§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams (Croydon, South)
I wish to raise the question of the Control Commission in Germany with special reference to the subject of recruitment. Before I commence to do so, I would like to thank my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for coming here at what, I fear, was short notice. I am sure it must have been very inconvenient to him.
Up to July last, Germany was in all our minds, and most of our activities were devoted either to destroying her or, in the last couple of months, to seeing that she was not in a position to reassert herself and commence fighting once more. Since then, Germany seems to have gone out of most of our thoughts. I think tonight is the first time that Germany has been debated on the Floor of this House since this Parliament met. Three or four years ago one would never have imagined a situation such as that. I would remind the House that a few years after the end of the last war, Brigadier-General Morgan, who was then in a position somewhat similar to that of my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in regard to Germany, likened 1617 Germany to a blinded Samson preparing to grasp the pillars of the Temple in his arms and to pull down that Temple about his head, the Temple being European civilisation. I would remind the House also that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) said quite recently that he thought it was possible that Germany would be like a courtesan offering her favours to the highest bidder. Therefore, we cannot envisage Europe without Germany in some position to take up her life again. At the same time, we cannot envisage Europe with Germany able to take up her military life again, so that, in some way or other, we must ensure that Germany is put into a position of being able to play a part in the economic and political life of Europe, without at the same time playing a part in the military life of Europe. In other words, we cannot allow Germany to be filled with a lot of half starved, miserable wretches, with no outlook whatsoever, no hope in the future and no feasible life in the present.
I cannot help thinking that part of our trouble has been caused by the fact that towards the end of the war we ignored the rule of law. This rule of law had been built up for centuries by civilised peoples. It had been built up on the basis of Christianity and the principles of chivalry. it had been built up by the customs and usages of great commanders, and finally it was embodied in statutory form in various conventions, one of which is the Hague Convention and another is the Geneva Convention. We have retained the Geneva Convention which deals adequately with prisoners of war—all sides did during the last European war—but the Hague Convention, which deals mainly with the treatment of civilians in occupied territory, we have hardly acknowledged at all. Our troubles now, at all events, have been intensified by our neglect of that convention and the usages and customs upon which it is based. The neglect of a moral law will always mean that at some time or other the person who neglects it will suffer. Our neglect of this moral law—I mean the Allies as a whole, and not just this Government—is having great consequences today, and will have greater consequences as the years go on.
One of the consequences is that, as a result of the various conferences between the Big Three, we have this absurd system 1618 of zones in Germany. If I might liken it to the United Kingdom, it is as if this country were divided from North of Northumberland to Scotland, taking in all of Scotland, as one zone; South from Northumberland to the Isle of Wight, two zones—one East and one West—and a fourth zone being carved out of the middle of it, say Berkshire and Wiltshire, each of these zones being given to a separate occupying Power, and London itself being carved into four zones—three parts being fairly equal, and Putney and Wimbledon being hacked out to be given to the fourth occupying Power. That is a system which would be difficult in any case to work, but it was just possible, as it was originally contemplated to work it because it was assumed that there would be German administrative ministries at the head in Berlin, through whom orders of the Control Council would pass, and that these orders would go down through the ordinary German machine to the four zones and would have an equal effect. As it turns out, it is like four engines running without a governor, because no ministries have been set up. Thus every Power feeds in its orders in its own separate zone at different levels in the way in which it thinks those orders should be interpreted.
There is no central direction whatever as regards the German side of the administration. In the Russian zone they work very largely on a land, or state, basis. There is a zonal government, but I am told it is not effective as yet. In the American zone they have tried to set up political governments in various Lande, which are the equivalent of states, as opposed to the Federal Government. An instance can be seen in Bavaria. Of course they have been set up much too early. The Germans are not yet in a position to take those responsibilities on themselves. We in our zone are dealing with the matter in what is probably the best possible method. We have only gone as far as provincial government as yet, dealing in our area through the provincial governments, but watching their instructions as they go down through the various local authorities, ensuring that the orders are carried out.
Those duties impose immense responsibility on the Control Commission officers responsible. It would be a very great responsibility if German ministries 1619 for administrative purposes were set up and one could work down through them, the officers on the spot merely watching to see whether the orders were being carried out. When the orders have to be fed into the administrations in the zone, it does involve a responsibility which had never been contemplated. One expects that officers performing that duty would be men of first class calibre. One might say: What about the Germans themselves? Is it necessary to have very important people as Military Government officers and Control Commission officers when the German authorities are there? At the moment the German authorities have no backing whatever as political entities. Their only authority comes from the fact that they have been appointed by the Military Government. If we were to leave Germany today the same thing would happen as when we left the last time. After the last occupation we finally marched out of the Rhineland in 1927, namely,nine years after we went in. As our troops marched out from one end of the town or village the German officials were chased out of the other end. If we walked out today no doubt the same thing would happen.
Who are these people, these officers who have this immense power? There are 23 million Germans for whom my hon. Friend is responsible. To control them he has 6,456 officers. No one can say that is too many. Of those officers, 4,129 are military officers and 2,327 are civilian officers. The military officers were recruited mainly as volunteers. The civilians, of course, had to be advertised for in various ways during the war. As I remember only too well, it was almost impossible to get men of the right calibre to go out to Germany. One can imagine that local authorities were not at all anxious to release men of first-class ability to go out to a foreign land for an unknown period. Therefore, without wishing to be in any way unfair to these officers, who have done their best and done a good job, one can say that they are not in all cases of first class calibre. One could not expect them to be. That does not stop us from getting the best men in now, and that is the main purpose of my raising this subject this evening. There is no reason why we should not get first class men today.
