Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding£39,016,710, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1947, for the salaries and expenses of the Control Office for Germany and Austria and the Control Commissions for Germany and Austria, including certain supplies and services essential to the Occupation, contributions to the Joint Export-Import Agency for the Combined Zones of Germany, commodity advances for Germany, and financial assistance to Austria.
The Committee will recall that when the original Estimate for the Control Office was presented last February, it was presented with the reservation that it was necessarily something in the nature of a guess. There were at that time a number of unknown factors. It was impossible, for instance, to forecast with any reasonable degree of accuracy the world food supply situation on which the achievement of the import programme for the zone would largely depend and upon which, in turn, the level of economic activity in the zone, upon which exports depended, would also depend. We were entitled to assume that the agreed objective of the Potsdam Agreement—economic unity for Germany —would be achieved at some reasonably early stage. At that time, too, it was reasonable to assume that a treaty with Austria would have been signed before 31st March, 1947. The fact that none of these expectations has been realised has necessarily affected our estimates, and in fact, we have fallen short on exports to the extent of £20 million, against which is to be set a saving on imports of £4 million.
In the original Estimate, the cost of supplies and services essential to the occupation of Germany was put at £120 million, and export recoveries were assumed at £50 million, which left a deficit of £70 million. To this, of course, was added the cost of salaries for the Control Office and the Control Commission in Germany totalling about £10 million which made the total estimated deficit for the year £80 million. A new factor has now come in—the economic fusion of the British and American zones, which took effect on 1st January. It will be appreciated that, as our original Estimates were calculated for the full year up to 31st March, 1947, the intervention of the fusion agreement as from 1st January, 1947, introduces a measure of complication in attempting to compare the two Estimates. Whereas the original Estimate provided only for our own zone, the Supplementary Estimate now makes provision for the United Kingdom share of imports for the combined zones as from 1st January. therefore, it is not easy to make a straightforward comparison. If hon. Members will refer to the Supplementary Estimate and to the original Estimate, they will find supplies and services essential to the occupation of Germany provided for under Subhead E. In view of the fusion arrangements, however, the provision for the last quarter has been transferred necessarily to new subheads. The proportion up to 31st December, covering the British zone requirements, is shown under Subhead E. The new contribution, the United Kingdom contribution to the joint import-export agency under the fusion agreement, is now shown under Subhead G.
I was asked where the figure was, and I was trying to give information. The upshot of the adjustment is, i fact, a saving of some £4 million in imports which I have already mentioned.
It is a Rule that in Committee of Supply savings may not be discussed. Hon. Members may discuss the provision or approval of the amount estimated, but they may not discuss any question of a saving.
It I may explain why. I made that reference, Major Milner, it is because I am trying to explain the balance on the Supplementary Estimate and it is not possible to do so unless I explain how it is made up. This saving on imports is a matter in which we find very little satisfaction—in fact, none—because it is largely due—
It was due to the world food situation, and the general world grain shortage, which prevented us from buying the grain required for our programme. The resultant foot: shortage in Germany was largely responsible for the low level of coal production and the general check on industrial rehabilitation, and that, in turn, meant that industry was prevented from producing goods for export and for internal consumption. The saving of £4 million on imports is, therefore, more than offset by the consequent failure of exports. I mention that because the drop in exports was largely due to that inability to obtain the food upon which production was dependent. The export collections as shown in the Supplementary Estimate at £30 million are £20 million down on the original Estimate—and that is the first of the three main factors on which the Supplementary Estimate is based.
Against this deficit of £20 million on exports, there are, however, to be taken into account arrears of payments for exports made before 31st December, 1946, which are estimated at £8 million, and which we will collect during 1947. The delay, of course, is due to the inevitable time-lag in the presentation of accounts and collection of the Bills.
With all due respect, Major Milner, the Supplementary Estimate is due to the fact that there has been a short fall of £20 million in exports, and if I am not permitted to refer to the fall in exports, it is difficult to justify the Supplementary Estimate.
I accept your Ruling, Major Milner. I was simply pointing out that, while there is a fall in exports of £20 million, there is also the fact that some £11,500,000 has not yet been collected, and will be collected later.
The second main factor on which the Estimate is based is the United Kingdom contribution to the Working Capital Fund set up under the terms of the Fusion Agreement, and the amount is £22,620,000 as shown in Subhead H of the Supplementary Estimate. The manner in which it is made up is shown in paragraph 6 (D) 1, 3 and 4 of the Fusion Agreement which was circulated in the form of a White Paper. The Fusion Agreement. I think, has the support of all parties. Its purpose is to make the combined British and American zones of Germany self-supporting in three years and that entails an initial investment of working capital.
The third factor in the Supplementary Estimates is the provision of £4,500,000 for financial assistance to Austria. This is made under a decision announced in the House of Commons by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on 18th December. The Minister then explained that it was the desire of His Majesty's Government that Austria should be able to stand on her own feet as early as possible. Austria, however, has no foreign exchange, and the U.N.R.R.A. programme of relief supplies came to an end on 31st December, 1946. His Majesty's Government are placing at Austria's disposal the sum of £8,500,000 in the year 1947 for the purchase of essential relief and rehabilitation supplies. A programme for the expenditure of this money has been drawn up by the Austrians in consultation with the Control Authorities in Vienna and Departments here. Some £4,500,000 will be spent under this programme before the end of this financial year. Hence it appears in the Supplementary Estimates Incidentally, it is understood that the American Government intend to make a generous contribution to Austria on similar lines.
If I may summarise the reasons for the Supplementary Estimate, therefore, the position is as follows. Neglecting some small balancing amounts, there is a fall in exports of some £20 million: there is a contribution of some £18,500,000 to the working capital fund under the fusion agreement for the American-United Kingdom Joint Export-Import Agency; and assistance to Austria of £4,500,000, making a total of £43,000,000. There is to be deducted from that a saving on essential supplies and services to which I have referred of about £4,000,000, making the net increase a round figure of £39,000,000, on which the Estimate is based.
It is clear, I think, that the only way we can reduce and ultimately eliminate the financial burden of Germany on this country is to build up the German export trade. To do this we need two things—working capital, and increased coal production. The former, as I have already explained, is being achieved as a result of the fusion agreement; the latter I hope will be achieved as a result of the greater inducements which, largely a result of the fusion agreement itself, we now are able to offer to the miners. They have already achieved a steady and satisfactory increase in the daily output of coal from 183,000 in tons in October to 226,500 tons in February. These are the average daily figures of production.
I am as fully conscious as any other hon. Member of the Committee of the seriousness of the drain on our resources represented by the necessity for carrying out our responsibilities in Germany, but I do feel that with the Fusion Agreement we are now at the beginning of a new chapter—a chapter of further economic achievement. We have still to overcome the tremendous difficulties arising from the exceptionally hard winter conditions, but with this proviso I think I am entitled to say that the conditions are now reasonably favourable for the establishment of a proper level of economic activity in Germany in the future.
A large part of this Supplementary Estimate is, therefore, needed to start the wheels of German industry turning, to provide for the reconstruction of plant and to supply raw materials which will produce the exports that will be required to pay for imports, the cost of which would otherwise fall upon the British Exchequer. With the Fusion Agreement we can look forward with some assurance to the supplies of food, coal and working capital which have hitherto been lacking. I think, too, we can see the end of the pouring of vast sums of money into Germany without any hope of return. I, therefore, ask the Committee for this Supplementary Estimate with a feeling of confidence that we shall see a real return for the expenditure it represents. I think it should be regarded as largely in the nature of an investment to end, as soon as possible, our financial commitments in Germany.
Before my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) speaks, I should like to ask a question in view of the narrowness of the Debate which must follow on your Ruling, Major Milner. I was wondering if we could take the Supplementary Estimate as read, and then have a broader Debate on the Motion. "That this House do now adjourn."
I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by.—1,000,000.
I move this Amendment for a variety of reasons, but some of them I am afraid, under your earlier Ruling, Major Milner, will be out of Order which puts me in some difficulty. The first point which I wish to make on this Vote is in reference to the money which is being voted for the rehabilitation of Germany and for the purposes of exports and imports. I wish to call the attention of the Committee in this connection to the whole policy, or lack of policy and the mystery surrounding the question of reparations. It seems absurd to provide money to create further possibilities for exports, and at the same time to conduct a policy which makes it impossible to produce consumer goods to export, in order to provide the exchange for goods, much of which must be imported. I raised this matter with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on previous occasions and he failed to give me a reply, although I pointed out to him that it was unnecessary for the British Government to continue to operate the Clauses of the Potsdam Agreement in regard to reparations, in view of the fact that the Americans, had already declared that they were not doing so. It was, I think, on Wednesday of this week that he advised me that it was perfectly true that under the tripartite agreement we had discontinued the dismantling of capital plant used for the production of consumer goods. I pointed out to him that unfortunately that was not known by the Germans. I wish to impress very strongly on my hon. Friend that it is really quite absurd to have a policy of that kind or a so-called policy and yet not let the wretched people who are chiefly concerned know what it is. I urge that he should make it perfectly plain to them that this is the policy of His Majesty's Government. I believe if that were done. much of this Vote would become unnecessary.
I do not want to spend too much time debating many of the points which the Chancellor of the Duchy has raised. But there is the question of supplies, a vital matter in the rehabilitation of Germany today, and in getting the industrial machine working and on it I wish to make some comment. The Chancellor told us what was the money required for the purchase of food and what were our commitments under this Vote. I call the attention of the Committee to the fact that statements that have been made in this House are altogether misleading. On the whole the promised ration has not been maintained at 1,550 calories in wide areas of the zone despite the Chancellor's assurances. We have been told time and again that the ration is issued up to 80 per cent., and the general impression created is that all is well and that there is nothing very much to worry about, whereas 80 per cent. of 1,550 means the ration issued is really only 1,240 calories. If it were at 1,550, I submit that there would not be the necessity for some of this extra money, but in fact the evidence is all to the contrary. It is quite absurd for the Chancellor to tell us that all is well when Dr. Wegener, the German Secretary of State, on 16th February, gave official figures for the ration period which had then just ended which showed that the rations issued in the principal towns of the Ruhr varied between 1,240 and 970 calories over the whole month, but that during particular weeks the figures were lower. From 27th January to 3rd February, for instance, the totals at Dusseldorf and Wuppertal were only 990 and 950 respectively, and in the previous week at Cologne the figure was only 746. I know that all round the Hamburg area the rations in the last four months have not been issued except for one short period of three weeks. Yet we are asked to support this Vote on the statements made in the House—and presumably emanating from Norfolk House since they could not come from anywhere else and certainly not from the people in the zone—when in fact the money which has already been voted, is not having the effect which the Chancellor says it is in furnishing the declared ration.
I do not suggest that the Chancellor is intentionally misleading, but I suggest that it is about time his sources of information were improved so that we may become aware of the facts. I quote again. this time from a letter sent to me by Mr. Auerbach, vice-president of the Ministry of Labour in the British zone. Writing of the state of things in January of this year, he said:
I do not know whether you realise the food position here. There is a myth about the happy small towns in Germany. Lemgo is such a town. The normal consumer has his 1,550 paper calories a day. The following deductions have to be made.
And the deductions amount to just over 400 calories, which brings them down to 1100, so that whilst we are being told that the 1,550 level is being maintained—on which supposition we are asked to vote more money—in fact nothing of the sort is the case and the Chancellor will not, furthermore, achieve his object by this Vote. I do not wish to develop that point further—
Certainly. The date is 22nd January this year. I come now to the most important point of my remarks, and I should like to develop it although you. Major Milner, may or may not think that I am within the Rules of Order. I am concerned with that part of the Estimate under items A1 and A2 dealing with the salaries of the Control Office and the salaries and allowances of the Control Commission in Germany which are explained as being required partly owing to the Commission having taken over the control of prisoners of war from the War Office, and partly owing to additional obligations imposed on the Commission in Germany. I do not want to discuss prisoners of war except to say that this situation would be entirely removed if we took the right course and sent them back to their own country. That is what we ought to do and I myself am convinced that since the Control Commission were recognised as the legal government in Germany for the purpose of the Nuremberg trials, they should also be recognised for the purpose of repatriating prisoners of war. But as I have a Question down to the Attorney-General next week on this matter I will leave it at that. It is a disgrace that we keep the prisoners here so long after the end of hostilities.
With regard to displaced persons, part of this money, as the Chancellor has said, arises from the fact that U.N.R.R.A. came to an end on 31st December, 1946, and will hand oved the control and administration of displaced persons as from 30th June of this year. My complaint is that we are, by our recent utterances, going entirely against all the promises we made to displaced persons. Let me just remind the Committee of the history of displaced persons. They did not become displaced on their own initiative. Some of them were turned out or fled from their own countries after being betrayed by one or other of the Allies or, in some cases, by all of them. Some were forcibly transplanted by the Germans for slave labour. Many of them—millions in fact—died in concentration camps, and we owe a debt to those to whom we made the promise, after the hour of liberation came, that they, should not be forcibly repatriated nor be left under the Germans. We promised that we would do all we could to resettle them, and I submit that had we pursued that policy with vigour and enterprise then the problem of an increased Vote would not have arisen. During a Debate a fortnight ago I gave the figures, and I will not go into them again now, but there are only 285,000 of these folk in the west of Germany. That is all—men, women and children—and it does seem to me to be fantastic that we should not have been able to absorb them into our—
Then the right hon. Gentleman knows more about it than I do, and I have no doubt that if he comes to speak he will inform the Committee. Roughly speaking, there are 300,000 in all. In this country we have been crying out for labour and it is clear from statistics that have been given that if we are to bring our exports up to 140 per cent. above the level of 1938 in volume—which means 280 per cent. in value—our export trade alone requires 500,000 additional able-bodied workers. The most we could get from these displaced persons would be something in the nature of 60,000 or 70,000 men and some thousands of women workers. So I say that if the Government had pursued with vigour the intention they promised to these displaced persons to resettle them they could quite easily have opened their doors and let them in, with the exception possibly of a few undesirables.
The worst feature of the situation is that these promises have been grossly violated and that if we had fulfilled them part of this additional Vote would not be necessary. We said that we would not place them under the Germans. I am of the opinion that it is very unfortunate that when the Chancellor's announcement of last Wednesday week was made, it was in reply to a written Question and not as a statement to the House. In it be announced a complete change-round in our policy. First of all we were to reduce the level on which these displaced persons are fed to the level of the German people. Hitherto their basic calorie rate has been of the order of 1,865 units. The Germans' supposed ration is 1,550 calories but, as we know who have been close to the subject, in a vast part of Germany something less, or about two-thirds of the calorie ration, has been issued. These people—who are not in displaced persons' camps of their own volition but simply because they were, in the main, picked up, transported and planted down by Hitler—are now to be thrown on the German economy, thrown, in fact, on the mercy of the German people, whom most of them loathe and detest. I know that the Chancellor says that their livelihood is to be safeguarded by all the usual safeguards in Germany, but the answer to that is that those safeguards amount to precisely nothing. There is no possible means of safeguarding them if we throw them on to the German economy. Those of us who study this problem know that of the three alternatives, forcing them back to their own countries is unthinkable. The second alternative, also a bad one, is to dump them into Germany where they will become the tag end of an already ruined population.
I do not mind that they should work, and indeed a great many of them do, but they should not be forced to work for Germans, as is proposed now. They ought to work for the Control Commission and should not be placed under the Germans. Placing them under the Germans is producing precisely what Hitler planned, and I think it is absolute villainy. We say, in fact, "Be a slave or go home"; we are in fact imposing such economic restrictions and persecutions as will force them to work under conditions against which they revolt or go back to a country whose political control at the moment they dislike and fear. This is hardly tactful at a time when we are trying to obtain the help and service of them in this country.
The one which we promised, resettlement outside Germany, perhaps in one of the countries of our Empire. Take the three Western powers, France, the United States and ourselves. We have between us a huge population of something like 245,000,000 white people, yet we find it impossible to absorb these 280,000 who are in our zone. There is a comparatively small handful of about the same order in the other zones. It is ridiculous that this plan could not be carried out. My hon. Friend and I have put down this Amendment mainly to protest against the present situation. I have not been able to develop my case quite as I might have done if you, Major Milner, had not given a Ruling the effect of which is to narrow the Debate. I hope the Committee will see fit to accept the Amendment. The Minister's announcement of a change of policy was the most cynical statement there has ever been put out for the treatment of persecuted people.
I would first of all apologise to the Minister for not being here when he moved this Supplementary Estimate. I came in when my hon. Friend was moving his Amendment just now. He and I, as the Committee are well aware, do not always see eye to eye on some questions. We certainly do not always see eye to eye on the question of the displaced persons. On the other hand, it is fair to say that both of us always approach this matter on grounds of broad humanity and justice. There is no difficulty whatever in applying standards of that kind to the Amendment now before the Committee.
