HC Deb 07 March 1939 vol 344 cc1898-900
14. Mr. Liddall

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will publish in the Board of Trade Journal the amount of the stand-still short-term indebtedness of Germany to British creditors, with a rough analysis of the purposes for which the larger portions were originally lent or granted, and by whom; and will he refuse to discuss, in the coming trade negotiations, any proposals about short-term obligations which might worsen the position of the British subjects who invested in long-term obligations of German public authorities to assist post-war reconstruction and appeasement prior to 1931?

Mr. Stanley

The so-called stand-still agreements in regard to the short-term indebtedness of Germany to British creditors are not inter-Governmental agreements, and I am not in possession of the detailed information referred to by my hon. Friend. As I have already explained, any conversations which may take place when I am in Berlin are intended to be of a general character, and I am not aware that there is any suggestion that proposals about Germany's short-term indebtedness should be discussed. The second part of the question, therefore, does not arise.

20. Mr. Bellenger

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the object of his proposed visit to Berlin, in view of the fact that trading relations between this country and Germany are to be settled by agreements between the different industries represented by the Federation of British Industries and the Reichsgruppe-industrie?

Mr. Stanley

I am going to Berlin in response to an invitation, which I have been glad to accept, to attend a dinner which is being given by the Reichsgruppe-industriein connection with the discussions with the Federation of British Industries regarding competition between individual industries of the two countries. I hope to have the opportunity of making contacts and of surveying the general problems of Anglo-German trade relations with those prominent in German economic life.

Mr. Bellenger

May we assume from that answer that the right hon. Gentleman's visit will deal only with trade matters, and that matters of a political nature will be excluded?

Mr. Stanley

Yes, Sir, I have already said in this House that my concern is economic, and the people I hope to see are those who are prominent in the economic life of Germany.

Mr. Thorne

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in addition to the luncheon or dinner he is going to attend, he will make inquiries about the deep bomb-proof shelters in Berlin?

Mr. Stanley

That hardly seems to come under the heading of economic matters.

Mr. Mander

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is proposed that any return visits shall be paid by German Ministers to this country, by Field-Marshal Goering or Dr. Goebbels, for example?

Mr. Stanley

I should certainly be glad to see my opposite number Dr. Funk come over here at any time.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Is it not in the interests of this country that British Ministers should make every contact they can?

Sir John Haslam

Is it not the fact that this proposed visit rejoices the hearts of everybody interested in the export trade?

23. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, with a view to safeguarding the national political and economic interests, His Majesty's Government will insist on being consulted before any binding agreements are entered into by the representativs of British industries about to negotiate with representatives of German interests?

Mr. Stanley

His Majesty's Government will keep in touch with the progress of the negotiations to which the hon. Member refers and must clearly be con- sulted on any question involving Government action. Agreements and understandings which do not require Government sanction are frequently made between British industries and the industries of other countries.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the fact that the German Government will, obviously, be consulted in the event of any such agreement being arrived at, will not His Majesty's Government be consulted in view of the important political consequences that might follow?

Mr. Stanley

We have been, and shall remain, in very close touch with the appropriate industries concerned.