British Forces, West Germany (Cost)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the net cost to date, since the signing of the Paris Agreement, of maintaining British forces in Federal Germany after taking into account the Federal Government's off-set payments.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

About £390 million of overseas expenditure.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Does not my hon. Friend agree that that is a staggering figure and that it has made some contribution to the economic and financial difficulties through which the nation has passed over the last few years? Does he not think that it is time that we made it perfectly clear to the Germans that if they are not prepared to meet these costs, we will bring home the forces necessary to provide the compensating amount?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Of course any overseas expenditure contributes towards the problem to which my hon. Friend draws my attention, and of course the Government are anxious to minimise the cost, but my hon. Friend should not ask questions which imply that this is not money which is well spent; I think that it is.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

When considering these offset arrangements, will the Government take steps to ensure that we do not count in these figures stocks bought by the German Government in this country, which benefit the balance of payments this year, but which the next Government will have to repay in the 1970s?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

Is not my hon. Friend aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) is perfectly entitled to ask these questions and equally entitled to ask for a reply, and that the answer to his question, instead of being helpful to the cause of European unity, is the reverse?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I was not suggesting for a moment that my hon. Friend should not have asked that question in that sense. Having worked with him for two years in happy harmony in the D.E.P., that would be the last sort of suggestion which I would dare to make to him. I was only struggling to make the point, which I must now repeat, that there are many of us in the House who do not agree with the supposition that this is not money well spent.