British Administration, Germany

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 1946.

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7.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

I make no apology to the House for once again raising the vital question of Germany, for it seems to me to be one of the most important subjects confronting us today, and that every possible opportunity ought to be taken of ventilating the troubles and of offering helpful criticism. I really should like to make it clear at the outset, that I am not for one moment blaming the Chancellor of the Duchy for all the dreadful things that are happening in Europe. I think that if the Archangel Gabriel were here, as I said the other day, he would probably break down under this job. The job is a colossal one. But the facts have to be faced, and I hope that I may be able to make some proposals which may ultimately help to improve the situation.

The mess in which we find ourselves is the inevitable consequence of unconditional surrender; but we had better recognise that unconditional surrender means accepting unconditional responsibility for getting things right again. It would be a mistake to suppose, when we speak of Germany, that we can think of Germany only, because the whole of Europe is affected. Italy is in difficulties with coal and steel; the whole of central Europe is short of raw materials; and it would be as well for this House to realise that we ourselves are affected here. I mention the steel industry as one example. Whereas the output of steel from Germany in prewar days was of the order of 18,000,000 tons, and although the ultimate level agreed in March this year was put—not high—at 5,800,000 tons, at the present time only 3,000,000 tons of steel are being produced a year. The consequence is that all over Europe the nations are in need.

In consequence we have to export far greater quantities of steel to Denmark and to Holland than we ever did before the war. In the nine months ending September, 1938, Denmark had 65,000 tons of steel from us. This year, in the same period, Denmark had 168,000 tons. Holland, in the first nine months of 1938, had 38,000 tons; this year, 124,000 tons, and so on. And it is the fact that here we are ourselves short of steel, with a considerable number of engineering works in the country which are going on short time because they cannot get enough raw material. Therefore, it ought to be recognised that, when discussing this vital question of getting Germany on to her feet again, we are discussing something which affects every nation in Europe. May I emphasise that it is not all the fault of Potsdam? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) made a most amazing remark in the course of a speech on 12th November in the Debate on the Motion for an Address in reply to the King's Speech: The Conservative Party cannot, of course, accept any responsibility for Potsdam, as matters were taken out of our hands in the vital phase of those discussions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 19.] Of all the cheek! If anybody was ever responsible for Potsdam, the right hon. Gentleman was. But there is something much more fundamental than that, not only Potsdam itself, but what went on before—the evil decisions taken at Teheran and Yalta, the appalling decision forcibly to evacuate millions of people from the East to the West, pouring them from sparsely populated countries into the overcrowded cities of Germany. Also, the Morgenthau Plan has something to do with it. It would be just as well that the country should realise that the Morgenthau Plan was approved by the right hon. Gentleman and by President Roosevelt on 15th September, 1943, and that there has got to be a complete reversal of that policy if we are ever to get things straight.

I should like to say one more thing about the general situation before I come to particularise. So far as I see it, and so far as my own personal experience goes, from the somewhat limited travels I have been able to indulge in this year, the standard of living everywhere is going down. It is going to continue to go down for some considerable period despite our best endeavours, and, therefore, we must at least make our best endeavours, and make sure that the effort is made in the right place. Here I may add to my excuses for the Chancellor of the Duchy. I did not find the people in our zone all so bad as some hon. Members of this House make out. I agree that there are individuals who may be black sheep, for one gets black sheep amongst every large crowd. But I found in the British zone and elsewhere that our British representatives are vitally interested in, and intensely keen on, what they are doing. They put a tremendous amount of effort into trying to make the machine work. The real trouble is that there is not, in my view, sufficient direction and control; there is not sufficient political direction at the top.

Having said that, may I add that I do blame the Chancellor of the Duchy for some things? He came down to the House not many weeks ago and told us that everything was going to be much better this winter than last in Germany. I deny that. I do not think that is so at all, for this reason, that when the war ended, and although Germany was smashed up, the Germans, on the whole, had been living on pretty good rations; and it was not until the spring of this year that the rations were cut down to 1,000 calories. Here we are facing what is pretty certain to be a worse winter than that of last year. Thank goodness, that last winter was a mild one. This winter is pretty certain to be very severe, certainly more severe. The Germans have had nine months at a level of only 1,000 calories. I agree that the ration has been put up to 1,500 within the last few weeks, but the general resources, as a whole, are going to be much less at the starting point this winter, than last. The hon. Gentleman today gave me an answer about the position of the 1,550 calories ration as it is today, but whilst what he said is, no doubt, perfectly true, the fact of the matter is that the stuff is often not there.

For months, according to the reports I have had, people have not had any fats; in certain areas they have been without bread for days. In fact, although in theory the stuff is there, it has not got into the people's mouths. I agree that it is not all our fault, but we are responsible for maintaining some reasonable level. I know the Chancellor of the Duchy will say to me that the trouble is that Germany is not being treated as an economic whole. It is true that 50 per cent, of the food consumed in our zone used to come from the regions now in the Russian zone, and that we get practically nothing at all at the present time. But that deficit has to be met if the people are not to starve. It is no good our patting ourselves on the back for the 1,500 level, either, because that is only a slow starvation level. At the Berlin Conference the other day it was announced that the ration would continue until the middle of next year, and that probably it would go up to 1,700 in the autumn; that in 1948 we might see 2,000; and that in 1949 we might get near 2,100. If we want to get any work out of the human engine we have to stoke it first, and we ought to endeavour to get the ration up to 2,000 calories now, and not wait until the end of next year.

Then I want to say something about housing. All my latest reports go to show that the housing position is perfectly appalling, and that practically nothing has been done in the 18 months since the war ended. Of course the devastation that surrounds everybody's normal life is much worsened, as I have already indicated, by the three million expulsees—perhaps the figure is not quite up to that level yet—who come crowding into the Western zone into a scene of devastation that has to be seen to be believed. The situation is also aggravated by the arrival of the British Army of the Rhine wives, and what some of us said would happen is happening—some of the women arrive there and find the situation so bad, and are so ashamed of themselves, that they are coming back again.

In the limited zone of Hamburg, the Hamburg project is in my view one of the stupidest political ventures ever embarked upon. The Chancellor told me today that there were some 9,000 people engaged in building the Hamburg project—what I call the "Hamburg Poona"—while only about 1,700 people are engaged in repairing houses for the people, according to my latest information. I know the Chancellor would tell me that there are either three or four thousand engaged on house repairs to make accommodation for the people who will be turned out of the "Poona," but if we did not have the "Poona" there would be so many extra houses for more people. The whole of the project is ill-conceived and ought to be dropped until better conditions prevail. I am authoritatively assured by fairly responsible people in Hamburg that the number of people affected is not 13,000 but 30,000, and there is no suitable alternative accommodation. Apparently the Chancellor cannot believe it, but he has only to go there to see that there is no suitable alternative accommodation. People are living crowded up as it is, and if we take 30,000 people out of a crowded area and put them into an equally crowded area it is impossible to say that the accommodation is suitable; it must be worse.

Above all, on this housing question, may I appeal to the Chancellor to change the regulations? I cannot for the fife of me understand why, after this war of all wars where the devastation has been so great, there should exist the hideous practice of turning people out lock, stock and barrel. We did not do it after the last war. I was in the Army of Occupation, and although there were individual cases where small buildings had to be taken over for reasons of secrecy and the rest, by and large we shared the houses with the people. Surely to goodness that is what we ought to be doing now, and the more we share the better it will be for all of us.

The Chancellor has not told us yet about the clothing situation. One would understand, from his statement that everything is going to be better, that presumably the people will not be worse clothed than they were last year, but that simply is not true. Figures I have, for instance, for children's boots—and Heaven knows those of us who have been there have seen the children running about barefooted—show that the minimum requirements for our zone for children's boots amount to 6,250,000 pairs. Permits for the purchase of boots have only been given out to the number of 1,770,000, so that the children are only 25 per cent. satisfied even on their bare necessities. Anybody who has been there will bear me out in saying that the condition of the footwear of the people as a whole is an absolute disgrace. Shoes are falling off; people are going about with cloth bindings on their feet, and everything is in a deplorable state of disrepair.

Again, look at the commercial machine. I have always had rather indefinite commercial relations with some Germans, mostly as competitors and not as customers, and any business man will tell you that it is practically impossible for him to do anything to get things going because the situation is so uncertain. The result is that the ordinary business man holds things up and does nothing. If he does produce goods he does not know at what price to sell them, he does not know what the value of the market will be in a few months' time. The commercial machine is running down. There does not appear to be any real relationship between prices and wages. Above all it seems to me to be quite idiotic to try and balance the Budget of a country which is under-producing everything. Most of the factories working are working under capacity; they are all bound to lose money, it cannot be helped, and to try to balance the Budget in the state of ruin which exists seems to me to be absolutely futile. The fact is that the ordinary worker, if he has a wife and two children, has not enough money left when he has finished his week's work to buy even the bare thousand-calory ration, let alone the increased ration when and if he ever gets it. There does not seem to be any sign of export or import policy, and furthermore businessmen cannot write to anybody outside Germany. How on earth can Germany get an export trade going at all unless, through her business men, she can make contacts with the outside world? Surely that ought to be put right.

I agree that the whole thing centres on coal. On that I would merely say that Germany's minimum need under the level of industry plan is for 3,800,000 tons of coal a month. So far as my information goes, and I have the report from the zone, she really produces about 4,000,000 tons a month. Until just recently—I believe a change has been made in the last few weeks—she has been exporting 1,000,000 tons a month, so she is always 800,000 tons below the bare necessity. What ought to happen surely as a pure business proposition is this: First, the utmost care should be taken to ensure that every pound of coal is properly used, and not improperly used as one often hears it is, although it is very difficult to trace whether it is properly used or wasted; second, our Allies should be made to understand that it is necessary to get the pump primed, and that we should stop all exports of coal for six months. It is all the more necessary, if transport is to be got going, to have more steel, and that means it is necessary to have more coal. If we put a stop completely for six months to the export of coal it would be possible to get the pump primed and get things started.

Photo of Mr Thomas Scollan Mr Thomas Scollan , Renfrewshire Western

Will the hon. Member please explain where he got the figure of 3,800,000 tons of coal a month? For -what section of industry is that necessary, and what is it based on?

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

It is a figure which I took from the "Economist" of about 28th August this year, where it was stated in a long article on economic conditions in Germany that the minimum need of the zone was for 3,800,000 tons a month. The article went on to say that we were not getting that for the simple reason that exports pull the net figure available down below that level, so that even bare needs are not met. If my hon. Friend has other figures no doubt he will correct me when he replies.

Another point that really needs ventilating is that the whole conditions of life are so completely uncertain. Nobody knows what will happen next. This I lay at the door very largely of the indefinite reparations scheme. The Foreign Secretary, when he made a speech the other day, brought great hope into the hearts and minds of many people when he made it quite clear in regard to the heavy engineering industry that nationalisation was to be the policy, and that the general scheme of amalgamating the American and British zones was to be carried out. But immediately after that, without any correlation at all, somebody announced that ten factories in the Ruhr were to be closed down.

My hon. Friend told me in a written reply to a Question the other day that at least 385 factories in the zone were available for reparations. I cannot understand why this is allowed to go on. I agree, and the hon. Gentleman will no doubt tell me, that it is all part of the quadripartite arrangements, but what is the use of having quadripartite arrangements if we are forced to keep just those parts of them which work to our disadvantage? Surely a definite limit should be set. Potsdam laid down that all capital goods for reparations should be earmarked by 2nd February, 1946, that is, should be decided not later than six months after the date of the Potsdam Declaration. That puts it at about 2nd February. The Americans have stopped on their own, and the Russians have a simple way, because if they do not want capital goods taken, they merely declare that the plant is theirs and let the Germans go on working for them. Why should we not follow suit, until we can get more cooperation? The German workers do not want to do nothing, and nothing is more demoralising for any man than to stand idle. If only we could stop now any further reparations, it would make a tremendous difference to everyone in Germany.