I would like, first, to make a strong protest against the way in which a fundamental change of policy was sought to be slipped through the House. I am, using the plainest possible language. I do not believe that experienced Ministers, when they adopt a procedure, do it without knowing what kind of procedure they are adopting or what its inevitable consequences are likely to be. In this case we are dealing with what is obviously a fundamental change of policy in a matter of first-rate political importance. Whatever one's view about it may be from one side of the Committee or the other, no-one can say that the announcement contained in the OFFICIAL REPORT of our proceedings a few days ago, among the written answers to Questions, does not involve a fundamental change in a matter of first-rate political importance.
How was that change communicated to the House? In the first place, somebody arranged with a Parliamentary Private Secretary to put down a Question for oral answer. I think that that fact is no longer disputed, if ever it was. Arranging for Questions to be put down is a matter about which one makes no complaint. It is a perfectly normal way for the Minister who seeks an opportunity of making to the House an announcement which he thinks he ought to make. The next thing that happened was that the hon. Member in whose name the Question had been put down was not here to ask it. I make no complaint about that. I was not here myself on that day, and that is a matter which can happen at any time to anyone. The inevitable result, however, of his not being here was that no statement was made to the House at all and that the answer became a Written Answer. It appeared in that part of HANSARD which comes at the very end, among the announcements of small, detailed specific matters, about which hon. Members put down Questions for written answer when they think those matters do not justify taking up the attention of the House during Question time.
It may be said that that was not the Minister's fault. It may be said that the Minister, having arranged to have a Question asked, cannot ensure that the Member shall be there to ask it and that the Minister was therefore not responsible for the reply becoming written instead of oral. That answer will not do. That defence is not available to the Minister in this case. If one looks at the column in the end of the HANSARD in question, one finds that the Minister never intended to make a statement in the House. Let me tell the Committee what the Minister said in answer to the Question. It is better that I should use his exact words. The Question was:
Mr. Crawley asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a further statement concerning the future of displaced persons in the British zones of Germany and Austria.
Note "the future." It was not to be concerning their upkeep, maintenance and present conditions of living. This was
a Question about their future. What did the Minister say in reply? He said:
Yes, Sir. I propose to circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Meanwhile my hon. Friend may like to know that His Majesty's Government have decided that the ordinary machinery for direction to work will be applied to displaced persons in Germany in order that they may become, so far as possible, self-supporting. A similar policy is already in force in Austria."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1947; Vol. 433, c. 172.]
That was the first statement that was made about the future of the displaced persons. Then there was a column and a half containing a statement of the actual policy to which my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has referred already. It is perfectly plain that the Minister never intended, except in that casual way, to say anything in the House and that he never succeeded in saying anything in the House at all.
I am not making a criticism of the Minister personally. It is a little difficult to draw the line, I suggest, between what a Minister does personally and what he does in the conduct of his Office. I am criticising what this Minister was doing in the conduct of his Office. I submit to you, with all respect, that that is perfectly in Order, on a Vote concerning the administration of his Office.
The Minister is responsible to this Committee for his administration of the Control Commission in Germany and Austria. This announcement on 19th February concerned a change in that policy, and I am saying that the proper administration of his Office was to announce such a change of policy first in the House, and in a way which is in accordance with the usages of the House, and not to hide it in a hole and corner, secretive way hoping that no one would ever see it.
On that point of Order, Major Milner, may I draw your attention to Vote A.2 on page 31? That refers to the additional Vote being required for assumption of additional functions by the Commission. Surely my hon. Friend would be entitled to argue that the Committee is being asked to vote this extra money before it is being apprised, as it should be, by a formal announcement from that Box of the change of policy which involved at least a part of this extra Vote?
The point might be worth pursuing, Major Milner, but I do not propose to pursue it. Much the more important point is the actual policy contained in this statement. About the other point, I say no more than this—and I hope you may think I am entitled to say it—that it has always been recognised that if the House or the Committee is called upon to discuss the policy and administration of an Office, then the House or the Committee ought to be placed in possession of the facts at the earliest moment.
That places hon. Members, if they wish to do it—I do not—in an extremely difficult position. They have somehow or other to divorce in their minds the things done in Germany—
The hon. Member is now, I understand it, disputing my Ruling and explaining how difficult it is to abide by it. That may be so, but I have to administer the Rules of the House irrespective of party or individual, and I must ask the hon. Member to pass quite away from that question.
Before my hon. Friend resumes his speech, may I ask your guidance, Major Milner? My hon. Friend would be quite entitled to make reference to the answer given last week so far as it affects policy and involves extra expenditure upon this Vote?
I want to talk about the policy and I do not propose to pursue this matter any further. The policy seems to me, in respect at any rate of many of the persons it affects, an absolutely incomprehensible policy to come from any Government, and particularly from this one. Who are these people? I shall speak only of some 15,000 of them who are Jews. Only 15,000 of them are still to be found in the British zone, most of them living in camps which I still prefer to call the Belsen camp_ although the word is one of such ill rumour that, the Government like to call it Höhne, which is another village in the neighbourhood. I do not approve of the change of name. No one pretends that these people are living in the same place where the Germans kept them, or in the same condition. It would be a stupid, exaggerated thing to say but, all the same, that name has become an historic name and the people are sufficiently closely associated with it in place as well as in time and in conditions of living, that I do not think we should encourage the Government to camouflage the issue by changing the name or identity of the spot.
How did they get there? For the most part, certainly not all of them, they are those who survived after three or four or five—in some cases six or seven—years of Hitler's regime in Germany. Some of them were born in Germany and had their relatives, their homes and their families in Germany. Some of them were the descendants of families settled in Germany for a thousand years or more. Others were not. Others were people who had been imported from Poland or Rumania or Bulgaria or Hungary—brought in as part of an extermination campaign, part of a campaign to annihilate a whole people, an attempt that almost succeeded and that did, in fact, succeed except for a small remnant. I am aware that there are some other persons, some who have moved across Europe since. I say nothing to the detriment of those. but for the purposes of my present argument I leave them out and ask the Committee to direct its attention in the first place to those people, some 12,000 or 13,000, who have not become, as it were, voluntary displaced persons but who were the casual survivors of a campaign of annihilation that cost some 6 million lives.
I have said before-I apologise for repeating it, but I think it is relevant—that when one of the camps concerned was relieved by American troops, General Eisenhower was shocked at what he found and thought that the world would not believe it, that the world would regard it as propaganda, would regard it as over-painted, over-drawn, exaggerated, sensationalised, over-dramatised, and in order to avoid any such danger, he suggested to Mr. Speaker that a deputation of hon. Members of the House of Commons should go and look, and should come back and report. I was a member of the delegation that went, and we came back and we made our report.
These people are still living in camps with no ascertained future of any kind. They are people who had no choice but to resist Hitler and Fascism and Nazism as hard as they could. I am not saying that they would have wished to exercise any other choice had they had the opportunity, but they had no choice but to do so. They are people who were fighting Hitler and Hitler's Germany during years when many hon. Members of the House of Commons and the British Government, and perhaps the majority of the British people, were not prepared to resist at all. They were the earliest of Hitler's opponents, the earliest of Hitler's victims. They are people now without any kind of roots in Germany. Even those whose origins were in Germany no longer have any roots in Germany, and still less have those who were brought in from countries outside. They have no possibility of normal life there, no possibility of becoming integrated, as it were, with the communal life, even of a new Germany. They have no desire to; there is no possibility of its happening; and I should have supposed that no Member of this Committee would think it right to compel them to form such roots again, or to become integrated into—
There does not seem to be much relevance in going into past history on the present Supplementary Estimate. I must ask the hon. Member to confine himself to the Estimate which is before the Committee, and to refrain from historical reminiscence.
On a point of Order. It is important that we should Get this matter clear at the start, so that others who take part in the Debate shall know the position. As I understand it, this money which is now being asked for has, in part, been expended and, in part, will be expended in dealing with the position of displaced persons in Germany. Therefore, in my submission, it must be relevant to see what are our responsibilities to these displaced persons, how they have arisen and how they are being carried out. I do not understand how one can see what the responsibilities are, unless one sees historically how they have arisen, and I do not see how we can discuss how this money is expended, unless we see what the responsibilities are. In my humble submission, these three things must be linked together: we must look at the history of the displaced persons, at the policy under which this Estimate comes and the policy under which it is to be expended.
Most of the questions raised by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) have been thrashed out previously. The opportunity arose particularly on the main Estimate. This is a Supplementary Estimate and I must keep the discussion to the matters set out in the Supplementary Estimate. All the matters to which the hon. Member latterly referred, such as the question of who was first and foremost in the fight against Hitler, have been discussed ad infinitum. certainly on the main Estimates, and we cannot go into them on the Supplementary Estimate. If I permit the hon. Member to continue on those subjects, I shall have to permit other hon. Members to do the same. The Debate should therefore be directed to the precise Supplementary Estimate, or this discussion might resolve itself into a Debate about the Continent of Europe during the last 20 or 30 years.
I submit to you, Major Milner, that far from there being misconception on my part, the misconception is, with respect, yours. We are dealing with a Supplementary Estimate which deals with the administration of changed policies, policies which have been changed
since the main Estimates were agreed to. I call your attention to page 30 which reads:
1. Supplementary Estimate of the amount required in the year ending 31st March, 1947,…
for certain purposes including:
certain supplies and services essential to the Occupation.
One of the supplies and services essential to the Occupation will be the administration of the changed policy within the period of this Supplementary Estimate announced on 19th February, 1947. If that is not within this Supplementary Estimate, it is extremely difficult to understand what is. I suggest that not a single word I have said has been out of Order, and, with your leave, I will continue my speech.
I must direct the hon. Member's attention to the Supplementary Estimate with which we are dealing. They are those set out under the subheads A.1, A.2, A.3, etc., on page 30. The hon. Member appeared to read, as I understood it, from the general heading at the top of the page, which does not at all indicate the scope of the Supplementary Estimate. It only indicates the scope of the main Estimate.
In page 30 appears the Subhead "Incidental expenses." I think that those incidental expenses will probably cover the administration of what was contained in the announcement made on Wednesday, 19th February, notably this new policy for displaced persons.
On a point of Order. I understand that the hon. Member is basing his case on Subhead D—"Incidental expenses." But this paper says that "Incidental expenses" are in fact:
Additional provision required for Information and Education Services for Germany.
I might be happy to listen to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) for quite a long time, but it is a question of what other Members would like, or should be permitted to say. I must restrict hon. Members to the precise terms of the Supplementary Estimate. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law) quite properly points out, Subhead D relates to information and education services for Germany. I hope that the hon. Member will confine himself to the precise terms of the Supplementary Estimate. We are taking up a great deal of time on this point of Order which would be quite unnecessary if hon Members would accept my guidance.
May I again submit my previous suggestion? I foresaw this development. The Government promised a fairly full Debate on Germany and Austria, and the Minister is prepared to have a Debate on that subject. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) is not, I understand, going to press his Amendment. I wonder if my suggestion of having a Debate on the Adjournment would not be the best way of dealing with the matter. Why cannot that be done?
Further to the point raised by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), I would not say that this is necessarily a very good Amendment, but it does provide an opportunity on the discussion of this Estimate, for a criticism of it and for coming to a decision on its value. The only difficulty arises from the fact that some hon. Members seem incapable of keeping in Order. I think it would be a great pity if we abandoned the discussion on the Amendment.
We are not doing so. It is open to hon. Members, if they desire an Adjournment Debate, to seek an opportunity when the Adjournment might be moved. At present, the duty of this Committee is to examine, and, if it so decides, to approve these Estimates. That is the purpose of the Committee, and the purpose to which I have directed attention. Perhaps the hon. Member will continue with his speech.
It is difficult for me to continue without understanding what is in Order or is not. I should have thought that the new policy must obviously be within some Supplementary Estimate, if it costs anything at all, and that as it is under the control of the Minister it must involve some expense in this Supplementary Estimate. I look to see which of these items are the ones which would bear the expense of this new policy.
I suggest that subhead A.2 must surely have something to do with it. It is:
Salaries, allowances, etc., of Control Commission for Germany:
Additional provision required to meet more rapid replacement than was expected of military staff by civilians and the assumption of additional functions by the Commission.
I am not seeking by a side wind to introduce something that is not in Order. We are trying to find the appropriate way in which the Minister's new policy, on an important aspect of his work in Germany and Austria, can be discussed. Since the policy is new, it must produce an alteration of the financial arrangements.
We cannot have a lengthy discussion on a point of Order. A point of Order, if it is a good one, can usually be put in a very few words. The hon. Member's point is not a good one. The item which he has quoted is no justification for going into the details of past history. That was the point that I was originally endeavouring to make to the hon. Member. If he will be good enough to confine himself to this item and not to go into past history, then I think we might make progress.
Would it be in Order to ask the Committee to agree to these Estimates formally so that the Adjournment could then be moved, in order to discuss the question of displaced persons in Germany?
Perhaps I may be able to assist. The item under which displaced persons are covered is item G. That is the "United Kingdom share of relieve imports for Germany." The total amount under the new agreement is £25,250,000, but against that we deduct the cost of the Occupation, £33,281,000, so that there is a saving because of the fusion.
I am much obliged. I think that what the Minister has said perhaps deals with the point. I apologise for having wasted so much time over points of Order. It is my fault, I am sure. I am afraid I have only just appreciated, by your last sentence, Major Milner, what I was doing wrong. I understand I was not wrong in discussing the new policy about displaced persons but I was wrong in discussing past history. Surely there must be some—
I cannot allow the hon. Member to discuss, or dispute, my Ruling. He must proceed forthwith with his speech. The time of the Committee cannot be taken up with these interminable questions of Order. I hope the hon. Member will proceed forthwith with his speech.
It is not reasonably possible for any man to discuss a changed policy about displaced persons without some reference to the policy which is being adopted and to the circumstances of those persons. How can I argue that it is wrong—
Certainly I do. I was saying that it was absolutely wrong for these people now to be dispersed, to be compelled, under direction and under penalty, to work under the control of Germans in circumstances which could only have the effect of seeking to integrate these persons into the German community. I was explaining why that would be a monstrous thing. It is precisely what the Minister is seeking to do. The announcement of this policy was made in answer to a Question dealing with the future of these persons. I want him to say, supposing this Committee were to approve of these proposals, even in a temporary sense, how long is this to go on? Is there any term, or limit, to it? Are they to remain working under direction in this way as a kind of slave force in a labour camp, in an alien country which has been the graveyard of all their friends and relatives? Is it contemplated that there shall be no term, no period, to this? Is there to be no hope of living in a normal community on a normal basis with freedom? Is it contemplated that a British Socialist Government shall go on for ever, directing this sad remnant of a holocaust of this kind to work under the hand and direction of their murderers, for the rest of their life?
Without for one second excusing the policy of the Government, will the hon. Gentleman admit that displaced persons have an appeal against working for a German employer? Provision for that was mentioned in the reply given to me by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in answer to a Question, which I put this week.
I fully agree, but it is obvious that such an appeal, certainly a successful appeal, is only contemplated in an exceptional individual case. Obviously, the general policy is to make these people part of the general German labour force for German reconstruction objectives. The fact that there is the possibility of making an individual appeal in a specific case reinforces or emphasises and underlines the general rule, and it is the general rule to which I am taking exception. I do not want to be too long. If hon. Members will forgive me, I will point out that this is a matter in which some of us are interested.
I want to contrast this policy with the policy which we are applying to other people under somewhat similar circumstances. I do it not to raise a general Debate on the other matter, because I am in favour of that other policy. I do not want to debate it even if it were in Order. I merely want to point the contrast. I am referring to the Polish Resettlement Corps which we are setting up. Here, too, are people who cannot go back to their own countries of origin, or who think they cannot, and we think, wisely, that we cannot compel them to go. Here, too, are people who were allies with us either in a formal sense, or informally, and who shared the heat and burden of a common conflict against Nazism and Fascism in Germany. We are treating them with reasonable generosity—no more than that. We are providing them with a Corps in which their own law will apply. We are providing pensions and offering them work here.
I am not dealing with them. What I am doing, and if it is out of Order I will stop, is that I am drawing a parallel between displaced persons in Germany and displaced persons in England. I say that they are really of the same kind and I am contrasting the treatment of them, in order to make my point that the direction proposed for displaced persons in Germany is mistaken and we ought not to approve that treatment. We ought to apply other direction to them.
I had no intention of going into detail. I will leave it there. I would like to see a contrary or alternative treatment applied to displaced persons in Germany. If we cannot deal with their ultimate future now, I would like to see those persons assembled in a force, under their own officers, and applying their own law. I would like to see opportunities of employment made available to them in that way, in connection with the reconstruction, not of Germany, but of our own country, or any other part of the world where a labour force is required. I would even urge that they might be allowed to go where they want to go, where there is a great manpower shortage, and where they might take part, side by side with those who have done it before, in winning to cultivation land which has been desert and swamp for two thousand years, and giving it back to civilisation once again. Surely, in all the places where there is need for reconstruction, there is need for manpower of this kind?
