Oral Answers to Questions — British Troops, Germany (Support Costs)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow 12:00 am, 12th December 1957

asked the Prime Minister if he will inform the House of the outcome of the talks he has recently had with the German Foreign Minister, Herr von Brentano, with regard to support costs for British troops stationed in Germany.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Since this matter is under consideration by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisatin and the Western European Union, it was not appropriate for the German Foreign Minister and representatives of Her Majesty's Government to do more than exchange views on it during the former's visit to London.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will be as tough with the Germans over this matter as Her Majesty's Government are in relation to the employees engaged in the National Health Service? Will he make it perfectly clear to the Germans that unless they are prepared to pay as much this year as last year—£50 million in total, which still would leave some leeway to make up—we shall have no alternative but to reduce our forces in Germany to correspond with the amount by which the Germans have fallen below what we expect them to pay?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The hon. Member has stated his view, but if I were entering negotiation with him I do not think I would find him a very good partner. A negotiation is a negotiation. We are talking to our friends and hope to reach agreement agreeable to both sides. We have our claims, which we believe in and which we shall put forward, but they have to be negotiated first through W.E.U. and N.A.T.O. We believe that with good will a solution to this problem is to be found.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

Will the Prime Minister put it to the Germans that no self-respecting nation like the Germans would expect the British taxpayer to pay for their defence until they were able to defend themselves?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Yes, Sir, but there are two quite different problems. There is the short-term problem. We have maintained, successfully up to now, that until the Germans make a defence effort of equivalent value to ours, they have a duty as good partners to help us in this matter. Then there is the quite separate problem, even when they have reached that point where they could claim that they were making equal contributions, the problem of exchange, because our troops are stationed in another country. Even if the money contributions on both sides are equal that makes a heavy burden on the exchange, and that is a long-term problem quite separate from the short-term problem of the equivalence of effort.