Why is it that the Mathes-Weber factory, which is producing most of the potash used in the manufacture of soap, is being closed down? If the factory goes out of production there will be no soap, and there is little enough of it now. I suppose that even Potsdam did not lay down that no German should wash again.

I turn to another subject, namely, de-Nazification. I do not like the word "de-Nazification," and I loathe the system. We know the nonsense which goes on here in the prisoners of war camps, where people are categoried into black, white and grey. Only the completely innocent people get dubbed black, and the skilful white. We know the notorious characters already, and they are black. The whole thing is absolutely crazy. Does the House realise that at the present moment a questionnaire has to be filled in by 1,370,000 Germans who are to be re-examined? Most of them have already been examined three times, under three different systems. Now there is a fourth examination. There are 133 questions in all. I ask any hon. Member in the House how he would answer this one, if the boot had been on the other foot: State all public addresses which you have given in the last five years, the subjects discussed, the people who were there, and the character of the audiences. I could not start to answer that question myself. I might be pretty certain what I spoke about, but not of the audiences. Another question is: Have you been abroad? If so, state the number of journeys, the people you spoke to during your journeys, the business men you visited, for the past five or ten years. How can anyone answer that?

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

I was not sure of the date. It makes it worse. The result of all this is that a lot of decent people will not come forward, but will sit down and do nothing, until this wave of uncertainty has passed. Furthermore, it fills all the young people with despair. I have heard from friends appalling accounts of what the young people are thinking. It brings me back to what was said by the right hon. Member for Woodford in a speech on Armistice Day, 1938. He said: I have always said if Great Britain were defeated in the war, I hope we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful place among the nations. If we continue to treat this vast number of young men in the way they have been treated, I shall not be the least surprised if they say that they would far prefer Hitler to our order of things.

I have no doubt that I shall be told that I have spent all my time criticising and complaining, and that surely there are some things which could be done. I have certain suggestions to make. First I should like a complete change round of policy on the question of fraternisation. I do not understand how we can expect to run a country with 25 million people, unless we are allowed to be on the friendliest possible terms with all and sundry, and not only with the people at the top. We ought to declare ourselves liberators of the German people—not their conquerors. I have criticised the level of industry agreed on 28th March, this year, because it is not high enough. All it says to the Germans is that if they work hard, and are good boys, then by 1949 there will not be more than 7 million able-bodied unemployed. What sort of hope is that? I agree that it is not much use criticising, because we have nowhere near reached the March, 1939, level, but it is all mixed up with the Morgenthau Potsdam procedure, where it was laid down that the standard of living of the Germans should not be above the average of other nations. It is precisely like asking farmers to send all their food to the towns, and accept for themselves less food than persons in the towns. Germany must provide raw materials in abundance, and if we tell the Germans that their standard of living is to be lower, why should they work to provide the raw materials? We must recognise that the Potsdam economic level was completely cock-eyed. We must go forward and raise the standard of living to the highest possible level, so that the highest standard of living may be enjoyed throughout Europe.

Can the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster give us some fixed date when reparations will end—say, 31st December this year? Can he give a date after which no more capital goods will be earmarked for reparation, so that people can try to get on with a planned economy for the country? How can they plan anything if they do not know what plant is to be left? Such a position represents an impractical business venture. Germany cannot be put on her feet unless she exports, and she cannot export unless the mark has some value. Can the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster tell us when there is to be a statement, on the quadripartite level, about stabilisation of the mark? Then there is the black market. Those who have been to Germany know that any black market in the world is quite junior to what goes on in Germany. A few people have an immense amount of so-called wealth of their own, and the ordinary workers have not enough upon which to live. The cumulative result is that the people who have too much are in the black market every day and all day. There ought to be some sort of levy on all capital assets. Something must also be done in regard to living conditions. I have told the House of the grim and awful things I have experienced myself, of the appalling conditions under which children axe living and the indecency of the whole thing—fathers sleeping with daughters, and the rest. We should never have tolerated such a thing before the war.

What we have to do is to reduce our administration in Germany. We should never have built up this Gargantuan family in Germany. All that we really want is a corps of inspectors, to see that policy is carried out, with the Army as a background and sanction doing Army jobs only. I once thought that 2,000 inspectors would be enough. I should have thought that 5,000 would have been ample for the whole job. We should recognise that the Germans are better administrators than we are. We think that we are good improvisers, but I sometimes think that we are terrible muddlers. The German is efficient; he only wants to be told what to do. Where we are wrong, or perhaps right, is that we refuse to be told. The German adores you if you tell him what to do. What he does not like is the abject muddle into which everything has got at the present time.

May I appeal to the Minister to blow up Norfolk House, and go and live in the zone himself? I mean that seriously. It is as impossible to run Germany from Norfolk House as it is to run the United States from London, or Great Britain from New York. You have not the atmosphere, and you do not know what is going on. I know, from running my own business, that half the information I get comes from round the corner. People in Germany cannot write a letter or send a signal, because somebody would censor it, and if they did they would be terrified of getting the sack if a Member of Parliament raised the matter here. But if you are in the zone anybody can come to you. The Germans, the trade unionists, could come to you. Anyone who wanted to approach the Chancellor should be able to do so.

With regard to food, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) poked a question across the Table the other day on what had happened to the German harvest. So far as I know, the harvest has been a good one, but people do not realise that there is not much manpower there. The Russians still have four million prisoners and we have, in this country, 350,000, and you cannot carry your crop, thresh, and plough at the same time. I suppose that what has happened is that while the crop in Germany has been a good one the people there are now at work ploughing and resowing for next year. But when they have got in all the crop they will still not be up to the level that they ought to be. Is it realised that the average worker in this country consumes about 4,000 calories a day while in Germany, until lately, the worker has been' getting only a quarter of that amount? Even at the improved level, the ordinary person there will get only another one-third. That is totally inadequate. I want to finish by quoting again the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, who has made some fine pronouncements. This is one of the best. Just after Christmas, 1941, he said this to the German people: Once steps have been taken to liquidate Hitlerite Germany, once the Nazi leaders have been overthrown and the German war machine dismantled, we promise to the German people, as individuals, food, employment and security, and to them, as Germans, a self-respecting life within the European camp. Have they got it? There is no sign of it. They said when they saw the results of the Election in 1945, "Thank God that the Tories have gone out in England, and that there now is a Labour Government." [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] It is all very well for Members opposite to say "Rubbish," but I am telling the House what Germans said to me. No doubt the German Tories were saying the opposite to Members on the other side of the House. In any case, I am talking to the Government, and not to the Opposition. I want the Government to realise that the German worker thinks that the British Labour Party are letting him down, that we have not sufficient thought for the appalling conditions under which he is living, and that we are not doing nearly enough to make democracy work. You cannot raise the standard of living there until you get the level right again. We had better recognise the fact that the situation in Europe is rather like a wheel with the hub knocked out, yet we expect the wheel to go round and the spokes to stay put. Everything is rapidly falling to pieces, and I hope the Chancellor will offer some hope to the youth of Germany, and to us here, that things will be speedily put right, and that some of the criticisms which have been levelled will be met.

8.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr Benn Levy Mr Benn Levy , Eton and Slough

I want to intervene in the Debate very briefly to raise just two points, both of which have been touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) in his very excellent speech. The first relates to the question of evicting Germans to make way for British personnel and their families. What the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said on that subject has already been quoted. The Chancellor gave an assurance to the House some time ago, when the question was first mooted, and the House, naturally and credibly, was disturbed at the prospects. My hon. Friend gave an assurance to the effect that there would be no evictions unless suitable alternative accommodation was found. I honestly do not see for the life of me how suitable alternative accommodation can be found in Germany as it is today.

I do not want to attempt any harrowing stories about housing conditions there which one could repeat ad nauseam, reported from travellers of all colour and opinion who have come back from Germany; but if I might just quote one town, Dusseldorf, that should establish the point. When Air Marshal Sholto Douglas visited Dusseldorf, a report appeared in "The Times," on 16th November, of what he found there. He found 13,000 people living in shelters and the cellars of ruined houses; 2,700 with no permanent shelter whatsoever; and 43,000 with no proper satisfactory housing conditions at all, a number which was equivalent to nearly one-quarter of the town's population at the end of the war. But that population has since been doubled because of returning evacuees, many of whom have been completely unable to find any homes. Dusseldorf has been made the capital of the new Rhine Westphalia region, and as a result, inevitably, there has had to be a heavy influx of British and German personnel for directive purposes. This has enormously added to the housing difficulties. But where is The "suitable alternative accommodation"?

One of the many tragedies of war is that it is not good for a nation to be conquered. But it is also not good for people to be conquerors. I must say, in all fairness, that we, with a long record of conquest, have a reputation for conducting ourselves as conquerors with tolerance and humanity. That is a reputation which I, for one, would hate to see diminished; but it is being diminished, undoubtedly, by this practice which leaves behind it a quite disproportionate degree of ill-feeling, the eviction of homeless people, thereby adding to the already vast number of homeless in order to increase the convenience and comfort of British personnel and their families in Germany. I am not unaware for a moment of the needs of our soldiers in Germany. Quite naturally they want to have their families with them, but so also do the British personnel and the British soldiers abroad, in Burma, Greece and elsewhere, who have not these advantages. They lack them because there are material difficulties. I would like the Chancellor of the Duchy to realise that there are not only material difficulties in this policy for Germany, but also very grave moral difficulties. I would ask him to reconsider altogether this policy. I know that that would be a bold and difficult and, in many quarters, an unpopular thing to do, but I ask him to reconsider it, and consider the alternative policy of enormously facilitating the opportunities of leave.

The only other point which I want to touch upon is a big one, with which I will try to deal as briefly as possible, and that is the whole question of a policy for industry in Germany. I confess that I do not know what our industrial policy is. I challenge any hon. Member of this House to be able to offer a definition of that policy. I have sought information, and I have gone to the fountain head, the Chancellor of the Duchy himself—and let me say in passing that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich in absolving the Chancellor from responsibility. It would be quite wrong for him to think that any of us—and I hope he will not think that any of us—are trying to saddle him with the sole responsibility for the chaos that exists in Germany. He is confronted with the impossible task of trying to erect a building for which no foundations have been laid. The result is that when he attempts the problem of defining what is our industrial policy in Germany he is reduced to saying that he disavows any intention of reducing "German productive capacity for peace-time purposes." That is fine. None of us will dissent from that. He goes on to say, however, that "The policy of dismantling industry is based on the necessity of the disarmament of Germany." Those two policies are flatly and mutually contradictory. Follow them to their logical conclusions and they flatly contradict each other. You cannot ride these two horses at once.

I will quote the Chancellor again. "Our policy," he says, "is to destroy that which has a war time potential and is therefore"—I mark the word "therefore"—"considered surplus to German peace-time production." Why in the world "therefore"? If an industry is a war potential it is not "therefore," surplus to peace-time production, but the exact contrary. It is almost impossible to find any industry or service which is not capable of rendering wartime service. It is an impossible distinction, and we have to make up our minds which of these horses we mean to ride, and then to ride it. In the meantime, Germany is dwindling from economic disaster to economic disaster. The question arose at Question time today that, even if we cannot make up our minds what should be the ultimate policy, at least let us say that, if we are to dismantle industry, we will set a limit on the industries we dismantle; and that we will decide here and now which industries we will dismantle, and announce it, because German economy is being paralysed by uncertainty.