I have written to my hon. Friend and asked him for and obtained a copy of the 1620 terms which are offered to civilians who desire to take on service with the Control Commission. Paragraph 2 of Appendix A of the "Conditions of Service and Condition of Personnel Manual, 1945," says:Probationary period. New appointments (but not extensions of existing appointments) will be subject to a probationary period of three months. Officers whose services it is not desired to retain, and whose appointments have not yet been confirmed, may be given one month's notice, after which their engagements will terminate. If serving abroad they will be provided with free travel to the United Kingdom.That is very generous. Paragraph 3 says:Employment and termination.—Officers may be required to serve in Germany or in Austria or in any office of the Control Service in the United Kingdom. The appointments will be employment under the Crown and subject to general regulations applicable to the home Civil Service, and may be terminated at any time: (a) on grounds of misconduct, inefficiency or unsatisfactory service, or (6) in the event of the officer's services no longer being required on grounds of redundancy (which may arise from either the cessation or the reduction of the work on which the officer is employed). All posts will be unestablished and will carry no right to permanent appointment or to pension or superannuation allowance. For compensation on termination of appointment on grounds of redundancy, see the next paragraph.There is a small compensation, which depends upon how much of the officer's term is unexpired. It descends from 12 months, when there are five years unexpired, to three months, when there is a very short time unexpired. Can one imagine that those terms are going to attract really first-class men? The position of many professional men now coming out of the Army is this. They have been in the Army for five or six years, and they have to look forward to a period of anything up to seven years, if found suitable and if not redundant, in the Control Commission. Then what? It means that at the age of 43 or 45 they will come back to this country and find it very difficult to get any employment whatsoever. They will find it very difficult to live in the conditions which will then prevail.
No terms have been published to the public so far as I know. Possibly this is the reason, because the terms are not such as will induce the type of man we want in the Control Commission to go in. It is not that the pay and allowances are not good; I think they are very good.
1621 It is not that they are not going to have a more comfortable time than they would have in England; I think they will have a more comfortable time. It is because there is nocontinuity. The young professional man of the type we want feels that at any moment he may be thrown out of the service on the ground of redundancy—and in any case he will come out at the end of five or seven years without a pension or gratuity, oranything of that kind. Therefore it is just not worth it. I can assure the Minister that I have had numerous cases of officers who have served very well in Germany on the military side of the Commission, men who know the work from "A" to "Z" and who would be excellent men for the Minister's purpose. They will not come into the civil side because of this uncertainty.
I suggest that the remedy my hon. Friend should adopt is, that he should develop a civil service for Germany on exactly the same basis as the Civil Service in this country. We will have to garrison Germany for at least 25 years. We may as well make up our minds about that. Owing to the fact that we have neglected the rule of law, owing to the fact that we have this absurd zonal system and even then hampered it by not having the German ministries working, owing to the fact that Germany is now, and will be as far as we can see, mainly populated by half starved wretches, we will have to garrison Germany for 25 years. That is our penalty. That is what it costs ourselves and our Allies for taking the action we have done. Therefore, we must face the fact that we want a civil service in Germany on civil service lines. If my hon. Friend does that he can get good men to go out there.
I would remind him, as no doubt he knows only too well, that the actual soldiers who garrison Germany are of very little use in running the country from the administration point of view. They do not know the language; they do not know German affairs; they do not know the administrative systems and so on Therefore, they are there to provide bayonets; they are not there to provide brains. We must also have the other type of person. I see that some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House would 1622 like to develop other points in connection with this matter, and I do not want to detain the House any longer, but I do urge the hon. Gentleman most strongly that this is an urgent matter which cannot wait for any Treasury sanction or anything of that kind. The salaries of these people in any case will come out of the German exchequer. They are a first charge on the reparations payments, in fact, on the ordinary day to day taxation receipts of Germany, so that the usual bugbear of the Chancellor of the Exchequer need not apply in this case.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) has done an extremely valuable service in raising this evening the vitally important question of the Control Commission and the future of Germany. Here I would like to pay tribute to the work of the Control Commission and of Allied Military Government, and of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In his treatment of the question of Germany, in his attitude towards the Germans and in his fulfilment of the task of administration, my hon. Friend has shown himself to be a most able administrator, who has won the admiration of all those who have been in contact with him. I have had a very brief opportunity in my capacity as a journalist of seeing him at work in Berlin, and I would like to say that, in carrying out his tasks, he had the affection and regard of the Germans whom he helped to govern as much as of the Britons who were his colleagues.
The point I wish to emphasise this evening is that the Control Commission, and Allied Military Government, are today doing a task for which they were not designed. We remember how, during the war, as the troops moved forward G.5, or Civil Affairs, or Military Government moved up behind in order to carry out the transitional task of government, a transitional task which lasted as long as there was no civil administration of the people whose territory was temporarily occupied. The officers who were entrusted with the administration were people who very often had only had brief specialised courses in the conduct of civil affairs; they had had short and intensive periods of study on how to run a town and how to administer its public offices. They were qualified to deal with the immediate tasks 1623 of administration but were incapable of acting as long-term administrators. The whole question of the long-term administration of any country has always rested, and will always rest, in the hands of the trusted representatives of the country to be administered. In North Africa it was the French; in Italy it ultimately became the Italians; and in Germany it will have to be the Germans.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon referred to the very small number of British officers and civilian officers who are responsible today for administering the affairs of Germany, and I emphasise the word "administering," because it is quite clear that so small a number of officers cannot possibly administer effectively the affairs of 23 million Germans. Obviously, during the period of control, this small corps of officers can effectively supervise the aministration of the country and see to it that the Germans who are carrying on the administration are doing so in a way approved by the occupying authority; but it should be beyond their function to engage in the actual duties of administration, duties which they appear to be trying to perform today. A great weakness of the administration at the present time is that we are not making an adequate use of Germans in carrying out the day to day tasks of local self-government. I suggest that not only should we raise the pact of absorbing Germans into the organs of local administration, but that we also try, as far as possible, to send to Germany those prisoners of war who have been examined and who have passed through courses of re-education such as are being given so efficiently at Wliton Park in Beconsfield.
At Beconsfield there is a school for the re-education of Germans. The men have been drawn from prisoner of war cages. They have been examined, roughly at first by means of a questionnaire and later in greater detail, and have proved themselves willing and suitable to go back to Germany to serve as a spearhead of democracy. They are not traitors who have sold themselves for money to this country, but people who are genuinely convinced that the way to Germany's regeneration is through democracy. I would respectfully suggest to my hon. Friend that, in consultation with the War Office, he should consider extending this system of camps for the re-education of German prisoners of war, and should 1624 accelerate the shipment back to Germany of such men. There have been times when at Ascot, where there was a similar prisoner of war camp, and at Beconsfield, there have been large numbers of prisoners of war waiting in idleness for unduly long periods before being returned to Germany. I suggest that their return should be speeded up and that, when they do get back to Germany, they should not be lost sight of, but should be encouraged to take part in the organs of local administration. Even if they do not do so, even if the cobbler merely goes back to being a cobbler in his native village, if the worker merely goes back to being a factory hand and the peasant merely returns to till the soil near his own village, I feel that they will be infectious examples. Their example will be infectious in the very best way; they will form small centres of democracy which will steadily enlarge themselves by a process of attraction.