We ought not to compel these people against their will to work in Germany, under German direction, for the reconstruction of Germany, when there are so many other places in the world which require their labour, and where that labour would be more willingly and usefully rendered. I beg my hon. Friend to reconsider this whole matter, to reconsider it with an eye to the reminiscences, and to review it from the point of view of who these people are, what is likely to become of thorn and what ought to become of them, remembering what experiences they have been through, and remembering that their great need is to get away from the scenes of these crimes, and out of the graveyard, and to go to places where they can live and work, and build up a new civilisation in which they will be free citizens on terms of equality with the rest of the world.
I hope that I shall be able to confine myself to the subject in hand, but I would like to say of the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who was, I think, speaking mostly out of Order, but with great sincerity and feeling about a subject on which he feels very deeply, that I am in, sympathy with most of his remarks, although, strictly speaking, I do not think that they arise on this Estimate.
The most disturbing items about the Estimate are those labelled G, H, and J. The position is that, under those items, we are being asked to vote a total of some £53 million extra in the way of reparations to Germany. The man in the street is disturbed that, apart from the military expenditure, the total sum to be spent in Germany is now £199 million a year. I submit to the Committee that this excessive sum required by the Supplementary Estimate is due to two fundamental mistakes in policy of administration of Germany under the Control of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The first mistake was that he did not pay sufficient attention to the assets which were in Germany and could have been exported in the year under review; he had a large number of chemical products and silk which were not exported from Germany, but were allowed to rot in their cases. In the case of pharmaceutics, there were large amounts of goods which, had they been imported promptly, would have obviated the necessity for this Estimate, but, instead of doing that, there was a dispute with the Board of Trade as to whether these chemical products should be labelled as products of Germany, products of England, or products of anywhere else. That delayed their import, and they were spoiled as the result. There are other instances, but I do not wish to waste the time of the Committee in referring to them. The exports and imports which have been necessitated in Germany are due to the second mistake in policy. The industrialisation of Germany has not proceeded with efficiency and despatch. The main factor, as in this country, is that of coal, and, in this sphere, the Chancellor of the Duchy has found himself as incompetent in Germany has have other people in this country.
In a smaller sphere, his mistakes only appear smaller because they are less involved. But the mistake made and the reason for this increased Estimate are that coal was exported at a time when it would have been in the interest of the countries to whom it was sent if it had stayed in Germany. The coal was being exported at a price of some £2 a ton. Had it been allowed to stay in Germany and be used for the building trade, it would have produced about £18 worth of exports. In the radio industry, it would have produced about £300 worth per ton, but, instead, it was allowed to go abroad. There is a surplus manufacturing capacity in the British zone which is not being used because of the shortage of coal. It would have been possible for the hon. Gentleman to have been cruel in order to be kind, by halving the exports of coal from the British zone, and keeping that coal in Germany. In the case of caustic soda the factories are ready to start in Germany, but because there is no coal, they cannot get going.
I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that, in order to avoid an Estimate like this next year, he should put his house in order, and carry out the recommendations of his own Control Commission in the Supplementary Estimates which we were given last summer. Their recommendations were that there should be a bigger allocation of coal in Germany, which would produce a greater volume of exports, and would obviate the necessity for this increased Vote. In conclusion, I would like to ask to what extent this extra Vote will mean a loss in dollars. Another very disturbing chapter in the bill for Germany is that, besides sending out material and money from this country, we are causing a drain on our dollars which we so badly need. I would like a categorical answer as to how much of this extra Estimate involves a loss in dollars and other hard currencies. We hear a lot about the Germans starving and being in a bad state. That is true, but they are in that state because we are in the difficulty that, if we put more goods and services into Germany, we shall get nothing in return. On the other hand, if the administration had been more efficiently conducted, we could have got German industry going, and although there would have been a small deficit this year, we could have looked forward to the time when that would have been wiped out. I venture to prophesy that we shall go on paying reparations to Germany for many years to come, if the Chancellor of the Duchy pursues his present policy.
I rise to support this Amendment and to say with what pleasure I observe that two hon. Members opposite, apparently, feel ten thousand times as deeply upon this subject, because, otherwise, they would never have reduced the Vote by £1 million instead of by £100, as I and many hon. Members on this side of the Committee proposed to do.
I would like, for a moment, to remind the Committee exactly what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said when he introduced his Budget on 9th April, 1946. He said:
Moreover, we are spending this year no less than £80 million under the Estimate for the Control Office. This is a large figure. It represents, in part, the cost of the British civilian administration in the Western zone of Germany—the cost not of the military, but of the civil administration.
He went on to say:
So far, we are getting disappointingly little in return, and that is a matter which may have to be probed in the House one of these clays.''— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1946; Vol. 421, C. 1818.]
It is, therefore, reasonable that hon. Members on all sides of the Committee are probing this Supplementary Estimate which is before us. Another £9 million is required on top of the original Estimate
of £80 million. We should not forget that if we are to translate those figures into terms which perhaps are more readily and quickly understood, it means, in terms of Income Tax, a figure in the region of 1s. 6d. on the Income Tax. That is a very considerable figure. It is true that the Chancellor of the Duchy made reference to the probability of this money coming back. He made that reference in rather a confident tone, and I was surprised, because on 18th March, 1946, this is what the Chancellor said with regard to these amounts which are required by the Control Commission of Germany:
…to what extent we shall be able to recover the costs of the occupation from German sources will depend on a large number of factors which I can only describe as imponderable.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March. 1946; Vol. 420, c. 1649.]
I think most hon. Members will readily agree with that word. It is "imponderable," and extremely unlikely that we shall see the return of all this money.
In passing, I would like to state how much I agree with the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes)—after all, it is rather pleasant to find oneself in agreement with him—on the question of displaced persons. I would also like to take this opportunity of expressing my agreement with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) in that we appreciate with what sincerity the hon. Member for Nelson and Caine (Mr. S. Silverman) spoke with regard to those individuals whose suffering is nearly beyond human belief. I would like to know whether a great part of the Supplementary Estimate which is before us is due to the policy which we are following in Germany. It is with that policy that I primarily have my quarrel. I shall try to keep in Order and, therefore, not develop too much the reasons for my quarrel, but we must realise that these extra figures are based on the policy of de-Nazification—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh‡"] Part of it must be based on the policy of de-Nazification. If the Chancellor of the Duchy disputes that fact, I ask him to say whether the policy of de-Nazification costs money or not. I will readily give way to him. Part of it must be due to the policy of de-Nazification.
Surely, the policy of de-Nazification was allowed for in the original Estimates? Therefore, it is not correct to say that part of the Supplementary Estimate is accounted for by the policy of de-Nazification.
I suggest that the answer is that one can hardly divorce what is in the original Estimate from the Supplementary Estimate, any more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer can apparently divorce our dollar commitments from the sum total of the Loan and current earnings.
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I must correct him there. It is necessary for this Committee to divorce the main Estimates covering the whole policy of the Department from those items which we are now discussing.
I bow to your Ruling, Major Milner, and I will go on to another matter. Part of this Supplementary Estimate dealing with the control of Germany is, no doubt, spent on the policy of socialisation. It may well be that the policy of socialisation enforced on Germany is not necessarily the right one.
I thought I heard the hon. Gentleman say that the policy of socialisation was being forced on Germany by His Majesty's Government. Will not the hon. Gentleman recognise that all the German parties in Germany have approved of socialisation of industry in the British zone?
I will proceed with Item A.1 concerning an increase of …233,000 for salaries of the Control Office. There have been many criticisms with regard to the administration of the Control Office in London. I am not criticising the men on the ground in Germany. They are doing fine work. There are certain respects in which the work is not too good, but, at the same time, taken over all, the work there is extremely good. It is with the policy in Germany which is directed from the Control Office in London that I have my quarrel. I do not feel that that administration is being carried out with the greatest efficiency. I do not feel that it is being carried out without extravagance, and I wish to impress that point upon the Chancellor of the Duchy. He opened this Debate in a spirit of confidence, but he also said that certain assumptions upon which he based his figures in the original Estimate had not proved correct. I charge the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as, again and again, I have charged the Government, with lack of foresight, and it is because of that lack of foresight that I shall support the Amendment.
A short time ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reply to a question which I put to him, said that one of the main purposes of zonal fusion was to save the British taxpayer money. Consequently, every Member of this Committee will feel a great deal of anxiety about items G, H and I which involve such a considerable sum of money. Clearly, if the fused zones in Germany are to be a constant drain on our resources, we may well believe that this Supplementary Estimate, does not contain a final figure, but merely contains an indication of further enormous sums which the British taxpayer will have to contribute to Germany. In particular, I would mention item I, which refers to commodity advances for Germany. There is a token provision of £10 which represents X in the equation between British exports and imports to and from Germany. That figure represents an imponderable—an imponderable which, nevertheless, may ultimately be the very gravest burden upon this country. It is quite clear that if we are to have a successful export-import agency it must be an export-import agency which will, in fact, relieve this country, and not in the long run add to its difficulties and burdens. The figure of X can only be justified if it returns to Britain as X plus.
It does seem to me that the policy which we are trying to follow, of boosting exports from the fused zones, an artificial economic entity, may in the long run be detrimental to this country, unless their nature, volume and direction are carefully controlled. Earlier in the Debate, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that the only way to relieve the burden on this country is to build up a German export trade. For my own part, I would not dissent from that. But the question is, to what heights should that export trade be built up, and under what conditions? I believe that it may be possible to build up a German export trade from the fused Anglo-American zones, which will be directly harmful to the British export trade. We know that according to the Control Commission, the Joint Export-Import Agency proposes, by 1949, to build up exports from the fused zones to the sum of approximately £300 million. The greater part of those exports will be directed into hard currency areas, and certainly into areas where they will be competitive with British goods. As we all know, we in Britain are trying to find new markets and to retain old ones. Every British industrialist who has been abroad —and recently several industrialists from my own constituency have been abroad examining markets—reports that the sellers' market is rapidly coming to an end, and that very soon we shall find ourselves in a position in which we shall have to compete with other countries on the basis of quality, price, quantity and time of delivery.
We have to face a danger today in which, under British and American patronage, a great export industry will he built up in the Anglo-American zone directed precisely towards those markets which we want to defend or capture. I said before that I am not opposed to the creation of a flourishing German export trade; but I do submit that it must be created under conditions in which it will not be directly competitive with the export industries of Great Britain, but will rather be supplementary and complementary. I believe—and I will not stress this point now, because it is not directly relevant to these particular Estimates—that the correct economic solution to Germany is to have an export-import agency which will not be limited to the fused Anglo-American zones, but which will be an export-import agency for the whole of Germany and in which all the Allies will participate. It is necessary, in order that the export industries of the Ruhr and Western Germany may find their proper and natural markets in the South, the South-East and the East as well as in the West.
The fundamental question which I should like to put to the Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster is this. Who are responsible today for determining what industries shall be developed in Western Germany, and what exports shall be stimulated from Western Germany? Is it an Anglo-American committee? Have the Americans a deciding voice in the matter? It is obvious that the interests of the Americans will not necessarily be identical with those of Great Britain. Whereas we are concerned now with finding markets in the hard currency areas, the Americans may be well content that, in order to achieve the target figure of £300 million, a very considerable proportion of exports from Western Germany and the fused zones should, in fact, be directed into the hard currency areas. There is the danger. For that reason I ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, if he wants the fused zonal arrangement to work economically, to consider very carefully the appointment of men who will have under constant observation the nature and the direction of exports from that zone. Our economists in Germany should be constantly vigilant that German exports do not conflict with British exports. After all, we have a joint economic committee seeking to avoid a clash of interest with France. Why not with Germany too? I believe that if that is done it should be possible, not only to make the exports of Western Germany complementary to our own, but also complementary to the exports which France is anxious to develop. In that way, we can really get an economic integration of Western Europe which will benefit Germany, which will benefit ourselves, and which will also benefit our ally France.
Before I deal with the item on which I wish to speak more particularly, I should first like to associate myself with the observations which have been made with regard to displaced persons, and to say that I support wholeheartedly what the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has said in regard to them. The sooner we recognise that we are failing in our undertakings towards them, and that it is time we implemented our promises, the better. Reference was made to the displaced persons and their camps. From my observation, when visiting some of those camps, I can certainly endorse what has been said. As the question of the displaced persons' camps has been mentioned, may I also mention other camps where the circumstances and character were entirely different, but which will, I think, call for consideration. I refer to the state of affairs in the civil internment camps in Germany. If there is a modicum of truth in what I have heard, the conditions in those camps are a blot on our fair name.
The items to which I shall refer particularly are these. First, there is Subhead A.2 "Salaries, Allowances, etc., of Control Commission for Germany." I suggest to the Committee that the figures set out under that item reveal a frightful waste of public money and manpower during the last 12 months. During that time we have had a very large number of people in the British zone in Germany, most of them with no real policy to administer, and many of them with neither the calibre nor, in many cases, the character to do a job of work equal to that which is required to be done. Having made that sweeping statement, perhaps it is only right and proper that I should give some indication of that on which I base it.
During the last 10 months I have spent slightly over two months in the British zone. While I certainly had no opportunities of contact with what might be termed the "high-ups" in the British zone, during those two months I took advantage of every possible opportunity to discuss the situation with men serving in the Control Commission, with British officers and other ranks in Germany, and with Germans in the British zone. There was a remarkable unanimity. I found a striking contrast and a worsening of the position between June of last year and this month. The efforts of our Control Commission seemed to have produced an air of futility and ineffectiveness throughout the zone. When one spoke to Control Commission personnel themselves, many expressed their shame that they were out there with nothing at all to do; others, while admitting they had a job of work to do, confessed that their competence and experience were altogether unsuited for their task. Quite a number said: "Well, however bad we are, at least we are good enough for the Germans."
To my mind a most unhappy feature was the relationship between the Control Commission personnel and the Army. There was a complete lack of good feeling, of personal good feeling and co-operation. Rightly or wrongly, the Army regarded the C.C.G. with the utmost contempt. That appears, from what I learn from my contacts, to be equally true of members of the Allied Forces in the British zone. All of them, without exception, were critical—and severely critical—of the operation of our Commission in the British zone. Whether those observations are justified or not is another matter, but that that feeling exists is certainly tragic, and that we should have there a Control Commission which the Germans can see is held in contempt by the Army and is held in contempt by the Allied Forces there, is certainly not a happy state of affairs.
The Germans have a strange view of our position in Germany and of our difficulties in the British zone. I saw about a fortnight ago a cartoon in a German newspaper which has a large circulation in the British zone. It represented Germany as a thin, emancipated cow, and the British Government were represented by John Bull who was milking that cow. That gives some idea of what the German thinks of our activities there. The Minister talked about starting the wheels of industry working. I do very respectfully suggest that the type of people we have there now, particularly on the industrial side, are not the type likely to get the wheels of German industry working effectively again.
As I understand it, large numbers of the Control Commission personnel have been engaged, but they have never, in fact, been employed. How large those numbers are I should like to know. Everywhere I went I was told about people who had been given employment in this country and were waiting to be sent for, and had not been sent for; and that, in the meantime, there was difficulty in concealing the fact that large numbers who were there had no real employment. I am not suggesting that those numbers are large, but the fact that they exist calls, I think, for explanation. I should like the Minister to tell us how many people have been engaged, who have not, in fact, been employed—at least, nominally employed—and why those circumstances have arisen.
I notice, with regard to Subhead A 2, that the increase is due to the replacement of military staff by civilians. I am told —I asked for information about this—that in many instances in which military personnel have been transferred from the Army to the Control Commission they are doing the identical job they were doing in the Army, and that the only difference is that in many cases they are receiving 50 per cent. to 100 per cent. higher emoluments for the same job of work. I am not suggesting that, generally speaking, the staffs of the Control Commission are overpaid in Germany. Far from it. I was given details of many instances of people doing a job of work properly, who were people of the calibre who should do that job of work, and who, in those circumstances, were grossly underpaid. That was one explanation given to me of the dealings by members of the Control Commission in the black market and in shady transactions. It was one way in which to augment incomes that. were otherwise insufficient. When I asked why nothing was done about this, the answer I invariably got was that everybody was in it. I am not suggesting for one moment that it is true, but it does suggest that there is an atmosphere, an internal atmosphere within the Commission itself, which is far from satisfactory.
I do suggest that, if we are going to tackle this problem—and I do not wish to go into any great detail over it—the sooner we realise the necessity of changing our ideas of our function in Germany, the better; the sooner we realise that, in so so far as industrial recovery is concerned, the best person to carry out that duty is the German himself under proper supervision, the better. I do not think that the type of people we have got, on the industrial side, in particular, are the right people to do it. I' fully agree that the industrial recovery in Germany will have to be very carefully watched from the point of view of international safety, but the actual economic aspects of the industrial reorganisation will be better done by German industrialists themselves. As part of that process I should like to refer to—and this is my last observation—to the question of de-Nazification. I would suggest that that process is going on far too slowly.
We are taking far too long to decide whom we are going to employ and not employ. We are holding many people in civil internment camps, some on adequate evidence, some on no evidence at all. We are failing to make up our minds who should be employed in the recovery of Germany and who should not. In the meantime, Germany remains a poverty-stricken area, in which the British taxpayer is providing the parish relief.