I appeal to the Chancellor of the Duchy to urge his colleagues to make up their minds quite clearly as to exactly what we are after in Germany—make up their minds and lay down an economic plan. I know that it is impossible to follow out that plan wholly because of the quadripartite arrangements hanging over Germany. We cannot follow it out wholly, but we can partially. There is a great deal that can be done legitimately unilaterally. There is a great deal that can be done administratively. I would like us also to set a term to the period which we are prepared to wait for quadripartite sanction. We cannot go on dragging on indefinitely, with uncertainty and indecision as a major cause of the present and increasing crisis in Germany.

8.16 p.m.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer , Worthing

I am always willing to join in an attack on the Government, and I am delighted to take sides with the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), on this occasion, on a large number of the points which he has raised. I was a member of the Parliamentary Commission to Germany. I admit it was some time ago, since then, I understand, things have deteriorated very considerably. There are one or two points which I wish to make from memory and from material which I have read since then. I have great sympathy with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He has been attempting to carry out a quite impossible task. To run a conquered country, such as Germany, from Whitehall is utterly out of the question. Until there is a Minister on the spot, as there was in the Middle East and other theatres during the war, a solution will never be reached. There must be someone on the spot to deal with problems as they arise on a broad basis, instead of leaving them to the unfortunate people there, who are attempting to cope with a situation which is out of all proportion to anything they have had to deal with before. They have not the experience or ability to deal with it and some very big person is required there to act with authority and with the voice of the Government. Until that is done, I do not believe that there is any solution at all to these great problems.

With regard to the Control Commission, I have the greatest admiration for the way in which 95 per cent. of the Control Commission are doing their job. They are working extremely long hours, extremely hard, and with the greatest enthusiasm. There are, as the hon. Member for Ipswich said, certain black sheep, and the fault lies entirely in the hurried way in which these people were selected. To start with, there is no continuity of employment. They are given reasonable salaries, but beyond that they have nothing to which to look forward. In this country there are magnificent jobs going for able people with brains. Why then should people spend a few years in Germany, without any further prospect of employment. The result is that not only civil servants but officers, who of my own knowledge and experience, were not extraordinarily efficient and who had very minor posts in the Army because they were inefficient, have been given vast jobs and enormous areas and they have not the faintest idea of how to begin to deal with these great tasks. There have been in some cases regrettable incidents of failure and disgraceful conduct.

In regard to some of the higher appointments, magnificent work has been done under overwhelming difficulties. I was surprised to hear the suggestion made that the staff should be cut. Anybody who has been to the British zone would find it difficult to see how the existing staff could be cut for the moment. There will be a time, in the normal course of things, when the administration is handed over to the 'Germans, when this can be done, but not yet, I should think. I have not been there for six months, but certainly six months ago the staff could not be cut, for the simple reason that if, as a result of de-Nazification and one thing and another, you lock up all the people with brains, experience and competence, and you have left nobody except those who have been in concentration camps owing to their political views and who have not had any responsibility or any task to perform for nearly 20 years, they cannot attempt to run the country without guidance. That is why the large staff of the Control Commission is essential.

The difficulty they are up against is that they are trying to get the Germans to run their own show, but the Germans, from the time they were children, have been accustomed to doing what they are told in the utmost detail. One has only to look at a German operations order to realise that. If one of these fellows is brought into the office and is briefed in the English way: "Here is the form; this is what we want you to do—go away and do it," within five minutes he will be back, asking, "What exactly do you mean by the second line?" That will be explained. Then, twenty minutes later, he will be back again for further orders. That is the German mentality. They are not accustomed to running themselves on the same lines as we are, and they do not begin to understand the way to run an ordinary office such as is run in the local government system of any of our towns. They are being educated, but it all takes time. Therefore, I suggest that there was not any question a few months ago, at any rate, of cutting down the staff of the Control Commission. They are all working overtime, and it will be a very long time before the Germans are educated in the running of things for themselves. The sooner they can do that, the better. We started on the parish council basis, we worked up to the borough council, and we are now working up to the county council. The Americans started, in the reverse order, at the top and worked downwards, and the result is complete chaos. I think we are doing it on right and sound lines.

The crux of the whole problem, economically, is coal. This has been discussed in the House over and over again, and I do not propose to bother hon. Members with any further details, but the crux of the matter is that the coal has been used for the export of goods to the former occupied areas. Those areas wanted it at the time, and they deserved it, but I suggest that that time has come to an end. Generally speaking, those territories have got on to their feet. The time has come when every' bit of production should go back into the country again, and into consumer goods which, if they are in the shops, will give people an incentive to work. The other most depressing aspect was that, on account of the shortage of coal, I saw no factory chimneys smoking. The factories were not working. Factories which, by no conceivable stretch of the imagination, could make munitions of war of any sort were being demolished. What was happening to the bits and pieces, I had no idea; I hope they may have been transferred to England. If they were merely being turned into scrap metal, it was criminal, because the demolition had a most depressing effect on the people who had to do it, and the thousands of unemployed who had to sit and watch it being done.

I suggest, as the hon. Member for Ipswich said, that the only thing to do is to get these factories running, to get people employed, to give them wages, and put some heart into them, because people come from the Russian zone into our zone every day of the week with stories about the way in which factories in the Russian zone are working, how people are in full employment and getting wages, and how there are goods in the shops to buy. Admittedly, we know that a very large proportion of the goods is going straight to Russia, but the Russians have the wisdom to leave quite an adequate amount in the shops so as to give an incentive to employment. That is a very important matter in regard to the economic outlook in Germany.

With regard to food, in my experience the case has been consistently overstated in the House and in the country. I agree absolutely that in the towns, particularly in the big towns, where there are people who have no friends in the country and who are out of employment, the 1,000 calories ration means starvation. On the 1,500 calories ration, it is a question of slow starvation. But I suggest to the hon. Member for Ipswich, who is very reasonable, that the people on those rations are not by any means the total, or anywhere near the total, and represent, indeed, a small percentage. In the towns there are many people who have friends in the country who send them supplies. The hon. Member knows that throughout the whole of that part of the countryside of Germany where they have not had war such as France and Italy have known it, the people are exceedingly prosperous and well off. I have stayed in any number of those farms, and there is no shortage there. They do themselves well, and help to do our soldiers well. I agree that it is a serious problem for a small proportion of the people, but it is not by any means the problem it has been made out to be in the Press and in this House.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer , Worthing

I do not for one moment suggest that the 1,500 calories ration should be cut.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman say how many people live in the cities? If he has been in the cities, he will know that hunger oedema is prevalent.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer , Worthing

I agree, but the problem does not affect anything like the proportion of people the hon. Member has suggested.

Photo of Mr Charles Hobson Mr Charles Hobson , Wembley North

Is the hon and gallant Gentleman aware that 18 million people are concentrated in the large cities in the Ruhr in the British zone?

Photo of Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer , Worthing

I agree entirely, but if one takes out those who are employed and who get extra rations, and those who are aged and get extra rations, the number of people on the basic ration of 1,500 calories is not as great as it has been made out to be. I have not the figures with me, and I do not suppose that the hon. Gentleman has, but if he has, I would like him to produce them later on, and if I am wrong, I will accept the correction.

I would like now to make a few remarks concerning the families of soldiers serving in Germany at the present time. I went round the whole of the British Army in Germany, and in eight cases out of ten the question put to me was, "When can we have our wives out here? Our lives would be reasonably tolerable if we could have them out here." A very large number of the men have been separated from their families for six years, and they could see no reason why they should not have their families with them. I know the problem is a difficult one, but I suggest that a very large number of the families who have gone out to Germany are sharing houses and doing so on very amicable terms. It is merely a question of the German families moving upstairs. Although I know there are cases of eviction which have been mentioned, I could not support any suggestion that it was wrong to send the families out to Germany, or that they should be asked to come back. If the soldiers wish to have their wives out there, and their wives wish to go, the least we can do is to repay what some of these men went through from D-day onwards.

I agree with the hon. Member for Ipswich concerning the Potsdam Agreement. To my mind, the Potsdam Agreement is a complete washout. The situation now is entirely different from what it was at the time of the Potsdam Agreement, and it is utterly fantastic that we should be asked to continue to observe those clauses of the Potsdam Agreement which are a disadvantage to us, while other nations disregard the whole thing and do just as they wish. My last plea is for a Minister resident in Germany appointed at the earliest possible moment to go into the whole thing in detail, be- cause the cry going up in Germany now is, "If this is the way a Socialist Government runs the country, then for God's sake give us Hitler."

8.31 p.m.

Photo of Mr Albert Davies Mr Albert Davies , Stoke-on-Trent Burslem

I am not proposing to follow in detail the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer), but I should like to differ from him in regard to the wisdom of sending the families of British soldiers to places like Hamburg where the position in respect of housing and living generally is so acute and distressing. From the evidence I gathered there a few months ago, it seemed to me that there was no urgent case for sending out the families of our serving men. Indeed, I cannot find any widespread demand amongst the serving men. There may have been amongst the professional soldiers, the officers, who have their usual followers, but I did ask one responsible officer who was concerned in the administration of Hamburg, and I believe he told me that out of an establishment of over 10,000 he had had applications from only 250. It may have changed from that time, but I cannot myself see that any real case can be established for worsening the atrocious living conditions in which the indigenous population found themselves when I was there.

The problem of Germany as I saw it is that this is a country which all the Allies desire to put on to her feet in such a way as will enable her to support herself and to establish sanity that she might eventually earn the respect and the goodwill of other nations. We have to recognise the other aspect of the problem, and that is to ensure that she will not rise again to menace the peace of the world. It is a strange characteristic of the British people that, having conquered a nation, we are inclined to become sentimental almost immediately afterwards. I do not say that my colleagues who have spoken tonight are sentimental; I say there is that characteristic. I am bound to say that I agree with much of what my colleagues have said about Germany, but we should be unrealistic if we did not recognise the philosophic and military background which led up to the war situation. In my view, while we should certainly do everything to give Germany a place in the comity of nations where she can develop her own industry and her own life and is no longer dependent as a mendicant on the rest of the nations, I would not be doing my duty if I did not remember the hinterland and the kind of teachers Germany had, beside whom people like Hitler are small beer.

The hon. and gallant Member for Worthing reminded us of the incapabilities, as he saw them, of the Germans in matters of administration. I would not wholly agree with him, but there has been no real democracy in Germany as we have known it in this country, and there must be a long process of re-education and, perhaps, some control. I think there is a duty upon us, as progressive Socialists, to debunk any idea that the Germans are a master race—the Herrenvolk idea—and I think my colleagues would agree that this will take a great deal of time.

I was glad that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) made it clear that in this review and criticism of the administration of Germany he relieved the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster of all responsibility. I am sorry to see that a good and respectable paper like the "Manchester Guardian" has been taking the Chancellor to task, because I believe that the problems are at a higher level, and that fundamental changes in regard to the Potsdam Agreement, Yalta, and so on, have to be dealt with before our colleague, the Chancellor of the Duchy, can have any chance. In my view the man does not exist who could make this set-up work with a background such as Germany has inherited. Moreover, whoever undertook this job, there is no simple explanation, in view of the background and the kind of economy which Germany built up in order to prepare for war. I do not say that the German nation should be relieved of blame, or that the Allies were completely without responsibility for creating the conditions which made a Hitler possible, but I am convinced in my own mind that many of the ideas entertained by the young German nation have to be debunked. As I have said, this task may be of long duration and may require reeducation.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he can give some idea of who is to carry out this re-education and what the process is to be?