I feel, furthermore, that the Control Commission and Military Government in Germany have not got an adequate number of officers, qualified by experience, to engage in the task both of de-Nazification and of seeing to it that those Germans who obtain appointments in the German administration and in local government are best qualified as anti-Nazis to create the sort of Germany which we hope to see emerge. We have at the present time only two British trade union officials who have gone to Germany as industrial advisers. We have only two men in the whole of the Northern area who have gone there to act as advisers on manpower, on the selection of industrial supervisors, and to recommend on the problems of German industry. We have only two in the whole of Northern Germany. I feel it most important that we should, as rapidly as possible, develop the system of labour attaches which the Foreign Secretary has so effectively introduced into some of our embassies abroad. But I suggest that the system of labour attaches should be applied rather differently in Germany. I feel that right at the top level we should have a labour attache who is qualified to advise on matters concerning the direction of German industry; and under him, at the various levels—at the zone level, at the regional level, and, ultimately, at the town and even the village level—there should be labour attaches, men drawn 1625 from the labour movement in this country.
I use the term" labour movement "not in any Party sense, but in a political sense. I use it in a political sense to mean people drawn from the working classes in this country, men who are anti-Nazi by their deepest convictions, and who will have a natural sympathy with the German working classes in the areas where their advice is so badly needed. I know that the work of de-Nazification in the British zone has recently accelerated but there are very frequently cases reported of individuals who still retain their industrial posts who would be detected and, I hope, cleared out if there were labour attaches of the kind I suggest. I hope very much that my hon. Friend will consult rather more closely than he appears to have done with the T.U.C. in order to increase rapidly the number of labour advisers, who will be appointed, perhaps, by the recommendation of theT.U.C., but who certainly will have as their major qualification that they are anti-Nazi and, also, understand the working people who in all countries have fundamental affinities.
I should like to turn from that to the general question of political parriesin Germany. It is clear that political parties can only be tolerated if they are basically anti-Nazi. We have allowed parties to grow up in our zone and that is all to the good. But I feel that the most effective expression of democracy which will have any value at the present time is through the German trade unions. I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will give even more encouragement to the growth of zone trade unions than he has done in the past. In these trade unions, which, for the present, are merely shadows of trade unions, there are representatives of all the political parties who are united by one fundamental sympathy; they are anti-Nazi and they want to see a democratic Germany emerge. I feel we shall do much better by encouraginga virile trade union movement in our zone than we shall by trying to foster any particular political party. I feel that genuine political parties, which have the same status as our own in this country, can emerge genuinely in Germany only when we have decided on the ultimate, unified form of Germany.
1626 At the present moment, there is a most indecent competition going on between the Social Democrat leaders in the Russian zone, who are very largely under Russian influence, and the Social Democrat leadersin our own zone. It is clear that as long as political parties may be subject to the pressure of the occupying Power they cannot emerge as the free, independent political parties which we all hope that they may ultimately be. In Berlin, for example, we know that today there is an intense agitation from the Communist Party for fusion with the Social Democrats. One cannot help feeling that if the occupying Power is giving preferential access to any one party for propaganda purposes, for purposes of holding meetings, and for purposes of carrying on political activities generally, we cannot have free political parties. Therefore, I would suggest that we for our part in our zone, instead of trying to compete in this unattractive scramble for the favours of the political parties, concentrate our attentions on the development of free, democratic trade unions.
In order to achieve that, there is one thing which we must do. We must give the German trade unions, if they are to be real and not merely puppets, some opportunity for bargaining. I know that for the time being we cannot give the German trade unions any power which would allow them to withdraw their labour in a case of dispute, but I do suggest that we can give them the power to concern themselves with their general conditions of work, which is, after all, one of the fundamental functions of a, trade union. We could give them power, if not to bargain on the question of wages, at least to advise on wages. Today the statute which governs the wages of German workers is still the statute—it might have been changed, perhaps, in verbal form, but basically it is still the statute—which the Nazis fixed. Consequently, I do feel that we will give the trade unions a greater sense of that genuine, democratic independence which we want to encourage in Germany if we extend to them the rights and opportunities of bargaining.
As the Ruhr is our particular concern, I would also suggest that in the Ruhr, where we have such great support from the Germans locally, we should declare our policy at the earliest possible time. Are we in favour of the internationalisa-tion of the Ruhr economically? Are we 1627 in favour of its intemationalisation economically and politically? We should declare our intentions as soon as possible in order that those who administer industry in the Ruhr may know what to expect in the future and for what they should work. After all, how can one expect a factory manager, whether he is a German or a member of the Military Government or a supervisor from the Control Commission, to develop the industry for which he is responsible in a rational and planned way if he does not know what his target of production is to be—if he does not know what he is working for or what the future of the industrial unit is to be? We should, at the earliest possible moment, declare exactly what our intentions are with regard to the Ruhr.
Finally, I would speak of the ultimate form which Germany should take. At the present time we have a "cannibalised" Germany. It is a Germany which has been mutilated in the East, the West, and in the South—torn into zones which have no correspondence to local feeling, strategy or economic needs. In order to relieve ourselves of the severe burden of occupation, and from keeping occupation troops in Germany for the next 25 years, we must aim at bringing about a unified German State, which will not be powerful enough to be a menace to the rest of the world, but which will be sufficiently strong economically to be able to feed its inhabitants. It must be a unified State in which there will be central administration for such things as posts and telegraph, and railways, and those other functions of a civilised State.
