My hon. Friend is a Minister of Cabinet rank. He has, I am quite confident, no sensation of being a minnow, when he attends the Cabinet to discuss these subjects, and I am certain that the rest of the Cabinet have no such sensation about him. There 544 is no salmon about waiting to swallow him alive. On the contrary, he has the fullest help and support of the Foreign Office, the War Office and the Cabinet as a whole. I think it has been of immense advantage that, holding an office which, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is a sinecure, he should have been able to give the whole of his time and efforts to this matter. I think that has been of inestimable advantage and, if I may say so in his presence, I think he has shown an industry and ability to which the whole of this Report is, in fact, a tribute.
I am not going to deal in detail with the staff which my hon. Friend now controls in Germany—the 26,000 of whom the right hon. Gentleman spoke. I will leave that to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I am quite certain that when the right hon. Gentleman comes to hear the facts, he will not think it is so easy to generalise. I notice that in their Report the Committee were extremely cautious about what they said on the subject of reducing the existing staff. They said, in general terms, "Our purpose should be to cut the numbers and improve the quality." With that, no one could agree more heartily than the Government and, more particularly, the Chancellor. But on the particular example which the right hon. Gentleman gave of the forestry officers who are working in our zone, I would point out that they are not teaching the Germans how to grow trees. On the contrary, they are organising workers, who do not know how, to cut down German trees for the benefit of Germany and of other people. I will not say more than a few words about the right hon. Gentleman's general remarks concerning administration in Germany. We agree with him that we must aim at developing as quickly as we can, a responsible public opinion in Germany. I do not suppose that I would find myself in complete accord with the right hon. Gentleman on the whole history of the Weimar Republic. I have never believed that the Weimar Republic was destined to fail before it was born, as some people did.
I have never believed that the members of the Government of the Weimar Republic were all traitors and liars who were saying one thing to us, and doing another thing behind our backs. However, I venture to think- that the Weimar 545 Republic and its history have much to teach us. Among other things which it must teach us is this, that we must not repeat the mistakes we made over Germany last time; mistakes of many kinds, of being too harsh in some directions and too lenient in others. I am certain the Chancellor of the Duchy will be able to show the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot that, in fact, he has a very clear and realistic conception of the task in front of him, in defining which we agree with the right hon. Gentleman, namely, of bringing the German people to the point at which they can really govern themselves by democratic methods without becoming a menace to the rest of the world.
I now wish to deal, at not too great length, with five of the major recommendations made in the Report. I take first one mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman in opening the Debate, namely, the number of Germans who are still held in detention camps in the British zone— 40,000. These men, who were members of the S.S., the S.D., the Gestapo and other organs of the Nazi Party, which enslaved Germany and nearly destroyed the world—
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether they include children from 15 to 18 years of age in considerable numbers?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The Chancellor of the Duchy assures me that is not so. He will, of course, deal with that and other points which my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) may raise in the Debate. The Chancellor of the Duchy will deal with it in greater detail later. He assures me that is not true.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I will leave that to my hon. Friend when he replies. Broadly speaking, these men were members of the organisations which enslaved Germany. Those organisations are about to be put on trial in Nuremburg in a few days' time. If we were to release them now, we might have to rearrest them after a short period. I venture to think that if the policy had been to let them loose, they might have been a great danger to the lives and security of German democrats and to the re-establishment of a stable German administration, and that 546 it was certainly wiser to keep them under detention until the major trial of the organisations has taken place. When that trial is over, these men will get trial. They will have fair trials; they will be able to put up anything they ought to be allowed to put up in their defence—that they acted under orders, or under compulsion, any line of defence which they or their agents may choose to plead. I do not think—and I say it as one who has less animosity against the German nation than some people, because I lived in the Germany of pre-1914 days—that 40,000 is a very great number to be held in detention, in view of the fact that those organisations ruled 67 million people, and were able to make the German nation the spearhead of aggression against Europe and the world. With all respect to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), I think that to keep them under detention was an elementary precaution, which can be defended on any ground.
§ Mr. Stokes
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer this question, which is referred to in the Report? Is he aware it is stated that some of these people are detained on denunciation, without examination; and in view of our own experience under Regulation 18(B) does he consider that, satisfactory?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am sure my hon. Friend will recognise that there is in Germany, in effect, an 18(B) situation. We are not yet through the danger. I am assured by the Chancellor of the Duchy that it is, in fact, not true to say that the men are held without examination.
§ Wing-Commander Hulbert (Stockport)
Would the right hon. Gentleman make one point clear? He referred to the figure of 40,000, and its percentage of 67 million. Will he make it clear that the 40,000 are only those in the British zone? Presumably there are other concentration camps in other zones.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Yes, it refers only to the British zone. Of course, in the British zone we have something like one-third of the population of Germany. I say again, in view of the vast membership of these organisations and their stupendous, their unchallenged power in Germany, I do not think it is a very large number.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, at least on 547 this side of the House, and I think on both sides of the House, there is every support for the policy of putting into concentration camps members of the S.S. and other organisations? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] If any hon. Members feel sympathy for them let them say so. In consequence, is anything being done to try to re-educate some of these people? Is anything being done to try to change their minds?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Referring to what can be done to the 40,000 in Germany, I expect, as potential subjects for re-education, they are pretty tough. If the Chancellor of the Duchy has time, no doubt he will deal with that tonight. In view of what Mr. Speaker ruled a little while ago, I think it would not be in Order for me to describe what is being done about the reeducation of Nazis there, and some Nazis in this country. If it were in Order, I could tell my hon. Friend a good deal.
I now wish to deal with Paragraph 45 of the Report, which refers to the repatriation of prisoners of war from this country. I hope, within the rules of Order, I will be able to say a number of useful things. I do not think I can follow my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich, though I would very much like to, into the question of the Geneva Convention. I think I could show him we were all right on the letter, and that even on the spirit of the Geneva Convention we have a pretty good case. In any case, I think it is certain that since the Geneva Convention was made, there has never been any war in which such enormous numbers of people were taken by one belligerent state virtually as slaves to work on its territory for many years while the war continued. Therefore, it is not unreasonable that when the war is over some prisoners of war may be held for a certain time longer than the Convention might have contemplated originally, as some form of reparation. Certainly there has never been a war in which there has been a such great physical destruction on the territories of other countries, for which reparation was required.
Moreover, there are other considerations which are particularly relevant, and particularly important, in the administration of our zone. We have a great shortage of food in the British zone of Germany. We have been making sacrifices in this country in order to send food there by the hundreds of thousands of tons. These prisoners of war are producing food in the United 548 Kingdom for the Minister of Agriculture. If they continue to do that, it is not unfair to say that they are, in reality, producing food for Germany itself. I suggest to my hon. Friend that many of these men, if they had been sent home, and thrown back into the conditions of Germany after the war, would not have been rendering useful services to our nation and to their own nation, but would have been leading miserable lives, with far less food to eat, with far less adequate shelter, and with their clothes rapidly going into rags. In general, they would have a far worse fate at home during this last winter, than they have had in this country.
§ Mr. Stokes rose—
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I will just say this to my hon. Friend, and then I will give way if he wishes. If we had indiscriminately sent home all German prisoners we might have been sending home a considerable number of most dangerous Nazis, who would have made our task of administration there very much more difficult than it has been.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is my right hon. Friend, in the first part of his argument about the Geneva Convention, seeking to get this House to accept that, so far as our enemies break the Geneva Convention, it is an argument in favour of our doing so, even if only slightly, because that reminds me of the old story of the housemaid? Secondly, when my right hon. Friend says that it is necessary for these people to stay here for our own agricultural economy, would it not have been more just to explain that to them, and ask them to express their willingness to do so?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
As for explanations, I think it has been explained to the prisoners who are here. I have explained it to them myself in more than one camp, and I am told that what is said in one camp spreads to others. As for the Geneva Convention, I cannot follow my hon. Friend. Hitler was not breaking the Geneva Convention at all when he took civilians to work in Germany; he was simply committing a grave crime against humanity, and I do not think, even on the spirit of the Geneva Convention, that my hon. Friend would be able to show that we are acting out of accord with that spirit at the present time. I am sure my hon. Friend will recognise that. 549 before we started a large-scale repatriation, it was essential to do what we could to sort out the prisoners, to sort them into anti-Nazis, Nazis, and those non-political persons who were neither—into the classes which are roughly called white, black and grey. We have been doing that, and also, though it is perhaps not in Order for me to say so, we have been doing a great deal to re-educate the whites and the greys who are here.
Perhaps I might add, because it does affect the view which the Committee express that it would raise the morale of the German people if they knew what was to happen about prisoners of war in general, that the Government do not disagree. Indeed, we go further; we think the prisoners have a right to know within a measurable future, what lies ahead. We want them to know; we have already said —I have said it at Question time and my right hon. Friend has said it—that there is no question of keeping them as slaves for an indefinite future, as Hitler kept the displaced persons in Germany. There is no question of that, and the prisoners know it is true. We are now pressing on as fast as we can with the screening and retraining of the whites and greys, and it is not an easy matter. We have begun to send the whites back to Germany. My hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said in a Debate on 20th May that we had then already sent more than 1,000. In this month of July, more than 2,000 have gone back. There is a slackening of the rate, because we are keeping them for the harvest, in order to ensure that we get the maximum amount of food available for this country and for Germany, but a few hundreds will leave in August.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
In September the rate will be restored to over 2,000 a month, and as my right hon. Friend said, the time is coming soon when the rate of repatriation will have to be very greatly increased. Of course we recognise that; but I do not want to make any statement which would mislead the German prisoners or the German people. There are still very important decisions to be taken; the situation has not enabled us to take those decisions yet; and I cannot, therefore, add a fuller statement to what I have said, 550 but I do hope that my hon. Friend, and certainly the prisoners of war themselves, will think that what I have said is better than nothing at all.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
Would my right hon. Friend clarify that just a little? Does he mean that, broadly speaking, the policy of His Majesty's Government is that all German prisoners are not to be kept here indefinitely as slaves and will be repatriated in what may be called a reasonable period?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I did not say that, any more than I said that the 40,000 now held in the British zone will be imprisoned indefinitely for their political opinions, but we shall have to see how many of them fall into the category of those who ought to be kept in detention because they are a menace to society.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The Debate is tending to become extremely ragged by so many questions and interruptions. The Minister has been very generous in the way he has submitted to questions, and may I now suggest that hon. Members who want to ask questions should try to catch the Speaker's eye?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I pass on, with gratitude to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the third question raised in the Report, namely that we must somehow increase the quantity of food available in the zone. There, again, I shall leave the main answer to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy. I must say that he recognised immediately he. took office that this for him was problem No. 1, and from the very first week when he took over his present task, he sought means of increasing the food supplies for Germany. He played a very great part, through the international institutions of the United Nations—the Assembly, U.N.R.R.A., the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the others which have been involved in the general campaign for food for the starving parts of the world—in putting that machinery 551 into motion, and in achieving the very important results that have been achieved. He was asked the other day whether he was planning production for next year. He was and is planning; in fact this year, in the crop which will be reaped, he hopes to have 100,000 more tons of grain stuffs than there were in Germany last year. If I have got the figure right—he will correct me later if I am wrong—next year, if all goes well, he will not only have a bigger acreage under cultivation than there was in 1938, but will have a larger output of food, and we ought to remember that, in 1938, Hitler was using every effort in his power to maximise the amount of food produced in all parts of Germany.
I come now to the fourth major issue raised in the Report, that of coal. The proposal which the Committee make, namely, that there should be a temporary reduction of exports, is of course one which has been made before, which can be defended on very strong technical grounds, which, in itself, may seem so reasonable as to be almost inevitable, but which, if I may so phrase it, from the Foreign Office point of view is not only difficult but almost impossible to accept. We must look at this with the eyes of the French, the Belgians, the Dutch and others who are receiving some of the coal exported from the Ruhr. For years, their coalmines were ruthlessly exploited by the Germans, and they have terrible devastation to make good. Their reconstruction—ask any Frenchman who knows the facts about the life of his nation—depends upon coal now more than it does upon all the other economic factors put together. France is already back to something like 82 per cent. of industrial output, as compared with 1938. France has made a magnificent effort in the restoration of her transport system, an effort which reflects the highest possible credit on her Ministry, and upon the Minister who has been in charge. France has made a great effort in the last six-months in the domain of national finance. France can certainly reach a state of true social and economic stability if she can secure enough coal, but to lose even 50,000 tons of coal at this moment, or in the next few months, as next winter comes along, would not only mean a loss of foodstuffs for the French people, but might be a tremendous blow at all the 552 efforts which the French are making to restore their shattered economy.
The same is true of the Belgians, the Dutch, and the other peoples; and I put it to the House, that the reconstruction of these nations, the restoration of the stability of these European countries, is a major British interest. I suggest, therefore, to the Select Committee, and to the right hon. Gentleman, who also quoted this, that the right course is not to diminish exports, but, by other means, to increase production. I am not at all certain that we are at the end of our resources—the Chancellor of the Duchy, I am sure, will say more—but I am not at all sure that we are at the end of our resources, by the increase of manpower, by the obtaining of steel requirements from outside Germany—and it may well be possible on a barter basis to get them— and in other ways, we can come nearer to reaching the target of 300,000 tons a day.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am sorry to interrupt, but the right hon. Gentleman is scarcely doing justice to the point. My point was that by forgoing some coal now, the countries that are receiving it would get more. The right hon. Gentleman is rather making me suggest that they should permanently get less. If they want more, they ought, I think, to get it.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I do understand the point, and if I did not make that plain, I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. I understand it fully; but I think, with great respect, that it would at present be politically impossible to persuade these Governments and their nations of that point, and I think that, looked at from their point of view, even the temporary diminution of their coal supplies would have such grave economic and social results that it would not be worth while, and that we must, therefore, try to face the matter in another way—I believe we can—and increase the total supplies which we obtain from the Ruhr and, thereby, the exports we can make.
I pass to the most urgent issue dealt with in the Report, and the most important subject with which I have to deal, namely, the economic position of the zones of Germany and the necessity to reintegrate the zones into a single economic whole. After the last war, the Treaties which were then made gave Europe something like 2,500 kilometres 553 of new tariff walls. They were a major factor in impoverishing the peoples of Europe in the period between the wars, and they helped, in no small degree, to promote the world economic crisis, which, in turn, helped to bring the second war. The division of a single great country like Germany is even worse. Looked at from the point of view of our zone, it is, of course, a disaster. Our zone must have imports. It ought to have those imports from the other parts of Germany. Figures given in the Report and quoted by the right hon. Gentleman show that it used to draw them from other parts. If it does not draw imports from the rest of Germany, it must draw them from abroad, and it has not got the exports with which to pay. That is our problem.
I want, at the cost of wearying the House, to say exactly what the Government think about the meaning of the Potsdam Agreement, and what we intend now to do in this ma:ter. In the Potsdam Agreement, as the light hon. Gentleman said, the three Powers that were there agreed that German militarism and Nazism must be destroyed; that we must enable the German people to reconstruct their life on a democratic and peaceful basis; that we must look forward to their eventual peaceful cooperation in international life; that we must establish a level of industry wh:ch will enable them to have a standard of life not lower than the average of the standards of other European countries. Paragraph 9 of the Potsdam Agreement, as published, said that, for the time being, no central German Government would be established, but that there must be essential central German administrative departments, headed by State Secretaries, particularly in the fields of finance, transport, communications, foreign trade, and industry. Paragraph 14 said that during the period of occupation:Germany shall be treated as a single economic unit to this end. Common politics shall be established in regard to mining, and industrial production and allocation, agriculture, wages, import and export programmes, currency and banking, reparations, and the removal of industrial war potential, transportation, and communications.Paragraph 15 said that Allied controls would be imposed to the extent necessary to ensure, in the manner determined by the Control Council, the equitable distribution of essential commodities between the several zones, so as to produce a 554 balanced economy throughout Germany and reduce the need for imports. Paragraph 17 said measures should be taken by common action to repair transport, and to enlarge coal production and to obtain the maximum agricultural output—and to fulfil all these purposes, which I have quoted from the text.
The order of these provisions in the Potsdam Agreement is most significant. It shows that the requirement, that Germany should be treated as a single economic unit, is fundamental, and takes precedence over any question of reparations. We made specific proposals as to how these measures could be carried out. The Soviet representatives disagreed, and they made proposals which, they said, were necessary in order to enable them to secure the 10,000,000,000 dollars worth of reparations which they want from Germany, I am not going to argue that now, for it is not the time. We never agreed to that figure. We never said it was practical politics. We always said that we must first apply the fundamental principle, that during the occupation Germany should be treated as an economic whole. That provision was unqualified, unconditional, unambiguous; and it was laid down that the payment of reparations should leave sufficient resources to enable the German people to subsist without external assistance; and that the payment for approved imports into Germany should be the first charge against the proceeds of exports from current production and from stocks.
That is our view of how we ought to treat Germany as an economic whole. In view of that, I have now a declaration to make. I want to tell the House—I shall be forgiven, I trust, if I adhere rather closely to the note I have made— that the Government have given very close attention to the economic situation in the British zone, and that they have decided that new measures must be taken. At the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris, the Secretary of State said that if it were impossible to secure agreement on the treatment of Germany as an economic whole, it would be necessary for us to reorganise the British zone, so as to reduce the burden on the British taxpayer, but that we should wish to cooperate with any other zone on a basis of reciprocity. Mr. Byrnes, for his part, made an offer to the 555 effect that the American zone would co-operate with any other zone that was willing to do so, in such a way as to form an economic unit with the other zone so cooperating. This offer was renewed by General McNarney, the American Commander-in-Chief in Germany, at the meeting of the Allied Control Council in Berlin on 20th July. In making this offer, the American representative made it clear that their object was to abolish the division of Germany into airtight compartments, and to expedite the treatment of Germany as an economic unit.
At the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated that the American offer would be studied by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. After full consideration, His Majesty's Government have decided to accept the American offer, in principle, so far as the British zone is concerned. The British authorities in Germany have been given authority to discuss details with the American authorities in order to carry this decision into effect. The arrangements to be made will include the establishment of suitable joint administrations for such matters as agriculture, trade, industry and finance. In making this statement I desire to stress that it is now, and always has been, the policy of His Majesty's Government that Germany should, during the period of occupation, be treated as a single economic unit in accordance with the Potsdam decision.
So far from regarding the action I have just announced as being a step towards the division of Germany into two, it is the Government's firm resolve to continue to work towards the realisation of this Agreement to treat Germany as an economic whole. Nor is it intended that this special form of cooperation with the United States shall in any way detract from our cooperation with our Allies on the Control Council. On the contrary, we shall seek by all means to promote this four party cooperation in all matters concerning the control of our administration in Germany; and it is the hope of His Majesty's Government that the Governments of the two other occupying Powers will also join in the inter-zonal economic system now to be established between the British and American zones, and so help to bring about in full the treatment of Germany as an 556 economic unit. This step is directed against nobody. I reiterate what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister have so often said, that we are opposed—I almost said bitterly opposed—to the division of Europe into two parts. We think, as the Prime Minister said, that that would be a counsel of despair. We agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot that the adoption of this new measure should not make it more difficult, on the contrary, it ought to make it easier to secure the reintegration of Germany into one whole.
