HC Deb 05 November 1945 vol 415 cc880-2
4 and 5. Mr. Horabin

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many trade or business representatives have been given facilities to proceed to Germany to select any plant or machinery to be brought over to this country; who granted such facilities; and what authority these representatives have;

(2) if it is proposed to bring over from Germany to this country any plant or machinery; if so, what is the nature and extent thereof; and by whom will the selection be made.

35. Mr. Keeling

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that manufacturers are unable to get any decision from his Department as to what plants, machinery and tools in Germany are available for use in this country; and whether he will appoint a Board to give prompt decisions and to facilitate inspections.

Sir S. Cripps

It is proposed to bring certain German plant and machinery over to this country as reparations. The Potsdam Agreement on Reparations provides that 75 per cent. of such industrial capital equipment in the Western zones of Germany as is unnecessary for the German peace economy shall be made available as reparations to the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other countries entitled to reparations other than the Soviet Union and Poland. The amount of plant to be so removed is to be determined by the Control Council for Germany by 7th February, 1946, and provision is made for certain advance deliveries. Arrangements for allocating this plant amongst the countries entitled to reparations are now under discussion by the Governments concerned.

Limited numbers of technical experts selected in consultation with industry are being sent by the Government to visit Germany to inspect and report on certain plants. These experts will act on behalf of the Government and not in a personal or business capacity, and their reports will be made to the Government. Under the Potsdam Agreement, it is the duty of the Control Council in Berlin to determine what plant and equipment in Germany is available for Reparation deliveries. This task must be finished by 7th February next, but in the meantime certain plants are being declared available and arrangements have been made for the claimant countries to put in claims in respect of them. When they have been decided upon it is hoped that certain plant will become available for importation into this country.

Sir Patrick Hannon

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman decided to appoint a committee of some organisation in this country to take charge of the allocation of this plant when it comes to us; and has he received a report from the Economic Commission in Germany on the amount of plant that will be available for this country?

Sir S. Cripps

As regards the second part of the question, only the plant that has already been announced by the Control Commission in Germany is known to be available. The rest will not be decided before 7th February.

Mr. Stokes

Is not this spoliation of a defeated enemy people, depriving them of their means of livelihood, altogether contrary to all good Socialist principles?

Sir S. Cripps

As I said in my answer, it is such machinery as is unnecessary for the German peace economy which will be made available.

Mr. Stokes

Then why is it necessary for us?

Lieutenant Skeffington-Lodge

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend think that, until there is an agreed economic settlement—

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is asking for an opinion and not for facts. I am always suspicious of a question starting, "Does not the hon. Member think.…?"