In order to bring about the right balance between restraining Germany's potentially expanding strength and the desirability of unification, we should encourage the formation of a Confederated State. Together with the Russians, the Americans and the French, we could encourage such a State in which there could be a large measure of regional self-government, corresponding, up to a point, to the present system of zoning, which would not enable a great monolithic State, such as was the Third Reich, to emerge again. With this target in view, we should assume the responsibilitynow for preventing those grave calamities which threaten Germany today. We cannot allow the Germans to starve and become a centre of infection for the whole 1628 of Europe. We have not only a moral responsibility. but a practical responsibility, to see that Germany is not allowed to be too strong, but, on the other hand she must have some economic standard, whereby she can live. If we can do that, we shall have discharged our duty, safeguarded our future and ensured that Europe, instead of being torn between two contenders for the material and political resources of Germany, will be unified. Only then will Germany be able to play a proper and useful part in a world at peace.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devon-port)
I should like to begin by congratulating the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) and the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) on raising this matter at this time. This Debate has been raised at very short notice, and, therefore, I hope that it will not prejudice theattempt, which many hon. Members have been making, to have a fuller Debate in this House on the problem of Germany. With all respect to those who order Debates in this House, I consider that it is something of a scandal that we have not discussed this matter at much greater length and with greater urgency than on this occasion. If this House refuses to debate this subject on many occasions this year, and next year, we shall find, in five years or 10 years' time, that we shall be debating nothing else. Therefore, it is necessary that we should be discussing this great German problem. I do not believe that this House recognises the extent of our responsibility in this matter. The other day I asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he could sayprecisely whose was the responsibility for introducing the ration cuts which had been imposed in Germany. I asked whether it was the responsibility of the Combined Food Board, or whether it was the responsibility of all the Governments involved in the direction of German affairs, or the responsibility of the British Government alone. The Chancellor replied, quite frankly, that the responsibility rested on him. He had to impose the cuts, and, therefore, responsibility for the imposition of the cuts rests clearly upon Members of this House.
We have responsibility for 23 million people, and a larger responsibility for the whole of Western Europe. I do not know 1629 whether further details will be given to this House during this Debate, but, according to reports, within the first week of the latest food cuts, German production of coal has fallen by 10 per cent. I do not know whether the Minister has any later figures, but it is evident, if these cuts are to continue, or worsen, that production in the Ruhr Will collapse after the considerable efforts on the part of the Commission in recent months. The consequences of such a collapse will be felt all over Western Europe. They will be felt, not only in the British zone. The Dutch will not have power to drain their land and increase food production, and the French will not be able to extract sugar from beet. Therefore, I turn to the subject which the hon. Member for West Coventry dealt with in the last part of his speech.
The immediate problem is how we are to deal with the food situation in Germany. Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell us precisely what is the situation. There has been considerable confusion in the newspapers about the food position in Germany. We have had reports from Mrs. Roosevelt that everyone has plenty to eat, and contradictory reports from others who have returned from Germany. I hope that we can have some authoritative account from the Minister. A fortnight ago there were food cuts imposed in the British zone down to 1,014 calories. It hasbeen stated by the Control Commission, in Berlin, that probably after 20th March there will be a further cut down to 700 calories, or even less. The Minister has, I believe, largely confirmed these reports, and perhaps he will tell us "how many people will be involved in the British zone. Perhaps he will also tell us what evidence there is of food hoarding in Germany, and exactly what the situation is likely to be. There is a great danger of people imagining that if we can keep the food level at 1,014 calories, then all will be well. I consider that that is a wrong attitude. We must aim to get back at least to the ration of 1,500 calories, which was the ration before the last cut. Let us not forget that the existing ration in Germany is one third of our ration, and that if it falls to six or seven hundred calories, the people in Germany will be living on a quarter of the ration? provided for the people of this country.
1630 What can be done to remedy this situation? First, I think we shall be grateful for any information which can be given by the Minister about the question of food from the Russian zone. We understand that approaches have been made in the past to the Soviet Government to ask them whether they would be willing to agree to some different method of allocating food throughout the whole of Germany. It is very hard that the British zone should have to bear the whole of this burden; because in prewar days the British zone produced only 50 per cent. of its own requirements, while the Soviet zone produced a surplus over its requirements. Surely there should be some saner method of arrangement than that we should have to send food from the British zone to Berlin to feed the British area there. There has been news in the last few days that the Russians have sent several tons of wheat to France. No one objects to that, but it is a very curious situation if food is being sent by the Russians to France when the Russians are in Austria where, for instance, the great mass of the people are living on possibly lower rations than those provided for the people of France. We hope that food is not to be used in Europe as a political weapon. A new effort ought to be made to get an allocation of food in Europe on a basis of human needs, disregarding politics altogether.
§ Mr. Austin (Stretford)
Does the hon.Gentleman's last implication mean that the people of Austria should get preference over the people of France in regard to food supplies, and that the people of Germany, an ex-enemy country, should get preference overthe people of India?
§ Mr. Foot
I am not suggesting that there should be a preference for Germany or Austria over other stricken countries in Europe. I am suggesting that it would be better for all the peoples of Europe if the allocation of food were made on the basis of human needs. So far as India is concerned, I am 100 per cent. in favour of using the most urgent measures for dealing with that tragic situation. If you are going to deal with the Indian situation and the European situation it is necessaryto have a proper world system for the allocation of food. I believe that if we are to argue out the whole business of how food is to be supplied on the basis of whether we are going to feed our ex- 1631 enemies or not, we shall get into a mess and as a result enemies, friends and Allies alike, will all go down together.
Then there is the question of refugees coming into the British zone. It is ironic that the refugees coming into the British zone from the Eastern parts of Germany began to come in almost the same week as the latest food cuts were announced. I suggest that the methods by which these refugees have been despatched into Germany provide a clear and open breach of the Potsdam declaration, which laid down that transference of populations could onlytake place if it could be done in an orderly and human fashion. No one who has seen the eye-witness account given by a reporter in the '' Manchester Guardian," about a week ago, can doubt that this transference of population is not taking place in an orderly and humane fashion. It is a fact that, at the end of last year, many protests and representations were made by the British Government on this matter to the Polish Government and other Governments in Eastern Europe. I would like to know from the Minister whether any further protests have been made since this new invasion of the British zone started a few weeks ago. It is surely a grievous situation that we should have to feed new visitors to the British zone when there are not sufficient rations to feedthe persons there already.