I have finished what I wanted to say. The Government want a Germany which will no longer be a menace to the world, a Germany which is disarmed, whose people hate the idea of war as much as we do. We believe that a dismembered Germany—dismembered by force—would not be a peaceful member of the international community. We hope that we can secure a system which will satisfy all our Allies, by which the political as well as the economic unity of the German nation can be maintained. We are striving to develop democratic institutions, and we think that Germany must work out its salvation through Germans. Today we have to consider whether this money we are spending on this administration is wasted or not. I have given some reasons for thinking that it is not wasted, and I have given reasons for thinking that we may be able greatly to reduce the deficit we have suffered this year; I am certain that the new arrangement we have proposed will greatly reduce that deficit.
We must face the fact that we shall have to occupy Germany for a considerable time to come. Some people say, and it is a respectable thesis, that the Ruhr is no longer a danger to world peace, because iron and steel will not be the foundation of the armaments of the future. Other people say, and it is a respectable thesis, that if you made a true system of world collective security, no nation of 67 million in the middle of a Continent could be a menace to the other nations. But we must now recognise the fact that unless the German people become a stable democracy with peaceful ideas, they may remain a potentially dangerous ally to be used by any intending aggressor, as Mussolini used Hitler in the fateful years after the last war. We must 557 recognise that the Ruhr, whatever its military importance—and it still may be very great—ought to make a major contribution towards the happiness and prosperity of Europe and the world. I end by quoting one paragraph from the Report:If our policy is merely punitive, and our desire is to make Germany an economic desert, our stay should be as brief and as economical as possible. If, however, we regard our stay in Germany as a mission—to change the German outlook and to create a new democratic spirit—our expenditure in the building up of machinery for education, culture and moral regeneration will be fully justified.It is that mission which the Government hope to carry out.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
I take this opportunity, as a Member of the Committee which went to Germany, to express publicly our thanks to all the officials and officers with whom we met during the course of our work, both here and overseas, and without whose cooperation it would have been very difficult to do anything. The declaration made by the Minister of State is, I am sure, welcome to everyone, not only in this House, but throughout the country. To those who have heard so much evidence, it is, unfortunately, a very sad fact that the Government will not face the issue of coal. We feel convinced that unless the pump is primed, it will be almost impossible for German economy to get around this awkward corner. We believe that it is in the interests of consumer countries, France and the rest, to allow this to happen, because production from the Ruhr pits will not be increased in the way expected unless this is done.
I want to mention one or two matters about which I feel very strongly, but which we could not put into the Report. I think that we are in danger of not really facing the facts of the situation. I believe that today the situation abroad is highly critical, and that it is our duty in this House to be perfectly frank about it, and to make it perfectly clear that the British people are being asked to pay now for the prosperity of others, and that we do not regret it. If this is to be a long-term policy, it will mean something more than that; it will mean enthusiasm and the right spirit to carry the thing through. A few months ago, no one thought that the Germans would be likely to do anything which we thought was 558 right, and the German people did not expect us to do anything which they thought was right. Yet, suddenly, we expect them to turn round and adopt wholeheartedly a new system of Government to which they are entirely unused. We cannot expect such a system to be effective unless there are years of education and years of tutelage by the right people. If that is done there may be some hope of some good results in 100 years time. One of the chief things which we have to remember is that the German people have never really had what we know as a Parliamentary system. There is a Parliamentary Union which does very good work, and I feel that if that could be developed, and some representatives of the Parliamentary Union made a study of the difficulties of Germany, great results would follow; but it will be a slow and difficult process.
I would say a word about prisoners of war. It was impressed very strongly on us that the way in which we are using the German prisoners for this period after the war is not the way in which the Germans, and other people, expected us to use them. We may like it or not, but on page 24 of the Army Estimates it will be noticed that there is an Appropriation in Aid of £36 million, which comes back to the British taxpayers, as a result of the deduction of overhead charges and the net sums which are paid to Germans working in this country in agriculture and in other ways. You cannot get away from the fact that these men are writing to Germany and telling people there that they are being paid three halfpence an hour. That is not right, and because I think that it is not right, I think that we ought to say so here. A man cannot be expected to work alongside another man in the harvest field, or anywhere else, if he is only getting a token wage of that kind.. What was the effect on the people of Germany—and this is what we meant in the Report by talking about the effect on German morale—when letters came back from these men, saying how they were being treated? That is dealt with in paragraph 45 of our Report—and I hope that the House will appreciate that it was quite impossible to make it any longer—but I feel that it is so important a matter of faith, justice and understanding that it is high-time an inquiry was held, in consultation with the Control Commission in Germany, to see how it can be adjusted.
559 May I speak, in conclusion, about a few of the things which I found, and which I think we all found, and I have no doubt, every hon. Member who goes to Germany now, on a visit will bear this out? Presumably, the paramount reason why we are in Germany—the purpose of the Occupation—is to prevent another war. That I take to be the fundamental reason. We have to face the new spirit in Germany by every means in our power, and in my submission we cannot do that, unless we have an enthusiasm for something in the nature of a crusade. I think this is by far the most difficult part of the war. It was very easy, when we were fighting for a common objective, to know what we were going to do; it is dreadfully difficult now, the war having been won, to win the peace. I say quite frankly that I think we are in great danger of losing it, because we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is certainly not in us, if we do that. If we are to carry out strictly the arguments put forward in defence of our policy, we have to recognise that there are many things which the Germans expect us to do, and which we expect the Germans to do under our control. In the Report, they are summarised, and I do not think it necessary to waste any further time on that matter. I would however say this: There is undoubtedly a feeling of resentment growing up in Germany today which is not a good background against which our officials have to work. I am perfectly certain that it is no use treating the Germans as a half-educated race, which is the inclination of some individuals who are there—not many, but some.
I also believe—and I am afraid that some hon. Members will not agree with me—that, in the earlier stages, the model which the Germans would most easily understand and which would train them until they undertake responsibility would be our Colonial form of Government. At the present time, the Germans are afraid to take responsibility. In order to get over that, the announcement, made on behalf of His Majesty's Government, about cooperation between the different parts of Germany would, I believe, have been more welcome had the dreadful word "zone" not come into it. These zones are artificial barriers, and a military convenience. They are purely arti- 560 ficial, and it would have been much better if, within the larger policy which has been put forward, we frankly admitted in this declaration that we would go forward not only with the American zone, but include the French zone and ultimately the Austrian zone. Within them we should have an Anschluss of some use.
The great value of the declaration is to put some heart back into these people in charge of the reconstruction of Germany, and I think it is only right to say that the great majority of the British officials there are having a heartbreaking task, and are doing it with the utmost gallantry. Many decisions are reversed by the quadripartite arrangement, and I think that we must be true to the British people and to our own ideas, and not bother so much about others. The Germans recognise certain virtues in us, and they have a respect for us. We can carry through the British way and purpose of things if we are left to work these things out according to our traditions and methods, but when you get buffeted about by every sort of contrary purpose, not at all typical of British justice, law or order, then people begin to wonder what we are doing. I think that this House must recognise that here lies the responsibility and nowhere else, and that we cannot shirk it. The work that is being done by the Control Commission is done through a Minister of the Crown, responsible to this House. Each hon. Member of this House has a definite duty to himself, to his constituents, and to our country to see that these things which we are doing now, to remove the scourge of war from Europe by the rehabilitation of Germany and the reconstruction of her industries, are done not in a sense of revenge, but in a sense of educating and influencing. We cannot influence people unless we are being true to our own basic principles in carrying out every branch and part of our administration. When we do that, we shall be giving that leader-ship to Europe which Europe now wants, and which, I believe, can be given to Europe through the medium of the Control Commission.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Allen (Bosworth)
I am glad to have this opportunity of addressing the House, because it was my privilege 561 to be a member of the Parliamentary delegation which returned from Germany last week. I am not arrogating to myself the position of spokesman on behalf of that delegation, because on our return we drew up a Report, which was unanimous, and although that was not part of our obligation we did so, and submitted it to the Chancellor. It was a pleasure the next day to find that the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates had been published, because it proved, once again, the truism that great minds think alike. In a great measure, the opinions of the Parliamentary delegation coincided with those of the Select Committee. There has been a great deal of concern on every side about criticisms arising from the cost of our administration in Germany. The members of the Commission in Germany feel that in criticising that expenditure some of the criticism is levelled at them; that it is implied criticism of them as individuals. There can be no greater mistake made by our people in Germany. I am sure that everybody who has had the privilege of going to Germany and seeing what is happening there is very impressed and realises the very good job that is being done on behalf of this country by those responsible for that administration. The Parliamentary delegation was very much impressed with the work that had been done, and with the fact that order had been brought out of chaos.
There is a certain amount of dissatisfaction in the minds of some of the members of the Commission, because they are not working under any contract of service. It seems to me that we ought to make up our minds very quickly how long we intend to stay there, and whether it will be a term of years justifying us giving the people who are doing our work there a contract of service, which would give them security of tenure. The folk there are working under great difficulties most of which arise from one factor— lack of food, which, in some respects, is attributable to the inability to obtain coal. These are twin disasters, and something will have to be done about them, but what I do not know. It is difficult to say to France, Belgium and other countries that they ought to take less coal than they are taking in order that Germany can have more, but the fact is that unless Germany receives more coal and food her economic life will die. It ought to be understood that, as we see things, Germany psycho- 562 logically and economically is flat out. The fact of the matter is that the food that the population is receiving, as far as the ration is concerned, is not enough to sustain life. We were told by our own medical officer of health that if a person were confined to the basic ration without any additional food even should he lie in bed all the time, he would still die in consequence of malnutrition.
The Germans themselves are beginning to lose faith in us. Indeed, they are beginning to say we are taking food out of the country. Because of the criticism being levelled at the administration owing to the lack of food, the Germans themselves are becoming unwilling to co-operate with us in the administration of the country. We were told that when we went in there we were hailed as liberators; now they are thinking something quite different about us. This lack of food seems to be the one thing that overshadows all in Germany, and we were told that the situation is being aggravated by the propaganda that comes over from the Eastern side. I have noticed in the Press—I have here a copy of the "Anglo-Russian News" and I could quote from it—that if we were to adopt in the Western zone agrarian reform we would be able to obtain more food. The suggestion is that the Western zone would be self-supporting provided we adopted this agrarian reform. It reminds me of a situation at the Northamptonshire county council when a suggestion was made that we ought to set up an education institute for the purpose of teaching agricultural education. After considerable discussion one old farmer, who had grown tired of the debate, suggested that it was not education the land wanted but muck. My own feeling about the criticism levelled against us for lack of agrarian reform is really the same as the reply given by that old farmer. Agrarian reform is a long-term policy, and what the land in Germany needs is just muck. German farms will suffer much more from lack of fertilisers than they are ever likely to suffer from the lack of reform. As a matter of fact, there are very few large estates in the Western zone. Generally speaking, Germany is a country of small holdings.
As one goes through Germany one is struck by the ridiculous character of the zoning. There might have been a case for zoning when we first went into 563 Germany and the boundaries may have been fixed in accordance with military operations, but, as the Select Committee reports, these zones have now become economic barriers. It is not more barriers that Europe needs; it is far fewer. The trouble has been that in recent years there have been far too many boundaries. Nature made Europe one; we, in our lack of wisdom, are splitting it up more and more as the days go by. It is not merely ideas that need legs; trade needs legs, too. It ought to be possible—I do not know how far it is possible—to bring in food from the Eastern zone, which, in the ordinary course of things, is the granary for the Western zone. It seems to me that what we require from the Eastern zone is less criticism and more cooperation. I dare not say any more on that.
It is not much use complaining about the cost to us of German administration, because in all probability, as the days go by, we shall find the administration of Germany costing us more. It seems to me it is going to cost us more before it costs us less, and the only way Germany can be made self-supporting is by an increase of exports. With Germany as with ourselves, it is a case of exporting or dying. Here again, more food and more coal are essential. Germany must have a greater share of the Ruhr coal. The more Germany is starved of raw materials the greater the responsibility for us. I had the privilege with the other members of the Parliamentary delegation of going into the Continental Tyre Factory, and I was told that the working week is one of 36 hours. It had to be reduced from 48 to 36 in consequence of lack of food. The people cannot work beyond 36 hours. That firm ought to be one which should find it possible to export tyres in return for importation of food.
It is pitiable to go into the schools of Germany and see the evidence of lack of food. The children are obviously undernourished, and it is not a pleasant sight for those who are responsible for the administration of Germany. In the schools of Germany we found much that gives us some encouragement. In one of the schools, the elder children were discussing the rights of man and the younger children were producing an English play. I am just wondering if in 564 the French zone they teach French; in the Russian zone they teach Russian; and in the American zone they teach American. There it is, however, and it was very pleasant to see the older children in this particular school discussing the rights of man. From our meetings with political leaders, it was quite clear that liberal thought, as we understand it in this country, is not dead. There is a great deal of basis for sound hope for the Germans' future in that respect. But so far as political leaders and trade unionists are concerned, what have they to offer the electorate when they come to face them next September? Our policy must be directed towards helping Germany to get back on her feet. This can only be done by sustaining her until such time as she is able to maintain herself. The cost which we are complaining about, and which we have to meet, in the very nature of things, will probably become greater before the present figure becomes less. I am glad that I have been assured of the sympathy of the House in this, my maiden, speech, although I wonder if Members realise how I feel. I have tried to prevent my knees from knocking, but I would not be surprised if they could be heard on the other side of the Terrace.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
The hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Arthur Allen) has acquitted himself so creditably in his maiden speech that he need not doubt that he has had, from the beginning of his remarks, the very sincere sympathy of all Members, because most of us recollect very clearly that ordeal ourselves. As he went on and developed his argument, I think we all wished that on the occasion when we first addressed the House we had had the same assurance and the same feeling that he obviously had, that he had something definite to contribute to the Debate. Moreover, I think the hon. Gentleman's speech was a justification of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster's initiative in inviting back bench Members to visit Germany to see his administration. Not all Governments in other parts of the world would be willing to do that. It was most valuable to have given back bench Members of the House the opportunity of studying the administration which we are debating today.
It will be a relief to some Members of the House, no doubt, to know that after 565 the statement made by the Minister of State I shall be able to reduce the length of my observations. I had come armed with three separate quotations from Potsdam, to show that the whole of that Agreement was based on the conception that Germany must be treated as a single economic whole. When last I spoke on this subject, I asked the Foreign Secretary to do something about it. I said:If European civilisation is to survive, it can only be by bringing together Western Europe, and treating at any rate the American, French and British zones as a single unit."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th June, 1946; Vol. 423, c. 1877.]After going to Germany, and seeing the situation there, I was more than ever convinced that it was absolutely essential for the economic stability and revival of Europe that something should be done to break down those barriers inside Germany which are so infinitely worse than anything set up by the Treaty of Versailles.
It was, therefore, with much satisfaction that I—and, I believe, many other Members—heard that the Government have made up their mind to go ahead on the lines indicated by the Foreign Secretary in Paris, and that discussions of detail are now taking place between ourselves and the Americans for the unification of these two zones. I hope there will be nothing exclusive in that policy, because I think it is essential that we should try to bring in the French. I had the advantage, last week, of talking to a prominent and well-informed Frenchman, who told me that there is already a change in the attitude of the French towards the question of the Ruhr. The original line was that they were not prepared to agree to any central administration of Germany until the question of the Ruhr and Rhineland had been settled. That came in origin from General De Gaulle, and was adopted by M. Bidault. It was also, at an earlier stage, supported by the Communists, but, when Moscow had to choose between the German Communists and the French Communists— and decided to back the German Communists who stood for the unity of Germany—it naturally followed, after a decent interval, that the French Communist party, in obedience to instructions sent from Moscow, would fall in with the policy which had been laid down. I understand that in the near future there will not be the same strong objection by 566 the Communist party to the political unity of Germany, as seemed likely a short time ago. The Foreign Secretary put forward, at Paris, a compromise suggestion which, I think, will commend itself to most parties in this House and, I believe, also to France. It was to maintain the political unity of Germany in order that there might be no danger of a recrudescence of a nationalist spirit, while bringing under something like international control the industries of the Ruhr and Rhineland which, in the past, have been used to menace the peace of Europe.
I hope that the Russians will be invited to cooperate in this matter. Although we have had very little cooperation from them, at any rate never let it be said that we have not been willing to cooperate when the opportunity presented itself. I understand that there has been a very great departure from the principles of Potsdam in the Eastern zone, from which the current production of Germany is being taken for the payment of reparations. The dismantlement of industries, which my hon. Friends and I saw going on, at the Huttenwerke works for instance, has not been taking place in the Eastern zone to the same extent. Marshal Sokolovsky made a statement a few weeks ago, I understand, that it was not now the intention of the Russians to dismantle industrial equipment in the Eastern zone. That leads to the natural conclusion that the Eastern zone has been brought into the economic area of Russia, and that there is, therefore, no longer any object in removing industrial plant from Germany to Russia, because it is able much more conveniently to work in Germany for the Russian market. That being so, I hope that the Government, while offering friendly cooperation to the Russians, and suggesting that the restoration of the economic unity of Germany is desirable in the interests of Germany and the whole world, will make it plain that that involves the Eastern zone being brought into Germany, and not remaining a dependency of Russia.
When my hon. Friends and I went to Germany, there were two matters, not quite of detail, but of administration, which struck us, and we wrote joint letters to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Both points, I am glad to see, have been included in the Report of the Select Committee. The first was the long-continued confinement without trial of 40,000 suspects in concentration camps. 567 We took the view that, at the end of the war, it was quite desirable and necessary that all those potentially dangerous persons should be put into those camps, but we thought that after a year the screening process might have been carried further than it has been. I am glad to say that we had a very sympathetic answer from the Chancellor of the Duchy upon that point, and I think he might have briefed the Minister of State to have given a slightly more sympathetic answer in his speech this afternoon. In particular, I welcome the fact that the Chancellor of the Duchy intends in future to allow all those in the camps to know the reason they are confined.
The second point was the question of the personnel of the Administration. We came across a number of cases of officers in the Army who were about to be demobilised. We were very sad to find in how many cases enthusiastic officers did not feel justified in remaining on in the Administration as civilians. In almost every case the answer we were given, when we asked why, was that at most they got a contract of five or seven years, which was determinableata month's notice, and they did not feel they were justified, especially if they were married men, in sacrificing, perhaps, the certainty of returning to a permanent job in this country in order to carry on in that way. We have taken the matter up with the Chancellor of the Duchy and also with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because it is largely a matter for the Treasury and the Special Establishments Department. I hope that, now that the Select Committee have drawn further attention to it, something will be done to ensure a greater security for those who remain in the Administration.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not wish to be misunderstood on this matter. Is he suggesting that we should continue to occupy Germany longer than we otherwise would have done merely in order to give security of employment to the officers we employ there?