I think that the tone of the earlier remarks of the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) was rather unfortunate. Like him, I, too, have recently been in the occupied zone of Germany. It is a year since I was there, and I was able to see something of the difference of improvement in the atmosphere. There are many people there in Germany who are doing a first-rate job of work under difficult conditions. It does seem a pity to me that we should have only the sort of remarks which the hon. Member for Cardigan made earlier, and the sort of articles that appeared in one of the Sunday newspapers recently. They are the sort of observations which discourages people who are doing a difficult job under difficult conditions out there. It is time somebody got up and gave them a little encouragement and praise, because many of them deserve it. On the other hand, I agree with the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Cardigan. I feel that we should try to do rather less controlling as far as Germany is concerned. We should lay down the general principles, and leave the Germans to administer those principles. The time for controlling a country is not for a year or two after a war but, probably, 10 years afterwards. Let the Germans themselves get more of the discredit and blame for the difficulties that are bound to arise in the first two or three years after the war; and then, when they are beginning to get a little aggressive again, let us go in fresh and set them along the right path. if that is feasible.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has left the Chamber, because I should like to say something about his remarks. I think that the hon. Member for Ipswich has many virtues, but among those virtues is not to be counted the virtue of understatement. The violence of his language was, I thought, out of place. I had occasion, with other Members of the House, to visit certain camps in Germany and Austria, and although it would be improper for me to make a report to this House before consulting my colleagues I would like to give just two impressions. The first was this: that the people in those camps have contrived to maintain a sense of human dignity and human worth which does credit to humanity. Second, the people administering those camps have captured some of the spirit which the displaced persons themselves have shown. Besides the U.N.R.R.A. personnel many of the people who lay down policy, as well as those responsible for administering it in the camps, are soldiers who are posted to their different jobs in the ordinary course of their duty. They have gradually acquired a sympathy for these people which is impressive, and which, I am sure, would not allow them to do the sort of things which my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich has said are being done in regard to displaced persons. In Austria, we already have a policy, not originated by this Government, of compulsory employment for certain categories of people. My feeling is that those in employment are the happiest and fittest people. If my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich would come to the House, and give one instance where a person had been sent to do work which was distasteful to him or her, I should be happy to listen to him.
The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) was that he objected not so much to the work, as to the fact that displaced persons, under our jurisdiction, should be made to work for the Germans. I object to that as well.
The fact remains that many displaced persons would be only too happy to work for the Germans. In any case, most of them are employed on work which is helping the British administration, and not necessarily the German economy. Moreover, it is temporary, and there are safeguards, one of which is the decency and good will of the British personnel administering the policy.
The point which my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) was stressing was that displaced persons should not be forced, against their will, to work for the Germans.
The indignation of my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich was because of what he thought would follow if they were to be forced. I do not think that dangers will arise. Having said that, I will leave the matter for the time being.
I would now like to refer to item D, which deals with incidental expenses related, we are told, to the supply of information and educational services for Germany. There is a great deal of work being started in Germany now, which aims at providing information and the possibilities of mental rehabilitation for the Germans. Some of the people who are doing this work there are filled with real enthusiasm for their task. I would like to see more money spent on that work. And I would also like to see a corresponding saving of money on punitive measures. I think it is time that we decided that certain people—perhaps those under a certain income level—. should henceforward not be persecuted in our policy of de-Nazification. A line should be drawn now, so far as the minor people are concerned, and the money spent on that side devoted to additional information and educational services.
I had an opportunity, two days ago, of seeing one of the new centres opened in Gelsenkirchen. 300 people go each day and pay a small fee for the opportunity of reading papers and magazines, including British. I hope that some means will be found to supply additional newspapers for these services. I would like to see the British Press supply, free, 50 to 100 copies, per day, of their newspapers for our zone, so that they could be distributed to the German people, who are so anxious and hungry to read news of the outside world. I make an appeal to them to do this for these new Centres. Further, there appears to be a demand for copies of HANSARD. Could we not supply copies of HANSARD? I think that money spent on that positive kind of work of this kind would be good economy. It would yield good results in the future, and more permanent results. Money spent on punitive measures will yield bad results, in so far as it creates bitterness in the future. I put that suggestion forward to my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy, because I am sure that many German people in our zone would be grateful to him if he could see his way to adopt it.
I do not wish to detain the Committee long, as there are many others who want to speak, but I would like to refer to some items in the Estimate which have not so far been mentioned, and to say one or two things about the remarks of previous speakers. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) has just said many things with which I agree; in particular he referred to the frightful prolongation of our policy of de-Nazification. I have spoken about this many times, because I think that the scale on which it is being done is ridiculous. We might just as well have had a policy of de-Cromwellisation when Charles II returned.
I would like to take up a point made by the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) on the subject of competition with us by German exports. I fully agree that we are going through a difficult time, and that the sellers' market will soon come to an end. But we ought to think carefully before believing that we have any moral right to impose poverty on Germany in the interests of our own export trade.
It was not my intention at all to suggest that it should be our aim to impose poverty on Germany, but rather that the direction of German exports should be otherwise than into those markets with which we are concerned, and that the target of German exports would be better altered so that many of the goods which they are proposing to produce for export would be distributed in Germany itself, in order to raise the standard of living there.
It is, of course, difficult to decree that others should not make something which they want to make, and which they think will aid their prosperity, in order to suit oneself. I think that the ordinary Germans would have great difficulty in agreeing with the hon. Member that their economy could be deflected to suit us without imposing permanent impoverishment on their own country. The hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) was extremely severe on the personnel of the Commission. I would not go anything like as far as he did; bad things have happened, of course, but they have happened as a result of an entirely wrong policy at the top. These people have been asked to do things which were not possible and things which put temptations in their way which were extremely difficult to resist.
May 1 make clear that my observations were directed to the policy which places those people in Germany? I do not suggest that, with the absence of policy and guidance, they can do anything better than they are doing. The fact that they are there at all is quite contrary to our interests.
I am glad the hon. Member has given that interpretation of his remarks. I agree with what he has said, and I have tried to make exactly the same point. I also agree completely with the hon. Member on the subject of arrest-able categories. Surely, it is time we got rid of this business of people languishing in concentration camps for years without trial. The last time I was in Germany I was told, by someone who had something to do with the matter, of the case of a female member of the S.S. who has been languishing in a concentration camp for the past 18 months; she was a corporal in the S.S., and, therefore, was arrested, and her actual employment during the war was selling buns at a station canteen. Because that woman was in an arrestable category, she has been in prison without trial ever since. That sort of thing is intolerable.
I am glad that this Supplementary Estimate is being taken seriously, because the total sum we are spending on the Control Commission is very large. It is £120 million this year, with the 50 per cent. increase under the Supplementary Estimate. I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that this sum, is greater than the total amount spent on the three Fighting Services in 1933, when Hitler got into power. It is as much as was spent then on the three Fighting Services, plus three-quarters of the Home Office Vote. I think this is largely for the reasons that were given by my hon. Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster), the hon. Member for Cardigan and others—the inefficiency of our administration, the wrong policy—and not for the reasons given by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Chancellor of the Duchy attributed it to the fact that the Austrian Treaty had not been concluded and there had not been economic unity in Germany. That is part of the reason but it is not anything like the whole reason. When the Chancellor of the Duchy said that the Supplementary Estimate was necessary for that reason, I think he was showing up the terrible lack of policy of the Government. He said it was a reasonable assumption to suppose that there would be an Austrian Treaty and economic unity last year, whereas anybody who knew anything about what was going on at the end of the war and during the last 18 months would never have believed that it was a reasonable assumption that those things would have happened last year. If the Government's policy is based on assumptions of that sort, one cannot wonder that our country gets into these terrible difficulties.
I would like
On Subhead H "Working Capital of the Joint Import-Export Agency," I would like to ask how far it is true to say that this is working capital. Is it not, in fact, money which we have spent this year in getting the category B imports into the country? How far is it really true that it is working capital? I would like to raise a minor point on Subhead Z. There is an anticipated deficiency owing to sales in Control Commission shops and issues on repayment to an amount, which used to be considerable in the old days, of £177,000. Have the Control Commission shops been selling at a loss, and if so, why should they have done so? The last point I would like to raise is: What amount of cost in hard currencies is falling on this country as a result of the total estimate for the Control Commission? The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave a written answer on this subject to an hon. Member the other day but it was a Delphic one. What is the total amount of hard currency that is being expended this year, through the Control Office Vote, under the Duchy of Lancaster? That is a vital question on which the Committee is entitled to an answer.
There have been a good many unconstructive points of view put by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee in this Debate. There has been an overlooking of the difficulties which my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy has inherited in his handling of the problem, and I want to look back as well as to look forward. Looking back, a debit on account of the sum we are now being called upon to pay was, we should recognise, entered long before the war ended. Part of the bill which we are asked to shoulder, even in this Supplementary Estimate, should be laid at the door of those who approved and enforced, against the advice of others, the mistaken policy of unconditional surrender for Germany. Another part of the bill we are asked to shoulder today was incurred by the ruthless and wicked application of indiscriminate saturation bombing, a policy which ended in the final blasphemy of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki without warning.
I was turning back for a moment in order to point out that the expenditure we are asked to endorse is by reason of past mistakes. I will now turn from that, and address myself to another aspect of the problem. Apart from what I have mentioned, one of the main causes of our present troubles and of the distress of some millions of Germans, for whom, whether we like it or not, we have a direct financial and moral responsibility, is the honouring by this country of the provisions of the mistaken Potsdam Agreement. In some respects, I think it is true to say that there has been a unilateral honouring of that agreement as far as this country is concerned. Because of the two factors I have mentioned—on the one hand, the war policy we pursued, and, on the other hand, the mistakes of Potsdam, the Chancellor of the Duchy has on his plate a host of problems and difficulties which can be finally resolved only at the highest level.
It is not long ago that the Prime Minister said in the House that his mind was not closed to what was the best arrangement for coping with our commitments in Germany. It seems appropriate, therefore, on this occasion to suggest to my hon. Friend that he should stake out a claim for at least a Parliamentary Secretary to assist him. When one considers that each of the Service Departments has three Ministers to deal with its problems it does seem wrong that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster should be left single-handed to cope with the almost insuperable difficulties facing him in the day-to-day administration of both Germany and Austria. Having said that, I want to ask the Chancellor to help himself by insisting on certain beneficial changes which I am convinced would be of real advantage to this country and to Germany. First, I plead with him, if only for psychological reasons, to refrain henceforward from announcing in the British zone a standard of rations—be it in respect of food, coal or clothing—which cannot be fully honoured.
As far as coal is concerned, a public announcement that any tonnage raised above a certain figure would be available for use in Germany by Germans would do an enormous amount, I think, to achieve an increased output. There has, of course, I am glad to say, already been an increased output recently as the result of giving better rations and so on to German miners. It is surely better over food rations in particular, to honour a low nominal quota than to arouse false hope. And it is hope which can be realised both visibly and spiritually, which the Germans need today more than anything else. Then I trust that the Minister will once again look into this vexed question of de-Nazification. I so greatly agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) said under this heading. It is fantastic to engage in the abnormal witch hunting campaign which we have so far been pursuing. It completely overlooks the fact that ordinary Germans, as would ordinary people anywhere else in the world, adopted the line of least resistance when they were told to sign on the dotted line in this, that or the other respect under Hitler. I am not overlooking the fact that it is essential that we should deal firmly and effectively with the leaders of Nazi opinion in Germany. Do not mistake what I am saying on this matter, but undoubtedly de-Nazification as it has so far been carried out will lead to re-Nazification.
In the light of what my hon. Friend has just said, would he not agree that the recent unearthing of a Nazi plot announced in the Press suggests that there has not been enough de-Nazification, let alone too much?
I do not altogether accept the point of view of my hon. Friend because I think that if the facts were known the existence of these particular people who have been rounded up has been well known to the authorities over a long period, that they have been carefully watched and, in other words, that they are not a new discovery. My third point is that Germans themselves should be employed in place of occupation personnel in all jobs such as transport, driving, clerking, and even at higher level, and what we should really aim at is distant and not the fussy control such as we have had up to now. At all costs we must stave off the complete disillusionment about our role in the British zone which is undoubtedly developing, until such time as the benefit of bi-zonal agreement and the arrangement with America can be actually experienced and felt by the Germans themselves. That is perhaps the immediate problem we have to tackle. In regard to this particular arrangement, it is, of course, most encouraging to know that with the full support of all German political parties at present in existence the Government policy to bring the Ruhr industries under public control is to be put into practical operation and effect.
Some of the Foreign Secretary's critics on this side would, I feel, do well to recognise that his endorsement of this policy at least goes some way to disprove the theory which is held in some quarters that this country is all the time in America's pocket. I take the long view that the pursuit of what we think is the right policy, even, I would add, if our Allies are unhelpful, will pay the best dividend. I recognise that anything we can achieve must be to some degree conditioned by the views of others, but expediency is always a false friend. A child visiting Germany today would know that she could not in any circumstances make war for another 20 years even if she wished to do so, whatever type of control or de-control is separately or collectively enforced by the Allies. Whether Germany's martial spirit will then be dead and buried depends to a great extent—in fact almost entirely—on what we do now and in the immediate future. What is needed to ensure the certain and final demise of that martial spirit is the practical and immediate application of the spirit of amnesty, forgiveness, and reconciliation, a spirit which I would hope all true Socialists believe in. It is not a spirit of glossing over wickedness, as is so often falsely alleged. It is rather a spirit of commonsense, and by its adoption any tendency to revenge among the Germans, such as has been evident to some degree in the events of the last fortnight, can, I feel, be quelled better than by any other means.
I think my right hon. Friend has not had in some quarters the full meed of praise which is his due for the extremely difficult task he has tackled in extremely difficult circumstances. I have been one of his critics on many occasions, but I have tried to be a positive and constructive critic. Too many of the speeches—particularly, I think, in the case of the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northwich (Mr. Foster)—have been negative and unhelpful. What we need more than anything else is to address ourselves to those positive steps which will enable us to win the confidence of the Germans and eventually to enable them to take their place again in the family of nations standing on their own feet.
Earlier in this Debate my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) said that it would be a very good investment if we spent less on punitive measures in Germany and more on information and educational services. I agree with him, but when he said that we might supply HANSARD in Germany the question in my mind was whether we could not make an even more substantial contribution to the reduction of punitive services and to the right kind of information and education throughout Germany if we ourselves became a little less bewildered and self-contradictory when we were talking in this House about Germany, or when reports were made in our Press. I think a perfectly simple situation has been unnecessarily complicated, and I would be most grateful to my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy if, in replying to this Debate today, he would clear away some extremely expensive and extremely dangerous misunderstandings.
My hon. Friend's own point of view, as stated in this House, at Press conferences in January and on other occasions, is shining clear and most encouraging both for the British nation and the German nation. Following the statement made by the Foreign Secretary last autumn, it ought to be clear to all the world that the British Government had made up their mind clearly and unequivocally that the industries of the Ruhr were going to be socialised—not only iron and steel, but engineering and chemical works as well It ought to be equally plain that it was impossible in our view to put the industries of the Ruhr under international control, because that was not a practical solution, and anyhow we had made up our minds or. this point that we wanted to give to a broken and bewildered nation two things which were essential, first, a clear economic design, and, second, a new faith with which they could work through to new health, morally and politically, as well as economically.
When the Foreign Secretary told us his mind and when the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told us his mind, it was perfectly clear that we were working towards the socialisation of the Ruhr industry, so that when we had a central Government in Germany we would wish that central Government to be responsible for those nationalised industries If that is so, why should I have been able to collect, earlier today and also yesterday, from the French Press and the British Press statements made by our Ambassador in Paris, Mr. Duff Cooper, by leading Foreign Office officials, and by politicians and other civil servants that that is not the case? I can sympathise with the French Government and with French public opinion if they think we have become furtive and equivocal again. We know what the French plans are, but, surely, when we have made up our minds, we should follow that course. I do not want to take up the time of the Committee at too great a length, though there is much that all of us would like to discuss, but I should like to have an answer to one question today and that is, if we have made up our minds and have agreed as a signal to the German people to appoint German custodians, why is that policy not being carried through?
My hon. and gallant Friend says that the Americans will not let us. Is he quite sure? The Americans have said, quite properly, that we are not entitled to socialise industries for the German people if they do not want it. We have replied, quite properly, that all the evidence before us shows that the Germans do want their industries socialised, but the American point of view as well as the British point of view—and, incidentally, the Russian point of view in the German zone and in the German Press has been in support of nationalisation—can be made perfectly plain by this device of appointing German custodians, which would mean that at the outset we wished to demonstrate that, if by chance there should ever be a. democratic Government elected in Germany and the Germans did not want socialised industries, the matter would still be open. I think that we are really dealing with something quite unsubstantial now. I. think that every serious investigation of German opinion from every angle makes it clear—of course, my hon. Friend may have in mind the opinion of the underground Nazi movement one of whose aims is to prevent the mass socialisation of the Ruhr and German industries —that we have everything to gain both in clarifying the mind of Germany, and in making them clearly understand we have not simply handed over their industries to British Military Command as merely loot to the victor. We should make it clear that it is not our intention that the Ruhr industries should be returned to those who did so well through them under the Nazis.