We should not be content to think that this problem can be solved by what we do in Germany. We should consider what assistance can be given from this country. Statements have been made by responsible Ministers as to the food stocks which now exist in this country. A statement was made by the Prime Minister that the food stocks here on 31st December, 1945, amounted to 4,200,000 tons. Since that date, we have been told that there has been a decline which is due to seasonal arrangements, but we still have in this country well over 3,000,000 tons of food stocks. That is about three times the figure which was considered necessary in the period of peace just before the war. Three million tons was the figure to which food stocks in this country were raised at the beginning of the war when presumably the Government were making some attempt to guard this country against the dangers of blockade and U-boat warfare. Therefore, I believe that it would be 1632 possible to provide from food stocks here something like 600,000 tons of food at least, without affecting the rations in this country at all, and without affecting the system of distribution. It would make a tremendous difference to the food situation in the British zone in Gernany duringthe next two or three months. We were told in one of the answers given by a Minister that in order to maintain rations in the British zone of Germany at the figure of 1,500 calories, which was the previous ration, it would be necessary to import into Germany something like 1,500,000 tons of wheat in the next six months. Therefore, if we are able to make a contribution of food—I do not say wheat alone—of something like 600,000 tons in the next two or three months, we could-possibly, by that act alone, save this desperate situation.
If the people of this country want to-do so, they should have the right to make voluntary contributions of food to be sent to Germany. It is wrong for any Government to deny the individual the right to help feed a fellow human being. This voluntary contribution could have an enormous psychological effect. Absurd, fantastic and dangerous rumours are spreading through the British zone in. Germany as to the reasons why this cut has been imposed. There have been rumours that the British have been refusing to send food to Germany. That is not the case. Britain has made great efforts to assist. They are also saying that food is being held here to build up stocks for another war. We know that to be absurd. But nothing can correct that kind of false rumour and create a. better psychological impression in Germany and throughout Western Europe, than if voluntary contributions of food are permitted from people in this country who feel that they have much more than they need to keep body and soul together and maintain a proper livelihood. It is vital that we should have in this House a. much clearer explanation than we have yet had of the system whereby world wheat supplies are allocated. We have had an enormous number of statements on this-subject, some of which are contradictory. We are told that when the Minister of Food returns from Washington we shall have a clearer statement. I am not asking; the hon. Gentleman to provide an answer tonight, but this is a matter which must be cleared up in this House. All these 1633 matters are relevant and vital to the conduct of the affairs of the Control Commission, because that Commission cannot possibly do its job if there is to be a great spread of starvation and disease across Western Europe in the next two or three months.
The hon. Member for West Coventry referred to the political situation in Germany. This question of food unhappily does affect the political situation. No one can deny that there is a kind of political struggle going on in Germany at the present time. It was not a political struggle started by the British Government. I do not think that anyone in this country is to blame for it. I think that the initiative in starting this political straggle in Germany—and a dangerous one—was taken by the Russians. The Russians in the Soviet zone are using methods which we certainly could not applaud or approve in this country to force a fusion between the Communists and the Social Democratic Party. I believe the methods theyare using are methods which should be most strongly condemned by this country.
However, whether we like it or not there is this struggle going on. I hope that efforts will be made to get a common agreement between ourselves and Soviet Russia about these matters. I hope they will be overcome, but in the meantime the situation is that in the Russian zone the Russians are offering to the German people totalitarianism of a new kind on 1,500 calories or more, whereas we in the British zone, unhappily because ofour extremity, have to offer the beginnings of free speech and democracy on 500 calories. That is the choice provided for the people of Germany, and if that is the choice social democracy is going to suffer. I want to see us stand up for our rights and tomake the possibilities of social democracy in Western Germany real and definite. Therefore, in this interim period before a proper agreement is reached between us and our Soviet Allies, it is important that we should realise that if we do not send food toGermany, if we do not assist the British zone in Germany by a supply of food, it may have dangerous political consequences for the principles which we believe in and which this Government was elected to uphold. This whole problem is overcast by the vitaldecisions which were 1634 taken at Potsdam and at earlier conferences. The decision to carve up and mutilate the Eastern frontiers of Europe has led to many of these disasters, and it was the decision of the Potsdam Conference that has made the work of the British Control Commission so difficult. In the Debate on the Potsdam Resolutions in this House last autumn, I claimed, with many others, that the Potsdam system was unworkable. I still think it is unworkable, and I am quite sure that history will proveit is unworkable. It is unworkable to suggest that 60,000,000 Germans are to be huddled together in a much smaller Reich, where they are deprived of the methods of organising their own life and providing their own sustenance. It is a hopeless proposition,and sooner or later it will have to be abandoned.
The first course and the right course for the Government to take, is to try to raise the whole question with our Soviet Allies so as to get a rewriting of the Potsdam decisions and programme rather than interpret a doctrine or a document which is unworkable in any case. We should try that first, but if we cannot get that then we have to recognise the fact" that it is better for us to realise the situation than to go on trying to work an unworkable settlement of Europe.
Finally, I would say to any Members of this House who think that these matters are unimportant that that was the same cry which was heard in the period before this war. We were told then that we need not worry about Europe, that it did not matter if Hitler rose to power in Europe, that it was no concern of ours. We see the same story printed today in the same newspapers which misled the people of this country before the war. They are the same people who tried to use the food scare a week or so ago to attack the Government instead of printing the facts about the world situation. Newspapers like the "Daily Mail" and the "Daily Express" were partly responsible for leading the British people to the beaches of Dunkirk. We should not accept their advice today. If we do so we shall find that in ten or 15 years we shall be faced with an even worse German problem than that which we had to solve by such terrible slaughter and through misery imposed on countless human beings in the past six years.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Flight-Lieutenant. Crawley (Buckingham)
I did not know that this Debate was to take place until a very short time ago, and I support all that the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) said about the short notice given. This is a very important subject and it is almost a scandal that extremely important matters like this should be dealt with in this manner. I support all that my hon. Friend said about the food shortage and the immediate urgency to give aid. In my view, this question of Germany isone of the tap roots of our foreign policy at the moment, and our foreign policy, particularly our relations with Russia, will be solved only when a real policy for Germany has been worked out. I urge the Minister to make life unbearable for his colleagues, until they evolve a policy, not only for the Ruhr but for all Germany.