§ Mr. Molson
I did not desire to be misunderstood, and I very much doubt whether any hon. Member misunderstood me, apart from the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman). What I was about to say, when I was interrupted, 568 was that it seemed to us that the most constructive suggestion we could make was that the Government should generalise what is at present being done by the Post Office. The Post Office is treating the British zone in Germany as one of its districts, and, therefore, it is able to send its ordinary permanent civil servants into the British zone in Germany, and when they arc due for promotion, they are brought back to this country and given the appropriate promotion which they have earned. Something of the same kind is also being done by the Ministry of Labour. I believe that, on those lines, we might be able to give a security of tenure, certainty of further progress in the Service, to the officials out there, without involving the unnecessary and somewhat absurd state of affairs which occurred to the nimble mind of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne.
There are two points to which I hope the Chancellor of the Duchy will refer in his closing speech. There is the question of the influx of refugees from eastern Germany. Seven thousand expelled Germans are returning to the British zone every day. It is anticipated that a total of nine million Germans may have to be received into the British zone. Of those who are coming back from the eastern zone and from Poland, only 25 per cent. are men, and only 10 per cent. are men who are still capable of working. This problem of vast numbers of unhappy, ailing and aged refugees pouring back into an already over-crowded and hungry British zone—
§ Mr. Molson
I understand there are two kinds. Some of them are people who voluntarily left Western Germany early in the war, and the others, I believe, are people who have been expelled from Poland—Germans who occupied the territory which has now been taken over by the Poles. However they came to be there, they are very unhappy and unfortunate, and something has to be done to give them succour, sustenance and refuge when they come into the British zone. Obviously, it is more than a matter of coincidence that only 10 per cent. of them are able to work for their own keep. This is a matter about which I think the Chancellor of the Duchy should make strong representations to our Russian Allies, and I hope we may hear something about this matter when he replies.
569 The last point to which I wish to refer is another matter upon which we must hear something more than the Minister of State has said. What is happening about reparations? One of the worst errors of the Potsdam Agreement was that Russia was entitled to take whatever she liked in the Eastern zone, without any record being kept of it, for reparations for herself, and she was also entitled to 25 per cent. of what was taken as reparations from the Western zone. There was a reasonable clause inserted in the Agreement that enough should be left for the livelihood of Germany. The Agreement said:Payment of reparations should leave enough resources to enable the German people to subsist without external assistance. In working out the economic balance of Germany, the necessary means must be provided to pay for imports of food by the Control Council in Germany. The proceeds of exports from current production and stocks shall be available, in the first case, for payment for such imports.But the Agreement goes on to say:The above clause will not apply to the equipment and products referred to in paragraph 4 (a) and (b) of the Reparations Agreement";that is, to the 25 per cent. of usable industrial equipment in the Western zone to which Russia is entitled. Therefore, to the general provision that reparations must not be such as to reduce Germany to collapse, there is this special exception that, in the case of the 25 per cent. which is to be sent from the Western zones to Russia, Russia's demands for reparations are to prevail over the needs of the livelihood of Germany. That was a grave blunder into which our representatives fell when they signed the Potsdam Agreement. Let us be quite clear what the position is at the present time. My hon. Friends and I saw the Huttenwerker works being dismantled and sent off to Russia. In Hanover, we heard of a factory for bedsteads which the Russians were claiming as reparations. At the present time, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees in the British zone who are in need of beds. The British administration was fighting to retain that factory inside our own zone to give employment to the German people and to meet their greatest and most urgent needs.
If we are now recognising publicly for the first time that Potsdam has been honoured by us and has not been 570 honoured by some of our Allies then, in the interests of the British zone and of those Germans for whom we are responsible, let us make it quite plain that, like the Americans who have set the example, we are not prepared to go on any longer dismantling German equipment and sending it to Russia as reparations. When he comes to reply the hon. Gentleman will have to follow up a very important statement that has been made on behalf of the Government this afternoon by the Minister of State. These are two further points that I put to him, and they are of the utmost importance for the salvation of that zone in Germany for which he is responsible to Parliament. We must hear something of what is being done about the vast and tragic problem of refugees and something of what is going to be done about reparations.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
The hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) has, I think, put his linger on the crux of the matter in pointing out that the announcement made this afternoon of the new relation between our zone and the American zone is of the greatest possible importance. I would urge the Chancellor to let us know in his winding up speech what is the relationship of the Quadripartite Conference in Berlin under this new arrangement. Will it be able in future to operate as it has in the past? Let it be perfectly clear that in the past, due to the difficulties created in the main by one of our Allies there, much good work and planning in the British zone, at least, as we know from our own experience, and also in the American zone from all we can hear, has been frustrated and brought to nought. We really must ask the Government to follow up the announcement they have made this afternoon of the integration of the American and British zones with a further announcement that no longer is the responsibility of the British and American joint authorities in the two united zones to be exposed to the veto at Berlin. On that point I believe we are entitled to ask for an assurance.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) made some comparison between India and Germany concerning the staff required. I think that the suggestion that the Control Commission should work with anything like 571 3,000 officials is ludicrous, but on the other hand I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman hit the Chancellor in a very weak place when he mentioned the size of the Forestry Commission. The Minister of State says that they are not teaching the Germans to cut wood but how to plant it. The Germans cut more wood in one year before the war than was cut in this country in 10 years, and the Chancellor will not lose by admitting that there has been a mistake in sending 700 people over there to look after German forestry, whether for planting or cutting. Everyone knows it, and the sooner they are brought home the better.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge (Bedford)
Surely to goodness it is better to make use of German timber than to denude our own forests as they are being denuded indiscriminately all over the country?
§ Mr. Butcher
I quite agree, but I would have said that 15 or 20 Englishmen in positions of high control would have been able to organise the Germans so that we could bring home the other 680 and probably still get more German wood than if we kept the whole 700 there.
The real tragedy of Germany at the moment is the food situation. I shall not mince my words but say that His Majesty's Government as a whole are gravely at fault in this matter. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer was Minister for Economic Warfare, he said, on 27th January, 1942:His Majesty's Government and the United States Government … maintain in the most categorical manner that it is incumbent upon the enemy to feed the countries occupied by him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th January, 1942; Vol. 377. c. 543.]The obligation rests fairly and squarely on anybody occupying foreign territory, and therefore it is our responsibility to see that the German people are fed. The Minister of State said that he was there as long ago as last September when, from his own personal observations, he was seized of the importance of the food position. He also paid a tribute, which I am sure was properly paid, to the Chancellor of the Duchy for the urgency with which he appreciated this position on assuming office. If this Government and the Cabinet, acquainted by the two Ministers of the position as stated in today's Debate, 572 knew of the state of affairs so long ago, how remiss they have been in the meantime.
Finally, I would say one word about coal. I am convinced from all I heard when in Germany and from what I have been told by those who have come back since, both hon. Members and others— and I am fortified by the Report of this Select Committee—that we cannot continue to send so much coal out of Germany. One of two things must happen at once; either there must be an immediate and rapid stepping up of coal production so that a far greater proportion may remain in Germany—although in view of the food and consumer goods position I do not think it is possible—or there must be a break in the supply of coal to foreign Powers. There are too many people who have first claims on the German product of Ruhr coal, and the Chancellor of the Duchy will be putting the House in a very great debt if he will tell us exactly how the coal is being distributed, which countries benefit by it, and what they give in exchange. The officers on the spot, and indeed the staff under the hon. Gentleman as a whole, have done an admirable job so far, but they are in grave danger of using a 9ft. plank to bridge a 12 ft. gap. I, therefore, urge that the hon. Gentleman should take the House fully into his confidence in order to bring home to this House and to the people of this country their responsibility for the lives of many of their fellow human beings. We are not in a position of superiority compared to the Germans; I believe that the ideals which animate this country are better than those which prevail over most of Europe, but we are all human beings, and the only way we can help the German people is by discharging our duty to them as human beings and fellow sinners.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Major Bramall (Bexley)
I must ask, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for the indulgence of the House for a maiden speech, the more so since it is delivered such a very short time after my entry into the House. I would not have attempted to speak so soon were it not for the fact that I have just returned from 12 months' service as a Military Government officer and believe that I can, perhaps, contribute a few remarks to the deliberations of the House on this question.
573 I want to take up two points which have occurred to me as being of particular importance from my observations during my tour of duty in Germany. The first is the question that has already been touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) and the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) with regard to the personnel in our administration in Germany. It has been said more than once in this Debate that we must have the right people; we have many of the right people, and I want to do no injustice to numbers of my colleagues who are doing a very creditable job with very great public conscience in Germany. We have all too many of the wrong people, whose one aim, in their life in Germany, is to have as good a time as possible and to enrich themselves as much as possible. They believe they are enriching themselves at the expense of the Germans, but, in point of fact, they are enriching themselves at the expense of the British taxpayer.
I would ask my right hon. Friend to give great attention to the question of recruitment, which should be directed, I believe, to finding people who have a real sense of what we are trying to do in Germany,, and of mission in doing it. My right hon. Friend should also give attention to bringing to book those who have been found guilty of the offences in Germany to which I have referred. From my own observation during this year in Germany, I am convinced of one thing: His Majesty's Government are clear about the policy which they are following. From what was said this afternoon by the right hon. Member for Aldershot the Opposition are also clear, and appear to concur with the Government, on general principles. There is a very grave state of doubt and misunderstanding, however, among the officers actually responsible for the administration of our policy.
As I see the matter, there are two alternative policies which we can pursue in Germany. We can say we are solving the German problem by an indefinite and prolonged appliance of force, by an occupation stretching indefinitely into the future, without any social or political ends. That is clearly not the policy of either the Government or the Opposition in this House. On the other hand, we can say, as I believe we do say, that our policy is to remove the German menace 574 by setting up in Germany something which has never existed there before, a working and lively democratic system. While there appears to be very considerable unanimity in this House as to our policy, there is possibly a majority of officers acting in our name but pursuing measures more in accordance with the first of the alternatives I have described. It is not as though any compromise were possible between those two alternatives. The two policies are absolutely incompatible. If our policy is the first as I have given them, we want from the German people a state of mind which has been cultivated by 150 years of militarism and which was brought to its highest point by the Nazis—docility and unquestioning obedience to authority, such as you can get readily from Germans at the present time for anybody who is in uniform.
If, as I believe, we are attempting to carry out the second of the policies, what we want from the Germans is a sterling independence, and even defiance of authority if necessary, if the authority is being wrongly used. That is something very far from the aims of many officers who are administering government at the moment in Germany. I am afraid they are imbued too much with what has been referred to as the Colonial spirit, and imbued, too, with the spirit that because we have conquered the Germans the individual German is a person to whom no attention need be given at all. We have seen one result of it in the recent riots in Hamburg. The rights and wrongs of the policy of wholesale eviction for the purpose of building further establishments for the British administration I will not discuss at the moment. A promise was given, and not kept. Promises are always being given to the Germans at the moment. The attitude is that the promise is only being given to Germans, and need not be kept. I have seen a family, which incidentally had three brothers in the British Forces and the father of which was turned out as an anti-Nazi by Hitler, evicted at 24 hours' notice from a house required as a British mess. The house then remained empty for 13 weeks, until pressure was brought to bear from London. I had taken every possible step open to me, as a serving officer, to get that matter put right in Germany, but it proved to be completely impossible.
575 The attitude to which I have referred is leading us to attempt, as has been said from the Benches opposite, to take up far too much in our administration. Hon. Members know that there is a Control Commission; at the moment it is not really a Control Commission but an administration. Our American friends are, in fact, controlling German administration in their zone. We are attempting, in our zone, to carry out measures of government far more complicated than those which are being carried out by the Government of this country, and with a number of servants which sounds large as put down in the Report of the Select Committee but which, in proportion to the task which they are attempting to undertake, is hopelessly inadequate. The right hon. Member for Aldershot said that we were attempting too much with too many; I should say we are attempting too much with too few. The result is hopeless bureaucracy and a hopeless paper war, in the attempt made by those few British servants to carry out the full administration of the British zone. It is something which they cannot undertake. We are not giving enough scope to German administration. This omission has, as I have indicated, important administrative results, but it has also important and unfortunate political results.
We are attempting to build a future German democracy on German political parties who are faced at the moment with frustration because they have nothing to offer their people. They put forward programmes and policies, but they have no hope that they can bring them into effect. Any organisation of which they are members has no authority, as there is always a British officer through whose hands every piece of paper has to go. The situation will undoubtedly be improved by the local elections in October. The Report of the Select Committee compares the German electoral areas to counties, but it would be far more accurate to compare them with county districts. That is the highest level at which the elections are to be carried out. In the chaotic state of Germany today, a democratic State organisation is required, even if it is only the organisation of the Federated States, and not just a local organisation. We cannot hope for anything more centralised. We must move as quickly as pos- 576 sible towards a democratically elected and responsible State administration, at the level of the Federated States.
I have referred to the attitude, "He's only a German; therefore we needn't take any consideration of him. If it is inconvenient, we need not keep promises to him." In that connection I would recall the words of the leader of a democratic party, at its Hanover Congress. He said that the German people desperately needed calories of food but far more desperately needed moral calories, as it was difficult to build a democracy while depriving the people of their self-respect. A good many of the things we are doing to day are having that effect. I have indicated that I believe that political parties are not being given as much scope as they should have. I say the same far more urgently of the trade unions. Trade unions in Germany today are the most powerful force for democracy in that country.
It is strange that in our administration —without, I must say, the knowledge of the Government or of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—the country is being controlled by people who seem to vie with one another in distrust of the German trade unions and of those all too few British trade unionists, of whom I was one, who were trying to give a fair deal to those German trade unions. We and the German trade unionists were at every turn treated with suspicion and hostility, and these German trade unionists, many of them men who have come out of years of concentration camps and who have fought the Nazis in every way at their disposal, were treated with the same suspicion as if they were people with, at any rate, a grey past. We must give far more trust and drop far more of our suspicions when dealing with these proved anti-Nazis and proved democratic organisations.
I am afraid that Nazism is undoubtedly gaining ground in Germany today. It sounds a hard thing to say that, but I am afraid it is true. We started off after the occupation with a tremendous opportunity. The German people were disillusioned with the Nazis because they had lost the war. I will put it on no higher a plane. We also started with wonderful opportunities because of the excellent behaviour of the British soldier in contrast both with our enemies and 577 with our Allies. The British soldier in Germany today is still—to use a hackneyed phrase—our best ambassador. His conduct has won universal respect. If only other people who are carrying Britain's name in Germany today behaved half as well as the ordinary British soldier, I should not have had to make the remark that Nazism is gaining ground.
The Germans have heard so much from our lips about democracy that they say, "Let us. see something of it."They expect to see from us some of the enthusiasm for carrying out democracy that they showed in conquering countries for carrying out their own barbaric creed. They find not that, but corruption, cynicism and bureaucratic inefficiency. They see not an understanding of the problems which have to be solved but a complete failure to solve them. They do not see houses being built. No houses are being built. They see more and more families being evicted to make way for greater British requirements, and this again leads them to no sense of democracy as a better creed than that which they have perforce abandoned. They say, "At least under Hitler we did not hunger."
I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) throwing reproaches at the Government that it was their fault that the food situation in Germany was such as it was. I was not a Member of this House at the time, but I remember reading in the Press that Members from those same benches reproached the Government because we were sending help to Germany. On that side of it the German people cannot reproach us, but there is much with which they can reproach us.
The right hon. Member for Aldershot referred with approbation to the North German Coal Control and said that it had done excellent work. From my experience I cannot endorse what he has said. I will refer to one action of the North German Coal Control which I believe illustrates all the ills to which I have drawn attention in our administration in Germany. They were charged with trying to recruit more miners for the Ruhr. As the Minister of State has indicated, our only hope for industrial recovery in Germany is increased coal production. They had to resort to compulsion and to conscript these miners for the Ruhr.
578 Before they launched the programme of conscription, there was no preliminary propaganda, no preliminary Press notice and no preliminary work of any kind which might have made that campaign more effective and sweetened the pill in many ways. The press gangs descended and the men were conscripted. When they got there, there were no welfare amenities at all. No one met them. They were put into huts which had not been cleaned since they were occupied by Russian prisoners of war. They were given verminous blankets. They were told that if they did not like it they could go home, an invitation which some 50 per cent. of them accepted. The German president of the Westphalian Regional Labour Office went to some of the mines to see the welfare conditions with a view to improving them. He was run off the premises and told to mind his own business. If we are to cope with the problems which we can cope with, the Government must see that the policy which is carried out is their policy and not a policy devised by the people who are on the spot
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)
It falls to me to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Bexley (Major Bramall) on his maiden speech. I think I carry the whole House with me when I say that it was about the best maiden speech we have had during this Parliament, delivered with tremendous assurance and great knowledge. I hope that the hon. and gallant Member will not take it amiss if I say that I agree with every single word he has said. He began by saying that our officers in the Control Commission were not clear on what they were trying to do. That is absolutely true, but it is not really their fault. It is not really the fault of the top people there. It stems from that fundamental contradiction in the Potsdam Agreement because the intention to reconstruct German life on a democratic and peaceful basis without discrimination against race, creed or political opinion is not really consistent with the policy of final disarmament and with the level of industry plan—in short the policy of pastoralisation—nor is it consistent with the very large-scale de-Nazification as it is now being carried out.
I want to say a few words about what we are doing in our zone towards the 579 reconstruction of a peaceful and democratic life. The only way to learn democracy is to practise it. Unlike the Americans, we have handed over no political power and practically no executive power whatever to the Germans above the lowest level. The highest deliberative body, the Zonal Advisory Council at Hamburg, has no more power than a school debating society, and unlike most school debating societies, it has to ask the headmaster before it may debate a subject. That is ludicrous. The German Economic Advisory Board at Minden has some small powers, but the organisation, for a reason I shall refer to in a moment, is very badly understaffed. The hon. and gallant Member for Bexley referred to the trade unions and obviously knows a great deal more about it than I do. The only point I want to make is that they are not allowed to negotiate on hours and wages. That is admirable Communism and admirable National Socialism, but not very good democracy.
We have 89 political officers. I take it that their job is to teach democracy in Germany, but is it really possible to teach a foreign nation our variety of democracy and our way of life? It assumes that there is no real difference between Penge and MŰnchen-Gladbach, between Ponders End and Wolfen-bŰttel. They are divided by thousands of years of history—
§ Mr. Birch
Yes, they are divided by thousands of years. I read a very profound remark the other day by T. S. Elliot in his preface to "The Dark Side of the Moon." He said:Respect for the culture, the pattern of life of other people—which is not the same thing as indifference to other people's crimes against humanity—is respect for history.I believe it is a political crime to show disrespect for history and a crime which is always punished. It is ridiculous to send out these political officers, who are some very worthy men, a type of fellow not adopted for a constituency over here —that is a fact with several of them— and say that they can teach the Germans democracy, but not allow them to practise it.
