August Thyssen Steelworks

Oral Answers to Questions — Germany – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th June 1949.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Skeffington-Lodge Mr Thomas Skeffington-Lodge , Bedford 12:00 am, 29th June 1949

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received and studied the plan for retaining the August Thyssen steelworks in the German economy, recently presented to the Regional Commissioner for North-Rhine-Westphalia by the German Land Premier, Herr Arnold; and whether, as this advocates control of the organisation by an international committee, he will remove this plant from the list of those to be dismantled and allow this experiment to be tried out.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

Despite Press reports to the contrary, Dr. Arnold's own proposals were not submitted to the Regional Commissioner until the morning of Saturday, 25th June. I have not yet studied them, but at first sight they appear to conflict with the recent inter-governmental agreements on reparations and industrial disarmament.

Photo of Mr Thomas Skeffington-Lodge Mr Thomas Skeffington-Lodge , Bedford

When my right hon. Friend is considering this matter will he bear in mind the very serious unemployment problem which now exists in this part of Germany, and will he, if possible, and if it seems to be at all reasonable, meet the point of view of Herr Arnold?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I cannot lead the German people to believe that the adoption of any subterfuge will alter these agreements. They have been worked out with great care and they are intergovernmental agreements. It is misleading the Germans to let them assume that these war industries are going to be restored to Germany.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

In considering this matter will the Foreign Secretary consult with the German Trade Union Congress, and will he also bear in mind the fact that this plant may be useful for turning out steel houses? Will he give every consideration to these points before he orders the destruction of plant which can be turned to good account for Europe?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

We have gone into every point. I am not concerned only with the trade unionists of Germany, but with the people of Europe who have suffered German attacks, and this House must always bear that in mind when dealing with these war industries.

Mr. Wilson Harris:

The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the necessity for destruction on the ground of security. In view of the fact that the loss of the plant would largely kill the industry, will not the right hon. Gentleman give the matter careful and sympathetic consideration.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I will give the matter careful and sympathetic consideration, but I am not going to be led into a position, after these months and months of negotiation, where German propaganda and pressure can make me alter my mind. That would only mislead the Germans and would lead to our never clearing up this problem.