I have only one important point to make tonight, and I shall do so in the form of a question. I do not altogether agree with the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) when he said that the deNazification in the British zone was going on very fast. My own information is that although a tremendous improvement has been made in the last few weeks there is still a great deal to be done. I know that the Scrutineer Committees have beenset up, but I wonder whether the Minister can give us any information about the British zone, the number that exist now and how fully the whole system of scrutinising Germans in Germany by Germans is going to be implemented. Secondly, I should like to askhim whether news of the existence of these committees and the work that they are doing, has been given wide publicity in the German Press, because, besides the other difficulties experienced in the British zone, the fact that we failed to de-Nazify Germanyearlier on has had a tremendous effect on German influence as regards democracy as a whole. If these Scrutineer Committees are to have their full effect, we need to give them wide publicity particularly in regard to their existence and the work that theyare doing
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
I agree with a great deal that my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) has said, notably about the need for giving 1636 Germany some help in food. I believe that the time may well come when together with our Allies we may find it possible to revise the Potsdam Agreement and treat the question of Germany as part of the general question of the reorganisation of Europe both economically and politically. But up to the present moment we have not got asfar as applying the decisions of the Potsdam Conference. We have not yet set up' all-German organisations for taking care of transport and finance, as well as those other economic questions that were contemplated at the Potsdam Conference. The Power that has prevented that is France. The French Government have objected to the setting up of any unified organs of control in Germany until they get the questions of the Ruhr and the Rhineland settled to their satisfaction. On that issue I know the Government are in great difficulties and are entitled to time to make up their mind.
I would point out, however, that until they make up their mind, the whole business of devising some over-all means of dealing with the situation in Germany is being held up. And I should like to say bluntly that I do not think it would be reasonable to separate the Ruhr, politically as well as economically, from Germany, because that would leave on our hands several millions of Germans who would indefinitely have to be governed by foreign Powers against their will, and if anything can be calculated permanently to bedevil the situation in Germany that sort of settlement would. On the other hand it does seem to me that there is a great deal to be said for the international control of the Ruhr as a starting point for the international control of steel, coal and wheat production throughout Europe, linking up with the work of the Central European Organisation and eventually with the control of the international waterways of Europe, the Rhine, the Elbe, the Oder and the Danube.
As regards the political aspect of the situation in Germany, I think there are two things to be said. The first is that part of our difficulty in our zone of Germany is that we are operating without any clear, positive idea of the kind of Germany we want to build up and the kind of political forces we wish to work with in Germany. You cannot, in the long run, drive out the Nazi idea unless you can put some other and better idea in its place. Democracy alone is much 1637 too vague and shadowy a term, and has been abused so much that it does not mean enough to provide a positive alternative. The Labour Party, in their foreign policy report, "The International Post-War Settlement," have an alternative. In that document it isstated that Socialism is a fundamental necessity for combating Fascism, and for establishing democracy in Europe. I suggest that the present Government should frankly and openly work for that basis of reconstruction in Germany and throughout Europe, that they should work frankly with the political forces that are prepared to build up that kind of Germany. That means not a policy by us alone, but a policy that we should bring forward in discussion with our principal Allies, particularly France and the Soviet Union. They, with us, are the Powers chiefly concerned with the rebuilding of Europe.
The second and final point I wish to make is that this business of reconstructing Europe on Socialist foundations is not a job that should be treated in the spirit of a monopoly for Social Democrats; it is a job big enough for a coalition of working-class parties and forces who are prepared to carry out that programme. In that connection, I would like to detain the House for a moment or two by reading the wise and sane words used by "The Times," in a leading article in which they took issue with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill):Mr. Churchill was perhaps less happy in the passages in his speech in which he appeared to contrast ' Western Democracy and ' Communism ' as irreconcilable opposites dividing, or attempting to divide the world between them today "—I should like to make it clear that "The Times" was writing about the Leader of the Opposition, and not about my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). The article goes on:Yet it would be an assumption of despair to hold that they are doomed to a fatal contest. Indeed, a clearer recognition of two points might well serve to mitigate on both sides some of the asperities of recent exchanges. The first is that there are many forms of government intermediate between western democracy and Communism, and some of them may be better adapted at the present stage of development to the requirements of eastern Europe or of the Middle or Far East. The second is that, while western democracy and Communism are in many respects opposed, they have much to learn from each other—Communism in the working of political institu- 1638 tions and in the establishment of individual rights, western democracy in the development of economic and social planning.The ideological warfare between western democracy and Communism cannot result in an out and out victory for either side. The issue will be determined neither by clashes of eloquence nor by clashes of arms, but by the success of the great nations in dealing with the problems of social organisation in the broadest sense which the war has left behind it.That is true wisdom, and I rejoice at the fact that my Noble Friend Lord Stans-gate, speaking in another place on 7th March, quoted those words with approval. I ask the Government to lay that doctrine to their heart I met an American officer some time ago who had just returned from the American zone in Germany, where his job had been to investigate how the business of de-Nazification way going on, and he gave it as his emphatic opinion that among the best political Forces in Germany at this time, from our point of view, were the Communists, and it was a great pity that they were not being used.
That does not mean to suggest that we should hand Germany over to Communism. On the contrary, I believe that is the only way in which we can prevent Germany being handed over to Communism—because if we are to attempt to separate Western Germany from the rest in order to turn Social Democrats in Western Germany into pocket Eberts, Scheidemanns and Noskes, relying on the British General Staff instead of, like their predecessors, on the German General Staff, then we make a present to the Communists of the argument of German national unity, as well as of the argument of social reconstruction. Therefore, I hope the Government will take a broad and comprehensive view, in the spirit of this admirable leading article of "The Times," and will realise that it is necessary for all Socialist political forces to co-operate in unifying and reconstructing Germany on lines that will enable us to see Germany incorporated into a peaceful Europe. I hope the Government will approach our French and Soviet Allies in order to work out a common policy on these lines and to make a new start in Europe.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Lieutenant Herbert Hughes (Wolverhampton, West)
I did not come prepared to take part in this Debate tonight, and I wish to raise a matter which, to some 1639 extent, must appear insignificant by the side of the tremendous problems connected with food and industrial organisation in Germany. I want to ask the Minister whether he can give us fuller information on what is being done in the British zone of Germany, to give German people as much assistance as possible in obtaining access to current political, economic and social literature, based on democratic sources. I realise that this is a minor matter, but, nevertheless, it is one of great importance. The German people have been starved, since 1933, of any democratic thought and inspiration, but I believe that, in spite of material difficulties, they would be extremely receptive to a lead and to such political, social and economic education as we have to offer.