Now to be more controversial, I believe it is quite wrong for us to impose 580 Socialism on German industry. I see all the reasons for Germany being socialised —bomb damage and so on. I fully understand that, but surely the degree to which Germany is socialised, and the way it is done, is for the Germans to decide and not us. I think that if they had their own Government they would do more than we are doing. I am not complaining about the degree, but that we should do it at all. It is against every possible tenet of the democracy we are trying to teach. It is absolutely wrong. If hon. Gentlemen opposite offer Germans tattered Socialism at the point of the bayonet, it will not appeal to the German people. It is not only that we give too little authority to the Germans, but the fact that we interfere the whole way down in the day to day administration, as the hon. and gallant Member for Bexley pointed out. The German economy is very complex It has been, to a certain extent a planned economy since the days of Bismarck and, of course, under National Socialism the Germans enjoyed to the full the pleasures of a planned economy. It would be fair to say, without wishing to criticise these people on the Commission that very few of them have any deep knowledge of German economic history, of German economic structure, and in fact few of them have even a working knowledge of German. Therefore it is bound to be unsatisfactory. The system of trying to administer the whole way down with people who are not qualified to do it is wrong.
There has been a lot of talk about timber, and there was an answer given in this House the other day about the number of people engaged in the timber control. The Chancellor of the Duchy said there were 213 officers, and it has been said today that their job is to get some export of timber. What export of timber have they achieved? Since we have been in Germany the figure is £250,000, and if you divide 213 officers into that—their salaries and their expenses—I should think we have paid double for every plank. Take the radio station at Hamburg, where there are 25 British personnel, including administrators and technicians. I can understand having a few censorship people there, but why we should want to tell the Germans how to turn the knobs round, I cannot imagine. They had a most efficient radio system 581 before and during the war, and surely they can have it again? It goes all the way through. For instance, in order that a German in an official position may have the use of a car, he has to get permits signed by four different British officers. I could give details, but I will not weary the House. That may be good Socialism, I would not like to say; it is certainly good National Socialism but it is not very good sense. This duplication is unnecessary and disastrous. The way to get timber is to say to the Germans, "You will deliver so many standards of timber f .o.b. Hamburg at such and such a date," and leave them to do it. Then you would get the timber. You will never get it from the 213 officers.
Everybody has stressed the fact that what we want is to get on with devolution and hand over to the Germans. That brings one up against one of the most difficult problems of the lot, the problem of de-Nazification. I can understand the demand for that—revenge, I suppose, is always sweet and, goodness knows, people have suffered enough from the Germans; but I wonder whether the people of this country realise exactly what the policy of de-Nazification means. I am not talking about war criminals, or about these wretched people in concentration camps, these arrestable categories about whom there has been a good deal of talk already. I am talking about the removal from office of Nazi sympathisers. Under the Allied Control Commission directive No. 24, it was laid down that all who were more than nominal participants in party affairs—a nominal participant was defined asAny one who was an avowed believer in National Socialism or racial or militaristic creeds, or had voluntarily given assistance of any kind to the Nazis.—that includes, of course, practically all Germans—all these people must be removed from public office and from positions of responsibility in private firms. I think we are all agreed that the big villians have to go, but both the wisdom of any action and, indeed, the whole quality of it, is affected by the scale on which it is done. It might be wise to investigate 5,000 people, 10,000 or 50,000 people, but it would be entirely wrong to investigate several million. It might be right to sack 2 per cent. of the teachers where it would be wrong to sack 20 per cent. of them. The effect of this decree, if fully carried out, is that everybody in public employment above manual labour has to 582 be investigated. In fact a start has been made and, by the end of June, 1946, we had investigated 900,000 cases, and 47,000 people had been removed from civil employment, 12,250 refused employment and —this is a good one—by February, 1946, 16,700 teachers had been removed. I do not know what the figure is now. This, of course, left a hopeless shortage in the schools. By June, 1946, one-fifth of the whole banking staff in our zone had either been arrested, removed from office, or suspended.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
Does the hon. Gentleman advocate the retaining of Nazis approved by the Nazi regime as teachers?
§ Mr. Birch
I will come back to that in a moment. In order to carry out this policy, we are employing 3,764 intelligence officers, and there are 224 de-Nazification panels sitting and 50 review boards. I would point out that it is not a very light punishment to be dismissed from your job, although I do not know what the hon. Member who has just interrupted considers the punishment should be. It means that you lose your pension, that your property is blocked, that you can never be employed again in any position of responsibility. That means, for an elderly sedentary worker on present rations, a sentence of slow death. I would say to those people who decried the suggested hanging of the Kaiser that surely he was more guilty than these 16,700 teachers. I think there are the greatest moral and practical objections to this course. To start with the moral ones. How can you judge whether a man was more than a nominal supporter of the régime and whether he acted voluntarily? That is judging not what he did, what his actions were, but what was in his heart and conscience. That is for God to judge, not man. The next point is that it is a retrospective decree. It was not a crime 583 to belong to the Nazi régime when they joined:The facts were done before the laws were made;The trump turned up after the game was played.It is against the rale of law and against Western civilisation to bring in retrospective decrees like that. There are the greatest practical objections, because what we are doing is to create a new proletariat, made up of all the most able people in Germany. All the leaders, all the people with administrative experience are being thrown out. Not only that, but we are showing them no way to get back. Napoleon said that if you leave a man without hope, it is the most dangerous thing you can do. The second practical objection is that we cannot get Germans to run the country. You cannot get Germans to come forward to run the German economic life because, as soon as they come forward, they are screened and, nine times out of ten, they not only do not get the job but are thrown out of their own job. As a result they starve to death.
Extensive de-Nazification is only right if you assume that the great mass of the German people were not Nazis, but the history of the last 12 years is only explicable on the hypothesis that the vast mass of the German people were Nazis. If the hon. Member is prepared to stand up and say that the vast majority of the people were not Nazis he should get up and denounce the Government for inflicting this terrible punishment on an innocent people. He cannot have it both ways. The fact is that they were mostly Nazis and we are picking out the best of them and condemning them to slow death. I am surprised that people have not spoken out more about this but I suppose they are afraid of being called Fascist beasts. I feel strongly about this and I hope I will get support from hon. Members opposite.
So much for what we are doing for the reconstruction of German life on a democratic basis. Although the policy of pastoralisation would in any case make the birth of German democracy impossible, what we are doing is to make it impossible for it even to be conceived. I will cut out a great deal of what I wish to say—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."]— I will come to the end of my remarks. The Minister of State, when he spoke a 584 little earlier gave us a certain amount of positive news, the first we have had, I think, from the Government about Germany since they have been in office. But his statement was heavily qualified, and he went out of his way to say once more, as the Prime Minister said the other day, that we cannot accept the counsel of despair that Europe should be divided into two. When we are discussing this matter, it seems to me that we have to start from the facts. The facts are that Europe is divided into two. I hope we shall not have much talk about what a pity it would be —it is a pity, but it has happened. The one thing I think it essential that we should not do, is to enter into a dishonourable and unworkable compromise such as those at Yalta and Potsdam. In this connection I would like to quote a remark made by the Chancellor of the Duchy in the last Debate in this House on the Control Commission. He sometimes makes not very profound remarks, but this I think was a profound remark; it was at least a remark capable of a profound interpretation. He was talking about the level of industry plan and said:The fact that the agreement was finally reached, is not without significance in the present state of world affairs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th May, 1946; Vol. 422, c. 1365.]That is profoundly true, but" significant" of what? Significant of the fact that one can always reach an agreement which is dishonourable, which is cruel and which breaks up the structure of Europe. One can reach an agreement that old men, women and children shall be thrown out of their homes beyond the Western Neisse, or that the South Tyrol shall remain Italian, or that the people of Essen should be left to rot in the cellars in which they live. There is no difficulty in bringing about things of that sort, but for God's sake do not let us have any more of these agreements. The danger is, as the Minister of State suggested, that we shall go on fiddling about and get a half agreement and the result will be disastrous, because there is no time to spare. Surely, if we have learned anything at all from the history of the last 12 years, it is that the way to have a war with a totalitarian power is to appease that power. If we stand up for what is right we shall succeed, but if we truckle we shall find that all the country beyond the Rhine is "On the Dark Side of the Moon."
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
We have accepted the proposal to merge the British, French and American zones.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
That is the logic of the situation at any rate. I would like to inquire into the effect of doing this. The purpose of doing it is stated to be to make this zone self-sufficient, and to enable us to dispense with paying £80 million a year for keeping alive the Germans in our zone. I do not know on what order the Government think they are going to save by this measure, but I have heard it mentioned that we should reduce our expenditure to about £20 million. I do not know if that is correct or not, but against that we have to offset the fact that both the American and British zones are deficit zones as far as food is concerned. They have to make up the difference by increasing manufactured exports in competition with our exports. The right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) said that we need not worry very much because £200 million a year exports would make the Western zone self-sufficing, whereas before the war Germany was exporting £700 million. But she was also importing a great deal. Western Germany will import nothing but food. So, instead of paying for that food directly through the Exchequer, we will let them pay by exports which will compete with our exports on the world market. I do not know what we are going to get from that.
On what basis is this fusion going to take place? General McNarney said in an interview in "The Times" a few days ago that the Americans were going to have an equal share with us in controlling the coal production from the Ruhr; the coal would go from the Ruhr to industries in the American zone, and American business men would offer raw materials to be worked up into finished goods for export. I see what the Americans get out of that, but not where we come in on that basis. If we are to merge these two zones, what is to be the economic policy governing production? Are we to attempt to restore capitalism, which the Americans are doing in their zone, or to try to base production on Government ownership and control, as the Foreign Secretary suggested on 21st February was the proper course to pursue in the Ruhr?
586 I was in Paris recently and I talked with the leaders of the Government parties in France. I found that the Socialist and Communist leaders were very much troubled by the prospect that private enterprise might be restored in the Ruhr, while they were insistent on the desirability of basing the production of the Ruhr on public ownership and control of heavy industry. That leads on to the wider issue of how we are to restore democracy and carry out de-Nazifcation in Germany. I have been surprised at some of the statements made on both sides of the House during the Debate. The implication was that the Nazis in concentration camps and dismissed Nazi school teachers are people suffering for their political opinions. Surely it must be realised by now that Fascism is something far deeper than a difference of opinion within a democracy? It is something fundamental.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Communism is a different issue altogether, and I would be glad to debate that matter with the hon. Member. Certainly I trust the Communists more than I would some of the hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I could quote some things to the hon. Member on that but I will not do it.
The Report mentions, and the Minister quoted, that our mission in Germany is to change the German outlook and to create a democratic spirit. For that purpose it mentions that our expenditure in building up machinery for culture and education will be fully justified. What is the economic machinery? On what social basis is this change to democracy to proceed? That I believe to be the crucial issue. "The Economist" of 6th April, in a series of very remarkable articles by members of its staff, states:The conditions 01 the British zone make far reaching Socialist experiments a necessity. There is … no other workable alternative. Instead of being driven reluctantly into them, let the British administration openly and deliberately evolve a plan for public ownerships of the essential industries and services in North-West Germany.The "Observer" Berlin correspondent pointed out, on 14th April, that the only reliable anti-Fascist and democratic 587 parties in Germany were the trade unions and the working class parties. He said that this means that:German labour ought to be encouraged to reorganise German economy according to its ideas—that is, on Socialist lines. Without public ownership of key industries and without comprehensive economic planning, the reconstruction of Germany will bog down in a succession of phoney booms and real slumps. Full employment within the framework of a predominantly Socialist economy is the only possible method by which Germany can be both economically rebuilt and spiritually and politically de-Nazified. This is also the pre-condition for the re-establishment of democratic freedom in Germany.So far as we on this side of the House are concerned we are committed up to the hilt to that policy. We say in the Labour Party's report on "The International Post-War Settlement" that Socialism is a fundamental necessity for the revival of democracy in Europe. That, I believe to be as true of Germany as of any other part of Europe. I would ask whether the Government are resigning themselves to the division of Germany into two zones as being a permanent policy, or whether, as I think the Minister of State suggested, the Government are quite prepared to try to resume negotiations for basing our policy in Germany on the treatment of Germany as an economic entity. I regret that we have been quite so hasty as we have been in resorting to the policy of two zones.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Yes. After all, who was it who held up this policy of treating Germany as an economic entity and the setting up of a central administration? It was France, in order to get her way about the Ruhr. We, quite rightly, were very patient and dealt with that by simply going on with negotiations, and doing the best we could.
Today, instead of trying to use Molotov's statement as a basis of discussion—I think it was a perfectly acceptable basis of discussion—we rush into this business of dividing Germany into two zones. I hope we shall not live to regret it. I see no way of making Western Germany self-sufficing economically without Eastern Germany. The Russians asked for reparations, which, though large in comparison with Germany's capacity to pay, which is at present nil, 588 are very small in proportion to the damage which the Russians have suffered. The sum put forward is not unreasonable in view of the Dawes Plan—£3,000 million —and the Young Plan—£2,000 million— after the last war. It was an acceptable basis of negotiation. The Russian refusal to enter unconditionally into the economic unity proposals we made at Paris was not an unreasonable refusal, seeing that our two zones, to put it bluntly, are economically and financially bankrupt, whereas the Russian zone is a going concern. The diet there is 50 per cent. better in calories and in the Russian zone industrial production has reached almost prewar level, and the Socialist and Communist Parties have something to say in the Government of the country. [Laughter.] Hon. Members apposite find that amusing, but the truth is that the Russians have realised many of the things that we say we want to do, and which I believe we want to do, but have failed to achieve in our own zone. I believe that the price of agreement with the Russians is the price which our Government should be prepared to pay—the basing of the revival of Germany on Socialist reconstruction in Germany, the only basis upon which Germany can be de-Nazified, made safe for civilisation, and re-united.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Hulbert (Stockport)
The House will not expect me to follow the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) in extolling the virtues of Communism, and the better way the Russian zone is run compared with the English zone.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills (Finsbury)
Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest and press the point that all the triumphs of reconstruction in the East of Germany are solely due to Communism?
§ Wing-Commander Hulbert
I would not suggest that. I would congratulate the hon. Member for Gateshead in having been able to discover what goes on behind the iron curtain. Some hon. Members on this side of the House have not been able to do so.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
My information is based on the British Press, and if the hon. and gallant Member is interested, I can show him, after this Debate, the source of my information.
§ Wing-Commander Hulbert
I shall be very interested to see it, I am sure.
I am glad to have this opportunity, as I have had the privilege of being a Member of the Select Committee of this House which recently visited Berlin and the British zone. As has been said in the Report, we returned from Germany late at night on Friday, 5th July, and by last Thursday this Report had been produced. That, I suggest, is a great tribute to the staff of the House who accompanied us on that journey and who worked so ably, upon our return, to have this Report available for hon. Members before this Debate took place today. This Committee which visited Germany will certainly achieve fame or notoriety, if for one reason only. That is, we have brought before Parliament and the people of this country the astounding fact, which has already been referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton), that we, the victorious nation, are, 12 months after the cessation of hostilities, subsidising some kind of Government organisation in Germany. That has never happened before. Perhaps after the welcome announcement of the Minister of State this afternoon about the new cooperation between the American and British Governments, we may now look forward to some relief for the British taxpayer.
I wish to refer to one or two detailed recommendations in the Report, but before doing so I would emphasise what my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot has said, about the particularly unfortunate position of the hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In the past, this office has been regarded as a sinecure office. In fact my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who occupied that office, once described it as "well-paid inactivity." Today, the position is very different. The present Chancellor of the Duchy is given a virtually impossible task. He pays flying visits to Berlin and to the British zone. One would almost like to ask him if his journeys are really necessary. I do not say that in any kind of critical spirit, but rather in a spirit of sympathy with him, because after all what authority, if any, has he affecting policy? The Chancellor of the Duchy has two very formidable masters. He has, on the one hand, the Secretary 590 of State for Foreign Affairs, and, on the other, the Secretary of State for War. I wonder if the Government have any knowledge direct or indirect, as to whether any of our Allies conduct their activities in Germany in the same way as the British.
I would like to refer to two matters of detail. The first is referred to in paragraph 47 of our Report, the paragraph dealing with the staff of the Control Commission. I think all hon. Members will agree that if we are to do our job in Germany well we must have the very best people that we can get to do the work. When, the Select Committee were in Germany, it was inevitable that we should meet mainly the principal and senior officers of the Control Commission, to whom too great a tribute could not be paid. That small body of men, many of them idealistic in outlook, are carrying far too great a burden. Here I refer not only to the civilian officials of the Control Commission but also to those officers of the Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force who are seconded for duty. I think that men from the Armed Forces should be told by the Service Ministries that their service with the Control Commission is not regarded as a black mark against them but as exactly the reverse. I am sorry that the Financial Secretary to the War Office is no longer present. I hope the Minister of State or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will bring that point to the notice of the Service Departments.
It is, unfortunately, a fact that junior members of the civil staff of the Control Commission were recruited at the beginning with very great speed and certainly not with the care which should be exercised in appointments of this nature. As a result of the Report of the Select Committee, and of this Debate today, I hope the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will take immediate steps to see that those members of the staff who have not given first class service are weeded out. By having only our very best men there, we shall speed the time when it will be much easier for us to arrange for the devolution of authority to Germany personnel, as the Report recommends. I also hope that those members of the civilian Control Commission who are retained, will be given conditions of service which will attract only the very best.
591 Whilst on the subject of personnel of the Control Commission, the size of which we hope will be considerably reduced in the not far distant future, I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will give the House an assurance that no big reduction will be made in the vitally important intelligence and security services. If we are to release a lot more Germans now held in concentration camps, either on parole or in some other way, it is necessary more than ever that our intelligence and security services should be maintained with the maximum number of personnel required to do the job properly. The other matter of ' detail which I wish to mention is one which has been touched upon already. I refer to the appalling fact that some 15 months after the cessation of hostilities we have 40,000 to 50,000 Germans still in concentration camps. I am afraid that" concentration camps" is the only right and proper descriptive phrase for these institutions. Some hon. Members may say, "Once a Nazi, always a Nazi." If we maintain that attitude we come to the stage when practically every German will be branded and placed in that category. We should also bear in mind the psychological aspect of this matter. Are we likely to denazify or make any German any less Nazi by keeping them behind barbed wire with searchlights gleaming on them throughout the night? As I mentioned when I interrupted the Minister of State, these 40,000 or 50,000 are in the British zone. We do not know how many there are in similar conditions in the other zones.
We keep them in this state without any charge preferred against them, or any prospect of immediate trial, and even without telling them why they are there. They know by the traditional bush telegraph that they are there probably because they have been members of the Nazi Party. Surely, by doing this we are maintaining a system which we fought against for five or six years. I differ from the opinion held by the Minister of State. Many of these people are not, as he said, former active members of the Nazi Party. They are scientists, surgeons, dentists and the rest. Do the Government really mean to tell the Committee that to release some of these people, under proper surveillance, would cause any danger to public safety or security? [An HON. MEMBER: "Many are common criminals."] If that is the 592 case, it is a reflection upon the occupying authorities. If they are common criminals they should be brought to trial and given proper treatment. I hope the Government will do everything possible to release as many of these men and women, after proper screening, as they can. These people should be allowed their liberty and be enabled to contribute something useful to the economy of Germany. Let them be released on parole; we should not keep them in these concentration camps.