So I ask the Chancellor of the Duchy if he will please clarify the position and say to Germany, to France, to Russia and to people all over the world who are listening to his answers, that we intend to carry out our policy for the sake of helping forward German development, saving our own honour and reducing our own expenditure. Let us start now. According to statements which have been made, we do not need to wait until the Moscow Conference. Let us get ahead now with the appointment of custodians, so that it will be clearly demonstrated that we are not juggling with words, but that the British Socialist Government have a policy for their German zone as well as for Great Britain that will bring mutual advantage and will help in the fight against Nazism. I believe that that is the most effective way of de-Nazifying Gemrany and of keeping Germany de-Nazified.
I do not think that the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) will expect me to go deeply into her speech. On the other hand, I should like to say that as far as I am concerned both her speech and that of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who moved this Amendment, have been very useful to me. Sometimes I begin to think that there may be good qualities in this Government, and then I only have to listen to two of their back benchers and I find that could not possibly be so. I thank the hon. Lady for her speech and I should like to say that I am wondering a little why anyone would want to be so cruel as to enforce nationalisation on Germany. It seems a brutal method of treating even the Germans, and I would not have suspected it of the hon. Lady.
I should like to come now to some remarks in the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I sympathise with him very sincerely. He had a brief and that brief, as usual, was undoubtedly very clear and very well made up, but it did show to me that it had suffered by the difficulties of the time. I thought that I detected in the relationship between the the brief and the Estimate signs of that ailment from which so many Government Departments are now suffering. It is almost a certainty that normally a Government brief is absolutely in order and one has just to read it and all is well, but it was not like that this morning. I will not go into that any further except to say that here again this is just an illustration of why we have to have these very big Estimates at the present time.
At the end of his speech the Chancellor of the Duchy put forward a reason for the increase in those Estimates, and the reason, excuse or whatever one would like to call it, was one to which we are rather used at the moment—the weather. The weather has been very unkind to most of us, but, at any rate, it seems to serve Government Departments as an excuse for almost anything, even for a Supplementary Estimate of this kind. That is really something which the Government can rely on at the present time, because no one would turn round and be so heartless as to suggest that the weather was persecuting the Government. The Chancellor of the Duchy also said another thing which interested me. He intimated that in this new Supplementary Estimate we were opening up a new chapter.
I believe we shall find those words written down. I have not that skill in Parliamentary procedure which would enable me, upon a Supplementary Estimate, to discuss a new chapter, because that is only a sort of minor addition to the old chapter, which has formerly been written. Therefore, I will leave the Minister to discuss that new chapter more fully with somebody who is more skilful than I am in regards to Parliamentary procedure.
I want to ask one or two questions about the actual Estimates. First, I will take a very small item. I represent a large number of taxpayers who are very hard hit at the present time and have very great difficulty in making ends meet. I see item D for "Incidental expenses." Generally, this has been a modest sum of £31,000, but today it has grown to £176,000, an increase of more than £140,000, or more than four times what the item amounted to previously. One seeks justification for that increase. We are the body who should look after the interests of the taxpayers. I see further
that under D additional provision is required for
Information and Education Services for Germany.
It is that to which I object. I am not at all sure that I approve of the money being spent in that way, when so many of my constituents are unable to continue their education because of military service. I should find myself in a very difficult position in explaining this Estimate to them.
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the spending of this money upon the education of Germany may mean that in the future, as the result of that best of all forms of education, it will not be necessary for his constituents to be conscripted for military service?
That may be a prophecy, and I thank the hon. Lady most sincerely for it and for her attempt to help me. I agree that that is a possibility but I am not at all sure that it will actually be the result. No one can foresee it for certain. It may make the situation worse. I am not disputing the wisdom of her remark, but I am asking for a very clear explanation of this sudden rise in the figures. We are entitled to ask the Minister to explain how it is accounted for and whether the figure is likely to increase in the future. There are people in my constituency who are suffering because they have to help to find this money.
However, that is only one of the smaller items. The next four items, under G, H, I and J, show a colossal total increase of more than £50 million. If we had not to find that money we should be able to take a very large sum off P.A.Y.E. We ought to have some justification for the increase. I ask the Minister for a fuller explanation. Let me take the first item, relating to Austria. We have had from the Minister some kind of explanation. We are finding an additional sum of more than £3 million. His explanation was that it had to be done because of the Austrian exchange and because there was no currency to meet it. I should like some idea before I vote for this Estimate whether this figure is to be permanent, or, on the other hand, how much longer it will go on. We are probably supplying too much money. We should be supplying about £1,250,000, and the rest of it should be supplied by other nations.
The Minister said something about the American percentage. What contribution are we getting out of France and Russia for this purpose? How long are we to go on keeping Austria and, at the same time, subsidising her? It is a very curious position. We won the war, but instead of getting reparations from the defeated countries it seems that those countries have been obtaining reparations from us. It is an extraordinary and most unfortunate position, and very hard upon the taxpayers of this country. It may be necessary to find the money to keep things going and to feed the people, but before we do so we should have a clear explanation from the Government, to reassure us that we are not finding more than our proper proportion compared with the rest of our Allies.
All these items show a tremendous increase. There is our share of relief in Germany, more than £25 million, which appears to me to be a completely new Vote. I shall be obliged to go into the Lobby against the Government, after having heard the speech of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), and because of these colossal increases. I am not an expert in these matters. I have a constituency of very great size which takes up a great deal of my time. I do not pose as an expert in European affairs. I am not like so many hon. Members who represent nothing but silly little rotten boroughs. [HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] Not silly, but small.
I will leave it at that. I represent something like 80,000 electors, each of whom will have to pay towards this sum of money, and I take the line very strongly that I should insist on seeing that their money is well spent. I take very great pleasure in the fact that occasionally I am able to put their point of view in the House of Commons. I am interested to know why, on this item, we suddenly have this enormous new increase of over £25 million. On the next item, namely Subhead H, there is an increase of £22 million, and these two items make a total expenditure of well over £40 million. One is in respect of payment to the Export-Import Agency and for stuff going into Germany, of which there has been a big increase, none of which I object to necessarily, but which needs a good deal of justification at a time when we are suffering from shortages. I am only dealing with two or three points at this stage, because it would be well to get some of the earlier points answered by the Minister.
Having heard a good number, though not all, of the speeches from the other side, I am convinced that it is not our duty to close down everything in Germany but rather to endeavour to rebuild it gradually. For that reason, looking at the hopeless position into which the Government of this country has got, nothing could be more cruel than to impose on the German people some system which is so closely related, as Socialism is, to the German Government which it has replaced. For that reason I hope the hon. Member for Ipswich will press his Amendment to a Division. If he does that, and can get Tellers, so much the better. On the speeches already made from the Government side, I am absolutely bound on this occasion to vote against the Government and I only hope we shall do it in sufficient strength, with the support of hon. Members opposite who have been criticising the Government, on this occasion, at any rate, to defeat the Government.
May I bring the Committee back to a consideration of the Amendment which we are supposed to be discussing? In his somewhat lengthy, but interesting and able, speech the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) made one point perfectly clear. He said he was responsible for this Amendment because he wished to protest against a change in policy. Those were the important words used by him. There was some difference of opinion on whether or not policy had been changed and he was, of course, specifically referring to the policy which we are adopting for displaced persons. Without going into any technical details, if you ask the ordinary intelligent man outside what is our policy for the displaced persons in our zone, he would say—
With great respect, Mr. Beaumont, we are supporting an Amendment to this Estimate precisely because we are dissatisfied with the manner in which this money is being used in the Control Commission of Germany insofar as that Commission is not doing what it ought to do in one of its important functions. It is well known to everyone that we have assumed for these persons a certain definite, not merely moral but also specific, legal obligation. We are supposed to protect them, to house them, to have them under our jurisdiction and so on. The general feeling everywhere is that that is what we are doing with them. I maintain, however, that there has been a decided change in policy. I have before me a document issued by the Control Commission for Germany (British Element), 30th January, 1947 "Zonal Executive Offices. Instruction No. 2. Treatment of Displaced Persons." There are some alarming statements in it. This is a specific instruction to our people in Germany responsible for displaced persons and it says:
A displaced person in gainful employment will receive the same priority for the issue of … clothing, footwear and other essential supplies as a German national. …
That is a most decided change in our policy. We said we would not treat them as German nationals. The shocking callousness of this is that when we say they will get the same clothing and footwear and the rest as the German nationals, it means precisely that they will not get any at all; in fact, the German nationals at this moment are better clothed than are the displaced persons. This document gets even worse as it goes on. It states:
The Manpower Division will be responsible for … Ensuring that a Displaced Person required for employment at such a distance from an Assembly Centre that he cannot continue to live in such Centre is housed within the German economy.…
Then—and this is the vilest thing of all in the document—it says:
It is His Majesty's Government's policy that, at a later date, Displaced Persons will come within the jurisdiction of German Courts.
But already the German police are empowered to deal with displaced persons as German civilians when outside displaced persons camps and assembly centres. That is a flagrant violation of all the undertakings we have given. We promised these people that they would come under our jurisdiction; now we are handing them back to the jurisdiction of the people who were their masters when they were slaves in that country for years. That is absolutely scandalous. Sooner or later—sooner, I hope—we shall adopt a simple policy, a, bold policy for these displaced persons, who do not present a complicated problem at all. After all, there are not too many of them, little more than a quarter of a million all told. There are several things we can do with them theoretically. We can do what I am sorry to say the Chancellor of the Duchy, according to this Instruction, intends to do—have them absorbed into the German economy. But (a) that is impossible because there is no German economy at the moment, and (b) it is against all the moral obligations we have to them because we told them they would not be so absorbed. The next thing we can do is to throw our obligations back on to the other nations and work with them in some collective scheme. That will fail, as U.N.R.R.A. failed in so far as it cared for displaced persons.
The new International Refugee Organisation will probably also fail but, whether it fails or not, we have a personal obligation to these people and our way of dealing with them should be quite simply this: to bring all the displaced persons in the British zone, every man, woman and child, over here now, whether jobs and houses are immediately available for them or not, because the very worst housing accommodation we can give them, the worst camps, the most remote habitations, the worst blitzed areas, would be paradise compared with the horrible conditions in which they are now living. I say, bring them over here now whether jobs are available or not. It is not sufficient to send our emissaries out there, picking and choosing labour, much as slave dealers went out to East Africa to pick and choose there. If we are to bring displaced persons into this country to work, we should bring their families with them. We have no right, legal or moral, to separate a man from his family, to break up the family—having chosen men, having skimmed the cream, to throw the rest back to the wolves.
The problem of housing accommodation is not so serious as some Ministers would ask us to believe, because we are not asking, and these poor wretches are not expecting, the standard of accommodation which we are trying to give to our own people. They would be delighted with many of our camps, with prefabricated houses that had not of the luxuries in them which we intend to instal for our own people. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, who has now almost ceased production of prefabricated houses, knows that there are, in the depots and stocks, enough material to make shells of houses. We have bragged for years that we in this country have a tremendous reputation for tolerance, kindliness and for receiving exiled people into our country. Here we have the most magnificent opportunity we have ever had of making good our boast. If we took this bold simple decision of bringing all the displaced persons from our zone into this country, it would enormously enhance our prestige abroad, it would give a much-needed good example to the other three occupying Powers, it would be welcomed by every decent-minded person in this country, it would help to build up our national economy, and, to the displaced persons themselves, it would be the very breath of Heaven.
I also support the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). One thing impressed me when I was out in Germany just before Christmas. The Committee is aware that displaced persons are to be given precisely the same food standard as German nationals. Everyone knows that the position has been pretty hard for everyone in Germany during the past winter. When I was in Germany, a survey had just been made of all the German postal workers in Hamburg to ascertain whether they lived on their rations, or what portion of the basic ration they received, or whether they got anything from outside. In every case it was admitted frankly that those persons had managed to supplement a little from outside the miserable rations they were permitted. Displaced persons have no such opportunity, and if they are put on the same rations as the Germans they will not get any extra food from the various people in the country districts who, having a little extra, try to help their friends in the towns. I am convinced that displaced persons, many of whom are good friends of this country, many of whom are persons brought up in the democratic tradition, will, if reduced to the German ration, be treated in a way in which it is totally improper for any great Government to treat any persons with whom they have enjoyed a special friendship in the past.
Is it not a fact that when we had the Nazis in the detention camps, we found that it was impossible for them to exist on the German rations, because they could not get extra food, and that we had to give extra rations to the worst Nazis who were detained?
I am much obliged to the hon. Member. That is perfectly true, and it bears out further the point that displaced persons, from the food pain' of view, would be in the position of a Nazi in a camp. I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy will think again about this question.
There are one or two other matters on this Vote to which I would like to make reference, because it is not often one has the opportunity of dealing with Votes of this kind. First, one or two things should be said in regard to Subhead A2, which deals with "Salaries, Allowances, etc., of Control Commission." I am not one of those who take the view that the personnel of the Control Commission in the British zone of Germany have not been doing a good job. The majority of them have been doing very well in difficult circumstances, but at this moment we are engaged in voting an extra amount, and It is necessary we should be satisfied that that extra amount will be spent on the salaries for the purpose of seeing that the best men are kept in the job. I say that because my very short experience, when I was out there, was that some of the very best men whom the Minister had got in that Control were on the point of leaving, simply because they had no real security of tenure. They ought to be given security of tenure on the best Civil Service lines, or we shall quickly find that we are spending money wastefully, because there is nothing which can do more harm than to spend money on a fair-sized Control consisting of second-raters holding first-raters' jobs and salaries.
I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy will bear in mind that there are plenty of people who, if they are not very good, are quite prepared, without security of tenure, to take jobs which mean a good deal of importance and, in fact, outside office hours, rather a good time. Unless we have our best people employed in the Control Commission, British prestige will fall more and more among the German population in the British zone. Everyone will agree that our prestige there is lower than it was a year ago. I am not saying that as a reflection upon any individual, but the spirit of hopelessness, the absence of any improvement in the food position, the absence of any real sense of the wheels of industry beginning to turn, are creating despair in the area. It is from despair more than anything else, that will come the real danger of re-Nazification and the other evils which we fear. I agreed with the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) when he said that he did not regard Germany as a potential military menace for many years. Anyone who has seen the devastation in Germany today knows that that is true, but Germany is lying in a material and spiritual abyss at the present time. Unless we raise her from that abyss, evils may arise which will not be confined to one country alone.
On the question of restarting the wheels of industry, one comes down to the matter to which the Chancellor of the Duchy referred in his opening observations. We all know that in the British zone, coal is the key to any hope of that zone ever becoming a real live economic whole. The Chancellor of the Duchy said that coal production had improved in the course of the last few months largely, as the Committee know, because the heavy worker's ration of 4,000 calories a day is being honoured in full. In the chaos of Germany at present, food is really the only inducement. Though production has increased, there is still too little coal in the British zone to enable the factories of Germany to get going on a proper basis. At present somewhere about 25 per cent. of the factory output of prewar Germany is achieved in our zone. The hon. Gentleman knows, as does everyone who has had experience of administration in the Ruhr, that if we had a big increase in coal production—which would involve a big increase in labour—we could raise factory production from 25 per cent. to somewhere about 6o per cent. If we did that we should be beginning to deal with the question of the miserable degradation of people, who are either unemployed or who, when they earn a little money find there is nothing they can buy with it.
How can we do that so long as 50 per cent. of the coal produced in the British zone is exported? It is all very well to say that the output of the miners has increased by such and such a figure, but we must halve the advantage of that to the British zone because half goes outside. The Government should tackle a further question on which I must not dilate. Until the prisoners of war are brought back, not only from this country but from other countries, we will never have the 80,000 extra men who are needed in the German mines. I have stressed the question of the mines because I know that though it involves a rather wide question of policy steps could be taken which would cause an improvement.
Men are being seconded from British industry to go over to help in the Ruhr area. When they are seconded from industry it means that they can come back and that their position, unlike that of the majority of the people on the Control Commission, is absolutely secure. I hope that seconding will be steadily increased. Where we second men, it means that we are paying money to men whose position at home is absolutely safe and we can choose the best men for the job, a thing which otherwise we are unable to do.