Photo of Mr Albert Davies Mr Albert Davies , Stoke-on-Trent Burslem

I am looking to international organisations such as U.N.E.S.C.O. to give a hand in this kind of work, and in my view the conference which was held in Paris last week was one of the most important forms of activity upon which we must rely if this old world is to reshape herself. Surely the hon. Gentleman would not argue that there is not a job to be done along these lines? I will not labour that point, but will merely say that there is a philosophical and military background which has to be taken into account because of various circumstances which I am not prepared to examine tonight. The economy of Germany was built up to support a great war, and whoever was the man who had the job of straightening things out afterwards, he was bound to be confronted with a great and complex task which will take some time to sort out. In the process of war Germany has received a terrific battering, and while I am convinced that if we left more of the straightening up to the Germans—if there were more bulldozers and other machines, and, perhaps, less interference in the physical tackling of this matter—they would clear much of the debris out of the way and would get on with the job of rebuilding. But, as has been said, there is, in addition, widespread devastation of the industrial machine as well as among the houses. The need, as has so often been said in this House recently, is, first of all, that we should have something like a reasonable standard of feeding, so that the people need not spend their time going to the country, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman said a few moments ago, to supplement their town rations, which is precisely what is happening. We should encourage them to produce more coal and to utilise it to stimulate their own domestic and industrial production.

I know there are political difficulties about it, but one is reminded, when one wanders about Germany, of a cemetery. There are no consumer goods, the people are listless, and there seems to be no industry to help them to tide over their difficulties. There is general confusion. An interesting observation was made the other day by Dr. Agartz, who was the head, until recently, of the German Economic Advisory Board. He said: There will be no reconstruction without outside help for the purchase of raw materials and the re-establishment of German trade. Tonight I would ask the Minister and the Government, "Who is to provide that economic aid to Germany? Will it be left to American banks? Are there to be industrial loans arranged on a unilateral basis?" We are pleased to see some progress in economic matters. We are pleased that M. Molotov has said, on behalf of Russia, that the U.S.S.R. does not wish to identify the German people with the arch-criminal Nazi leaders. We are glad that M. Stalin has said he is agreeable to a revision of the level of industry. We are particularly glad to hear that food and, I believe, some consumer goods are reported as coming in from Russia and from the Russian zone. These things are encouraging.

My considered view, as a layman trying to look at the thing objectively and in a helpful way, is that the Potsdam Declaration was totally wrong. I asked the Minister today to give us a statement about the vessels available in Germany and to tell us what the inventory had revealed. We constantly hear in this House, in respect of demobilisation and food problems, that there is a shortage of transport, yet, when we go to the great Port of Hamburg—and this may be true of other places—we see ships, some of which might be made seaworthy and used in the interests of Europe, of Germany herself, and of the world. The Clause in the Potsdam Declaration which said that Germany should have no seagoing vessels was totally insane. Surely, Germany has to be fed. If she is to have commerce and trade, which we hope she will have some day, the goods have to be carried in ships. In whose ships? In what ships? Many of those seaworthy vessels could be used, and if they are not seaworthy they should be repaired and made useful to the country and to the world. I would ask whether the Government or the Allied Powers have any idea what they are going to do about places like Kiel and Hamburg, where a large part of the native population was dependent upon maritime production as distinct from naval armament.

It seems to me that we have to call for a complete revision of the Potsdam Agreement in the light of the arguments I and some of my hon. Friends have advanced. What is war potential today? Near the Danish border we saw several perfectly good factories—beautiful places—which could have been utilised for peaceful productive purposes, but merely because they were in a certain strategic position they were scheduled for demolition. What sense does that make? In the age of the atomic bomb, what is war potential? One hon. Member was at pains to show us that we must have a new conception of these matters in view of scientific development and the closer relationship and interdependence with one another, not only in the interests of Germany, but in our own interests.

I want to say a word- about the problem of displaced persons or expellees. At Marienthal, below Hanover, I had the experience one Sunday morning of witnessing the unloading of a trainload of these unfortunate people. The spectacle was a most moving sight. I am not, I hope, an unduly emotional man, but I and my colleagues were deeply stirred by what we saw. Here was a train—of cattle wagons, as it seemed to me—in which 1,700 human souls were herded together. It was just being drawn into the station and a loudspeaker blared out, "Get your goods and chattels and be ready to report to the depot." These poor souls had been on their way from Poland from the previous Thursday or Friday, and this was Sunday midday. Most of them were old or very young; very few were middle aged, and very few were young men. They were unloaded, with their bits and pieces, and passed through this sort of transit camp. There they were "deloused," the infirm and old were segregated from the others, the young babies were taken away, they were all registered and finally they were fed and bedded down on straw for a few hours' rest before they entrained again for some other unknown destination.

I would like the Chancellor to say what is happening to all these displaced people. I am not concerned so much about the background—whether they were German nationals and so on. I am merely concerned with it as a great human problem. It seems to me, as a Socialist and a Christian, that this method of trying to put people within a given frontier and then to think that the world has solved the problem by making homogeneous populations within a given boundary is futile and nonsensical. I hope that the Foreign Secretary, in discussing this matter with the rest of the great Powers, will bring out the inhumanity of it all and see to it, not on sentimental grounds but on the great grounds of Christian prin- ciples and ethics, that a stop shall be put to this kind of thing at the earliest possible moment and that everything shall be done to make easy the lot and destiny of the people who have had to forsake their homes in this manner.

8.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

I think we are indebted to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) for giving us another opportunity of discussing Germany, because there is no doubt that the problems of Europe cannot be satisfactorily solved until we settle the problem of Germany. First, I think it is necessary that the remarks about food made by the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) should be put in their correct perspective. I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman has read the report of the tripartite Nutrition Committee, or the report of Select Committee on Estimates, on which I had the honour to serve. They quite definitely state that in the towns the population is seriously undernourished, and the majority of the population in the British zone lives in the towns. The figures for infantile mortality have increased enormously. The infantile mortality rate for 1946 was 104 per thousand as compared with 64 prior to the war. The Select Committee itself said: It is evident, therefore, that the present ration must be increased, or otherwise the Level of Industry Plan will remain a plan only, production will continue to decline, exports will fall, the zone will be unable to increase its indigenous food supplies and, without enumerating all the serious consequences that must follow, with the possibility of economic collapse, it is obvious that the cost to the British Exchequer will be inevitably increased.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer , Worthing

What date was that? Was "the present ration" mentioned there en the one thousand calorie basis or on the 1,500 calorie basis?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

It was on the 1,000 calorie rate.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer , Worthing

It has now been increased to 1,500 calories. I quite agree that it is not adequate and I said it should be 2,000.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

It has just been increased. I want to ask my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy a question re- garding that. As I understand the position in Germany today, this increase in the ration has been made because the German harvest is coming in. What will be the position when this food stock is exhausted? What will be the position in February and March? After several inquiries made in Germany, I was told, "We do not know." I do not think that is satisfactory and I would like some information as to what will be the position when the German harvest itself has been used.

As I see it, this problem in Germany is a twofold one. First, we have to put Germany on its feet and, secondly, we have to try to put across democracy. The first problem itself is well known to the House. There is the vicious circle—the shortage of coal, the shortage of consumer goods and the shortage of food. The recommendation made was that we should try to make a break in regard to coal. I understand that the exports of coal from Germany have been reduced. I want to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy what is the increase in the amount of coal now being kept in Germany, and what is the effect of that increase on the production of goods required for use in Germany itself? I want to ask further, whether there is any increase in consumer goods, because one of the points made continually in Germany is that you cannot induce the miner to produce more unless you can give him some incentive to do so. One of the things suggested, rightly, is that he must be able to spend in the shops what wages he can earn, and he cannot do that without consumer goods.

The third point I want to ask about coal is, what is being done to house miners in better conditions? I ask this question because, like the hon. Member for Ipswich, I am amazed that we should have agreed to carry on with this Hamburg project. We decided to carry on with it at the same time as we were taking steps to unify, or at least to link up, the British and American controls. It seems to me that if Britain and America are to work together, and if we are to work, ultimately, with Russia, as we want to, Hamburg is possibly not the best place to put up this new building to house the Control Commission. It seemed to me wrong to proceed with a plan which meant the demolition of houses, when there is already a great shortage of houses. If it had been an entirely new scheme, and no one was being put out of a house, it might have been justified, but it is difficult in present circumstances to justify it when we are pulling down houses in order to proceed with our own buildings. The Germans must feel very bewildered.

Another point arises out of the answer given at Question time today, and links up with the question of mining. As I understood the answer given by the Chancellor of the Duchy today about the number of men engaged in the project, the total is 9,000, some of whom are engaged, I think 1,300 was the figure, in repairing flats for people to move into. More were employed on something else, leaving a balance of 4,000 employed on this project. The wisest thing to have done with that building labour force would have been to use it in the mining districts to house the miners. Everyone knows that one of the things that has to be done to increase the output of the miner, is to improve his housing conditions. In the Minutes of Evidence of the Select Committee on Estimates on page 71 we find this passage: I think we have had a mention of the effect of housing on the worker. How are the miners housed—very badly. I assume?—Very badly in many cases. I was in what was once a house, and there were 11 people living in one room. You ask what effect that has on the worker. A medical man was with us and he said that, under those conditions, a man cannot rest properly to start with. He went so far as to say that, if you gave that man any amount of food, you would not materially improve his condition, because he is not getting proper rest. We can increase the miner's food ration, but unless we can rest him, and give him proper surroundings in which to live, we will not increase his output. I suggest that the building force at present being used for the purpose of building this Hamburg project, could have been utilised for the purpose of housing the German workers, and helping us to solve this problem. It is interesting to note that our Committee went out to investigate the expenditure of £80 million. Since then, I understand, the expenditure is actually increasing and, what is more, we are now sending out technical men of whom we are short in this country, in order to help tear down factories which could help us to produce the consumer goods to ease our burden. This is a fantastic situation.

Like other hon. Members who have spoken, I feel that the Potsdam Agreement needs to be overhauled. I appreciate that that has to be done at another level, but it seems to me that we cannot be expected to meet the terms of the Potsdam Agreement forever unless the other parties agree to do so. We shall never settle this problem along those lines. Another point is that we have to put across the ideas of democracy. An hon. Friend in reply to an interjection thought that this could be done through U.N.E.S.C.O. That may be so, but until we can feed and house the German people, all the "U.N.E.S.C.O.s" in the world will never teach them democracy.

If I may once again quote from the evidence, this time from that given by General Sir Brian Robertson to the Committee in Germany on the question of putting across this proposition, he was asked, "Are we succeeding in these things?" and he said: Well, no; we are not getting along too well. There are difficulties because the conditions necessary for the achievement of these plans (and particularly of the plan of putting across democracy) do not obtain. The first essential condition for doing these things is that there should be a reasonable standard of living for the German people, and a reasonable hope. If their whole attention is concentrated on how they are going to get their next meal, if they are living in misery and without hope, it is immensely difficult for us to put across our ideas of democracy. I think that is true, and that we have got to tackle that problem. We have also got to finish with de-Nazification. I understood that the completion of the Nuremberg trials would automatically settle the fate of large numbers of these people who are at present in the camps. Is that so?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

This is what we were told in Germany. I think other members of the Select Committee will agree with that. I want to know what effect the completion of the trials has had, what are the numbers now in these camps, how long they are to be there, and when it is expected we can quite finish with this problem? My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich summed it up very well and I do not want to repeat everything he has said.

Finally, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich, that we have to act in Germany as liberators, not as conquerors. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said a similar thing the other day—that having conquered we ought to be merciful. Whilst I would like to pay a tribute to the work that has been done by the Control Commission, at least by some certain members of it, I wish to say that anyone visiting Germany must be impressed by the fact that our people tend to live as conquerors, rather than liberators. Proceeding with this Hamburg project, does not seem to me to help matters very much. Looking at the Appendix to the Report of the Select Committee, we find this amazing state of affairs, which does not seem to fit in with the idea of liberation but rather conquest. The total authorised establishment for the Control Commission in Germany is 26,000. I think that at that time there were slightly less—25,000. To what extent has that force been reduced? The point I want to make is that there is a domestic staff of 16,000—German domestic staff—to attend to a Control Commission of 26,000; this is more than one for two persons. The explanation, as recorded in the Appendix of the Report of the Select Committee, is this: This increase"— in German staff— is due partly to shortage of British clerks, replaced by Germans, and increased domestic and transport assistance is due to shorter hours worked by Germans, as their working capacity has been reduced by lower rations. Anyone knows that these people like these jobs on the domestic staff because it helps them to get more food, working in messes. I would like the Chancellor of the Duchy to say whether this force is being decreased. To what extent are the recommendations made by the Select Committee to improve the quality of the staff being given effect? If we do not solve this problem there is no doubt that we shall build up in Germany a legacy of hatred which can never be a factor for peace in Europe.