The Select Committee have prepared the Report which is before the Committee with great care and trouble. In due course, I understand, the evidence will be published. We hope that the Report has been interesting to hon. Members, and venture to suggest that they will find some of the evidence startling. In this Report the Committee has made certain recommendations. It is my hope that the Government, through the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he replies, will be able to tell the House that they accept the majority of these recommendations.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)
Along with other right hon. and hon. Members I wish to congratulate the Select Committee of this House on this excellent Report on British Control in Germany. I think the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton) who opened the Debate today was one of the best which I have heard him make. Indeed, when I read this Report and listened to the Debate today, I began to think that reason had come into its own at last, because this is the first sensible document on peace that has been issued by the Government of this country for about six long years. Of course, nobody rejoices more about that than I do; and, if the right hon. Member for Aldershot does not mind my saying so, I wish that some of the noble sentiments he has uttered today had been spoken by him and his colleagues two or three years ago. We would not in that case have the ghastly picture of Germany presented before us today. What has brought this picture about? This is the consequence of the "unconditional surrender" policy of Governments during 593 the war. We cannot blame the Chancellor of the Duchy; he is doing his level best in clearing up the muddle created by the statesmen of our country during the war. This document is in the nature of a report of a post-mortem examination, not upon the Chancellor of the Duchy, but upon the statesmen of our country who were responsible for imposing unconditional surrender on Germany.
I am glad, therefore, that, today, the House of Commons is practically unanimous that Germany shall not perish. I remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) once saying that, if we bankrupted Germany, we should bankrupt Europe, including ourselves, at the same time. I would add that if we divide Germany, we divide Europe too. Indeed, it is because we have divided Germany that Europe is now divided. The Minister of State will forgive me saying one jarring word about his speech. I want him to understand that it offends my spirit—and I have been a trade union official for probably as long as anybody else here—to think that our Government seem to accept the principle that German labour should be forced to work here as part of reparations due to us. That is a very dangerous policy, and I, for one, refuse to accept it. I trust that my right hon. Friend, who knows more about these international problems than ordinary hon. Members of the House, will not pursue that very dangerous line.
§ Mr. Speaker
I was asked at the beginning of the Debate whether we might discuss the policy of keeping Germans here, and I said, "No, it would be out of Order on this Estimate." We may discuss the absence of Germans from Germany, but the emphasis must be on German employment and not on employment in this country.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
I will drop that subject, because, of course, your Ruling is perfectly correct. I will then take up a point mentioned by several hon. Members in this Debate about persecuting those with objectionable political opinions in Germany. I hope the Chancellor of the Duchy will take note of this. I remember long ago workmen in my own country being punished at their jobs and not getting advances in wages because 594 they did not belong to certain clubs, associations and denominations. I would therefore lay down a policy for my country, if I could; it would be, that German workers should not be refused employment because they are Anarchists, Communists, Socialists, Catholics, Protestants or even Fascists. They ought to be free to work and paid wages, but, if they commit a crime, they ought to be brought to justice like any other criminal.
I trust the Minister will see that, in employing Germans under our control in their own country, that that policy will be accepted by our Government. Hon. Members rightly declare that we in Britain are better off by comparison with the Germans; but one fact in this Report that really startles me is, that it has been found inexpedient to direct miners to work underground in Germany. We are, of course, still directing our own miners to the pits. We are the conquering country, and our miners forsooth are being directed to the pits, but in Germany, a defeated nation, it is inexpedient to direct them to the mines.
§ Mr. Norman Smith (Nottingham, South)
If the hon. Member will allow me, may I say to him that he is misquoting the Report? The Report says that experience has proved the inexpediency of directing German labour—not particularly German miners.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
When I worked in the pit, the miner was part of the labour employed. The kernel of the problem, of course, is whether Germany is to become one economic unit. I was very pleased on that score to hear the point made by the right hon. Member for Aldershot about selecting certain industries for destruction. I do not know enough about industry except to say that it does seem to me that, if we smash the few key industries of arms manufacture, we could soon settle the problem whether or not Germany will arm again.
There is another point in the Report which interests me very much, and that is about de-Nazification. I do not quite understand our people when they talk about teaching the Germans how to live. I do not know much about Germans; the only friends I have in Germany are stout anti-Nazis; they are Quakers, and they do not believe in war any more than I do.
595 On the problem of teaching Germans a new way of life, I remember, during the heat of the war, somebody suggesting that we should send teachers from this country to teach the Germans our way of life. I began to wonder where we would find them, because we were at that time 70,000 teachers short for our own schools. However, I am all for propagating the Parliamentary democratic system among the Germans. I think it ought to be done; it is a very healthy gospel to preach to the tyrannised peoples of Europe. We could tell them, if we liked that, in this country, under a Parliamentary regime, we can have a revolution without shedding a drop of human blood in the process; we can change the Government overnight without much ado, except for a few scurrilous articles in the newspapers. In a totalitarian country, on the other hand, there must be a revolution by force and shedding human blood before you can change the Government. That is one of the main reasons why I am against the authoritarian regime.
It seems to me that, although food is very important in Germany today, especially among the miners, there is one thing much more important than anything else, and that is the creation of a new spirit among the German people. We want a new evangelism and a new gospel. I remember Earl Baldwin, when he was Prime Minister, saying that we might be able to force other systems on Europe, but that it was not a new government or a new system that was required; what Europe needed was half a dozen prophets to preach a new gospel of toleration.
Let me pay this tribute to my country. I am naturally enamoured of the right of free speech, and hon. Members who have come here for the first time since the war might be interested to know that this House actually tolerated my speaking against the war while the conflict was actually proceeding. I appreciated that beyond all the cash that could be given me. That spirit of toleration ought to be imported among the German people. If a new way is necessary in Germany and in Europe generally, it is that way of life which we possess of tolerating unpopular opinions.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham) indicated assent.596
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
I am very glad to note the assent of the right hon. Gentleman on this issue, because even he and I do not see eye to eye on all occasions. As I said at the beginning, I am very glad at the reasonableness exhibited by this House today on the question of the treatment of defeated Germany. I remember too well what was said at the end of the first world war. Among other things, we were going to hang the Kaiser, but the old fellow died a natural death; nobody ever touched him. But we are not talking like that at the end of the second world war. There are different views, a better spirit, and a superior attitude of mind being brought to bear on the problem of Germany.
I have lived long enough to believe that the soldier, sailor, airman, the bomb and the gun will never bring peace to the world. I believe that the moral, human spirit, which we have been talking about today, is a million times more important than all the armies which could be sent to Germany. A new generation is born every day; new generations laugh at what has been said in the past—in fact, they are very nearly laughing today at what was said by some hon. Members during the war. There was a lot of nonsense spoken then about what we were going to do with Germany when she was defeated. Today, we are talking rather kindly about Germany. One good thing has emerged in this Debate, namely, that nearly everybody agrees that it is wrong to say that the whole of the Germans are a lot of rascals; one cannot indict a whole nation. And, in passing, I resent our representative in Jerusalem saying that all Jews must be held responsible for what has happened there recently. Likewise, I resent holding 70 million Germans responsible for what was done by Hitler and his gangsters. For instance, the miners of this country, to whom I belong, were not responsible for the Boer War, the first world war or the second world war. The common man has nothing to say about making war, or making the peace either.
As I have said, I am glad to note the humane tone of this Debate. I hope that we shall henceforth go into Germany in this new spirit, to do justice and secure fair play. Incidentally, I do not like what is happening in Nuremburg at the moment; the language employed there is cheap; it 597 reminds me of some of the vocabulary of Hitler himself. I have more faith in my countrymen than to see them descend to that. We are at last exhibiting a better spirit towards the defeated foe; and I trust that, when my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Chancellor consider what has been said in this House today, they will carry back into our administration in Germany, not only justice, but will appreciate that the Germans must have already realised that their greatest penalty of all is the loss of the war. They have learned what defeat means; more than that they have lost their jobs, money, homes, property, children, wives and husbands. That, surely, ought to be sufficient punishment without adding more. Let us, who believe we are among the decent people in the world—and I am proud of our institutions—carry this gospel of justice, nay, charity, if one likes, and, above all, mercy, to the Germans, and teach them that better way of life which we have talked about for so many years.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Commander Maitland (Horncastle)
I feel very diffident about following the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies). I wish I could follow him and use the same eloquence, but for four minutes tonight, I propose to address myself to one small practical point. How right was my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) when he said that the one thing which we learned after the last war was the difficulty with which any dealing with reparation is fraught. He called attention to the mess into which we got after the last war. Everybody in this House, whether they have a knowledge of economics or whether they know nothing at all, realises that fact. But there is also a subtle additional reaction from which I believe that many of us suffer. Victory as we then regarded it brought merely difficulties and disaster and because of that, we feel that it is wrong to profit from victory. But that, I suggest, is not necessarily correct. I believe that there is one way in which we can gain reparations—by trying to absorb the knowledge of the German people. Theirs was a great knowledge, a knowledge which kept the world at bay for many years It was a great technical knowledge, a great knowledge of design and something which, had it not been 598 used in such a diabolical way, would have been of great value to the world.
I want this country to get its fair share of that knowledge and to employ it in the way it should have been employed. As the House knows, there is an organisation called B.I.O.S. employed by the Government to obtain such information as trade secrets, technical secrets of German manufacturers and businesses. I want the Minister, when he replies, to tell us that we are going all out to get all the secrets and the knowledge we can. Surely, now that we are out for a great export drive, this is the moment when we need every good card in our export hand, and this is one of the good cards which are available to us. I am particularly asking this because, during the war, it fell to my lot to handle a good many German made armaments of various types. I found that, in almost every case, there was something very good about them. But I was horrified by the attitude taken by the various firms with whom I was then dealing. They took what, I believe, was an entirely insular line—that these things could not be as good as ours because they were made in Germany. That is the most stupid and ridiculous line to take, and I could not understand British manufacturers taking such a line.
I want the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to tell us that the little dog is going to get a chance of seeing the rabbit as well as the big dog. Are these secrets open to everybody who wants them? Is there an asking organisation on behalf of the various small businesses in the country? Can such people go to the Chancellor with their problems and ask him whether he has any information which would help them? Are we investing enough money and using enough people in order to get the greatest benefit from this? I admit that I am very anxious that, in our great anxiety—and in our proper anxiety—to be generous victors as almost every speech which has been made today has emphasised, we should at least try to get the small fruits of victory which remain.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I do not intend to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) because I so completely disagree with him. As an industrialist, I have found the 599 approach of some of His Majesty's Government officials, on the question of worming secrets out of Germany, utterly and completely repulsive. I do not mean that I object to anything that has been done in connection with atomic power and things which might be war elements, but I feel it to be utterly repugnant that, when an enemy is down and out, the industrialists of this country should invade its soil like a swarm of vultures and pick the remaining flesh from its bones. Whenever I have been approached on that subject I have always declined to take part in the discussion as the whole thing is repugnant to me. I wish particularly to speak to the right hon. Member for Alder-shot (Mr. Lyttelton). My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) expressed some astonishment at the right hon. Gentleman's performance at the Box today. I agree with him. It was the best speech that I have ever heard him make, largely because it was most like the speeches that I have made throughout the war. It is not only because of this idiocy of unconditional surrender that we got ourselves into a "jam," but, first and foremost, because of our betrayal of principle throughout the war. It was betrayed first at Teheran; then it was mortally wounded at Yalta, and the indecent funeral took place in Potsdam. I wish the right hon. Member for Aldershot had made the speech that he made today years ago when he was a Member of the Cabinet. Then, perhaps, the war would have been shorter. Certainly, the difficulties with which we are now confronted would not have been as great as they have proved to be.
I would like to say in passing that I know the matters of Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam are not being discussed today, but let it be a warning for the future, for never on one occasion was this House consulted before those agreements were reached. Had this House been consulted on economic questions, not on military questions which, of course, must remain secret, but on questions such as the decision to cut up Germany and to send 14 million people across Europe like a creeping Belsen, I do not think the House of Commons, even constituted as it was in wartime, would have consented for a moment. Therefore, let it be a warning never to let the Government take the bit between their teeth again.
600 I now come to the main theme of what I want to say. The point that has been so ably put by so many Members on both sides of the House is this. My hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and all those who work so faithfully with him in this country and overseas, find themselves in a "jam" primarily because there has never been any real declaration of policy. Thank goodness, today we have had some constructive statement from my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. Thank goodness, at last, there has been a decision that if the iniquitous decisions of Potsdam are not carried out—and they are not going to be —we shall get something constructive in Germany in the not too distant future. Those of us who have studied this question realise that the Potsdam economics were crazy.
The decision which followed it in March this year was almost as crazy. What Potsdam laid down, in effect, was—I think the Minister of State quoted it wrongly—that the standard of living in Germany was not to be higher than the average level in other European countries. That is really chasing one's tail, for this reason, that the whole of the economics of central Europe depend upon the successful operation of the Ruhr and the Rhine, as is well known by anybody who has studied the question. How are we to expect millions of human beings in the Ruhr and the Rhine to work themselves out, year in and year out, in order to maintain a standard of living to which they themselves cannot aspire? It is almost as stupid as saying to the farmers in this country, "You may not feed yourselves before you send food to the market." The answer would inevitably be that they would kill their animals and eat all their eggs, and things would just disappear.
If we want to set Europe on its feet again—I do; I want to set Germany on its feet again under proper control—we must scrap the whole of the Potsdam economics and the whole of the findings of the Allied Commission in March, and realise that if Europe is to benefit, the whole productive capacity of the Ruhr and the Rhine must be worked to the utmost. We shall not achieve that state of affairs unless we offer the people who do the work some sort of bait. I have urged time and time again in this House and elsewhere that the way in which to 601 get the Ruhr miners to work is to make them realise thai after they have achieved whatever target we set them, the rest of the coal shall be for their country. I was distressed and disappointed when I heard the Minister of State say that it was probably impossible to ease up on the coal exports to other countries, for political reasons. I agree with what was said on the opposite side of the House, that unless those exports are stopped they will get diminishing returns. The only way in which they can get more coal is to get more steel so that more coalmines can be made to work. They cannot get more steel unless they get more coal to start with. The only thing to do is to scrap the export of coal from the Ruhr at the present time and get the output of steel up to the highest possible level.
I come to another point which is really more fundamental than coal, and that is food. I thought the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) was a little unjust to my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is not really his fault that the food situation in Germany is what it is today. It certainly is not his fault that Germany has not got all the food for which he has been asking. I have been concerned with this question for some time, and it will be within the recollection of most of my hon. Friends that we have expressed views, which the Minister has supported and, indeed, adopted as his own, concerning the urgent necessity for food for the Germans, without which we shall have a vicious circle, as the Report makes clear. From the other side of the House we have often had sneers and ridicule, and, if it has not been quite so apparent in the House, it has certainly been bad in the country and in the Tory Press, making it appear again and again, quite wrongly, that efforts have been made to export from this country to Germany things which we can ill afford to spare. May I pay a great tribute to the "Daily Mail"—a most unusual occurrence? They had the good sense the other day to send one of their reporters abroad to give them a truthful account of the situation. Mr. Alexander Clifford—
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
Would the hon. Gentleman also pay a tribute to myself and the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), as we were the first to initiate a Debate in this 602 House on the subject? The hon. Gentleman's recollection is somewhat in error. We were the first to call attention to this matter two years ago, before the hon. Gentleman commenced his talkings from the housetops.
§ Mr. Stokes
Although I often find the noble Lord on the side of the angels, and on this occasion he is correct, I must point out that one swallow does not make a summer. However, I willingly give the noble Lord that point. This is my tribute to the "Daily Mail." Mr. Clifford came back and reported in a way in which I might have reported; they were good, factual articles, with points and truth— a magnificent combination—and the "Daily Mail" put them in, which was a most astonishing performance. What happened then? Today Lord Vansittart "gets cracking," and says on the food question:We helped them"—that is the Germans—too notably by putting our own people short of fats for their benefit.I take it that the whole object of this article, which goes on in the same strain, is to discredit what had appeared before. I support that for which my hon. Friend the Chancellor is appealing, and I would like to state shortly what the facts are. Who can challenge this:The fat ration in the British zone in Germany today is 1.75 ozs. per week"?That is against our 7 ozs. in this country. The sugar ration is 2.25 ozs., as against our 8 ozs. a week. There is difficulty over bread. They have had practically no potatoes. Last week for the first time in six weeks the potato ration was honoured. Six weeks before that it was honoured, but before that they had had none since Christmas. We have the disreputable yellow Press trying to misrepresent the situation on the Continent, and trying, apparently, to use the appalling situation in which millions of people find themselves faced with dire starvation, in an effort to discredit the Government and stop further exports for their aid. It is about time the country knew the facts. If the country did know the facts, I am quite sure the country would be only too willing to suffer more, and to put up with even further restrictions.
I now wish to say a few words about the steel situation. I have already spoken about coal, to which steel is closely allied. 603 The point I desire to emphasise is that the steel production limitation is, to my mind, fantastically stupid, for the following reason. A steel plant cannot be worked economically if it is going—I do not know whether this is a Parliamentary term, Mr. Speaker—at half cock. It just does not work. A given amount of steel may be produced, but it cannot be produced economically. It had better be soon recognised that the only way to get steel produced economically is to allow the blast furnaces and steel works to work at their utmost capacity, otherwise the burden will fall more and more heavily on the tax-payer in this country, and we will only be able to carry out the Potsdam Agreement at the economic levels mentioned on 27th March by making the British tax payer put his hand into his pocket in order to subsidise German production, for not producing enough steel.
It is like the story of the Americans' non-hog raising gold bond before the war. They issued a non-hog raising gold bond, the object of which was not to raise more hogs but to raise less; the less hogs one raised the more money one got, for not raising them. It is the same principle as the Economic Council in Berlin, although I do not agree with the Economic Council. They told me they think their own is completely phoney, but we are being forced by the Potsdam Agreement to impose these conditions. May I add my support to the claim made by the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson), that the dismantling of plants in the British zone should be stopped? I think it is an absolutely fatuous thing to try to do. The Americans and Russians have stopped dismantling, yet when I have asked when we are to stop dismantling my hon. Friend has only been able to tell me that he is not sure about it because of a quadripartite agreement. The quadripartite agreement has gone sky high, as evidenced by statements from that Box today. For Heaven's sake let us stop this dismantling of industrial plants.
In passing, I refer to a different subject, namely, the living accommodation in Germany. Twice this year I have been to the worst places and seen the appalling conditions in which people live. Here we are, a year after the cessation of hostilities, 604 and literally thousands of people are being turned out of their homes to make room for what? For a condition of things which we all knew, a year ago, would arise. Yet nothing has been done to meet it. When talking to Army people, to wives, sweethearts and so on, I have always done my best to persuade them not to go to Germany. I think it is an appalling mistake. What is taking place? I wish the Secretary of State for War would tell them what a miserable time they are going to have—because I think they are going to have a miserable time—and make them realise what a miserable time is being inflicted on other people in consequence. It does seem to me to be terrible that in a place like Hanover, and some of the smaller districts, people should be rooted out at 24 hours' notice and told to get away, without efforts having been made to accommodate these people. I can give my hon. Friend details. I know it is not entirely his fault; it comes under the military much more. I hope perhaps that complaint may be heard.