There is one further question in regard to the Ruhr area. I do not know whether the Minister would indicate what the position is at this moment in regard to housing. There were 5,000,000 people in the Ruhr before the war and there are still 5,000,000 there. Out of their 1,250,000 houses, 500,000 were knocked down during the war and another 500,000 was seriously damaged. Until and unless the housing question is tackled, we will be unable to get the wheels of industry turning, and until we get the wheels turning, the British taxpayer will be saddled with the responsibility of paying a lot of money. I am prepared to face the fact that it is right that we should spend money in Germany to get German industry moving again. But where one can very properly criticise the Estimate in a Debate of this character is in every case where it appears—and I have indicated certain instances—that what we are doing in point of fact is not getting the best results, and that the money that is spent is being wasted. Heaven knows, the British taxpayer has no money to waste these days. We want a proper return and I hope that from all sides of the Committee—not only on the question of displaced persons but on all other aspects—we shall give a vote today to show that we want more activity, and, if I am permitted to say so, a Minister who, however strongly he feels in his heart, should look a little less complacent when he refers to the British zone.
Unlike many hon. Gentlemen who have already addressed the Committee, I see no reason to object to the total sum proposed in these Estimates. But I am a little anxious, under Items G and D, that the money which we are presumably to vote should be used to the very best advantage. I am anxious whether in the supply of lifesaving drugs to Germany, we are doing all that we ought, and whether we are making every effort in regard to the education of the very young children there. I will take first the question of drugs and particularly of penicillin. There is no need for me to remind hon. Members of the extraordinary results which have been achieved by the use of this drug. I can think of many people who would in all probability be living today had this drug been invented a little earlier.
There is no shortage of this drug in this country or in the world today. As a result of a Question which I put to the Minister of Supply on 24th February, I learned that there were 252,000 mega units of penicillin produced in this country each month. We know that more could be produced quite easily if it was thought necessary. Some of the smaller plants are out of production because the drug can be produced more cheaply by the larger organisations. How is this drug supplied to Germany? Again, on 12th February I asked the Chancellor a Question about the supply of penicillin to the British sector of Berlin for purposes other than the treatment of venereal disease. I was told that there were 5 mega units per month provided for the whole of the sector from official sources and about 175 were supplied by charity. That is to say 180 mega units are received in that large area of Berlin.
How far would this supply go in the treatment of disease? The average case needs about 5 mega units; some take more, some less. Typhoid fever cases require about 10 mega units in many cases. These 180 mega units would be about sufficient to supply a fairly large hospital for one month. Yet, on the Chancellor's showing, this is all that reaches our sector of Berlin each month for the whole of the population of 500,000 to 1, 000,000, people who are badly housed, and fed and thus peculiarly susceptible to all infectious diseases which so often need penicillin for their treatment. I wonder whether the Chancellor realises how much suffering could be relieved, how many deaths prevented, and how many amputations avoided if a sufficient supply of this useful drug could be made available in Germany. I wonder if he realises how much money could be saved—how much is always saved—by the early treatment of disease by the best methods. There is no reason to suppose that what is happening in the British sector of Berlin is not happening all over Germany. There is clear evidence to show that it is. I hope that I shall be in Order if I read a few words from a letter written to the "Lancet" of 8th February by two R.A.F. Officers, pointing out the shortage of penicillin throughout Germany. It said:
We have just returned from leave in England. We are frankly ashamed to think that, whereas in Britain life saving and limb saving drugs, such as penicillin, may be prescribed for simple sore throats and other trivial ailments they are denied to all Germans save those with acute gonorrhea.
The letter went on:
We wonder if there can be more than a handful of your readers who would not share
our sentiments in the matter had they been timidly approached by eminent German, doctors with a request for some penicillin to save a life or limb which would otherwise perish.
These are hard words, but I believe them to be true, and believe that they apply to the greater part of Germany. Indeed, the figures given to me by the Chancellor on 12th February, as regards Berlin, bear this out.
I should also like to refer, for a few moments, to the question of the education of very young children in Germany. I think we all agree that, if we want to avoid another great war, the only certain way of doing it is by changing the mentality of the German people. I suggest that the only way of doing this successfully is through the education of the children and, indeed, of the very young children. May I say a word about an incident which seems to me to confirm this? During the latter stages of the war, I had under my care a small German boy of nine. He was left behind when the Americans rapidly advanced and was sent over to this country because his leg was injured, and he came under my care in hospital. He was a typical Nazi child, hard and callous, and showed no signs of kindliness or affection. But he was undoubtedly a very brave child. When Berlin was captured, a nurse, who spoke German fluently, said to him, "Hitler is dead," and, for the first time he burst into tears. I mention this incident because it seems to me to show how much Hitler and all that he stood for meant to the children of Germany. I believe he meant more to the German children than their fathers, mothers, homes, or anything else. Therefore, if we are going to prevent another great war, we have got to do all we can to eliminate this mentality and to teach these children the principles of truth and honesty, and conditions of a normal life in a democratic country.
It has been objected that a good many of the teachers in Germany are over 50 years of age. I can see no great objection to that, because those teachers will know something of the Germany which existed before, the rise of Hitlerism. I have only two suggestions to make to the Chancellor in this respect. The first is this. I know how scarce are books, and how impossible it is to supply to all the German children the books we think they need. But, whilst the books of the right sort cannot be supplied to all the children, could they not, at least, be supplied to German teachers? Could not books be supplied so that the German teachers could teach from them, or read from them to the very young children, stories of life in Germany and other countries without militarism and without regimentation? Again, I am not sure that we are using the wireless as we ought for the education of these children. In my view, some of the best broadcasts in this country are those for schools. I find that these are generally well within the scope of my intelligence, but I do not always find the "Itma," and other jokes so easy to understand. Cannot the wireless be used more for the education of these children.
Further, if we are going to educate them, surely we must feed them properly, as well. I cannot help feeling that the rise of Hitlerism in Germany was, to a large extent, due to the fact that, after the 1914–18 war, the children of Germany were starved. We know that the highest centres of the brain, reason, intelligence, kindliness and self-control, are the last to be developed. Therefore, presumably, they must be most affected by want of food in early life. I cannot help feeling that it was the lack of these finer senses which made the German people succumb so easily to Hitler's propaganda.
I know that more than half of the German children are being supplied with free meals in school, and I recall that the Chancellor has told us the calory values of these meals. But what I want to appeal for is that food should not be considered only in calories; much more important is the question of protective foods, vitamins, fats and proteins. These are necessary to all, but especially to young children, during such an important stage of their development. I feel that the future of the world, and whether, sooner or later, we are subject to another great war, such as the one through which we have just passed, depends perhaps more than anything else on the kind of education being provided for the young children of Germany today.
I want to put it to the Government that we could have had a much more intelligent discussion on this Supplementary Estimate if we had had, as we have not had, a clear and comprehensive account of what is really the cost of the British occupation in our zone in Germany, including both civil and military expenditure. I will not say anything today about the cost of our Army which, of course, is in addition to this Estimate, but, as regards civil expenses, there is one great ambiguity in the accounts which have been put before us up to this moment. I tried to get an answer from the Chancellor of the Duchy to a specific question when we last discussed the question of Germany in this House. I am sorry he is not present because, at that time, he was unable or failed to give an answer.
Let me put my difficulty to the Committee. A few weeks ago, we were given to understand by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the cost of the civil control in Germany was £80 million a year. We were then informed of the new fusion arrangement which, for both countries, was to cost £250 million for three years, thus working out at £42,500,000 per year for each of the two partners. At that time, I understood, and I think most hon. Members did also, that we could look forward to a position over the next three years in which the cost to ourselves would be only just over one half what it had been, £42,500,000 instead of £80 million. Now we find to our surprise that the cost this year is not go million but £119 million—5o per cent. higher. We have had some reasons for that from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, but we are left in considerable doubt as to the real meaning of the new Supplementary Estimate in connection with the new fusion agreement. Is it true that the £42,500,000 per annum which falls on us under that agreement is comparable to what we thought was £80 million, but which we now see is £119 million this current year, or is it not the case that the £42,500,000 per annum—our share of the £250 million—is exclusive of the cost of the Control Commission itself? That is the specific question I want to ask, and to which I have hitherto been unable to get a reply. If with these Supplementary Estimates we had as a background the rest of our expenditure in Germany, including the military occupation, and if we knew what is not only the burden upon our Budget, but the drain upon our dollar resources, my conviction is that we should find—
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentle- man, but I understand he is now dealing with the question of the over-all expenditure, whereas, of course, the Committee has before it only the Supplementary Estimates. The question of over-all expenditure is a matter which would properly be discussed on the main Estimate itself.
I was not discussing the main Estimate, but I was saying that we could only properly understand the real burden of this Supplementary Estimate if we had as a background a knowledge of our total expenditure in Germany, including the military occupation. I was saying, incidentally, that if we knew this, my conviction is that we should find, that the cost of our occupation in the British zone represents a very substantial proportion both of our Budget deficit and of 'our deficit in the balance of payments in respect of dollars. I do not make these comments for the purpose of suggesting either that we should abandon our responsibilities in Germany, or that we should attempt to economise at the expense of food standards in Germany. On the contrary, I think the level of the standard of life in Germany and the number of calories in the food ration there are still regrettably low. It is interesting to notice, as being indicative of what may be coming to us soon, that the Press announced this morning a report by Mr. Hoover recommending a considerable increase above the standard for which provision is made in this Supplementary Estimate.
My purpose is to emphasise the point which has been raised this morning, namely, that it is of the utmost possible importance that every removeable impediment to Germany becoming able to bear some of the expenses which are now being borne by us should be removed. We have never had a sufficiently clear account as to what are the impediments resulting from the Treaty or other engagements which prevent Germany from getting into a position whereby she can begin to pay her own way more quickly. I would like to know for example, whether it is the case that, apart from munitions factories, which, of course, have to be destroyed, we are also dismantling or destroying the factories which, though they might be converted for the manufacture of munitions, either have not been so used or if they are, could now be used for peaceful production. I would like to know whether there is anything in the agreed level of the steel production which is in any way impeding recovery. I do not think that should now be so, because I understand the actual steel production is a long way below even the agreed permitted level which we have for a long time tried to get raised. I would like to ask whether, within what is permissible under present engagements, we are doing everything possible to prevent reparations seizures interfering with the resumption of Germany's ability to pay more of her own way; and, so far as there are impediments in existing engagements, I would like to know whether the Chancellor has made representations to his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to do his utmost to got those impediments removed at the forthcoming Moscow visit.
I would now like to turn to the Amendment and to express my agreement with the main point made by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) against the policy of now pushing these displaced persons into Germany. I would like to make one point which I do not think has been made; that, regrettable as that would be at any time, it is even more to be condemned at the present moment just after the Prime Minister has announced that a selection is now being made of displaced persons in the British zone iii order to bring them over here and employ them in this country. At the moment when that process is beginning to operate, are we to push into the German economy the very people who would have been selected as being of great value to ourselves here? Surely, that would be fantastic. I would urge on the Government to ensure that the selection shall be on the largest scale at the greatest possible pace. I was a little disturbed by the wording of the announcement as to an inquiry now being made. There have already been many inquiries. What is wanted now is that the persons engaged in the task of selection should have immediate authority not only to examine but definitely to appoint those who are to be brought over here as either immediately employable or likely to be employable in the near future. I urge that that policy should be pursued with the greatest possible speed. As has been said in previous Debates, if we can do that we shall not only meet the obligations of our pledged word and of humanity, but—and this is directly relevant to the Supplementary Estimates—we shall escape having a charge on this part of the Budget in respect of maintaining these people in Germany; and at the same time we shall relieve our manpower position.
Some doubt has been thrown lately on how far we are really getting an advantage by bringing in manpower of this kind into this country. A letter has appeared in "The Times" which has attracted a good deal of attention, from my friend Sir Hubert Henderson. He pointed out that displaced persons brought over here are not only producers but also consumers, and emphasised, quite truly, that a good deal of what we speak of as shortage of manpower is either insufficient output per man or—
Its relevance was that I was urging an additional reason for relieving this part of the expenses, but, in deference to you, Major Milner, I will not develop that point any further. I would again appeal to the Government to at least stop any question of pushing displaced persons out of their present camps into the German economy until they have completed their task of selecting those suitable for employment in this country—and I would add waited still further to see how far, after we have ourselves selected those who are best for our own purposes, other countries would follow our lead and perhaps go a long way towards completing the job. My impression is there would then be comparatively few left who would remain as a more difficult proposition which would still have to be dealt with.
I usually find myself in broad agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). But on this occasion he has got into bad company, and I must disassociate myself very strongly from the Amendment put down by him and my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). I have seen these displaced persons in Germany at quite close quarters for a considerable period, and I sympathise very deeply with my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the problem he has to face in dealing with them. Throughout the occupation of Germany those people have been by far the greatest menace to law and order. In the Military Government courts cases concerning displaced persons constitute something like 60 per cent. of the cases they have to try. They are the centre of the black market; and very largely the extra rations, extra facilities, and extra amenities of various kinds which have been enjoyed up to the present, have been used for the purpose of maintaining the black market in Germany.
I should like to ask him whether he is aware that General Sir Frederick Morgan and General Fanshawe, who know more about displaced persons than anybody else, absolutely and categorically deny everything he has just said?
That is quite possible, but I still assert what I have said. And I did not quote the hon. Member. The position has been that these people have been maintained in idleness, and the prospect has been that they would continue to be maintained in idleness—
This is a very important point, and I should like to interrupt. Does not my hon. and gallant Friend know that ever since the termination of hostilities, these people, through their organisations and their elected committees, have been begging and praying of the Government, almost sitting on their doorstep, for materials with which to work, and for tools? Does he not know that?
Perhaps I might be allowed to resume my speech, Major Milner. The position, as anyone who knows the internal circumstances in Germany appreciates, is that it is all very well to beg for materials and to beg for tools; but the tools and materials are not there. If people in Germany are to work they have to work within the economy of Germany. That is the only possible way in which it can be done. If the tools and materials were there we should not have the staggering figure that we have in this Estimate for relief imports, and this export-import agency; and we should be able to get the work done in Germany, whether by displaced persons or by Germans.
I now wish to turn briefly to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), when she pointed to the fact that in spite of the statement by the Foreign Secretary in October, and in spite of repeated assertions by the Chancellor of the Duchy, we have apparently, as yet, made no progress towards nationalising industry in the British zone. Two days ago I myself put down a Question to the Chancellor of the Duchy, and was astonished to find that in spite of the fact that he had made two visits to Germany, before each of which it was announced that the custodians were to be appointed, he had no statement to make on the subject of the nationalisation of industry in Germany. I might guess that the opposition of the Americans within the fused zone had something to do with it; but that is at most a guess, and I have no basis for it. In fact, I am told on good authority that that is not the case, that no obstacle has been put up by the Americans. If that is the case, and if the Americans are not opposing, who is opposing? Is it some force in this country? Perhaps my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs knows more about this and will be able to enlighten us on that point. I think the Committee should hear more about this question.
Mention has been made of the foolish policy, from the economic point of view, of keeping up exports of coal from the British zone. We all know the difficulties of cutting down those exports. We know our obligations to our allies; and we know the difficult international questions involved in cutting down those exports. I should like to refer to another type of export which affects only us, and that is the export of timber. I think the economic case against the export of timber rests on exactly the same grounds as the economic case against the export of coal, namely, that timber is an important raw material; and it is most economical, for a country whose economy will depend so greatly on exports as that of Germany, to export raw material when that raw material could be kept and the finished goods exported. A commentary on this export of timber is provided in this month's report of the Control Commission in which there is a graph showing the position of the stocks of pit wood at the Ruhr-Achen mines. We see a steady decline in those stocks from October up to January. We find a position in which even the export of coal itself is being jeopardised by the fact that timber is being exported. We know that the transport position is very serious, that railway wagons cannot be repaired, very largely because of this lack of timber; and we find the very disturbing fact that, although output per man-shift in the mines has gone up, although the number of miners in the mines has gone up, and although the total output has gone up, coal loadings have gone down over the past two months, very largely because of the serious transport position.
I should like to refer to Subhead A.2 in the Supplementary Estimate, dealing with the allowances and salaries of the Control Commission for Germany, and the increase in civilian staff. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich and I have, on a number of occasions, put Questions to the Chancellor of the Duchy about the employment of British drivers in Germany. I, myself, know that there was very strong feeling on this point in Germany; that is to say, the fact that we were greatly inflating our budget by employing a large number of men who were doing jobs which, in the past, had been done perfectly well, and could still be done perfectly well, by Germans. I think it is probable that they form a very substantial part of this Supplementary Estimate; that is to say, extra drivers, and, in the same category, typists and secretaries, whose work could have been done equally well by Germans. Now, when we look at the latest monthly report, we find a project for substituting German for British drivers, in all but 5 per cent. of the car and vehicle organisation, has been sent to the Control Office. After the Chancellor of the Duchy has defended the Control policy here, and has told us it was absolutely essential to have British drivers and not German drivers, they are now going back to getting rid of the British drivers and are to have German drivers.
But let us observe the manner in which that is done. Linked with this proposal is the proposal that, in view of the fact that they are to have German personnel and not British personnel, there must be more supervisory staff. As an interim measure certain additions of officers and supervisors have been allowed; that is to say, when we are hoping to get a cut in the number of British drivers, we have to start off by increasing the number of British supervisors, and then hope to get the cut subsequently. Why could not the Control Commission have seen sense over this beforehand, and have seen that these British drivers were not necessary, and that it is not necessary to have in Germany any type of staff doing jobs which do not involve policy—any form of manual or manipulative jobs? Let us forget the past and get on to the future. Surely we can now have a definite statement of policy for the future, that no jobs of this kind will be done by British personnel when they could be done by German personnel.
