Industries (Public Ownership)

Oral Answers to Questions — Germany – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th June 1948.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Skeffington-Lodge Mr Thomas Skeffington-Lodge , Bedford 12:00 am, 16th June 1948

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent the established German political parties in the British zone have expressed themselves on the issue of the nationalisation of industry in Western Germany; and whether in leaving this question to the German people themselves the relevant opinion already publicised will be taken into account and made known by democratic means to all Germans in the combined zones.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

The main political parties in the British zone of Germany have expressed themselves for or against the transfer of basic industries to public ownership. The Social Democrat and Communist Parties are in favour; the Free Democratic Party and the German Party are in general opposed; the Christian Democratic Union appears to favour the transfer of key basic industries to some form of mixed public and private ownership. His Majesty's Government fully expect that, when this question falls to be decided, the political parties and any other organisations concerned, such as the trades unions, will have ample opportunity of making their views known to the German people. There is no reason to doubt that the German people are already well aware both of the importance of this issue and of the opinions expressed by the various political parties.

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

Is not the Foreign Secretary aware that a meeting in Dusseldorf the week before last attended by the prime ministers of the Western zones, plus representatives of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, unanimously expressed the decision that the coal mines in the Ruhr should never be allowed to return to private ownership but should be placed under some form of public ownership?

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

In considering this matter, will the Foreign Secretary also give consideration to the proposals of the French Socialist Party, which is strongly supported in some quarters in this House, for placing the Ruhr industries under international public ownership?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

The policy of the Government is that these mines should not go back to the previous owners. As I have repeatedly said, the decision of the Four-Power Conference was that the matter should be dealt with by the German people. I cannot imagine and I cannot accept that alien management for any length of time is likely to get the best results out of the mines, especially after previous experience.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Germans have suffered enough already without having to put up with nationalisation?