I know the discussion of prisoners of war is barred from this Debate, but I do want to ask my hon. Friend to make representations in the right quarter, and to see that it is fully appreciated at this end how embarrassing it is to him at that end when so many of these men are away. Looking at it from the economic point of view, they are wanted in Germany for the rebuilding of the country, and getting the country going again. Here we are, short of labour, with an Army standing over there; yet we keep these prisoners of war over here to do the jobs which our men over there ought to be brought back here to do. That is another bit of crazy economics.
There is another and more human aspect of it which, as my hon. Friend knows, strongly appeals to me and the hon. Member, for The High Peak. We have, under the iniquities in Europe, 14 million people being expelled, and herded across Europe like a lot of cattle. An hon. Member sitting beside me spoke to me just now of his experiences in a transit camp, entirely bearing out what I have said. He has come across women and children, turned out at short notice from the places where they and their families have lived for hundreds of years. Asked where their men folk were, they said they were prisoners of war in Scotland. The other day, when I asked the Secretary of State 605 for War whether he could tell me how many prisoners of war in this country had wives and children who were being expelled at short notice from Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia, he said it was too difficult to say. It is nothing of the sort. At every camp I have been into I have asked that question, and the camp commandant has been able to tell me at once. The trouble is, it would be extremely inconvenient for the War Office if the public knew. There is no other reason whatever. I appeal to my hon. Friend on humanitarian grounds to assist in this immense problem. There are millions coming into the British zone with no breadwinner, no man to look after them at all. The prisoners of war who belong to those women and children should be returned to them at once. With that, I leave the subject of prisoners of war, upon which I shall have a great deal more to say on another occasion.
Another matter on the humanist side to which I must refer is that of the displaced persons. That is a problem with which my hon. Friend is very familiar, and I shall not speak for long on it. It has now been announced that U.N.R.R.A. comes to an end on 31st December. There has been a vague statement that something else will have to take its place, and take over some of the responsibilities which obviously cannot come to an end on 31st December. One of the most important problems is, what to do with the 800,000 displaced persons in the camps in the British and American zones. Can we have some pronouncement from that Box tonight on what the policy is to be? The mere announcement that U.N.R.R.A. is to come to an end has caused absolute consternation throughout the camps. This is not the moment to develop what could be done. Quite clearly, those people ought not to be left in Germany, and it ought not to be beyond the wits of the three great Western Powers, France, the United States and ourselves, to find accommodation for them within the confines of our own territories. No doubt something more will be said upon that by those interested in the Jewish problem when we come to debate another subject on Thursday.
Turning to the personnel side of the concentration camps, I am horrified to find that there are some 40,000 German people in concentration camps in the area who have not yet been questioned, merely because they are dubbed "black." I had 606 too unfortunate an experience in regard to Regulation 18 (B) in this country to know that it is very unlikely there will not be grave injustices. It will be within the knowledge of the House that on one occasion a lady was put in a camp for nine months, although she had four little children, because in her diary against 14th November was written, "Destroy British Queen and instal Italian." It took our great Intelligence nine months to discover she had kept bees, yet the wretched woman was locked up. That might happen more easily in Germany where everybody has, until recently, experienced the custom of denouncing everybody else.
With regard to the black, white and grey system of screening, I can tell my hon. Friend that if he goes to the commandants of the camps themselves he will be told it really is quite useless, for half the blacks have been proven white, the greys are nothing at all, and half the whites ought to be black. It is a hopelessly impossible situation. I offer a little advice to my hon. Friend and to His Majesty's Government, by saying that those who are proven Nazis, who have been active Nazis and are known to have been, who do not need to be screened at all, can be dealt with and the rest can be forgotten, because we are simply wasting our time, and will only land ourselves in more difficulties.
I turn now to the Allied Control Commission and what ought to be done to improve it. I agree with what has been said already, that in many ways the whole organisation is top heavy. There are too many people trying to look after one another, and, in consequence, too much administrative detail and not enough control and proper guidance. To give a silly example of what I mean by the amount of paper that flows about I heard of a case the other day where it was necessary, and agreed, that a bridge which had been blown up should be rebuilt. Everybody agreed it; the military agreed, the civilians side agreed, the people who were to build the bridge agreed to do it, the labour was available and it required 360 tons of steel. The contractor put in an application for the required quantity of steel to do the job, and when the allocation came back he was told he could only have one ton—one ton to do a job which required 360 tons. Everybody agreed that it was a high 607 priority job, but the paper business is so great that everything snowballs up and nothing gets done. We did exactly the same sort of thing here with paper at the beginning of the war; I can remember that in my own works I used to throw the whole lot in the waste paper basket and say, "Let us get along without it." We did get along without it very well, but they cannot do that over there because of pressure from the top. I know of people over in Germany who are paid £1,500 a year for doing a job for which I would not pay £5 a week. They admit it, and I have known people resign for that very reason, all because the pressure from the top, by people who want to know every single detail, is so terrific that they cannot get on with real practical constructive work.
Secondly, as I have said already, it is essential that we should go in for full production. Thirdly, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State has already made a statement, which we all welcome, that there is to be an amalgamation of the zones. Let us hope it will be three zones, and soon four, My experience of dealing with the Russians—I have had some as an industrialist, I have been to Moscow—is that the only way is to dig your toes in, and when you do they know what you want. As they always know what they want, there is then some possibility of coming to an agreement. But until you do know what you want, they will not help you to find out. That is the honest fact about the Russians, and I hope comrade Stalin will be sitting up and taking notice tonight, and that my friends in Moscow will recollect my own negotiations with them before the war. Fourthly, please send the prisoners of war back.
Fifthly, cannot some modification be made in these quite ridiculous non-fraternisation regulations in Germany? When I was there I felt positively ashamed of myself. I went out for a walk, and I watched three or four people in Military Government uniform. They would not say "Good morning" to anybody. How are you to persuade people into a decent, Christian way of life if you cut them on Sunday mornings? I said "Good morning" to everybody, in my worst German. But then, when I go to a prisoner of war camp I shake hands with all the prisoners with whom I speak, and that does not go down very well—some of the 608 prisoners do not like shaking hands with me; perhaps they are not used to it. Well—teach them. This non-fraternisation business is nonsense. The only way to get people round to our way of thinking is by mixing with them. If all Englishmen married German girls and if all German men married English girls, perhaps we should get along a little better than we do today. Without wishing to introduce a too frivolous note into this, it really is quite ridiculous. These men who have done so much are being prevented from entering into normal relations with the opposite sex because of their nationality.
Finally, will the Minister of State or the Chancellor of the Duchy give us some definite guidance on the displaced persons question? It is unfortunate that this was not settled months ago; millions of people are in a state of anxiety now, wondering what is to happen because U.N.R.R.A. is to come to an end. I feel very much for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary; as everybody knows, we are sorry he is not here or in Paris today. He has an awful job, and everybody chases him from pillar to post. The late Lord Lloyd-George said to me one day, "You will do the country a great service if you can persuade the people not to make peace in a hurry." By that I do not mean not stop fighting—stop fighting as soon as you like; but after the last war we were forced into impossible positions in Paris because we were made to settle boundary limitations and the rest which we knew were wrong because public opinion insisted on our doing so at the time. If we had taken more time those things would not have been done. In the past I have said, "Do not let us make peace for five years." At least let us take time, and not do wrong things, otherwise we shall have the whole tragedy over again.
There is criticism of the Russians and their efforts to influence people in the Russian zone and bring that influence into ours; there is criticism in America, from that rather outworn capitalist system— we cannot help that, they will grow up and learn the fallacy of it one day, but I want to emphasise that we have a great contribution to make, in our zone of Germany and in Western Europe, through the instrument which my hon. Friend is designing. Through that instrument we can bring to Western civilisation a far finer order than it can ever get out of the 609 totalitarian Communism of the East, something far superior to what it can get from the outworn capitalism of America, that is, a Christian Socialist order which all the people are pining for.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)
Like the hon and gallant Member for Horn-castle (Commander Maitland) I, too, have greatly enjoyed listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Westhoughton. (Mr. Rhys Davies). I very seldom find myself in agreement with him, unfortunately, so I was particularly sorry I could not agree with him tonight in the jest he made against the Attorney-General. I am bound to say that during the last few days I have felt, in reading the right hon. and learned Gentleman's indictment of the Nazi Party and the Nazi people, that, like the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal on another occasion, he was speaking for England. I hope that he and the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) will forgive me if I do not follow them, because I want to speak briefly on one problem of the Control Commission which, I believe, has not received sufficient attention, namely, the problem of the Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein. It is that of the Danes who live in that territory which was formerly Danish and looted from them by Bismarck at the end of the first German war of aggression, 80 years ago.
I do not know how many hon. Members of this House read the "Observer," but I can testify that this problem was very fairly set out in yesterday's edition by a Danish correspondent. When in South Schleswig nearly four months ago, I found that the Danish minority were extremely worried about their future, partly owing to the huge influx of Germans from Eastern Germany but mainly because they were unable, they thought, to get any sympathy or consideration for their case from the Control Commission. The Control Commission does recognise the central Danish organisation, the South Schleswig Association, but I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply to this Debate why this Danish minority association is forbidden to take any part in politics and to nominate candidates for local elections, and why it is that the Danish paper, the "Flensburg Avis," is the only paper of its kind still subject to censorship?
610 This Danish minority has made what appears, on the face of it, to be a perfectly sensible suggestion, that is that the old double Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein should be divided into two, because in the Northern part of it, Schleswig, those of Danish stock are many times more numerous than in Holstein. If this has been turned down by His Majesty's Government—there may be excellent reasons; I am not in a position to judge— I want to ask whether a patient and careful explanation of the reason for this has been given to this Danish minority. I should also like to know what consideration His Majesty's Government have given to the views of Denmark on the subject of their minority in South Schleswig.
It has been widely reported in the papers that a British Foreign Office spokesman said:Like Italy, Hungary and Austria, Denmark may be permitted to voice an opinion.I am quite certain that that is not the view of His Majesty's Government, who would surely be the last people to seek to make a statement of that nature; because to compare Denmark, with its strong and brave underground resistance, to a former enemy territory would, of course, be an extremely foolish comparison. But I feel that the hon. Gentleman might well take this opportunity thoroughly to dissociate His Majesty's Government from that statement, and, also, to clarify the situation in regard to this question of the Danish minority.
The Danish people are our kith and kin. We ourselves, the English, are descended from them; and of all the alien people on the Continent of Europe today, they are our greatest friends, and, spiritually, the most akin to us. But, today, the people of Denmark are out of sympathy with us, because they simply cannot understand our attitude to this Danish minority. I ask His Majesty's Government to give careful consideration to the interests of these people, not because we seek any advantage for ourselves, but simply because, of course, Englishmen always stand for justice for minorities.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Hamilton (Sudbury)
When, in his Budget Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer first mentioned that figure of £8o million which we spend on Germany and Austria, he gave some- 611 thing of a shock to this House and, I think, to the nation. One hon. Member spoke with indignation of what he called "paying reparations to Germany, instead of Germany's paying reparations to us." In today's Debate, the right hon Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) mentioned it, quite truthfully, as an unprecedented occurrence, without parallel in history. Last week and the week before I had the privilege of going with a delegation to Germany, and. our experiences there confirmed what I have felt for a long time— that we have something of a wrong point of view, as a nation, on this matter of payments to the Control Commission. After all, what does that £80 million really represent? Fifty million pounds of it represents the difference between German imports and exports. The other £30 million, one may say, I think, speaking generally, represents goods and services that we supply to Germany, and which Germany cannot pay back in the only possible way she can pay for anything, namely, by exports. So it all boils down to this: that the reason we have to pay £80 million is that German industry cannot get going quickly and export a large quantity of goods.
Why is that? Of course, the answer is obvious to anybody who sees anything of what has happened in Germany. It is on account of the almost entire destruction of her productive power. What was not destroyed during the war is partially being destroyed now, as part of the destruction of her war potential. That destruction of German productive power during the war was also something without parallel in history. Never before in the history of the world has an industrial nation suffered the destruction which we carried out in Germany—the wholesale destruction of her factories, of her communications, of the dwelling houses in which her workers lived. We did that as deliberate policy, because we believed it would shorten the war and greatly reduce the casualties amongst our own troops. The result showed that that belief was justified. We have only to compare what happened in world war I and world war 2 to see that, at the end of world war I we finished with over 1,000,000 of our best men dead; but Germany was still economically a going concern, though battered. We finished world war 2 with 612 a very lamentable loss in casualties—I do not want to minimise them in the slightest —but, none the less, they were only little over one third of what we suffered in the first world war.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
Is not the hon. and gallant Gentleman overlooking, in his comparison, the extraordinary losses of our Allies in this war?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Hamilton
I was talking about our own share in the campaign which has just finished. It was our policy to destroy German industry, and it was to a large extent our own casualties that we were saving. I am not going to say for a moment that that policy was not justified, but what I do say is that the £80 million we are paying was the direct result of that policy, and we should not regard it as reparation to Germany; we should regard it as part of the cost of our way of beating Germany. If we regard it in that light, I think, it takes quite a different proportion, because, after all, £80 million is only the cost of one week of the war, and if, by this destruction we shortened the war, as I think we did, by probably many months, if not years, surely, even as a financial loss, it is very worth while. If we take into account the value of the lives we saved, it is many, many times worth while.
But that is looking at the past. If it is justified on the basis of being part of the cost of the war, I think it is still more justified if we look at the present and the future. We have heard in many speeches today that our policy to Germany, the only right policy, is our avowed policy, namely, to build her up into a decent, economic unit and to lead her, if we can, into the path of democracy. We can only do that if we retain the good will of the German people, and it was distressing to find, as our delegation found, that there has been great deterioration in that respect in the past few months. I shall not go into detail into the causes, because they are all set out in the most excellent way in the Select Committee's Report, paragraphs 38 to 46. But in that it will be found that the greatest element is the shortage of food. That can be overcome only by the importation of more food and, particularly, of fertilisers.
In other words, it is going to cost money to overcome these causes of ill will, but it is money which will be well 613 spent. A senior member of the Economic Section put it to me in this rather startling way. He said that if we kept our expenditure very carefully down to £80 million we might lose it, but if we spent £500 million it would be a splendid investment, and we should get it all back. I do not suggest we should follow that literally, but it enshrines a truth, namely, to spend wisely in Germany now will be a good investment for the future. I should very much like to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer go over to Germany and see for himself the kind of task which we are up against. I wish, too, that the British nation as a whole realised a little more the importance of what we are trying to do in Germany. During the war we all followed with the utmost interest the doings of the 8th Army in Africa, and our Armies across the Channel. Sometimes we used to hear of the 14th Army slogging through the jungles of Burma, but we did not follow these doings so carefully and it came to be known as the "forgotten Army." That is bad for morale. I hope that we shall not allow the Control Commission officers to feel that they are a forgotten army. They have a tremendous job to do, and the greater the interest we take in them the more we can hope that the personnel will be better than has been described. We all agree, however, that there are a great many officials working with enthusiasm and sympathy, and we want them to feel that they have the interest, support and pride of the nation behind them.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ General Sir George Jeffreys (Petersfield)
I do not rise on this occasion to criticise the recommendations of the Select Committee, beyond saying that in general they appear to me to be sound, and that I agree with them. I rise to advert to another matter, regarding which I wrote to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster some fortnight ago and to which I have had no reply. Among the recommendations of the Committee are that the screening of Germans should be rapidly completed, and that the general policy should be to reduce staff and to improve its quality. I could not agree more with both of these recommendations, but I would say, if I am correctly informed, that it is the staff of the Control Commission which really want screening. If reports can be believed, 614 its quality leaves much to be desired. Reports from responsible Regular serving officers have been made to me. They suggest that the conduct and behaviour of many of the Control Commission officers is very bad indeed. Intemperance and immorality, flagrant intemperance and flagrant immorality, are said to be rife among them, rife in public and semi-public places, and more particularly is this the case, I am informed, in Hamburg. I am told, too, that this kind of misconduct is not prevalent only among a small minority, but is prevalent among a substantial number of Control Commission officials.
I am told that our Regular serving officers are very disgusted at it. Many of these officials are ex-members of the Services, for whom the Services had no use in their Service capacities. I am told that the example of these Control Commission officials is quite deplorable, and that their misconduct is the cause of resentment and contempt on the part of the Germans who ought to respect them. I hope very much that whoever replies will deal with these allegations. My information comes from Regular serving officers in whom I have the utmost confidence. It is obvious that if our government in Germany is to be carried on through the medium of such officials, it cannot be efficient or respected; and if it is to be efficient, it must be respected.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
I would commence by endorsing what the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) has said The accounts which I have heard from Germany coincide precisely with what he has said, particularly in regard to Hamburg. I have heard of shocking things going on. I should like also to endorse what was said by the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch). I believe that men should not be imprisoned for indefinite periods because of their political opinions. I assert that that is being done in Germany, At present 40,000 to 50,000 men are imprisoned in concentration camps without any charge having been levelled against them. It may be said that some of these men have committed crimes, and that is undoubtedly true, but it is incidental. They are not charged with crimes, and they are not there for crimes. They are there because they are Nazis. That is a 615 matter of political opinion, and for my part I would say that my conception of democracy is liberty, liberty to disagree, and liberty to be a Nazi.
The real point to which I wish to address myself concerns what is occurring in these camps. The Minister of State said that these men were members of organisations which were about to be put on trial, but you cannot put an organisation on trial under any civilised law. You can no more indict an organisation than you can indict a nation. The only historical precedent for the indictment of an organisation was the indictment of the Order of the Knights of the Temple, and that was not a very pretty historical precedent. We have gone back to the Dark Ages if that is the sort of justice we now conceive. If that is to be our conception of justice today, then, in a large sense, we have lost this war, because the principles of the Nazis are the principles which have won. What is happening to the 40,000 to 50,000 men who arc in prison? I have reports from the ex-commandants of two camps, Milag and Marlag inVeste-timke. These two camps were closed on 1st July—that is to say, they were closed in the sense that they ceased to be concentration camps.
These camps became prisons, because the prisons in Germany are not large enough to accommodate all the criminals created by our regulations. Each of these camps held 1,500 people, 250 of which were suffering from hunger-oedema—that is the dreadful swelling of the abdomen and limbs that precedes death from starvation. I would ask the Minister to tell us how many of these 40,000 to 50,000 people we have incarcerated have been reported as suffering from hunger-oedema. Is the percentage I have mentioned typical of the country? Of the people in these camps 100 were children between the ages of 15 and 18. There were 30 solitary confinement cells where people were put on half starvation rations. The offences for which they were imprisoned in these cells were, firstly, the smuggling of food—21 days' solitary confinement for bringing a turnip into the camp from a working party—and secondly for smuggling letters. It was a privilege in this camp, not often granted, to send a single pink postcard to one's family on which one might say only that one was alive.