Finally, I should like to refer to Subhead H, the Joint Export-Import Agency. This deals mainly with the results of the fusion agreement. There is one point I should like explained by the Chancellor of the Duchy. He said that, as a result of the fusion agreement, among the benefits we were getting was increased coal. I do not understand how we can get more coal from the fusion agreement, since the American zone produces only about 100,000 tons a year. I do not understand how fusion will help us to get more coal.
As to the items under Subhead H, the Joint Export-Import Agency, the only comment I would make is that I am disturbed by the manner in which this was put forward, the manner in which this heavy expenditure on account of the fusion was defended. I get the increasing impression that this building up of self-sufficiency of the joint British and American zones is being regarded as an end in itself. We know that there are numbers of Members in the Opposition who do consider that we should not try to secure the unity of Germany economically. Personally, I believe that that is a disastrous policy. I believe that this joint British-American zone is necessary as an interim policy, but is disastrous for a long-term policy, that it is only a very bad second best to an economically united Germany. I believe that the reasons put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) are extremely cogent in that respect. I believe that the prospect of building up exports from Western Germany alone to a level Germany as a whole has never exceeded since 1932—and that is what we have got to do—and at the same time of shutting out exports from Western Germany from the whole of Eastern Europe —because that would be the result of failure to reach agreement with the Russians on economic unity—would mean forcing German exports into countries where they would have the most disastrous results for our own trade. I am not condemning this fusion as an interim measure, but I should like to hear a clear reiteration of what I understood was the Government's policy, that this is regarded only as a stop gap measure, and regarded as a second best, and that what we are striving for in every way we can is the economic unity of Germany.
It is not often that I find myself in unity with the hon. and gallant Member for Bexley (Major Bramall), but I think the Committee has been far too kind, in general, to the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I think, too, that we have lacked, to some extent, that sense of proportion. The total number of displaced persons in the zone when we took over probably came to about 2,500,000, and we have over 18 months disposed of the majority. We have fulfilled in an honourable way our obligations, far more honourably than the displaced persons have fulfilled theirs. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bexley has pointed out, quite rightly, that quite a lot of these D.P.s were the worst types of people possible, and they did cause untold trouble to out administration.
Are we to accept the proposition that the displaced persons and their children are to be kept by the British taxpayers for all time? We certainly cannot, as one hon. Member suggested, bring the whole of those D.P.s back to this country. That is a transportation and housing problem quite beyond our capacity at the present time, and obviously—
Would the hon. Member not agree that many of these D.P.s are people who could be induced to return to their own countries if they were treated in the proper way, and if the right kind of propaganda were put across to them, but that no attempt is made to do that?
If the hon. Lady will use her influence with her friends to make the homes of those people a little more accept- able, I think that then, perhaps, we shall get some progress. But we have over two million of these people to get back to their homes, and if we could do something with this hard core—
I should like to know whether the hon. Member draws any distinction between the millions of people who moved across Europe—perhaps, under pressure, but in a sense voluntarily —and those who were taken from their countries by force, and their friends and relatives who survived oppression. Does he draw any distinction at all between those who can willingly be integrated into the German economy and those who cannot?
I will admit that there are many categories of displaced persons, but there is one category which the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has very adroitly avoided mentioning, one category to which reference is seldom made here. It is the category of displaced persons who went to Germany voluntarily because of the high wages.
I did not adroitly avoid that. I avoided it because I was not concerned with those people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I hold no brief for them, but for the category to which I invited the hon. Member's attention in my former interruption.
I am pointing out that there are many categories, and endeavouring to get a sense of proportion, because I do not think a sense of proportion has been shown so far in discussing this Supplementary Estimate. I realise very fully that people who have been forced into Germany against their own will deserve our sympathy. We have repatriated over two million of them. But there are at the present time many Jewish camps in Germany where trouble is being made, quite intentionally for this country, by the Jewish Agency. At one camp in Germany some months ago the Jewish Agency representative continually canvassed and harassed members of that camp—3,000 in all—to get them to say they wanted to go to Palestine.
The hon. Member is trying to draw an entirely one-sided and disproportionate picture of the problem of the displaced persons. I turn to Subheads A1 and A2 of this Supplementary Estimate. I view with the gravest concern the increase in the sums demanded for the maintenance of the Central Office and the Commission. What have we got for this extra sum of money? I suggest to the Committee that, in fact, we have seen over the past 18 months, a steady deterioration. When I went to Germany in November, 1945, the Military Government there was functioning extremely well. It was functioning so well that I wondered by what means we could persuade the Germans to swap their Military Government for ours, because I thought that, on the whole, the Military Government, especially in Germany, was doing immensely better than His Majesty's Government in this country.
I was only demonstrating the point that we have not attained anything more as a result of this increasing expenditure in maintaining the Control Commision, and that a steady deterioriation has, in fact, set in. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that, even from May last year until the beginning of this year, there has been an increase in the staff of over 4,000; over 4,000 members of the Control Commission have taken up jobs between May and the beginning of this year. Every observer in Germany is prepared to state that there are too many people on the Control Commission. Everybody knows except the Chancellor of the Duchy. He is rather emulating the Minister of Fuel and Power. Everybody knew that there would be a fuel crisis, except that Minister. We are entitled to more information from the Chancellor as to what will be done. General Sir Brian Robertson said, yesterday, that the German Government had taken over a good deal of work. We are entitled to ask what reduction of staff will take place as a consequence of the Germans taking over administration in our zone. So far as I can see, we shall get a continuous increase in the number of staff, and 1 would like the hon. Gentleman to let us know how many people are working in mammoth palaces like Norfolk House, and tell us what on earth they are doing. It seems to me that they are pushing pieces of paper to each other, without any clear idea of what they are supposed to be doing.
I would like the hon. Gentleman to clarify the position as regards the bi-zonal offices. On top of our already complicated mechanism for controlling Germany, we have established four or five bi-zonal offices, and we have made their work even more difficult by scattering them over the British and American zones, so that they have no contact with the Governments with which they are supposed to deal. Why are we compelled to pay more money because of this lack of foresight? Why should these offices be scattered over the entire British and American zones, with no contact one with the other?
Finally, I want to refer to items G and H. We are involved, as everyone knows, in finding an immense amount of money for reparations in reverse. It is desirable that we should reduce that expenditure. What has been done in our zone in that respect? Over 12 months ago, the Americans were taking practical steps to put raw cotton into their zone so that it could be spun on the machinery there. How far have we gone towards sending similar material to Germany? How far have we attempted to cut our losses by utilising the machinery and skill which exists in our zone. I suggest very little indeed. We may have started now, but that is 12 months after the Americans One would think that we were the people who had dollars to spare, and had immense resources, and that the Americans were our poor friends, whereas, in practice, the reverse is true. I want the Chancellor to tell us what he is doing to utilise the productive capacity of Germany.
Before I acid my small voice in support of the Amendment, there are several points on which I would like to comment. First, I do not find. myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) except in his criticism, in some respects, of the Control Commission personnel. The criticisms that have been made in the past have never yet been properly answered by the Chancellor of the Duchy, and he has never given peace of mind to those of us who are troubled. Last week, in response to a Question, my hon. Friend announced that 213 members of the Commission had been sacked for misconduct of some kind, but he did not reveal the number of those about whom inquiries had been made into their misconduct, but who had not been sacked.
I am not suggesting that figures should be given, but the fact is that certain members of the Commission have been sacked, and that there has been misbehaviour on the part of others. Indeed, I found myself entirely in agreement with the point made by the hon. Member for. Cardigan (Mr. Bowen), who said that he found our military personnel in Germany functioning satisfactorily, but was very dissatisfied with the conduct of civilian personnel. He said that he had been to Germany recently. I went to Germany about a year ago, and that was my exact impression. I see the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) who was a member of the party on the benches opposite, and perhaps he will agree with me. This is a matter which ought to be thoroughly gone into by my hon. Friend. If there is anything which tends at all to reflect on the good name of this country it is the behaviour of our personnel abroad. If the impression gains ground in Germany that our personnel are there to plunder the German people it will not redound to our credit.
The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), in his usual carping and critical spirit, referred to the expenditure of £145,000 under Item D. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings), who regretted that this figure was not sufficient to meet present-day needs. If there is anything that will ensure us against the menace of future war it is the provision of greater information and educational services for the youth of Germany. My hon. Friend gave an illustration of the degree to which the Nazi spirit and virus had been inculcated into the blood stream of the Germans and their youth. That is all too true. This brings us to the question of de-Nazification. I appreciate the views which have been put forward by Members on this side of the Committee and the spirit which animates them in their attitude towards Germany. But is not there a danger of relenting too much, and too quickly, in our treatment of the Germans? All of us who are concerned about the future, and the avoidance of the possibility of a third world war, must see that there is no danger from any German resurgence. If we do not deal with de-Nazification as firmly and forcibly, but fairly, as we ought to do, then there will be this danger.
A week ago, in the Press, there was an announcement about the unearthing of a tremendous Nazi plot. Surely, that lends weight to my argument. If anything, we have been too lenient with the Germans. We must be more careful about deNazification, even if it means incarcerating certain German personnel for a longer time than at first sight seems to be necessary. The hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) touched on the important question of coal in relation to German economy. We all realise that coal in Germany, as here, is the keystone of national economy. I cannot subscribe to the view that we should stop exporting coal from Germany to other countries because one must bear in mind the countries to which coal is being exported. These are non-producing coal countries who suffered from the ravages of Nazi domination and certainly they deserve the coal. On this question of coal I think we ought to keep a sense of proportion.
That may be, but the coal is exported to Norway and other countries which suffered the ravages of German occupation. There are two points contained in the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) to which I want to direct attention. With one of them I do not agree, and that was the criticism of the Chancellor of the Duchy regarding food rationing in Germany. I think it is only fair to say with regard to my hon. Friend's administration that he does not starve or ill-treat the Germans wilfully, and if he could he would do his best to increase the food ration. Accordingly, I cannot see eye to eye with my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich on that point. A most important principle is involved on the question of the employment of displaced persons in Germany. As I understand the position, it was decided that displaced persons would not be so employed by Germans. If this is a change in policy then what it amounts to is a breach of faith with the displaced persons, and I think the Chancellor ought to think again on this question, because he has aroused tremendous feelings on this matter. If I might offer some advice to him it is that he ought to give an assurance to the Committee that he is going to withdraw this fresh policy and think twice about the whole subject. So far as I can see, quite apart from the arguments of bringing the displaced persons into this country, there is no moral sanction for the employment of displaced persons under German domination in Germany itself. It is not right, it is not moral, it is inequitable and ought not to be, and because of that I shall vote against the Government and in favour of the Amendment.
There can be no doubt that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has performed a signal service in moving his Amendment today. He has rallied to his standard followers from many unexpected quarters of the Committee. How far they will follow him will depend both on the quality of his leadership, whether he sees it through to the end, and what reply the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will make to the many criticisms from every side of the Committee which have been made of these Estimates and of his administration. There has indeed been a remarkable degree of unanimity in today's Debate. These Supplementary Estimates are extremely important. The function of the House of Commons in checking and criticising the expenditure of the Government has always been one of its principal functions. That function has become inconceivably more important today, particularly when we are dealing with Estimates that involve large external payments because of the acute economic position of our country today. Therefore, the Committee is quite right in scrutinising these Estimates with the very greatest care. More than one Member of the Committee has asked the Chancellor of the Duchy this question, and I should like to put it to him again: Can he say how much of these Supplementary Estimates, in particular Subheads G and H, is related to dollar expenditure, and not only to dollar expenditure, but to expenditure in hard currency?
I understand that it was your Ruling, Major Milner, that we could not have an answer to the general question as to how much of the whole expenditure was in hard currency. If we cannot have that, I hope that at least we may have some guidance as to how much of the expenditure in these Supplementary Estimates involves dollar expenditure, either directly or indirectly. I should like to add to that another question which I hope the Chancellor of the Duchy can answer. Can he say whether these sums, in so far as they involve dollar expenditure, have already been paid or whether they are yet to be paid? I ask that because I saw in the Press a day or two ago that our drafts on the American credit already amounted to something over £200 million, and it would interesting to know whether these items G and H, in so far as they represent dollar expenditure, are included in that total or are yet to come. If they are yet to come it means that the position is very much worse than most of us already think it to be, and that the American credit will be running out even more rapidly than it seems to be now.
In his opening speech the hon. Gentleman referred to Item H—the "Joint Export-Import Agency: working capital" —as an investment, and I hope that he is right and that it may in fact prove to be an investment. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) that the Minister is a little optimistic in assuming that it will necessarily prove to be so, but, nevertheless, as I say, I hope he is right. What I would point out, however, is that in so far as it does prove to be an investment the dividend will not come in, if at all, for a considerable number of years, whereas the economic crisis that this country is facing with regard to external expenditure is immediate and likely to face us even this year. I hope the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will not talk too light-heartedly about this being a long-term investment.
The hon. Gentleman also said the real reason for this addition to the expenditure was that the Potsdam Agreement had not been implemented this year and that the Treaty with Austria had not been concluded this year. My hon. Friend the Member for Flint pointed out, as I thought perfectly justly, that no one could really base a policy on the assumption that Germany would become an economic unit in the past year, and still less on the assumption that the Treaty with Austria would be concluded within 12 months. I suggest to the Minister that the real reason for the increase in expenditure is not the reason he gave but that the economic life of Germany has been in a state of paralysis and that he has been unable to get German industry going again. We all know that coal has been, and still is, a very great problem. It is less of a problem than it was and, as the Chancellor said, there has been some improvement in the position, but it is not really only a question of coal. There has been a great deal of talk on both sides of the Committee today about de-Nazification and I think that the de-Nazification policy has had some effects upon this general economic paralysis in Germany. But even more important than the de-Nazification of individuals is the de-Nazification of German industry which the Control Commission seems hardly to have touched at all so far. German industry in the British zone has had every kind of control imposed upon it and every kind of price fixed, so that it pays no industrialist to use it and no employee to work for it. Surely, the first thing to do is to unfreeze the German economic machine. If the Minister will give more attention to that matter it is very probable that he might be saved the trouble of coming to the Committee again and asking for still further money for Germany.
I want to ask the Minister a number of questions on specific points in the Supplementary Estimates. Subhead D, "Additional provision for information and education services for Germany," is the first to which I will refer. In the Debate a week or two ago I asked the Minister whether the educational establishment in Germany had been or was to be reduced. He did not answer me, not because he wished to avoid answering me but, I think, because he did not have time to do so. It would be useful if the Committee could have a reply to that question this afternoon. The fact that education has been handed over to the Germans does not mean that the functions of the education officers in the zone are fewer than they were. Indeed, from many points of view, those functions are, I believe, increased in importance as a result of the transfer. The influence that the education officers will be able to exert upon the Germans has probably been increased. Therefore, I should think it would be a very great pity if the educational establishment were to be reduced. While on the subject of education I would congratulate the Minister on the step he took in appointing Mr. Birley, the headmaster of Charterhouse, as education officer in Berlin. That appointment will do a great deal of good.
Now I would say a word about the Information Service. I do not think that anybody can be in the zone without being conscious of the very great amount of misinformation that there is in the minds of the Germans—misinformation about what we are trying to do, what we have done and about our administration generally. I think it was the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) who stated earlier on that he regarded our expenditure on the Information Service as being a very good investment. I must say that I agree with him. One of the most unfortunate elements in the situation in Germany is the way in which the Germans completely misunderstand our policy and the facts of the situation. For example, there was a time when every German was under the impression—and I dare say it still goes on—that we were exporting food from Germany to this country. I do not know whether that was true or not, but that kind of impression ought to be eradicated. A more forceful Information Service should do something to eradicate it.
I would now revert for a moment to Subhead G, "United Kingdom share of relief imports." Those imports presumably very largely consist of food. I have great sympathy with the hon. Member for Ipswich, who said that he had great misgivings about the sources of information upon which the Chancellor of the Duchy relied for the statement he made in this House about the food position. I have the same misgivings. The Committee will remember that it is only a fortnight ago that the Chancellor of the Duchy, speaking in this House, said that 64 per cent. of the population in the British zone were getting rations at a level of from 2,500 calories to 3,900 calories a day. The hon. Member for Ipswich quoted a letter this morning from Germany in which it was said that in the last rationing period the population of the Ruhr was not averaging more than 1,100 calories, I think he said, but, at any rate, the average was far less than the 1,500 calories of the 34 per cent. of the population to which the Chancellor referred and, unfortunately, less than the calories which he said a greater part of the population was receiving.