There are, I know, real difficulties about getting literature from Allied countries into the British zone at the moment. There are currency difficulties, which will probably mean that we or our Allies would, to some extent, have to finance democratic literature going into the British zone. I understand that Switzerland is well placed, and anxious to supply-journals and literature to Germany, but that because of currency difficulties the Control Commission, so far, have found it impossible to see their wayto let literature in from Switzerland. I believe, however, that with good will, this could be overcome, that it would be possible to allow some publishers to supply free material to Germany—which they would be prepared to do—and that if currency was not at the moment available, it would be possible to let in literature in return for blocked exchange accounts. Therefore, I hope the Minister will give this matter his sympathetic consideration, realising that, if democratic and progressive ideasare to get into Germany, it is tremendously important that the starvation of the German people, not only of food, but of literature, should be met.
I would also ask the Minister whether he can give the House some information on what, for example, is the present circulation of journals inside the British zone. What is being done to give German parties and other organisations, paper supplies to enable them to overcome printing difficulties, and get current material circulating in Germany? Beyond the question of the circulation of daily publications there is the question of books 1640 and periodicals coming from democratic countries. This is important, and was the main reason why I rose to speak tonight. But there is another point I would like to make. I believe it is also of great importance that we should choose, and back up strongly, the elements in German political and industrial life who are in sympathy with our ideas. Reference has already been made to what is happening to the Social Democratic Party inGermany today. Last October, when I was in Berlin, I had the opportunity of meeting Herr Grotewohl, the leader of the Social Democrats, who is now advocating fusion with the Communist Party in the Eastern zone.
At that time it was quite clear that Herr Grotewohl, situated as he was with his headquarters in the Russian zone of Berlin, was under considerable difficulties, but that, left to himself he had certainly no inclinations to find his organisation merged into a united party. Herr Grotewohl, as we see,has changed his tune. I am convinced he has not done so ofhis own inclination I feel it is extremely important that we should recognise the difficulties of the parties in Berlin at the moment, and that we should in our own area give what support we can tomen of the character of Schumacher, who are putting up a tremendously courageous fight at the present time.
The third thing to which I wish to refer is the question of de-Nazification. Every time one speaks to officials of the Control Commission who are over here for a short time, and asks them whether they are satisfied with the progress of de-Nazification, the answer is always "We feel we should go a great deal further than we have done already." There is still, I believe, a tendency to ca' canny on thesubject of de-Nazification, on the assumption that if one weeds out people who have been Nazis in the past, the industrial system will collapse. I think that is a very dubious matter, and I hope the Chancellor of the Duchy will give us assurances on the subject.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Baldwin (Leominster)
I had not intended to take part in this Debate until I heard the remarks of the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). The hon. Member suggested that we in this country should cut our food supplies in order to 1641 keep the Germans going. I would not like it to go out from the House that we are unanimous in that idea. The house-wives of this country have put up with very meagre rations for seven years, and to suggest that those rations should be cut in order to supply Germany, which has not suffered a food shortage for very long, is, in my opinion, wrong. If there are anyhon. Members, or any members of the community, who have spare rations, I suggest they should make those rations available to the miners and the workers in the heavy industries. Those who have the opportunity of going into restaurants and hotels to get extra meals do not feel and do not know what housewives, who have not a chance of doing that, have to put up with. If there is any surplus of food, it should be made available to people who deserve it more than the German people. From reports which I have received, I do not agree that the Germans are starving to the extent that has been suggested. The news I have received is that in the country districts the Germans are fairly well fed, and are not making to the towns the contribution which they should do. The hon. Member for Devon-port suggested that the coal output in the Ruhr was falling because of the shortage of food for the miners. That may be the reason our coal output is falling. If there is extra food available, the miners in this country should have it in order to raise our coal output.
The suggestion has been made that the newspapers which led us into war are again contributing to unrest. It has been said that the "Daily Mail" led us to Dunkirk. I suggest that memories are short. My opinion is that the "Daily Mail" and other newspapers endeavoured to open our eyes to the dangers ahead. In spite of the fact that our eyes were opened, not only by the "Daily Mail," but by the right hon. Member for Wood-ford (Mr. Churchill), when we were asked to rearm to meet the dangers ahead, hon. Members opposite did not make their contribution towards that rearmament.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Beswick (Uxbridge)
I would like in just three minutes to bring the Debate back to the subject on which it started. Although some of the advice which has been given to the Chancellor 1642 of the Duchy and to the Government is very sound advice, and althougn a wise long-term policy towards the Germans will make civil administration easier nevertheless, it still remains that it is essential to have a civil administration, and the appointment of that civil administration is a responsibility that must rest very heavily upon the Chancellor of the Duchy. In some respects, I believe, that civil administration falls short of requirements. I appreciate that it has done a great deal of good work in Germany The stories that were told about what would happen in Germany followingher defeat have not come true. Reconstruction work has been done to an extent which is not properly appreciated in this country, and the credit for that must go to the civil administration, to the military administration, and to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy. But more and more, as responsibility is transferred from the military side to the civil side, the weaknesses of the civil administration will be shown up.