616 Finally, I would quote one instance. I can give the names and the particulars. At Bremonde a woman was sentenced by the military court to a year's imprisonment. Her offence was that she had hidden in a ditch to speak to her husband when he came out on a working party. She was the mother of four children; they were destitute; and the man was given solitary confinement. I am also told— and this I had signed by an ex-commandant of this camp—that men in the confinement cells were beaten, both by British officers and British N.C.Os. He gives specific instances of that, and he says that he investigated the cases and that these men were seriously beaten, and, indeed, beaten unconscious in the cells. After receiving that report, I asked a barrister friend, who had gone over to Germany to defend one of these people whom, we had put in command of these camps on a charge of rape. He investigated camps with Colonel Vanderkist, who is in charge of these camps, and he told me—and he came back yesterday— that in his view the charges which had been made were only too well founded.
I would say this to the Minister of State: If you are going to shut people up, the least which you can do is to feed them, and if you are not in a position to feed them you have no right to shut them up and forbid them the right to forage for themselves. If you did that to animals you would be run in and, rightly so, for cruelty. That is what is being done. We are not in a position to feed these people in Germany and, therefore, we have no right to incarcerate them. Even if they were all proved murderers, we may not put them behind barbed wire if we cannot feed them. We must either shoot them, or let them go and forage for themselves. In the stresses of war, the Germans imprisoned in camps men they accused of being a menace to the safety of their State, and they failed to feed the inmates of these camps. We have hanged them for doing it.
We gave full publicity to what happened in those camps, and I ask that similar publicity be given to what is happening in our camps. We sent Pathé Gazette to photograph what happened in their camps, and let the people in this country see what was happening. Will the Minister allow Pathé Gazette access to our camps, so that our people may 617 know what is happening now? Let us not do anything on which we fear the light of day. Will he, therefore, allow an inquiry to be held as to what is happening in these camps, as to the specific charges which I have brought upon the authority of commandants of these camps, and will he allow Germans to be represented at the inquiry by their counsel to put questions and bring out into the light of day what is happening? These are serious charges and they at least deserve investigation.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
I feel that everyone present will agree that this has been a most useful Debate, and I think that the wisdom of the Opposition in putting down this subject for discussion has been more than justified. I feel also, that the fair name of Britain has been at stake in our administration of our zone in Germany, and that public conscience has been aroused, and will be further aroused, when people hear of and read this Debate. I naturally hope that the Minister, in his reply—for which I propose to give him plenty of time—will be able to reassure us, and add to the important statement made by the Minister of State. There is very much still to answer. The Ministers have by no means satisfied the House. The Minister has himself been compared to a minnow, and his friend the Minister of State said that he might, perhaps, be eaten by a salmon. Indeed we have got into certain fishy difficulties because the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) reminded us that minnows do not go into sea water, and I am creditably informed that salmon have their principal meals only in sea water.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I utterly repudiate anyone wanting to eat my hon. Friend, who is very able to look after himself.
§ Mr. Butler
That is very satisfactory and enables me to continue with the Debate. Whether the hon. Gentleman is a minnow or not, it is quite clear that the public and the House are not satisfied with the administration, and it will be up to him to answer some of the serious charges put, not only by the Opposition, but by hon. Members on all sides of the House. We had intended to challenge this Vote to a Division, because we were not satisfied with the position, 618 but I am authorised to say that, in view of the very important, far-reaching, and, we think, statesmanlike decision announced by the Government for cooperation with the American zone, we shall certainly not take this matter to a Division. That does not mean, however, that we desire to give the Minister an easy time, but it does mean that we desire to hear all that he has to say upon these important matters
It is high time that we had a statement of the importance of that made by the Minister of State this afternoon. In the Debate on Foreign Affairs on 4th June, I put certain questions to the Government on this matter of the control of our zone in Germany, pointing out to them that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had deplored the gross waste of public money which has been taking place, and asking the Government to look at the future of Germany with more imagination. I said that, if we were satisfied that a bigger drive was being undertaken and that this area was and will be a credit to the British administration and the British name, we should not mind spending these funds. But in my view we had been squandering the taxpayers' money and at the time besmirching the British name by the failure of a lax and overburdened administration.
The Minister of State has gone some way today to give us a picture of the future of Germany as the Government see it. I am ready to agree with the Minister that the unity of Germany should be the aim. I noticed that that was the view of the Chancellor of the Duchy as long ago as 4th May. That is one of the things to which I drew attention in the Debate on Foreign Affairs on 4th June. That has been the view of the Government, it remains their view, and it should be the view of all of us. It is equally obvious, as the Minister of State pointed out in his argument, which I have taken down, on the lack of the proper operation of the Potsdam Agreement—that it is high time that an alteration in policy was made. We support the alteration in policy, and our only regret is that it did not take place earlier. The right hon. Gentleman may say that it was not possible to respond to the American request at an earlier date. That may be the reason. There has been an American suggestion, and His Majesty's Government have decided to 619 take it up and agree with it. As such we welcome it and we trust that this new development will work to our general satisfaction and to the credit of Europe as a whole.
The right hon. Gentleman asked us to believe that the details of this plan will be worked out later. I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he cannot fill in a little the picture that was painted by his right hon. Friend. Details are all very well, but we want to get a bigger idea of the broad picture. We arc told, in the words of the Minister, that there is to be cooperation with the American zone and a joint administration for agriculture, finance, trade and industry; that it is the Government's firm resolve to work towards treating Germany as an economic whole. He went on to say—and it is a sentiment which I applaud —that this decision was not directed against anybody. So far so good, but could the Chancellor fill in the details a little further and paint a picture for us? Is this decision going to result in a wider form of government? Are we going to see the beginnings of a federal system in Germany as a whole? Are we going to include later not only cooperation with the American zone, but with the French zone and with those portions of Austria with which we are able to cooperate? I would say in passing that the sooner we have a report on Austria of the same calibre as this report whereby a Committee would present its views, the happier we shall be.
I should like to pay tribute to the Select Committee for its work and reecho the sentiments expressed from different parts of the House. I have always believed that the federal solution is the only one for Germany. However gloomy and pessimistic we may be about the line which divides Europe at the present time, it is possible under a federal system to integrate and reintegrate the different parts of Europe at a later date. However deeply one may distrust the methods of government on the other side of the line in Europe, and whatever language one may care to use about it, it is a case that certain things are being done on the other side of the line and these will have a result, economically, industrially and in the matter of land reform. Whether one can call it democratisation depends 620 on the extent to which one can stretch the English language. At any rate, things are happening, and the duty of the federal system, if one can take an optimistic view, is to take the opportunity of integrating the whole into some general picture of what Germany and Central Europe may mean. Besides, the federal system is always welcomed by democrats in Germany, of whom the Minister of State spoke with such fervour, and by those who adopted and favoured the Weimar system. Could we hear from the Chancellor of the Duchy whether this is the beginning of a plan towards an imaginative and useful policy for Germany and Central Europe that is taking shape in the mind of His Majesty's Government, or whether they arc stumbling, step by step, accepting this offer and that without any bright or great ideas for the future?
I want to ask some questions about the effect of this new decision to cooperate with the American zone on certain matters. The first thing I want to ask about is the lame and halting statement by the Minister of State on the subject of coal, a statement which I think must have cast most of the House into deep and dark depression. The Minister of State is quite unable to accept the wholly reasonable suggestions made by the Committee in Paragraph 20, namely, that unless the other nations outside, notably the Low Countries, should be ready to accept a cut in the exports of raw coal, a deterioration in the industrial position would enforce on them an inescapable cut. That was the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Alder-shot (Mr. Lyttelton) when he opened this Debate. Surely it would be far better to look far ahead and to give that increased fillip to German morale which the Committee described as well as the increased fillip to German productivity by keeping within the British zone the sinews without which industry cannot be got going again. The most powerful force to that end is the coal supply from the Ruhr and adjacent areas. If the Government are to produce a policy to raise output I would like to hear why they think they can succeed with that as against the alternative of the powerful case put forward by the Committee.
I am informed that in the American zone industries are operating at only 30 621 per cent. of their efficiency, and I would like to hear if that is the exact figure. If that is so, are the two zones to be regarded as one economic unit, and in that case does the Minister's decision about coal apply to the joint American and British zone? I feel that certain countries will feel this cut in coal very much, notably the French. I have always stood for a closer understanding and liaison with the French people, and I would certainly expect—and this is where the economic problem fits into the political problem in Europe—that if there were a decision to cut exports of coal it would be necessary to meet the French in other ways, notably in regard to questions of security, on which the French feel so deeply, with distinct understandings that these cuts were only for the-purpose of bringing life to the British zone so that it could later serve the purpose of creating a normal and healthy Europe.
I was alarmed when the Minister said that there will be an attempt within the British zone to increase coal production in order thereby to increase exports. I do not know whether he meant that but he said it, according to the note of his words which I have here—
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I meant an increase for all purposes including, first, an increase for use in the zone. If there were an increase of coal there would be an increase of exports.
§ Mr. Butler
The right hon. Gentleman will realise, of course, that we must acutely take up every point in the cut and thrust of Debate, and I am greatly obliged to him for expanding his thought, and making the point clear. When he says that I think he is accurately representing the wishes of the Committee that reported. The only point that stands between us is this: We believe that you cannot get the zones to operate properly unless you have a pause in the export of coal, and give them an opportunity of getting together. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Duchy can say something on that point. In the event of the Government adhering to the Committee's recommendation, could we have some sort of coal budget to show what the zone can produce, and the amount of the cuts necessary in respect of neighbouring countries, so that they will know where they are? I would like to ask what will be the effect on the rations in the British 622 zone, as the result of amalgamation with the American zone? The facts about the rations are set out in paragraph 28 of the Committee's Report. They paint a very grim picture, and if the Minister who is to reply could give us some indication as to whether that picture is likely to be improved by collaboration and cooperation with the American zone, I am sure that we should feel much happier.
I want to ask a question about the effect of the reparations policy. When I spoke on 4th June I drew attention to the effect of the dismantlement of the industries in the British zone, and said that of all the plants scheduled for reparations to go— not, as has been stated inaccurately, only to Russia—to many countries, there are 262 in the British zone, only 174 in the American zone, and 20 to 30 in the French zone. Those figures are very alarming, because they show that by far the greatest problem of reparations is the fact that 262 of the plants, as compared with 172 and from 20 to 30, are in the British zone. Do the Government intend to follow American policy in the decision to stop the payment of reparations in this manner by the dismantling of industry, and do they, at the same time, intend to follow the advice given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot to pick just those industries which are potentially dangerous and to reduce them? Do they intend to come to a decision about the dismantling of industry, and a decision generally about the level of industry? Perhaps the Minister will answer those points, especially in view of the very much larger number of plants which exist for dismantling in the British zone as compared with others.
I want to ask a question about the effect on our administration of this cooperation with the American zone. I remember that, when I was Minister of Education, the original conception was that such subjects as education and all other more important or equally important subjects would be organised from a centre in Berlin. Since then, we have been working upon the almost impossible system of one country organising one arm, another country organising a leg, another country organising part of the body, and all countries worrying and grumbling about the head. That is an impossible system upon which to conduct any administration. If we are to have cooperation with the American zone and, 623 as I recommended, cooperation later with a larger slice, including the French zone and a portion of Austria, can the Minister give us some reassurance that the administration will be centralised and efficient? Is it proposed, for example, to remove the whole of the administration and centralise it in the continent of Europe? Or is it proposed to continue with this dilatory system whereby files, messages, telegrams and telephones permeate and wander to Norfolk House, to Princes' Gardens, S.W.7, and to various other addresses, causing intolerable delays in administration and grave doubts about the efficiency of the British and their ability to administer anything. Can the Minister tell us whether the opportunity will be taken in amalgamating with the American zone, to improve those things? Can he give us a definite answer whether, according to the report of the Committee, the Treasury is to undertake, through its Organisation and Methods Division, a survey of the swollen numbers of the Control Commission? If he would give us a definite answer about that, it would reassure us greatly.
Various hon. Members, including my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys), have talked about the morale of our own staff in Germany. I know very well that when Members of Parliament talk in the House, their language, if critical, is very much resented by those civil servants or others who are trying to do their duty in posts overseas, but I must honestly say that I do not mind if my words, or any words spoken in this Debate, are wounding to those who are not doing their duty at the present time. I have evidence that the most incredible indolence prevails among the ordinary clerical staff. Papers and letters, I am told, can never be found. The shortest note or memorandum takes 24 hours or more to get typed, and most of the clerks' working time seems to be taken up in drinking tea. ringing up one's boy or girl friend, reading or answering personal mail, or reporting sick. I have had that report from one centre. All those are very human occupations in which we have all engaged, but they are much more satisfactory occupations in one's own country, and not when giving an example to the world of how British administration works abroad. I do not intend to stress what my hon. and gallant 624 Friend the Member for Petersfield has said about the general lack of self-control and the indulgence that is going on in these staffs, because I have no personal evidence; if I had I would use it.
If the Minister finds correct what has been said in this House by hon. Members with personal evidence, then I hope he will give a proper answer and see that these practices are stopped. The fact is, to put it quite bluntly, that some of these people think they are on the spree abroad. Some of them may be abroad for the first time but I think they should realise that they are not on the Spree but figuratively on the Oder and that the Oder is an odiferous thing and that the sooner they reform their actions and their character and better perform their duties the better will they be representing the name of England abroad. I naturally except absolutely those who are doing their duty, and if the Minister finds that there is nothing in this it is for him to take the responsibility of saying so.
Next, I should like to ask whether a half-yearly statement is to be made to Parliament by the Government on the administration of the two zones and the economic cooperation between them, which is what the Committee asked for. Before I sit down and give the Minister time to reply I should like to point out that I think it is most important that our administration in Germany should have a moral purpose, which seems singularly lacking at the present time. We want to know not merely where we are going but why we are going somewhere. In particular, can the Minister tell us whether the educational efforts being undertaken by the Commissioner for Education are proving successful and whether our moral purpose in regenerating German youth is getting anywhere with the obvious shortage of teachers set out in these papers? Secondly, can he give an answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot about the internees. I would say here that the lack of cooperation between the hon. Gentleman and the Minister of State in their answers on this matter is an ill augury for the manner in which administration in this Government is centralised because the Minister's own answers on the questions of internees have been much more convincing than those given today by the Minister of State. I trust, therefore, that he will reassure the House that these men know the 625 reason why they have been interned and that he will clear up the matter in a more satisfactory manner than the Minister of State has done. My right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot requested that these internees should at least know the reason why they were confined.
Then, on the subject of the prisoners, while I know that although I represent an agricultural district I am not entitled to discuss the effect upon the harvest here at home of the loss of prisoners, which would be very great, I can at least say that we do welcome the fact that eventually, when this is possible, the prisoners will be given a definite knowledge of when they are to go and that a reasonable period ahead will be fixed.
The long and short of this matter is that we seem to be drifting in Germany at the present time. We have neither efficiency nor purpose, and this is extremely damaging to our name. There is a particularly good supplement in a recent week to the "Christian News Letter," written by a Quaker—and the Quaker's language is usually moderate and calm. He says this:Without a corporate voice, without economic or political hope, without leaders, without good newspapers, how can the average German take an interest in Europe and how can the constructively minded and imaginative German begin to call his fellow Germans to a better sense of international responsibility?That is what we want to ask. How can these things grow until the beginnings of them emerge above the ground as the result of the Government policy?. A convincing answer comes again in the words of this writer:This is part of a greater problem of world peace and of the future of Europe because European misery, either of body or spirit, will not be isolated nationally. It is total and must be held totally in the minds of the people concerned, if they can get their minds to the totality of world suffering as I hope they will.I hope the Government will give their mind to the totality of this suffering.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Hynd)
In the course of today's Debate I have been described as a number of things, from a minnow to something approaching the Loch Ness monster, but I make no complaint as to the tone or temper of the Debate, both of which have been excellent. The speeches were based upon a most excellent Report, 626 to which tribute has been deservedly paid, to which tribute I add my contribution. I hope that the Report will be widely distributed and widely read. It should—I had intended to say "it will" but I limit myself, after some of the remarks which have been made—correct the distorted impressions that have been given, through misunderstanding in some cases and through malicious representation in others, of what is happening in Germany today, and of what is being done in the various branches of the administration there. I have been listening to a most reasoned and most helpful speech from the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), but I read in the Sunday Press that the same right hon. Gentleman speaks quite differently in the country. According to the reports yesterday of his speech, he contrasted the "squandering of £80 million on Germans in the British zone" with what he called "the abandoning of vantage points in the East." This is what he is reported as saying:We are evidently content to devote to the 21,000,000 Germans in our zone far larger sums per head of population than we are to the development of the resources of the whole of our Colonial Empire, which stood by us so gallantly in the war.That was evidently taken from a leading article in the "Daily Express" of the day before, which suggested that we were spending £80 million a year on the Germans, or £4 per head, and that because we are making a grant of £120 million for Colonial development spread over 10 years, that represented only 4s. per head for each citizen of the Empire. That kind of deliberate misrepresentation of figures and of purposes does no good to the British Government or to British prestige. It has been well pointed out by one of my hon. Friends that the £80 million is, in fact, not a grant towards the establishment of a higher standard of living for the Germans, but represents, for the greater part, exports to Germany which we hope and intend, so far as we are able, shall be repaid by the Germans by imports to this country.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Would the Minister ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer that question? It was the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself who started that hare about the £80 million.
§ Mr. Hynd
The Chancellor of the Exchequer had quite rightly complained about the £80 million, as each of us is entitled to complain, and therefore we base our policy upon every effort to recover that £80 million, as circumstances and opportunity permit. Also, a large number of charges have been made against our administration in Germany. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken used phrases like "most incredible indolence," "neither efficiency nor purpose,"and" faulty, lax administration." Those phrases are entirely out of harmony with the Report to which such ample tribute has been paid. I would remind hon. Members who make those charges—I make no excuse for any individual member of our personnel in Germany who may be guilty of any of those offences—and who suggest that the charges may apply to the greater part of our people in Germany, of precisely what has been happening over the last 12 months.
We have before us a most excellent Report which gives a very clear picture. It rightly emphasises the importance and seriousness of the £80 million expenditure, and seeks a constructive solution. It emphasises that our objective in Germany is twofold: first, the disarmament of that country and its de-Nazification, and the establishment, in place of the Nazi regime, of a democratic administration and way of life.
Secondly, the controlled restoration of life in a country where the destruction is probably unparalleled in any other part of the world. That is a big task. It has been carried out in almost impossible conditions by some 26,000 British men and women. They have had to rebuild accommodation and communications and reestablish industry and agriculture, and they have had to do these things almost without the tools, raw materials and manpower on the most minimum standards in relation to such a job.