9.5 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Eastern

I think the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has rendered a service to the country in raising this matter, which is of such intense importance, tonight. I would like to say, at the outset of the few remarks I shall make, that I agree with practically everything said by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis). I agree with him about the Hamburg project, and I agree with what he and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Burslem (Mr. Edward Davies) said that it is absolutely necessary that we should reconsider what constitutes a war potential. That is one of the most important facts. Really, our conception of war potential in the light of atomic energy is quite ridiculous and out of date. We must revise the whole business. It is no good going on pretending we are living in 1945. What constituted a war potential then covered pretty well the whole field of industry, but nowadays there is no industry on earth which could not be turned to some kind of use. That, I think is one of the most vital points of all.

An hon. Member referred to U.N.E.S.C.O. as an agency for re-educating Germany. I think we have a long way to go before we get to that stage. I do not want to disparage U.N.E.S.C.O.—I saw something of it in Paris the other day—but if the first task of U.N.E.S.C.O. is to be the re-education of the youth of Germany under present conditions, I think we shall be putting a burden on the back of that somewhat fragile organisation that will very quickly break it. The hon. Member also referred to the fact that if one visits Hamburg one sees a lot of ships which have been blown up. I suggest that one can also see a very valuable shipyard blown up, which is even more disastrous from the point of view of Hamburg, and Europe and the future of Europe. I would still like to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who really was responsible for that act of insanity—because an act of plain, raving insanity it clearly was to blow up the Bloehm und Voss shipyards, the one hope of Hamburg for the future. Was it because it was a war potential factory at a time when the whole world is crying out desperately for ships of every sort and kind?

The administration of Germany was an administrative task and test for this country of the highest order. Who can deny, on either side of the House, that up to date we have lamentably failed, or that our failure has had disastrous consequences upon our position and prestige in Europe and, indeed, throughout the world? On the question of food there seems to be no doubt, or very little doubt, that we in this House have been gravely misled in recent months as to the true facts about the food situation in the British zone. I believe it is true that this 1,500 calorie standard has not been realised in many cases. One of my hon. Friends pointed out, with full justification, that the position in the zone was very different in the country from the position in the towns, and that quite a number of people in the towns got food from friends in the country. I have no doubt that that is true. There is also, as we well know, the usual black, or grey, market in a rather more acute form, perhaps, in Germany than anywhere else. At the same time, one only needs to look at the hunger oedema figures for the Ruhr, especially Dusseldorf, and for Hamburg, and the tuberculosis figures for Hamburg, to realise that something is very far wrong with the feeding arrangements.

I know that every time I mention the word "herrings" there is great laughter from all sides of the House. Nevertheless, I am bound to point out what I regard in the present circumstances as the terrible tragedy which took place two or three weeks ago at Yarmouth and Lowestoft. There is, every year, this tremendous week or 10 days of Autumn fishing, when the shoals come up to the surface asking to be caught in immense numbers. We have had that this year, as we have had it practically every year since the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The fishermen went out and caught all they could for two nights and then they had to come back because the market was glutted for the rest of the week.

For the rest of that week, for three nights, that whole fleet was tied up in harbour in Yarmouth and Lowestoft, when all this nutritious food might have been poured across to Germany. All this food was lying just off our coast, but, when the boats were allowed to go to sea again, the shoals were gone. That is what happened. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Why? I do not know, but it is a failure of administration, because nobody can say that the present Government were not warned of the situation over and over again; the Chancellor of the Duchy has a responsibility for our zone in Germany, and the Minister of Food and the Secretary of State for Scotland have their responsibilities. They all have a responsibility, but the fact remains that, though they were warned for two years from both sides of this House, nothing was done about it, and I say to the Government that, if they could not get the barrels and the salt to cure these herring, they could have run a ferry service of ships straight across from Yarmouth and Lowestoft to the German ports and poured out this food for the German people themselves to process.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Why could not the drifters themselves have gone to Hamburg if we were going to take the same drifters to America in 1940?

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Eastern

If the drifters had gone to Hamburg, they would not have been able to catch the herring on the following night and the night after. They would not have been there to catch the fish. We wanted the drifters in order to catch the herring, but there were many other ships in the world that could have been used for this purpose but which were not used. I am only saying that the fact remains that, when we have half the civilian population in the British zone in Germany starving, people for whom we have a responsibility, nobody did anything about it, and, for half of that week, the fishing fleet was tied up. Whoever was responsible, I have always said that it was a scandal, and I have never changed my mind.

I think it is about time that this House knew the true facts from the Chancellor about the food situation, about the hunger figures and the tuberculosis. Whom are we to believe—the Chancellor or Mr. Victor Gollancz? Mr. Gollancz has been in Germany for some weeks and has given us some figures which startle us. Who is right? The House ought to know, one way or another. It is no use saying that the food situation has improved, if it has not, as Mr. Gollancz said. I would like to put a question to the Chancellor of the Duchy and ask him to give us some more information. On the general question raised by the hon. Member for Ipswich on the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements, I agree with him that both these Agreements were, in many respects, deplorable. I did not like them much at the time, and as time has gone by, I have liked them even less. To what extent is the Soviet Government carrying out, either in the letter or the spirit, the actual terms of the Potsdam Agreement, because I think that is very important? I do not believe that they have carried out those terms. I do not want to have a row with the Soviet Union, but I say that, if they are deliberately and flagrantly ignoring all their obligations under their agreements, we are perfectly entitled to pursue our own policy in our own zone.

I want also to ask the Chancellor this question. Are we going to continue to sabotage industrial production in the British zone in Germany on account of the Potsdam Agreement and by carrying out the terms of an Agreement which most of us believe the other signatories are making not the slightest attempt to carry out? If the Russians are not carrying out their obligations under the Agreement, why should not we give our own interpretation and take the steps to stop this senseless sabotage of German industry? As long as we go on doing that, there can be no question of recovery in Germany. In the matter of coal, I would sugest that it is absolutely essential that we should stop all exports for the next six months. Otherwise, there can be no hope of any recovery.

There is another point in this connection about which I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. What is the present position about the displaced persons? Are they still coming into our zone from the East? If so, in what numbers? We cannot go on indefinitely taking these displaced persons into our zone from Eastern and Central Europe when the Russians have collared about three-quarters of the food in Germany and are giving as practically none. We have to do our best for an artificially inflated industrial population in our zone, which was never the great food producing area of the old Germany. It has been reported in the papers that the recent fusion of the British and American zones in Germany is going to cost the taxpayers of this country a full £125 million in addition to the £80 million which the Select Committee set out to put a stop to. Is this fact true and, if so, why?

I do not wish to detain the House for any great length of time, but I would like to say how much I agree with all the hon. Members on both sides of the House who have deplored the Hamburg project. I do not believe that the conditions in Germany justify it. A great many people were led to believe, by statements made on behalf of the Government, that this project had been totally abandoned for the time being. It now appears that it has only been slowed down owing to the lack of adequate labour and the lack of nutrition for the labour concerned. The results of our administration have, so far, not justified the erection of this colossal sort of garden city for our own people in the midst of the ruins. I would venture, very humbly and respectfully, to disagree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer). I do not think that we ought to send our wives and children to Germany in its present condition. I would rather put a stop to that whole plan, because I think it is a desperate situation; and give much more leave to the personnel in Germany. I believe that if we offered them that, they would take it. To contemplate this Hamburg project and to export wives and children to Germany under present conditions seems to me to be resolutely refusing to face up to the realities of a situation which is becoming increasingly difficult.

There is one other question I should like to put to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is the question of de-Nazification, a question which has been raised before. How long is this process going to be continued, and how many people have still to be de-Nazified? I am told that a great many people have been de-Nazified—it sounds almost like deloused—three times, and that there are still over a million waiting to be de-Nazified, or to answer a ridiculous questionnaire containing 150 ludicrous questions. In these circumstances, it will take another three or four years to get through the business. Meanwhile, no sane German is likely to take a job of any kind at all because, in the interim, he may find himself due for de-Nazification.

How on earth do His Majesty's Government expect to win the German people from totalitarianism to democracy if they go on with this kind of nonsense? We have either to live with them or exterminate them. When the Nuremberg trial was over, and the bosses responsible were safely hanged, the hon. Gentleman said that there might be a small number of war criminal cases still to be tried. Let us get the job done with and over by the end of this year, and then call it a day. If this de-Nazification business is going on for the next two or three years, involving thousands of people being kept in concentration camps or prisons, how on earth can we argue the case for democracy to the youth of Germany when we are imprisoning these people without any charge being preferred against them?

Habeas corpus is the basis of democracy. It is the principle on which all democratic systems ultimately rest. I beg the Government to announce a final limit to this de-Nazification business be-because, as I say, if we do not exterminate the German people we have got to live with them, and if we continue to destroy their industries, and starve and imprison them in hundreds of thousands without charge or trial, I do not see how we shall get them into a mood in which they will be fit to live with anybody or be civilised again.

My last question is: What is the long-term policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to Germany? What is their ultimate objective? The question has been put: Have they got an import-export policy, which is the basis of any industrial revival in Germany? I have yet to hear of one. I am one of those who firmly believe that the only hope, in the long run, of preserving the values of Western European civilisation is to get some kind of unification in Europe under some sort of federal system. I have often argued this point in this House before, and I repeat it tonight. Are the Government taking any steps towards this end? What hopes are they holding out to the Social Democrats on the Continent, in Germany or anywhere else, who look to us for relief? I say that with absolute sincerity. What is the Government's constructive policy? Have they a constructive policy for Central Europe, Western Europe or for Germany? It seems to me that we are drifting on in the most hopeless way.

I believe the first essential is that we should appoint a resident Minister of Cabinet rank inside Germany, to tackle the situation. I have nothing against the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I assure him that I would welcome his own appointment to that post. He would not be the first Minister outside the Cabinet who has demanded entry into the Cabinet, and he would not be the first Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who has demanded to be a Cabinet Minister, because I could quote to him various examples of Chancellors of the Duchy who, during the last 30 or 40 years, have demanded, and often got, entry into the Cabinet. My advice to the hon. Gentleman, if he does not want to sink under this strain, is to demand instant entry into the Cabinet. Having done that, he should accept the advice of the hon. Member for Ipswich—blow up, metaphorically, Norfolk House, dismantle it completely, sack the staff, and, having got into the Cabinet, pack his bags, go to Germany and administer from there, and then come back at frequent intervals, report to the Cabinet and to this House what he has been doing and what he intends to do, and give us much fuller information than we have had in the past.

I cannot understand the attitude of the Government on this question. I remember, in the old days, when those on the Left were never tired of denouncing the Treaty of Versailles. They all said how shocking it was, and what an awful thing it was to impose upon the German people. It was a paradise compared with the present. It was the sanest, wisest, most just and constructive peace settlement that has ever been made by comparison with anything that has been done to Germany since the last war. I say to His Majesty's Government, in all sincerity, that if they go on as they are at the moment they will turn Germany into one vast plague-stricken and infected area, and, through that, they may well run the risk of destroying finally the whole of the values of Western civilisation, the whole hope of democracy, liberty and everything for which we fought for four or five years to protect from total destruction. I beg of the hon. Gentleman to insist upon a wise and constructive policy in this matter before it is too late.