Then, again, I find myself very much concerned about a report in the newspaper which Mr. Hoover has made to President Truman on the food situation. Not only does Mr. Hoover envisage the purchasing of food for shipment to both zones far in excess of anything we have been led to expect so far, but he found mat over 41,000,000 people living in the two zones received on an average 1,550 calories daily. If Mr. Hoover's figure is right, the Chancellor's figure—that 64 per cent. of the people living in the British zone were receiving between 2,500 and 3,900 calories—cannot possibly be right, too. It would be of great assistance to the Committee if the hon. Gentleman could define rather more precisely what the food position is in Germany, and how it is that he arrived at those percentages which he quoted in the Debate a week or two ago, I dare say he cannot do it now, but it would be useful if at some future time he could say what these categories are which received the extra rations and comprise 64 per cent. of the population, how many people are in each category, and so on. If he could find some means later on of giving the Committee a more detailed analysis of this problem, I think hon. Members and the people in Germany would have more confidence than they have at present in the announcements he makes from time to time on the food situation in Germany. For my own part I agree with the hon. Member for Ipswich that the Chancellor has no intention whatever of misleading the House and the Committee, but I find it very hard to believe that his sources of information are as good as they might be.
One word about the problem of displaced persons which was raised by the mover and seconder of the Amendment. There is a good deal in what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd), that some of the displaced persons have proved themselves to be not very good citizens—
—but I am convinced from what I have seen myself and from everything I have heard from others better able to judge than I, that the majority of displaced persons are people whom one ought to respect and who might be useful to us. But that is another point, and I consider it deplorable that the Government should have thrown them off as they did by the announcement of 19th February, I think it was.
I hope the Chancellor may be able to relieve the minds of the Committee about many of the misgivings that have been expressed on all sides today. If he does not, we shall, on our side, find ourselves compelled to follow the lead of the hon. Member for Ipswich into the Division Lobby—always on the assumption, as I said earlier, that the hon. Member does not turn tail.
The time available is extremely limited to deal with the large number of questions which have been raised, and I must apologise in advance, if I do not cover all the ground as I would like. I would deal first with the complaint made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law) concerning what was said about the rations. I was rather shocked at what he said, but when I checked it in HANSARD, I found that he was justified in repeating it, in the sense that I had said that the normal consumer in the British zone—the 1,550 calorie category—represented 36 per cent. of the population, but it goes on to say that the other 64 per cent. are categorised according to the amount of work they do, and their rations range from 2,500 to 3,990 calories. That is not strictly correct, but the fact is that it is the 36 per cent., who are the normal consumers, who receive 1,550. The other categories receive more or less according to their categorisation. A full statement has been given in the House in respect to the question, and if the right hon. Gentleman refers to HANSARD he will find that whole categorisation. I am glad to have an opportunity of making that correction.
I do not want to take up more of the time of the House unless it is absolutely necessary, and interruptions by hon. Members might easily take up another 15 minutes.
I wish to cover as much ground as possible and I should like to remind the Committee what the Estimates are about. As I emphasised at the beginning of the Debate, the Supplementary Estimate has been submitted because of three principal items, namely, loss of exports during the last 12 months amounting to £20 million, a contribution of working capital to the new fusion arrangements of £22,620,000 and a contribution of £4,500,000 to Austrian relief; those items less the saving on imports to which I referred, make up most of the £39 million Estimate. Strictly speaking, the staff of the Control Commission in Germany does not come within the purview of the Supplementary Estimate, because the whole provision for the staff in London and Germany would have been met by the previous Estimate without any Supplementary Estimate.
But a number of quite direct points have been raised in connection with staff questions, with which I should like to deal as briefly as possible. First, why has there been an increase of staff in Norfolk House? That is because the Office of the Control Commission for Germany and Austria had only been set up two or three months before the Estimates were prepared last year. It was an entirely new Government Department, covering an entirely unknown field of administration which had never been tried before. It was made clear in the footnote to the original Estimate dealing with the London staff that the establishment had not yet been formulated, and that it was impossible to give any details or effective figures. The fact is that since then a number of important and heavy obligations have been taken over from the War Office and other Departments. That is the reason why there has been an increase over the original rough estimate which was made of the establishment of Norfolk House.
Similarly, as regards Germany, a great point has been made about the continual increases in the staff. They are not continual increases at all. As I have explained we started off with an original estimated establishment of 30,000 to 35,000 staff for Germany. When the Estimates were drawn up, purely in the interests of economy and of keeping the thing down to the lowest possible level, that figure was cut to the figure shown in the original estimate. Subsequently, the establishment was decreased to 26,000, including the 17,000 odd civilians shown in the Estimate; but there have been increases because of transfers of responsibility from B.A.O.R. and other Departments and the introduction of other services into Germany, which were found necessary in the course of the occupation some months ago. As I have announced previously, we intend to reduce the basic figure to 20,000 by 1st April, but I warn the House that on top of that there will be additional services which have been taken over. They are really ancillary to the occupation. They are services which it is necessary that this country should have in Germany at present and it is convenient that they should be on the Control Office Vote rather than on the Vote of another Department. The apparent increase in the establishment over the last two or three months—in fact there has been no increase at all—has been due to the speedier withdrawal of the Army element in the Control Commission. That element had to be replaced by a civilian element. I think that is sufficient on that point for the moment.
Is no allowance to be made for the fact that we are devolving responsibility on to the German administration? At the beginning we had an immense amount of detail such as the rebuilding of bridges and so on.
Exactly. That is the reason why we have found it possible to cut by 6,000 from the end of the year to 1st April. That is a fairly substantial contribution. It is almost impossible to assess the number of staff who have been saved as a result of the considerable amount of devolution on to Germans. Even though we have that devolution we must still have certain control some of which may have to be developed further, as in the case of the educational service. I can assure hon. Members there is no intention of cutting the staff of the education department. In fact it is probable that the new organisation will result in an increase. A point has been raised in connection with security of tenure. I am extremely sorry it has not been possible to find a solution to this question. It is one of which we are keenly conscious but there are so many considerations involved in this particular service that it is not easy to find a solution when we make large reductions—by devolution on Germans, and so on—in a short period of time. Obviously, we cannot in those conditions give any long-term guarantees of retirement pensions or transfer to the Civil Service, or anything of that kind, unless and until the long-term position becomes more clear. That, of course, must depend on developments in Germany.
To return to the real items dealt with in the Supplementary Estimate, we have to consider first the loss of exports amounting to £20 million. The hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington chided me for having assumed that we should have economic unity of Germany as far back as last February or March, or even that we should have assumed the possibility or probability of an Austrian treaty. I can find nothing unreasonable in a Government assuming that an agreement, to which they have put their signature with Allied Governments, should, in fact, be implemented within a reasonable time. That is what happened. The Potsdam Agreement was signed. Economic unity was dependent upon the agreement on the level of industry. The level of industry agreement was reached at the beginning of March at the time of these Estimates, and surely we were entitled to assume that the other parties would acknowledge their signatures and that we should immediately achieve economic unity. We have not. That is most unfortunate and it has had its repercussions upon the economic situation in Germany.
An hon. Member challenged us with having failed to develop industry. The main reason for that, he said, was because of our unwise policy of exporting coal. We did export coal. We are still exporting coal, and we consider that it is necessary that we should continue to export coal from Germany. In the first place, because exports from Germany are necessary, and, in the second place, and more important, because we did not consider that we were justified in ignoring the claims of France, Belgium, Holland, and the other devastated countries. It was 12 months ago, at least, when we were exporting the maximum amount of coal. We were aware that these exports were a matter of very serious consideration for these countries, and we did not feel that we were justified in washing our hands of the situation existing in those countries at that time. The hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), I think it was, gave the reply. After all, France is there, but Belgium and those other countries are not. They look to us, not only as the people who are in control of a zone in Germany, but also as the people who have a certain trusteeship for the Allied nations responsible for the defeat of Germany. As coal is, in fact, the key to the whole question of production in Western Europe, it would have been improper for this Government to have said that there should be no exports of coal, whatever the considerations might be, because we wanted immediately to make the most we could out of our zone.
As a long-term policy, I agree that it would, of course, have been better not to export, but long-term policies in the conditions which existed in those countries 12 months ago were not quite so practicable as they may appear at this stage. That is the reason why we were unable to increase the production of coal as we have done in recent weeks. As I have repeatedly said in these Debates, we were not proposing to try to solve our troubles by cutting the coal exports, but rather by increasing production. But it was impossible to increase production when there was no food available, when we did not have the food in this country and it had to be imported from other quarters. When, in March, we cut the ration from 1,550 to 1,000 calories, it was fully realised that this was the end. for a long time, of any prospect of an increased coal production, and that is precisely what happened.
I was asked in the course of the Debate why I contended that the fusion agreement had anything to do with the increase in production. The answer is that the fusion agreement was the first assurance we received of continued food supplies. It is on that assurance that we have been able to increase the miners' rations to 4,000 calories a day, and have been able to divert that amount of food from other quarters in Germany. Therefore, the fusion agreement has a very direct effect upon coal production and upon the repercussions of coal production, which, I hope, we will soon see in other branches of industry. These are the facts which have caused the fall of £20 million in exports.
Taking the third item second—the contribution to Austrian relief—the credit which we have put at the disposal of Austria for 1947, amounts to £8,500,000. One hon. Member asked how long that was going on. The answer is that it is a credit of £8,500,000. That is all. In the Supplementary Estimate, we are taking £4,500,000 into account, because that is what we anticipate will be spent between now and 31st March this year. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) apparently objected to this credit. It is the first time that I have heard any objection raised to it; I thought it received the enthusiastic endorsement of Members in all quarters of this House, that Austria, in the prostrate condition in which she finds herself after a long occupation, and in view of the fact that she was one of the first victims of German aggression and is without any foreign resources, with U.N.R.R.A. suddenly stopping bringing in food supplies, should naturally turn to this country for some assistance. I entirely reject the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Torquay that we should not give such assistance unless we can be assured that other countries are also going to make a contribution.
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. What I said was—and HANSARD will confirm it—that I have no objection to this contribution, but, in asking this Committee to grant the money, we should have a clear understanding of what other nations are doing as well.
I gave that understanding in my opening remarks, namely, that America is expected to make a similar generous contribution for this purpose. There is no assurance that Russia or France or any other country will give anything, but that is no reason why we should stand by and let Austria sink.
I am afraid I cannot give way again. The final item in the Supplementary Estimate to which I would like to refer is the question of the working, capital contribution of £22,620,000, less £4 million which, in any case, we would have spent between now and 31st March. This is an inevitable cost of the fusion. It is an initial investment as I have said, because it is not possible to start a big industrial development and an import-export programme without sinking capital. If hon. Members will look at Subhead E of the Estimates, they will find that during the course of last year there was a saving of £33 million in respect of supplies and services to Germany, offset under Subhead G by £25,250,000 which is the contribution in respect of relief supplies to Germany. The sum of £22,620,000, less the £4 million which we shall spend between now and 31st March, represents our contribution to future working capital under the fusion agreement. Why should we have the fusion agreement? The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) was perturbed by the amount of the Estimate. We entered the agreement because of the failure to make Germany an economic unit which would stop the drain on the British taxpayer. That is why we are sinking this money in the venture. I believe it is a much better proposition than to continue indefinitely paying out a deficit of £80 million a year such as appeared in our original Estimate.
No. This is the amount that we are sinking for the purpose of providing relief imports to Germany and providing the necessary raw materials and imports to enable her to export. The alternative would have been to go on indefinitely providing £80 million per year, or probably more, without any hope whatever of return. I would like to develop the point concerning the fears of German competition. Germany will have to export if she is to pay us and other countries for the amount that has been put into that country. Germany must have some exports, because she is not self-supporting in the long-term and, therefore, Germany must have her export industries developed. But, so far as it is possible, I entirely agree that we should endeavour to see that those exports are complementary to British and other European exports, and, so far as possible, not directly competitive, although obviously we cannot give any guarantee. I think hon. Members opposite will agree that it would probably be a good thing for British industry if there was a bit of sharp competition here and there.
These are the chief considerations which have been raised in the Debate. I would have liked to deal at considerable length with the question of displaced persons, but I do not know that that is strictly relevant to this Debate. I would just say this about it, that I do resent the terms in which this issue was raised, because if the hon. Member will refer to the answer that I gave in the House on 19th February he will find that the reply was:
His Majesty's Government have decided that the ordinary machinery for direction to work will be applied to displaced persons in Germany m order that they may become, so far as possible, self-supporting.
That was a declaration of policy, which would have been open to supplementary questions. It was not my fault that, as the hon. Member was good enough to
say, the questioner was not there. But the statement made it quite clear.
I cannot help that. What we are trying to do is, not to abandon the displaced persons, but quite the contrary. The statement says very definitely:
Our first aim will continue to be to encourage and assist in every way possible the early return of the displaced persons to their countries of origin.
It goes on to say:
We will pursue every opportunity that presents itself to effect resettlement either in Europe or overseas.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1947; Vol. 433, c. 173–4.]
That is the basis of the policy. But what is the situation in which we found ourselves? We find that we were faced with some three million displaced persons. I endorse everything that has been said by my hon. Friends about the terrible sufferings undergone by many of these people, though not all. Many of them were willing workers for the Germans during the war, and those have to be offset against the inmates of concentration camps and others. But there were three million. Now, if those three million people had taken up the attitude that they would remain, and said: "We will not go back. We prefer to stay here and receive an allowance from the British taxpayer," would the Committee have asked me to maintain those people, three million of them, on our taxation without asking them to do a stroke of work?
Quite so, it is hypothetical. But the fact is, that of those 3 million people, 2¾ million have taken advantage of the facilities with which we provided them and have gone home. Now we are told that those who refuse to go home should he allowed to remain to be fed, clothed, and everything else, without anything being expected of them.
I have only a few minutes in which to reply. I have been faced with a whole day's Debate, and obviously I cannot continually give way in my reply. We undertook at the beginning to accept responsibility for these 3 million persons until we could provide them with facilities to return to their homes, or until we could find opportunities for resettling them elsewhere. As I have said, the overwhelming majority have gone home. Many thousands of those who remain are working; they are working for the Control Commission, in the timber forests, and elsewhere. But there are a number who will not work under any conditions, because they are being provided for by, and remain a burden on the shoulders of, the British taxpayer. What have we asked them to do? We have said: "As a condition of your maintenance we expect you to do a job. We will give you priority for Control Commission work as against the Germans. We will expect you, if you cannot find such work, and if there is work available in some Germany factory, or elsewhere, to do that work." I think that is the most we can be expected to do; and on the whole I think we have been extremely generous.
Much as I should like to go over the whole field of the Debate, the fact remains that the field is far too wide to be dealt with in a single Debate. I should have preferred the Committee to confine themselves to the actual terms of the Supplementary Estimate. I want the Committee to know that I do not regard the situation in Germany with any equanimity at all. I have been charged' by the hon. Member for Ipswich with having pictured the situation as a bed of roses. I have never done anything of the kind. The food situation is still difficult; the coal situation is showing good signs, but is not solved. However, with the introduction of the fusion agreement, machinery has been set up in Germany, and capital is being provided for that machinery. There is also the prospect of. some further development at the forthcoming Foreign Ministers' conference at Moscow, and I am certain we are facing a new period.
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £139.016,710, be granted to His Majesty,
The Committee divided: Ayes, 67; Noes, 130.
to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1947, for the salaries and expenses of the Control Office for Germany and Austria and the Control Commissions for
Germany and Austria, including certain supplies and services essential to the Occupation, contributions to the Joint Export-Import Agency for the Combined Zones of Germany, commodity advances for Germany, and financial assistance to Austria.
Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
|Division No. 95.]||AYES.||[3.56 p.m.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Foot, M. M.||Prescott, Stanley|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Gage, C||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Beechman, N. A||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Renton, D.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow C.)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Keeling, E. H.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bowen, R.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Bower, N.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Butcher, H W.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Treeling, William|
|Byers, Frank||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Challen, C.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Touche, G. C.|
|Channon, H.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|De la Bère, R.||Mellor, Sir.J.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Patrick)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Dewer, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A||Nutting, Anthony||Mr. Silverman and Mr. Stokes.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hall, W. G.||Pearl, Capt. T. F.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Hardy, E. A.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Ranger, J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Reeves, J.|
|Baird, J.||Hicks, G.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Holman, P.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Barton, C.||House, G.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Sargood, R.|
|Berry, H.||Hughes, H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.)||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Beswick, F.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, H. N (Nottingham, S.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Solley, L. J.|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Key, C. W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Leonard, W.||Stubbs, A. E|
|Chater, D.||Lever, N. H.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Lindgren, G. S.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lipson, D. L.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Collindridge, F.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.||McAdam, W.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Cove, W. G.||McEntee, V. La T.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Daines, P.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S W.)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Marquand, H. A.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Martin, J. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Mayhew, C. P.||Walkden, E.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Mellish, R. J.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Edelman, M.||Mikardo, Ian.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Ewart, R.||Mitchison, G. R.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Fietcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Follick, M.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Orbach, M||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
Original Question put, and agreed to.