What progress has been made? We have a demobilisation problem in Germany as well as in this country. We have demobilised no fewer than 3 million mem- 628 bers of the German Wehrmacht into a country where there is no industrial production, or practically none. We have done that without disorder, and we are in complete control of the situation. In disarmament we have made tremendous progress, but that again is a long job. It is estimated that it will take at least another 18 months before it is completed, and it takes a large number of British people to ensure that work of that kind is carried out. We cannot leave these jobs entirely to the Germans. In regard to denazification, there were 8 million members on the Nazi books, and in the course of 12 months we have had to screen millions of these people in our zone. We have arrested 60,000 out of those millions, and released after examination and inquiry—which is the reply to those who suggest that these people are simply thrown into gaol and forgotten—no fewer than 20,000 odd, and more are being released every day. All this very important highly essential work has to be done by British staff. It is not the kind of thing that can be done by the Germans.
In the matter of local government, the establishment of political parties, trade unions, youth organisations, and education, tremendous strides have been made, as is shown by the Committee's Report. In the case of transport, the Report shows that no fewer than 1,300 bridges were destroyed in the British zone in Germany. No fewer than 800 of these have been restored within two or three months. Rivers, canals and railways, all blocked with broken bridges, barges and so on, have been cleared to get communications going. I do not want to dilate too much on that, but this has all had to be done in a country which is overcrowded and which was being swollen by the repatriation of 1,750,000 displaced persons moving about the zone over a considerable period, disturbing accommodation and communications. The 1,750,000 have now gone, but in their place there have been the refugees and evacuees coming in. That all means a disorganisation on a scale never known in this country. There are 1,500,000 of these refugees coming from the East for whom we have had to prepare a reception. The hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) referred to 9,000,000. I do not know where he gets the figure, but the number which we agreed on, and which has not yet come in, was 1,500,000 from 629 Poland. I want to remind the House that our other Allies have agreed to take their share of these refugees. We have not evicted them. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has referred to the unsatisfactory features of this movement, but I would remind him of what happened before we agreed to take this portion of the refugees into our zone— the horrible scenes that occurred before there was any organisation at all and which the organised movement has been able to avoid—
§ Mr. Stokes
Would the hon. Gentleman oblige the House by not confusing refugees with expelled persons? It is the expelled persons I have been asking after.
§ Mr. Hynd
I am speaking of refugees as distinct from displaced persons. All this has been done in a country where housing has been pretty well destroyed and where considerably more than 50 per cent. of accommodation has completely gone. We have had to distribute these people on the basis of 4.78 square yards per person—the lowest accommodation in any zone. Our population has been inflated by over 80 per cent. Beds, furniture and all these items are in very short supply. I could give as an illustration one kreis in Hanover where there were 10,000 people without beds. The total number of beds available was 84. We were able to distribute 12, the remainder having to be retained for maternity and hospital cases and so on.
What all this means in terms of human misery, danger and disease and so on, I leave to the imagination of the House, but it brings other problems. The hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. M. Lindsay), referring to the Schleswig - Holstein problem—
§ Mr. Molson
The hon. Gentleman is reading his speech with great fluency, but on this matter of the refugees—I am sorry if the figure I gave was wrong—I have been asked what the policy of the Government is with regard to this further influx from the Russian zone. I said that only 10 per cent. of those who come in are men who are able to work for their living. Are we to be told about them?
§ Mr. Hynd
There is no influx from the Russian zone of which 10 per cent. are incapable. I may say, incidentally, that I am not reading my speech; I am reading from notes I have taken during the 630 Debate. I am trying to cover a subject of very wide scope, incidentally; it is indeed not one subject, it is 101 subjects. The refugees coming in are the 1,500,000 refugees from Poland, not from the Russian zone. It is true that we had an agreement that they would be brought in under certain conditions, which we considered humane conditions, with rations, suitable heating of trains, and so on. That was observed in the early stages. Then we were satisfied that it was not being observed, and that a very small proportion of the people coming in were fit men capable of work, and we had reason to believe that we were not getting complete families, that we were not getting a fair deal. The result was that we made representations to the Polish Government in this matter, and there was an improvement. However, that improvement again showed signs of deterioration, as a result of which we are again considering the position, and also considering whether steps may have to be taken to check the flow of these people who are not capable of playing their part in the life of the zone.
§ Mr, Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
Could I ask the Chancellor, if he has finished with this personnel question—
§ Mr. Hynd
No, I have not finished; I am trying to summarise, as quickly as I can, the main points raised, and then to deal with some of the outstanding ones in detail. I would like to point out that the achievements of our administration in conditions such as I have described are something of which any administration can be proud, in spite of exceptions. Their achievement, I submit, belies many of the distortions that have appeared on many occasions in different quarters, which it has been my duty and purpose to check up, and in some cases to demolish by producing the facts. I am quite prepared to do that at any time but we have, as has been emphasised throughout the Debate, the overall question of the restoration of industry in our zone.
We have been asked whether we have a definite policy. Again, anyone who has read the Report will realise that the amount of destruction which industry suffered as a result of the air raids, and which particularly hit the British zone, has made conditions from the beginning extremely difficult, to put it very mildly. 631 But, on top of the destruction, there has been the absence of raw materials, the absence of coal, a world shortage of raw materials, the difficulty of manpower. I do not know whether the Report makes it sufficiently clear what that difficulty is, but the fact is that young men in the British zone of Germany are in very short supply. The majority of the fit young men were taken into the army and have been killed, or wounded, or dispersed in prison camps. Those who were left were unfit, and the result has been a considerable drop in employable personnel. In the coal mines alone, the average age today is 43, which is considerably higher than it was before the war or than it is in this country.
Someone may ask about the direction of labour. We have a law which makes it permissible to direct labour to the coal mines or to any other industry, but direction is of very little use when you are dealing with unfit men, when you are dealing with men for whom you cannot provide accommodation or any of the amenities of the coal mines or any other industry. The result has been a desertion rate of something like 60 per cent., or 50 per cent. at the very least, amongst these directed people.
Wages themselves are of no value, or very little value, because there is nothing to buy with them. There is no accommodation, and no amenities. Prices have been fixed at, I believe, 1936 levels. The result of that, taken together with the worn-out equipment and slow rate of production, the condition of manpower, and the absence of commodity goods, together with fixed prices, is that the production of anything is entirely uneconomic. The result is that some of the commodity industries have gone out of production altogether, and we are unable to produce commodity goods that will make wages of more value. Before coming to the question of food, I should like—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
May I ask if this is the statement on the industrial policy His Majesty's Government are going to pursue in Germany? If so, it seems very inadequate.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay
The Minister of State clearly said that various questions were going to be answered by the hon. Gentleman. I listened carefully, and heard him say that the Control Commission will be run with very much fewer people. But we still have to hear whether these 26,000 are necessary or not.
§ Mr. Lyttelton rose—
§ Hon. Members: Oh.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Gentleman need not give way if he does not wish, but he is courteous enough to do so. I asked a very specific question about the industrial policy His Majesty's Government are going to pursue. We are entitled to have an answer.
§ Hon. Members: Wait.
§ Mr. Hynd
Since I have again been interrupted, and since the right hon. Gentleman wants me to deal with the points he raised, I would like to say a word or two about them. That means that someone else will have to wait. He spent quite a considerable time in making a number of statements, a number of allegations, and a number of assessments of the position, based on completely inadequate and, in many cases, completely false information, and a completely false reading of the Report of the Select Committee. He dealt, for instance, with the question of timber, and suggested that we were sending 700 British personnel for the purpose of teaching the Germans how to plant trees. [An HON. MEMBER: "He did not say ' plant '."] Maybe he said "grow" trees. The reason we have sent some 200 British personnel over there, is to cut down the trees, and to see that the Germans cut down the trees in order that they can export the timber to pay for the imports of food they have been having. If the right hon. Member wants to know anything about the German timber trade in the 633 British zone it is a trade which had not been dealing with exports and had no large number of expert fellers. But it is important that we should export the maximum amount of timber and it is desirable to send the maximum number of experts available for that purpose from this county. Rather than cut them down we are looking for more. The more we can get, the more timber we shall get out of the British zone in Germany.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked whether any machinery has been sent to Russia. At the moment two plants are being dismantled for the purpose of allocation to Russia under the Potsdam Agreement, for which I am not responsible. But it is clearly laid down in the Potsdam Agreement what the position should be in regard to reparations. I am not responsible—
§ Mr. Hynd
The Government are fully aware of the fact that the present food situation is entirely unsatisfactory. The fact that we reduced the rations to 1,050 calories in March last is again a matter for which we cannot accept entire responsibility. I personally do not accept responsibility. I welcome the fact that many Members of the House are beginning to realise the importance of the situation which is being created by the shortage of food in Germany. I would like to be able to paint them a picture of what that means in Germany today, but I do not want to go into details, it would probably take up time which could be used for dealing with some of the other points.
The fact is that this shortage of food is leading not only to listlessness amongst working people, not only to the possibility of dangerous epidemics this winter; it is also leading to the possibility of a complete breakdown in production in our zone. Unless ways and means are found of increasing food supplies it may be found that any industrial policy we try to pursue will be entirely impracticable. 634 This is not my responsibility, or the responsibility of the Government. In addition to the breakdown in industry, which means lack of fertilisers, lack of coal for the production of processing machinery for other agricultural purposes, the right hon. Gentleman may remember that there was a world food crisis, which broke on us a little while ago. He may also remember that the Lord President went to Washington specially to deal with this situation, and was very seriously criticised because of the fact that he did so. He was very seriously criticised in this House because he was able to get an allocation for Germany. That allocation is the only thing which has enabled us to carry the position through to this stage.
§ Mr. Molson rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I think that the hon. Gentleman might be permitted to make his speech in his own way. He has been interrupted a good deal. If the hon. Gentleman does not give way to the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson), the hon. Member is not entitled to speak.
§ Mr. Molson
I much appreciate the courtesy of the Chancellor of the Duchy in giving way. I would like to put this point to him. On 9th July he gave me an answer that there had been no change in the difference between the ration in the American zone and that in the British zone. That was after the Lord President came back from Washington, and one of the features of the agreement was that the rations were to be the same.
§ Mr. Hynd
As I said, if it had not been for the Lord President's visit, we should not have been able to maintain even the 1,050 calorie basis. It was because of that situation that the Lord President went to America and got that allocation.
If I may proceed to the question of the cost, which, after all, is the main substance of this Debate, the right hon. Member for Aldershot suggested in his statement that nothing had been done during the last 12 months towards reducing this cost. I would only refer him to paragraph 15 of the Committee's Report to answer that charge. This cost of a total of £130 million is set off by £50 million, as was well stated by one of my hon. Friends, which we anticipate getting as exports 635 from the British zone this year. There will be a net deficit of £80 million which it is our intention and purpose, if at all possible, to recover if not next year then within the course of our occupation. This depends entirely upon the amount of food that we can get into, and out of, Germany and the amount of coal that we can produce and pump into German industry. As the Report says, the only answer to this cost is more output from German industry. But before we can get that output we must have more food or there will be further deterioration than that which we are suffering at present.
On this matter of coal, as the Minister of State said, we have been following a policy of trying to meet the needs of our Allies. There has been criticism of that and very strong suggestions that we should curtail exports, and possibly even cancel them altogether, in order to develop the needs of our zone. That is an argument which comes strangely from some hon. Members of this Committee who have been suggesting we have been paying too much attention to the Germans in relation to our Allies. We have been trying to meet the needs of our Allies at the same time as we have been trying to meet the minimum essential needs of the British zone of Germany. The problem of coal in the British zone is essentially a problem of production and the situation is that as a result of the Paris Conference, and of our appreciation of the overall importance of this coal question, a Quadripartite Technical Commission has been set up in order to examine the possibilities of increased production in the zone and the allocation of coal between export and domestic consumers. That Technical Committee will report in due course to the Control Commission, who will report, in their turn, to the Council of Foreign Ministers. Therefore, I am not in a position to say what will be the result of that quadripartite Committee's inquiries, nor to be able to say whether or not we propose to increase or decrease exports at this stage. It is-quite clear, however—and I agree entirely with the Select Committee and hon. Members—that until we can get more coal into the zone, the task of reducing the £80 million cost to the British taxpayer, or of increasing the output of industry in the British zone, will be extremely difficult if not impossible.
636 The present effects of the shortage of coal are clearly shown in the Report of the Select Committee. The case referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich where one ton of steel was allocated for a bridge, is an illustration not of inefficiency or too much paper work but of the shortage of steel due to the shortage of coal. That is the situation that has been created and unless, and until, we get more coal obviously we will not get more steel. Up to the present, we have been able to maintain substantial allocations to France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark and other countries, because we have been drawing largely on stock. By giving additional rations to the miners and taking extraordinary steps to recruit additional miners, we have been able to maintain production.
A number of questions were asked by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden. He asked me if I could fill in the picture drawn by the Minister of State concerning the new Agreement between the British and American zones, and whether that applied also to the French zone. The answer is, of course, as I believe the Minister of State made clear, that the invitation which has been conveved to us by the Americans, and which we have accepted, will in turn be conveyed to the French and to the Russians as well. We are not departing from our conception of the quadripartite administration of Germany. We shall continue to seek the realisation of a quadripartite government, and there is no intention on our part to establish an iron curtain down the middle of Europe so long as there is any possibility of its being avoided.
I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman what would be the effect on British zone rations of this common administration of the British and American zones. We hope and believe that the effect on the rations in the zone will be considerable. It is true that production in the American zone is down to something like 30 per cent. It is true that our zone is an industrial zone, where production is also down. While the American zone is richer in food, our zone is rich in coal. The result of the two zones being made complementary should be to the gain of both zones. The right hon. Gentleman also asked me if there would be a new level of industry.
637 I should think that it would be quite obvious that, unless we get a quadripartite agreement to the administration of the economy of Germany as a single unit, there will have to be a review of the level of industry plans. Indeed, when we agreed to the level of industry plans a few months ago, we made it quite clear that our agreement was dependent upon recognition of the Potsdam Agreement for the single economic administration for the whole of Germany. Ipso facto, if these conditions do not apply and we have to run our zone along with the American, and possibly the French zone, we shall have to review the level of industry on that basis.
I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he suggests the establishment of a headquarters in Berlin for the administration of these territories. If we transferred Norfolk House to Berlin, we should still have to maintain contact with London and with the Cabinet in order to get policy decisions, and I entirely fail to see where any advantage would be achieved by such a step.
I want to make one reference—and there are a large number of questions with which it is obviously impossible for me to deal—to the Very important point which has been made by a number of hon. Members that our purpose in Germany is not purely economic, but that we are bound, under the terms of our occupation, and it is, in fact, one of the chief parts of the purpose of our occupation, to seek the establishment of a democratic regime in Germany and a democratic spirit which will obviate the danger of war from another Nazi or militarist Germany. Indeed, I have mentioned and emphasised the difficulties with which we are faced in being charged with that task, but, if we are to stay in Germany, that must be our purpose. We cannot stay in Germany for all time, even if the British taxpayer could afford it.
The Report draws particular attention to the question of internees. It is not true, as I believe the Report suggests and as was again suggested by a number of hon. Members, that these internees are simply thrown into gaol without any review. That is not the procedure. Each case is reviewed and considered on its merits before a person is placed in incarceration. It has to be borne in mind under what conditions this movement took 638 place and the numbers of the British personnel who had to do it, in addition to the other work which they had to do in connection with displaced persons, refugees, and this vast mass of population.
We had to dispose of the Nazis one way or another, and it had to be done under the block system. There was no question of setting up courts, because, in most cases, the judges and lawyers themselves were Nazis, anyhow. There was no question of individual trials, and so they were locked up in blocks. We have now adopted a scheme which will enable us to expedite the release of the less guilty, and we have, in the last few days, broken them down into categories, taking, as the first category, the war criminals, who are in prison; secondly, high Nazi leaders and other people-charged with civil crimes, who are in internment camps, and, in the third category, the mandatory arrest cases. Then we have those who will be subject to special review and who will be released as soon as possible. The trial will work upwards, so that the highest criminals will be the last tried and will, therefore, suffer the least injustice.
I am not, of course, in a position to give an answer to the specific charges which have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) in regard to a particular camp. All I can say is that, when these camps were taken over from B.A.O.R. by the Control Office in April last, special investigations were made of the conditions in each camp. Members of Parliament have visited the camps. I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton whether I would allow Pathé Gazette to film the camp. We have given full publicity to the matter and have allowed the Press to examine the camps. I have been told that we have no right to incarcerate people in this way unless we feed them. Not only are we feeding them, but we are feeding them on a higher calory ration than that enjoyed by the other Germans, just because they are incarcerated. I shall be pleased to check up on the allegations made—
§ Mr. Hynd
I have no time to give way to the hon. and gallant Member. By the 639 removal of the Nazi elements and the positive encouragement of anti-Nazi elements, we can build up the possibility of a democratic system in Germany. If we believe in that possibility, then we are bound to give them encouragement and all the assistance in our power. If we do not believe in it, then we had better say so frankly at the beginning and abandon the attempt. But I have not heard the latter course suggested from any quarter. In the interest of our security and economy, as well as of that of Europe and the whole world, we have to pursue our objective by assisting in the democratic rebirth of Germany, which means achieving conditions in which that democracy can breathe.
I would finish by saying that the level of industry agreed on in March was based on a calculation based on a balance of payment, on a single system providing for a balanced economy under which resources of all zones would be pooled for the purposes of internal consumption and to pay for the imports necessary for that economy. The plan also envisaged a common import-export scheme. So far as this plan cannot be achieved, it is our purpose and our policy to achieve it within our own zone or by linking up with the American or any other zones which may be prepared to come in.
Obviously, I have not time to deal with the recommendations made with regard to the staff of the Control Commission, but I would tell the House that we are in complete agreement with the conclusions reached by the Select Committee. In regard to the recommendations of the Committee's Report, I can say that, with two exceptions, I am, in the main, in agreement with them. In regard to those two exceptions, which present purely technical difficulties and with the spirit of which I am in agreement, I have no hesitation in saying that we will give them the fullest possible consideration and the careful examination they undoubtedly merit. I am only sorry that time does not permit of my replying to the very many questions which have been asked, but I hope that I have dealt with the outstanding ones.
§ Sir G. Jeffreys rose—
§ Mr. Hynd
It will be clear to the House that, in endeavouring to deal with a con- 640 fused mass of issues, it is not possible to give justice to everyone. Therefore, I appreciate all the more the work done by the Select Committee and the very concise and admirable way in which they have presented both the problems and the directions in which we are to seek their solution.
§ Sir G. Jeffreys
Will not the Chancellor deal with the very specific allegations made by me regarding the conduct and failure of the personnel of the Control Commission?
§ It being half-past Nine o'Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14, as modified by the Order of the House of 12th April, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Report of the Resolution under consideration.
§ Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions,
§ "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Classes I to X of the Civil Estimates, and of the Revenue Departments Estimates, the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates and the Air Estimates."
§ [For details of remaining Resolutions see OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th July, 1946; Vol. 426, c. 335–344.]