9.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Wells Mr William Wells , Walsall

May I follow the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) by echoing his hope that my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy will insist on and obtain a place in the Cabinet? I instance only the question of coal, which has been mentioned so often in this Debate, and nearly every other Debate in this House on the subject of Germany. For months everybody has emphasised that there can be no recovery in Germany so long as the export of coal is permitted. Everybody has known that for months. The Select Committee, of which I had the honour to be a Member, so reported; everybody agreed it was necessary, but nothing happened at all. Nothing happened for months, until a short time ago, when we were told that the export of coal from Germany was being progressively reduced. Now that is a good thing, but it is months too late. All the troubles that are arising this winter might have been lessened if the Foreign Office arguments had been countered within the Cabinet by what I might call the German argument. I do not say that in any pro-German sense whatever.

I disagree with some of the statements made on this side of the House about the bad effects of unconditional surrender. I disagree with the statement made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), that it is bad for a nation to be conquered. I think that for the German nation it was a very good thing to be conquered; it was very necessary for them to be conquered, but it was only necessary, and can only be useful, if after the process of conquest there comes a rapid and almost immediate process of lifting them up. Throughout this and all other Debates on this subject we have had a whole series of questions about the quality of the staff administering Germany. Nearly six months ago, the Select Committee recommended that the terms of service within the Control Commission should be assimilated to those of the Civil Service in this country. Hon. Members on both sides of the House, in Debate after Debate, have urged that only the best quality personnel possible is good enough for Germany. We have asked the question repeatedly: How can we get such personnel if permanency of tenure is not guaranteed? Six weeks ago, or less, I put down a Question to the Chancellor of the Duchy asking him what action was being taken to implement that recommendation of the Select Committee. The answer was that negotiations were going on between his Department and the Treasury, but that there were difficulties. There may be difficulties, but the difficulties in Whitehall and in St. James's Square, however great they may be, are as nothing compared with the difficulties that exist in Germany. I do urge upon my right hon. Friend that this question should be tackled with a sense of urgency, which so far has failed to be applied to it.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Aberdeen referred, as perhaps we all expected, to the question of herrings. May I remind my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy that in Paragraph 32 of the Select Committee's Report, dated last July, we said: The evidence received did seem to indicate that the possibilities of increasing fish landings had not been fully explored; but whilst this will be a useful help, it cannot solve the main problem. We do not know what can solve the main problem. At this point, may I try to answer a question put by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen? He asked who was right: Was Mr. Victor Gollancz right in saying that the food position in Germany was worse, or was my right hon. Friend right in saying that it is better? The true answer, I believe, is that they are both right. If the ration has been increased, as it has been increased, from about 1,000 calories to a little over 1,500 calories, there is an improvement. It is better. From rather rapid starvation we have come to rather slow starvation. But it is clear, also, that the conditions must be much worse, because a year ago the Germans were living on their own fat, and, after a year of starvation rations they have now no fat on which to live.

Several hon. Members on this side of the House have differed from the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) in the emphasis that he put on the facilities that exist for the industrial population of Germany to get food from the country. Those facilities do, of course, exist. They exist for the rich; they exist for those who have time and opportunity to go to get the food for themselves; they exist for those who have relations in the country, and transport with which to get the food from the country into the towns. They exist for those people; but for the great majority of the industrial population of Germany they do not exist at all. I think it is a wholly vicious argument to underestimate at all the malnutrition that does exist, and I think it fallacious to point out, with the emphasis that the hon. and gallant Gentleman used, that the heavy workers get increased rations. Of course they do get increased rations; but what about their families? Their families do not get increased rations; and what does the hon. and gallant Member suppose the workman is going to do, who gets a ration of, say, 3,000 calories, if he has a family of five or six children who have only a ration of 1,500 calories? Quite clearly, he is going to pool the lot, and, instead of his having a ration of 3,000 calories, for that man there will be a ration of only 1,700 or 1,800 calories. I suggest that the emphasis he has placed on those facilities for getting extra food will serve no useful purpose, but, on the other hand, may give some addition to the wholly mischievous propaganda, that while there are limited quantities of food in this country, the population of this country is being sacrificed in order to give unnecessary additions to the rations of the Germans.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer , Worthing

I am sure the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent me in any way. I never intended to suggest in any way that there was a question of a lack of rations in this country because we were supplementing rations in Germany. All I suggested was that whereas I agree that the ration of 1,500 calories is totally inadequate and should be increased, if ever possible, there were cases in which the whole general picture had been grossly overpainted. That is all I said. I do not wish to be misrepresented, and I know the hon. Gentleman would not misrepresent me.

Photo of Mr William Wells Mr William Wells , Walsall

I am much obliged. I had no wish at all to misrepresent the hon. and gallant Gentleman. With what he now says I wholly agree, of course; but what I did deplore was the perspective in which I, perhaps, wrongly gathered he placed the problem, from his previous remarks. With what he has now said, of course, I wholly agree. I have only one other point to raise. While I believe that in some ways a hard peace for Germany was necessary, I do wish to add my voice to the others raised on both sides of the House about the urgency of revising the Potsdam Agreement. I was in Essen some four months ago. The sullen hatred of the population of Essen, which they manifested towards us as we were passing in British Army cars, was a horrifying and an appalling thing. When you see the vast Krupps factory being wholly dismantled, taking away all the opportunities for earning an industrial livelihood from that population of 650,000 people, and when you appreciate that the whole of Europe is crying out for products such as steam engines which that factory was admirably qualified to build, you realise the full madness of the policy which we are now being forced to pursue of cutting off, on the one hand, the means of livelihood of the Germans, and, on the other, embarrassing the whole of the industrial reconstruction of Europe.

9.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) said that we must not ascribe to the Chancellor of the Duchy responsibility for the miserable chaos which is Germany today. Unfortunately the most lamentable thing about that statement is that it is true. We cannot ascribe responsibility to the hon. Gentleman, we cannot ascribe responsibility to the Commander-in-Chief, we cannot ascribe responsibility to anybody—that is the trouble here. The measure of human suffering that results from incompetent government is infinitely greater than the measure of suffering which results from any design, and what I would say to the Government is, "For Heaven's sake give us somebody who is responsible, to whom we can ascribe responsibility, and give him a policy to carry out."

I have only two minutes and I want to make this point very shortly. There is an appalling shortage of footwear, of clothes and of blankets in Germany today. Irresponsible people in Germany have the impression that the Services—all three of them—Admiralty, Air Force and Army—have surplus stocks, of blankets which have been rejected, of boots, of clothing—old battle-dresses and that sort of thing—stuff which is no longer of use to our Services but which, in the appalling shortages in Germany today, may be of immense use to the Germans. I ask the Chancellor of the Duchy to approach the Service Ministers and ask them to scrape their barrels and see what, in that line, can be made available immediately for Germany this winter when the need is so urgent. In a week's time I will put down a Question to him to ask what the result of these inquiries is. I am told on very good authority that there are very big stocks which could be made available for the purpose.

9.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Drayson Mr George Drayson , Skipton

The point I wish to deal with this evening concerns the psychological effect on the children of the families of our own Servicemen who are being taken out to Germany at the present time. I believe their experiences out there will have the most undesirable effect. One of the things we notice when we go to Germany is that no attempt has been made—or had been made even during the war—by the Germans to clear up the bomb damage; To be taken out there, and to live among ruins and poverty such as have been described tonight, will have a very undesirable psychological effect on the children. I think too that the effect on the minds of the grownups is equally undesirable, but they, I feel, have the ability to arm themselves, perhaps by thinking that the Germans deserve this treatment, against any feelings of sympathy that they might be inclined to have. When I went there I found, particularly in the American zone, a situation in which the Servicemen's families were living in conditions of plenty in the midst of poverty. I think that there might still be an alternative solution to this problem. We fully appreciate the desire of these Servicemen who have been away from this country, in some cases for six years and perhaps even longer, to be united with their families. It seems to me that it might be possible for the Government to make arrangements with neighbouring countries, which have not suffered so badly during the war, such as Belgium and Holland, and even France and Switzerland, for the wives and families of our Servicemen to go out there on a long holiday. A generous period of leave could be given for our Servicemen to meet their families outside German territory, and enjoy all the good things which we find in Europe at the present time, but which are denied to us by our Government through their incompetence in this country.

9.41 p.m.

Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Plymouth, Devonport

I think that the whole House will agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has done a great service in raising this subject today. It is quite true that we had a Debate on Germany a week or two ago, but I think we must go on having Debates on Germany, until we have secured a drastic change in policy. The first Debates which took place on Germany in this House were raised in the same manner as this Debate. The first Debate was held about a year ago in much the same circumstances, and it was a shameful thing that the first Debate on this great issue should have had to occur in those circumstances, instead of a day being provided for the subject. At that time, some of us said that if we did not debate closely the affairs of Germany, there might come a period in two or three years when we should be debating nothing else. I think that we are coming to that situation even quicker than some of us feared. If we had really taken action on some of the matters raised a year ago, we should have been in a better situation today. It is almost impossible for us to continue to have Debates on Germany in which one Member after another rises in his place and acquits the Minister who is to reply of any responsibility in the matter. I concur in the view which has been expressed, that it would be hopelessly wrong and unjust to accuse my hon. Friend of being responsible for this appalling situation.

I agree with my hon. Friend that a lot of responsibility rests with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), and with those who prepared the plans at Teheran and Yalta, which were later put into operation at Potsdam. A great part of the responsibility, of course, rests upon the existing Cabinet, which therefore rests upon the Chancellor of the Duchy. We must bring that responsibility home, and if the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster agrees with the view which is expressed by many Members in this House, that he is charged with a quite impossible task, then I say that the duty of a Minister who is charged with a quite impossible task is to resign his office, because the only way in which he will bring home the appalling situation is that he should resign and reveal that he has not been given the power he needs to carry out the gigantic task with which he is faced. I am not quite certain whether that is the view of the Chancellor of the Duchy.

One of the great difficulties we have on this whole matter of Germany, which was referred to by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), with whose speech I agreed in almost every particular, is the wide discrepancy between the evidence provided by the Chancellor of the Duchy, and the evidence provided by all kinds of responsible persons returning from Germany, This applies to almost every factor in the situation; it applies to food, the dismantling policy, reparations, de-Nazification—one can go through the whole list. The evidence provided by the Chancellor of the Duchy at Question time and in speeches in this House is in total conflict with the evidence provided by many competent people who have returned from Germany. We all agree that the Chancellor is not attempting to mislead the House in this matter. He gets information from his office, but that information, apparently, is in total conflict with the evidence brought back, for instance, by every reputable newspaper correspondent who has been in the zone for a considerable period. An hon. Member has said that this question has been overstated, but I believe the basis of the evidence of what is really happening in Germany, can best be obtained from newspaper correspondents who have been there, not for one or two weeks, but have been living in the zone for months on end. That applies to reputable correspondents of the "Manchester Guardian," "The Times," the "Economist," and—if I may mention another newspaper—the "Tribune." The evidence of all their correspondents is in total conflict with all the accounts which are reaching Norfolk House. Therefore, we must clear up this situation, and discover who is right.

I suggest that the Chancellor has been receiving evidence in his office which does not really reflect the true situation in Germany at all. Answering a Question in the House today, on the question of the German ration, my hon. Friend seemed to suggest that it was being met, at any rate to something like 90 per cent. There was also the curious statement of the Chancellor, following the outcry on the subject of the food position in Germany, in the Debate we had the other day, when he suggested that the present outcry was partly the result of the progress of democratisation which was going on in German politics. These were the words my hon. Friend used: We have recently had elections and established local councils representing various political parties. They have been handed responsibility for the collection and distribution of food, and they have also been given the statistics. Having seen those statistics they are very properly shocked at the difficult situation they have to face. Being responsible to their constituents, they are now competing in publicity and demands on the British authorities for maximum support and sympathy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 304.] Those were the words he used. I have a report by a well qualified correspondent who spent her time going round German cities, where she was able to speak the language. While the Chancellor was delivering those words the other day these are the facts she saw in Germany. This is a quotation from the "Tribune": While these words were spoken the city of Essen had just passed through a four weeks' ration period during which the food actually available to the normal consumer remained well under the 1,000 calorie level. Not only were cereals which, on paper, form an important part of the German ration, not distributed at all, but there was very little if any bread (never during the period sufficient to honour the officially 'called up' and already reduced ration) and only 40 per cent. of the population were able to get any potatoes at all.I learnt these facts while Mr. Hynd spoke in the House of Commons of 'the miracle' of maintaining the regular distribution of rations in the existing adverse circumstances. Circumstances, it is true, could hardly be more adverse, but the 'miracle' of which Mr. Hynd spoke did not happen. For many weeks now (as has already been reported in numerous Press accounts) rations have not been distributed regularly, not only in Essen, but in many of the industrial cities of the Rhine-Ruhr area. In fact, there have been places far worse off than Essen, Düsseldorf, Duisbnrg, Wuppertal, Solingen, Remscheid and Krefeld—but it is not through 'seeing statistics' that the German people are 'shocked'. That is a report which has been borne out by all the correspondents of the "Manchester Guardian," and on the basis of those reports that newspaper asks the Chancellor of the Duchy the question which I also ask him: Does he know that the higher ration, announced by us last month to be put into operation in Germany, is fictitious? The word "fictitious" is used responsibly by the "Manchester Guardian." Remember also that this ration is a miserable, inadequate ration, and, in fact, ever since March, there has been a considerable percentage of people in Germany who have been living below the 1,000 calories mark. In the face of all this evidence, when the Chancellor comes to this House and suggests that the ration has been met, it only makes the situation much worse in Germany, because all the people there, when these statements get through to them, must be angered even more about the whole situation.

I am not suggesting that there is an easy remedy to this situation; of course, there is not. One of my charges against some of the statements made by the Chancellor of the Duchy is that he has led the country to believe that the situation is easier than it is. For instance, it is suggested—I do not attribute this to the Chancellor of the Duchy—in some quarters that all that has happened is that the Americans have failed to supply some of the things which they had promised, and if we could only get what we need out of the American zone, then everything would be fine. That is not really the situation. A statement was made the other day by General Clay about the Americans. He said that the American authorities were frankly worried about their ability to maintain even the present low level of 1,500 calories until the next harvest. The Budget which the United States Government has voted for supplying food to Germany is totally inadequate, at the present prices prevailing for wheat in the United States, to supply anything like the quantity that is required. I do not know what is the solution of this situation. I do not think that it is any solution, as hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House have attempted to suggest, that there are great bursting bins in the Russion zone if only we could get hold of them. We should all have liked to have help from the Russian zone, but from all the evidence which I have seen there are no more bursting bins on that side of Europe than there are on this side of Europe. This is not a simple question. I suggest that it would be very much wiser if, instead of pretending that we can get through and stagger from one crisis to another, His Majesty's Government would explain openly to the whole world exactly what is the food situation, and say to the people of the United States: "Are you going to help us? Because you are the people who can help us face this situation which we have to meet, and if it is your purpose to have a great racket in wheat prices, rather than to help the people in the British and American zones of Germany, then the world ought to know about it."

Incidentally, I hope that the Minister can give us some replies as to what sort of information has been made available in the British zone about the parcels scheme announced a few days ago. I think that it is of the utmost importance, and that it would have a considerable psychological effect in Germany, that the widest publicity should be given to the fact that the people in England—and I am sure that there will be countless thousands—are to contribute to this scheme to send parcels to Germany. I hope that the Chancellor has got hold of every radio in Germany and broadcast this fact widespread over the whole country.

A further great factor, in which there is a discrepancy in the accounts given by the Minister and the accounts we have received from reputable correspondents from the zone, is with reference to the dismantling, which has already been discussed by many other hon. Members. The Chancellor of the Duchy, in a speech which he made the other day, gave the impression, to which reference has already been made, that we were definitely not destroying plants that could be usefully used to produce goods for export and for use in Germany. All the evidence is that we are destroying many factories which could be used for this purpose. The hon. Member for Ipswich has put specific questions on that point, and I hope that we shall have some answer, but there is no need to go on arguing about it in great detail, because even Mr. Asbury, the Regional Commissioner, on 30th October announced that orders were awaited for dismantling further factories, which he proceeded to name. The dismantling is going on, and we should like to know whether it applies to the factories to which the hon. Member for Ipswich referred, and whether it applies also to the cement factories. Are we really going to dismantle cement factories throughout Germany simply because cement was once used for building the roads along which Hitler drove his tanks?

On the question of de-Nazification, cannot we have some decisive statement from the Minister about that tonight? Can he tell us who it was that drew up this ludicrous document with 133 questions on it, which not merely over one million Germans who have already been de-Nazified three times have had to answer, but any one who wishes to apply for the smallest job in the future will have to answer? Who devised this questionnaire? We may be told that it was devised by the quadripartite Council in Berlin. We have representatives on that Council, and it is no good trying to push off responsibility by saying that it is a quadripartite decision. Did one of our representatives on that Council agree with this document of 133 questions which were to be put to people to de-Nazify them throughout the whole country? Of course, many things go wrong with quadripartite arrangements, but I think the House ought to know exactly what our representatives have been saying on the Quadripartite Council as to the operation of some of these insane plans to which reference has been made by other hon. Members.

The situation which has been revealed by this Debate, and by other Debates, is causing widespread concern on every side of the House and throughout the whole of this country. It is dangerous for this country, the world, and this Government. It is deadly serious. Unless we can get a real timetable of how we are to stop the carrying out of the Potsdam Agreement and the failure to carry out the Potsdam Agreement, unless we have a clear timetable of what is to be done about Germany, I believe there will be a disastrous situation. If we have to wait, to deal with the situation arising from the dismantling of German factories, until after they have, in New York, first settled the peace treaties with Italy, and then the peace treaties with Germany, and had further arguments about disarmament—if we have to wait for all that time—there will be such a crash in Europe as will be heard from one end of this planet to the other.

9.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

I make no complaint about the very severe barrage of criticism that has been hurled at my unworthy head in this Debate; nor do I try to avoid the responsibility for any part of the matters criticised for which I am, either personally or as a representative of the Government, responsible; nor do I wish for one moment to modify in any way the very gloomy and tragic descriptions of the situation in Germany that have been given in the Debate. I have at times been attacked in the House, and elsewhere, in regard to other aspects—questions of the efficiency of our staff, the size of our staff, the Hamburg project, and other affairs of that kind, which are not fundamental to the situation. I have felt justified in trying to explain to the House exactly what has been done in the very difficult situation that has existed in Germany, and, presumably, it is because I have done so that I have been charged on occasions with drawing too rosy a picture. I do not think that on any occasion will it be found that I have tried to paint a rosy picture of the situation in Germany. I will deal with that later.

But the whole course of the Debate has been, I think, a little unreal in that it has entirely ignored the background of the problem which we are discussing. I would remind the House that we are in Germany not for the purpose of running a British colony, nor are we there with the powers and opportunities of administering a unilateral system that might suit ourselves—

It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Popplewell.]

Mr. Hynd:

We have not the physical material necessary to carry out a completely unilateral policy. We went into Germany with our Allies at the conclusion of hostilities, in which the whole of the Allies participated, with a common purpose, which included the disarming and de-Nazification of Germany, after which we proposed to assist Germany towards democratisation and the creation of a situation in which she could play her part in a peaceful world. Immediately we accept these responsibilities, we are faced with the practical problems of disarming a country which was vastly over-industrialised in certain aspects, for war purposes. If we face and accept that problem we have to destroy, remove or render inactive certain purely war activities, such as submarine factories, submarine pens and the docks and slipways of Kiel which have been used only for naval purposes. We can only deal with industries of that kind in one of three ways—by destroying them, by trying to remove them, or by ignoring them entirely and allowing them to rot. This is part of the responsibility which we have to accept. The question which arises is: How far is that desirable and how expeditiously can it be done?

I do not, think I would differ very much from the remarks of my hon. Friends in the comments they have made in regard to that matter, but here again I would remind them that we are only a quarter of the government of Germany I am not throwing the responsibility on the Quadripartite Council, but we are governing only a quarter of Germany. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) asked was it true that British representatives on the quadripartite Council had put their signatures to some agreement? The answer is "yes." If we are to work on a democratic basis and not adopt the veto principle on the Council, when we find our partners in agreement on a certain policy, it is very difficult, without facing up to all the repercussions, to take such an attitude as would involve adopting a veto on what may be a very important decision in the eyes of our partners.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Do the Russians follow that example?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Not in all cases, but I do not think we should necessarily take our lessons in the application of democracy from anyone outside our own country.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Surely that is not the point. The point is, Are we to submit to Russian decisions, if the Russians will not submit to ours? If we submit to the majority rule, why should not they?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Of course this is not entirely a story of the Russians dictating every decision taken on the Quadripartite Council. In many cases the Russians have not agreed, while in many others we have not agreed. If we find ourselves in a minority of one, generally, unless a vital principle was at stake, it has been our policy to agree. That is the position.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

It would help us a good deal if we knew that our representatives have, in fact, fought most earnestly against certain proposals and whether they were not in agreement with the majority proposal.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

I cannot offhand give an answer to that, because the Frageboger was instituted before we went into Germany, for the purposes of preparing the de-Nazification procedure in the quickest possible way.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

I have not time to give way. Similarly, I am surprised to find it so widely suggested in the House that we should stop de-Nazification, because it has been agreed, I think, on all hands, for the first 15 months, that part of our principal purpose in Germany is to de-Nazify its institutions and remove all Nazi institutions from Germany as far as practicable. If that should be our policy how is it to be done? It means that certain very drastic steps have to be taken in dealing with the large number of people involved in a country of that kind and in the conditions which exist there. It means, necessarily, that we have to start in a very drastic way. We have to take people in large numbers, and deal with them in large numbers, and I say this to those who are so critical of the Frageboger system. It has enabled us to get through the greater part of that programme very speedily.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

I do not know how many questions there are, but it is not true, as has been suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) that everybody who has had to sign one of these questionnaires—one million was the figure he quoted—is having to do it all over again for a fourth time. That is just not true, and I leave hon. Members to judge as between this information and that which comes from other sources. What is true is that, in order to break down and disperse this terrible problem as quickly as possible, we have taken those people who have been categorised as war criminals, dangerous Nazis, and so on, and placed them in five categories. This is a scheme which I have explained to the House before, and we are reviewing everyone of these cases on the category basis in order that we may release the largest possible number as quickly as possible. Here again there have been no less than 68,000 people interned at one stage or another under this scheme, although no less than 31,000 of these have been released, leaving a total of some 37,000 still to be dealt with, and these are being dealt with very speedily indeed. But again, of that 37,000 no fewer than 27,000 are Nuremburg category criminals about whom I could do nothing whatever under the terms of the Nuremberg agreement, until the Nuremberg trial was concluded, which was only a few weeks ago.

I can assure the House that the Government are as concerned as any hon. Member in any part of the House with regard to a speedy settlement of this problem. But this was the situation. We were in Germany, and we were in there with our Allies. A war had just been fought and won; there was an agreement, and, whether or not we might have preferred certain different clauses in that agreement, it was there and the question with which we were faced was whether we were to try to operate it or not. First of all, we could possibly—although I am not certain of this—have defied the whole of our Allies right away at the end of hostilities; but we did not. We tried to maintain unity, which I think would have been the desire of all hon. Members in this House and of every one in this country at that stage. And we have tried persistently, because the consequences of a breakdown in this or in that part of the attempts which have been made throughout the world during these past 12 or 18 months to maintain and develop inter-Allied unity, would have been very tragic indeed.

Photo of Captain Albert Blackburn Captain Albert Blackburn , Birmingham King's Norton

Is my hon. Friend now saying that he is defending what he knows he cannot really defend on principle, on the ground that he refuses to "gang up" with the Americans against Russia?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Certainly not What I am trying to do is to remind those hon. Members who are so critical of the results of the policy that 12 months ago they would, I think, certainly have endorsed it and demanded that the Government should endorse it as endeavouring to secure the maximum unity of purpose and policy in Germany at that time. In the conditions of that time the Government certainly could not have done anything else.

The matter of food is one illustration of the kind of reason which made it necessary that we should, in any case, pursue a policy of agreement with our Allies. This country alone is not in a position to feed the whole of the British zone of Germany. That is clearly understood. I have certainly never suggested, and I am surprised to hear it suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport and others, that the House has to judge, be- tween myself and Mr. Victor Gollancz who is telling the truth about the food situation in Germany. I do not think there is any difference between us. I have never at any time suggested here or elsewhere that 1,550 calories is anything like enough to maintain the standard of living which we require in Germany, or to maintain even a healthy resistance to disease.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Eastern

May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman? I am sorry, but it was I who suggested that the ration of 1,550 calories was not on the whole maintained. The point of Mr. Gollancz's statement in the Press was that it is not the actual figure.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

The evidence which he, or those who quote him, give is that we cannot judge the calories by statistics and must judge them by results. I am giving the House the only reliable measure which can be provided as to what is being distributed. The calculations upon which my statements are based are those of the actual amount of food that has been distributed, in relation to the actual amount represented by 1,550 calories per person, in every case. In many districts, there have been cases, at one time or another, of absence of bread for two or three days, or may be more. There have been cases where there have been no potatoes for a period. There may have been a breakdown in supplies. I have already pointed out that we have managed to maintain the 1,550 calory standard so far as possible until the end of this year by plugging in sugar beet, potatoes and other such foods, where there is no cereal. The simple fact is that we have maintained the ration substantially up to the present time, apart from local breakdowns—a phrase which I have used so often that I am surprised that my hon. Friends have forgotten the emphasis which I have placed upon it.

Then my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport said I had used words that seemed to suggest that the outcry about the food position was partly due to the democratising policy that we have followed in Germany. That is quite true. There is no question at all that it has been a contributory factor in bringing this situation to public attention. I think it is good that it is so. It is good that German representatives should be able to speak, and speak loudly, in the public Press, that they should be aware of the facts and that they should make them known. It is a very good thing, but it in no way detracts from the comments I have made about the seriousness of the food situation. I have simply stated the facts. I could quote other things that have been said by German representatives but I do not want to take up time by doing so.

The criticism has been made that the 1,550 calories is in some way or another a mistake, because it has not been fully met, and because it has been met this month only up to about 90 per cent. Surely the House would not suggest that, because we might have reached a situation where the 1,550 calories ration could not be met 100 per cent. a month or six or eight weeks ago, we should have decided that we were not going to risk increasing the food standard to 1,550 calories. We decided on that not, as has been suggested, because of the German harvest but because it was crystal clear that on a 1,000 calories ration it was impossible for the Germans to face the winter. Irrespective of what stocks we might have or what situation might arise, we had to declare that 1,550 calories was the minimum we intended to endeavour to distribute. Since then, circumstances have arisen that have made the thing a little more difficult than it was. There has been an American shipping strike, and there have been delays in getting the food forward. These factors have upset our calculations somewhat but we are still maintaining, after 14th October, considerably more rations for the Germans than existed before that date and before the declaration was made.

Similarly, in regard to the question of commodity goods, of housing, of boots, shoes and clothing, I do not want to suggest for a moment that the situation is anything short of desperate. On the contrary, the more this country knows about the situation the better. I have been in those bunkers in Hamburg, and I have been in the cellars at Dusseldorf, and I know how bad the situation is, but we are not just simply sitting back and doing nothing about it,' as has been suggested. In the matter of food we took a considerable risk in raising the ration from 1,000 to 1,550 calories, and we intend as soon as possible to raise it still further, but there is no immediate prospect. It is no good declaring we will raise it to 2,000 calories now, because it is physically impossible, whatever we could get from any source within the next two or three weeks. But we are determined that as soon a possible it shall be done, because 'otherwise the picture in the British zone and the rest of Germany in six months' time will be no better than at the present time.

In the matter of children's shoes, I know the position exactly. There are 750,000 children in Schleswig-Holstein without any shoes this winter. That is one region alone. One of the reasons why, in spite of the amount of footwear we have pushed into the British zone, there is still a shortage of children's shoes in the country is that there are no factories in the British zone equipped to produce children's shoes. We are endeavouring to swap some adult shoes with the Americans. I believe they have factories suitably equipped. The situation is too urgent to start reequipping factories in our own zone. As to herring, we have now got tens of thousands of tons of herring going into Germany.

In the matter of housing repairs, we have to face a situation where 5,500,000 houses have been cut down by more than 50 per cent. as a result of the bombing, but by May of this year we had repaired 500,000 and by September 900,000, which is pretty good going considering the shortage of materials and manpower, and the general situation in Germany. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has made a good suggestion, that we should ask the Service Departments whether they can give us some of their stores. We have done that and we have been able to extract over 1,000,000 pairs of boots, considerable quantities of blankets, 1,000,000 battle dresses and 500,000 great coats, and these are going into Germany at the present time. We have also extracted 5,000 Nissen huts to assist housing in the mining and other areas. These are some of the things that are being done. The resources, however, are very restricted but, within the limitations at our disposal, we are certainly doing everything that is physically possible.

I would like to say a word or two now about the Hamburg project. This, again, is a question which has been largely exhausted in the Debates we have had, and in Questions and answers. Again, I put this to the House: if we are in Germany, we must have accommodation for our fellows over there. By general consent, I think, some months ago it was decided that there was no alternative but to allow wives and families to go out as well. If we had not accepted that position, we would certainly not have been able to retain the ablest of our staff. We would certainly have found it extremely difficult to recruit anyone else, and if it is suggested that we should bring the staffs or their families home, I ask the House to ponder seriously what the result of that would be. But, if you are to have a staff in Germany, whether or not you are to have their families with them, you must have accommodation, and the only accommodation in Germany, unfortunately—and I regret it as much as anybody else—is the accommodation owned or used by Germans. However, in the matter of requisitioning and derequisitioning, again I suggest that we should keep this in proportion.

The Hamburg project is a matter of concentration and economy, economy in accommodation as well as in many other things, and if the staffs are to be concentrated and reduced, if the Services are to be made efficient, then they must be concentrated and not spread over a dozen and one small villages, which means taking up additional accommodation by multiplication of messes and clubs and other things. But do not let us forget that whilst requisitioning in the last three months some 4,000 houses, we have derequisitioned not less than 6,000, and that process is proceeding. So far as the Hamburg project is concerned, I am told that we should stop it and switch the building labour. I ask, Where? Hamburg wants rebuilding as well as anywhere else, and, as far as the Ruhr is concerned, that is already getting an overwhelming priority both in the matter of labour and materials for building purposes, because we realise quite clearly that the supply of miners' houses must be and will remain for a considerable time one of the first priorities in the zone. There is no question of building a garden city in Hamburg. What is being built is a block of flats in the centre of the town, and it is being built in accordance with the plan for the rebuilding of Hamburg in agreement with the German authorities. However, I do not want to develop that beyond this point, because I should like to say a word on one or two of the other matters that have been raised.

First, in regard to reparations I would like to clear up one or two misconceptions. The hon. Member for Ipswich suggested that the Potsdam Agreement says that all plants for reparations have to be declared by February, 1946. What was stated in the Potsdam Agreement was that agreement should be reached as to the level of industry to be left in Germany for peacetime purposes by that date. It was not, in fact, reached by that date for the precise reason that the British representatives of the British Government held out against the level that was suggested at that time and sought to obtain a much better agreement. As a result, eventually we did reach a better agreement but an agreement which was dependent, as I have stated on many occasions in the House, upon certain considerations which have not been carried out. I have been asked to say plainly if our Allies have carried out the Potsdam Agreement, and I have said often enough at this Box that they have not in all cases. Certain of our Allies have not carried out certain of the understandings and the conditions laid down in regard to the level of industry which were, primarily, that there should be recognition of German economic unity, the recognition of central administration, and so on. That has not been done. It has not been achieved, and I accept all the criticism and all the blame that can be attached for the efforts that have been made—the patient efforts, the costly efforts if you like, that have been made by our representatives to achieve that purpose. It has not yet been achieved and, therefore, the question of the level of industry in so far as it affects the British and American zones is now a matter of very current politics and very current concern.

However, the reparations policy has in no way reduced the attainable capacity in the British zone for the past 12 months, nor is it likely to for some considerable time. We have too, in accordance with our undertakings, solemnly agreed at the time to declare certain plants available, and certain of these plants are in the process of dismantling. I believe the total is seven. I am asked by my hon. Friends to suggest that this policy should be stopped, yet, in the same breath, they ask why we do not do what the Russians do, and take what we want. The answer is that the Russians are in control of their zone, and under the Potsdam Agreement it was decided that they should take what reparations they required from their own zone, while in the Western zone it was to be a matter for sorting out.

Photo of Mr Roland Jennings Mr Roland Jennings , Sheffield, Hallam

Does the hon. Gentleman consider that there is a fair sorting out?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

That was the agreement reached at Potsdam, and I do not propose to start arguing the merits of demerits of Potsdam in the three or four minutes left to me. That was the agreement, and there are a large number of Allies in the West, who are at present discussing at the Conference at Brussels the allocation of what factories may be made available to them as a result of the level of industry now existing, or in an amended level of industry which may be agreed.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

What about Mathes and Weber?

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

Are we to understand that although the Minister has just said that the Potsdam Agreement has not been carried out, we are continuing to send reparations in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

No, what I stated was that, in accordance with our undertakings at the time, we proceeded to dismantle, or to allow the dismantling, of seven plants which were, in the first place, generally declared available and allocated for dismantling in the early stages. Beyond that, we are not proceeding with any dismantling at the present time. The matter will have to be reviewed, because it is not our purpose, obviously, to destroy the economic capacity of the British zone, or the British-American zone, if these zones have to be made self-supporting. Someone interjected a question about Mathes and Weber. That is one of the plants which, under the original level of industry, was declared as surplus to German peace- time capacity. It would, normally, ultimately become available for reparations. But, at the present time Mathes and Weber is not being dismantled. It is in operation at the present moment. That applies to the other plants to which I have made reference before.

I should like to have spent a little more time on some of the constructive work which has been done in regard to the productive side of industry, and the constructive side in the social and political life of the country. When it is suggested that I have been too optimistic in regard to these developments, I would remind the House of the picture that faced us this time last year. It was infinitely more chaotic then than it is now. So far as the food situation is concerned, at the moment it is not better, but in many other matters the situation at that time was completely unmanageable. Now I go so far as to say that if the food situation can be assured, and if there is an increase in coal production, which is largely dependent on food, and if we can get agreement, Which I anticipate we shall get with our American Allies at least, and, possibly with our other Allies, we are in a position today very different of that of 12 months ago, a position in which we can make rapid progress in regard to reconstruction of the British zone. We are not out of our food difficulties, the housing problem is still a redoubtable problem, and our agreement with our Allies is not yet completed. But, within these limits, and recognising the difficulties, however serious and however massive the problem, it is one we cannot shift or fail in, despite any criticism or difficulties we may have to overcome. Progress has been made in many directions. Given the food—which must come first or all else fails—then we can go ahead.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-nine minutes past Ten o'Clock.