It seems to me that, in the first place, a good many of the appointments that were made were of people with the appropriate technical qualifications, but I am not so certain that they had also those qualities of leadership and character which will become more and more important as they take on the actual leadership of civil life inGermany. I agree that, in so far as is possible, the German people should be given the right and the opportunity to arrange their civil affairs, but this year and next year much of the responsibility will still rest with the British civil officers, and I think their job will be much more difficult next year than it is this year. In many respects the situation in Germany will be more difficult. The people will be getting their second wind, they will be less likely to follow meekly; the military officers willbe departing, the display of military might will be less apparent, and the people, unless properly instructed and led, will be less likely to follow so meekly next winter as they have done thus winter. Can the Chancellor of the Duchy tell me exactly how the appointments are now being made? Many good men now in Germany in one Service or another are prepared to volunteer in the Civil Control, and these men should now be transferred to the civil administration. I understand 1643 that deputations are going round Germany asking for volunteers to serve in the civil administration. The difficulty would appear to be-that the selection is taking too long a time. Many good men are unable to wait. They are not sure what the terms will be if they accept positions. I ask, if it is possible, that the method of selection should be speeded up and that the prospective entrants should know the exact terms of service. If this were done, I think it would be possible to get into the ranks of the civil administration some good men who would serve us well in the forthcoming year.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I have the greatest possible admiration for the courage that has been shown this evening by my hon Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). I should like to put this one point to the House. This country was engaged in warfare with Fascist Germany longer than any other country in the world, longer than the Soviet Union and longer than the United States of America. I suggest to hon. Members on all sidesof the House that it is a great fact, in entire accord with the traditions of Britain, that an hon. Member should get up this evening and should have the generosity to ask that the stocks of this country should be depleted for the purpose of making sure that conditions of starvation do not occur in Germany which may be worse than those in Belsen Camp. I desire to offer only one observation to the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) who made some comments a moment or two ago. I do not for one moment think that my hon. Fried suggested that there should be any cut in the rations of British people. All that he suggested was that we should be told more facts about stocks of food in this country. I should like here to offer a word to my right hon. Friend on the Front Bench. I well remember the time when the right hon. Member the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) was most anxious that there should be some disclosure of facts relevant to the food situation. He asked for the disclosure of those facts in a precisely similar Debate to that which we are now having on the Adjournment. It is an interesting illustration of the inter-relevance of circumstances that if there had been a fuller disclosure on that previous Debate, 1644 the British housewives would have been warned earlier of the circumstances of which, in my opinion, advantage was taken in a disgraceful manner by many Conservative newspapers in this country.
§ Colonel Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the" Daily Herald "was just as loud in its condemnation of the Government as any Conservative newspaper?
§ Mr. Blackburn
I read the "Daily Herald "with great care and I do not subscribe to the point of view of the hon. Member. In my view the "Daily Herald '' madeit perfectly clear throughout the whole of that period that the only possible criticism of the Government was for their failure to put across the facts of the situation sufficiently to the British housewives. It never made any suggestion, as has been said by hon. Members opposite—not by right hon. Members on the Front Bench—that the rations of British people had been cut because of negligence on the part of His Majesty's Government. No such suggestion could have been made by anybody who knew the facts, and therefore it is not true to say that the "Daily Herald" behaved in the same manner as other Conservative newspapers. [Laughter.] I am afraid that the proximity of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) has been too much for me.
I should like to put these points. First, we should have a greater disclosure of facts than we have yet had as to the food situation. We are entitled to know exactly what is the gross allocation of supplies by the Combined Food Board and what are the exact circumstances in Germany. What for instance, is the situation in the Russian zone? When I was in Germany six months or so ago it certainly appeared to me that the food situation in the Russian zone was a great deal worse than that inthe British zone. That may or may not be a fact, but it is certainly what I was told. But the situation in our zone is serious enough. I will put it again to the hon. Member that nobody in his senses can accuse Field-Marshal Montgomery of being pro-German. But Field-Marshal Montgomery has come to this country with reports on the situation in Germany which must surely make us all feel as anxious as my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport.
1645 May I conclude with this general observation. Comments have been made by many Members on this side of the House this evening on what I should describe as ideological matters. I refer to this business of Democrats and Communists, the way in which the Russians are behaving in their zone and the way in which we are behaving in ours. We should make it clear to the Russian people that questions like the affiliation of the Communist Party to the Labour Party in this country, or of the Communist Party in Germany to the Social Democratic Party, have nothing whatever to do with the great, fraternal feelings and the friendship of the Labour Party for the Russian people. It is an entirely separate matter. It would be unforgivable if we allowed that issue in any circumstances to obscure the facts.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
Will the hon. Member tell us what this matter has to do with the issue that we are debating?
§ Mr. Blackburn
I believe that the hon. Member has not been present in the House during most of the Debate. He should be more careful how he interrupts me in future. It is evident that the main trouble with Germany has been that it has been not one country but four countries. The only hope for the people of Germany, as for the people of Europe, is that we should be able to re-establish once again unity among the Big Three Powers such as we had in the past. I hope that no comment which the Minister will offer tonight will in any way reflect upon the determination of His Majesty's Government to achieve again at the earliest possible moment, that unity among the Big Three in the treatment of Germany. That alone can lead to the proper rehabilitation of that country.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Proctor (Eccles)
Like many other hon. Members I came unprepared to speak in the Debate, but I was surprised to find that, on the opposite benches, we have a defender of the policy of the "Daily Mail." I must say that that paper has a very grave responsibility for its policy. That policy led to the situation in which we find ourselves in Europe. I would remind the House that the late Lord Rothermere, writing in the "Daily Mail," referred to Czechoslovakia as 1646a ramshackle State, which should be elbowed out of existence.That was written by the owner of the "Daily Mail" in the "Daily Mail" It is clearly an indication of its policy in Europe. As a result of a libel action in this country he had another policy for Germany—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I must remind the hon. Member that His Majesty's Government have no responsibility for the "Daily Mail." We can only discuss questions of administration for which the Government are responsible.
§ Mr. Proctor
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker I acquit the Government of that responsibility, and I am very glad that I was able to get so far with my argument. I will now turn to the matter that we are discussing tonight.
I believe that we are faced in Europe with problems the basis of which is fear. If we could get world unity in order to deal with the problem of food, I think it would be the way in which to remove that fear. The fear which exists among the great European States—the Soviet, France and Britain—is in regard to what is to happen to the enormous productive and destructive power of Germany. The great Powers should adopt the sensible policy of placing the Ruhrunder international control. The sooner we make that clear and invite the great Powers of the world to sit down and assist us in getting the Ruhr back into peace production for peacetime aims, the sooner shall we get a sensible policy in Europe as a whole. I think also that we should invite the Soviet Union and France to come in with us. They are great powers and we are great powers, intimately concerned in the European situation. We would welcome, of course, the assistance and help of America in order tomake it a truly international affair.
There is another suggestion I would like to make. There are in Europe vast numbers of displaced persons who have no State. Let us look to their sustenance and their future inside an internationalised Ruhr. That is something we could do. There is nothing to prevent us afterwards from having political contacts and making Europe a sensible economic organisation to function as a single unit. That is the only hope for the whole of Europe, that we should 1647 function, not as a Western bloc or as Eastern Soviet-dominated States, but as a single economic unit, producing goods and services that can be given to the people of Europe. I hope that the British Government will push forward that policy as quickly as they can.
I am quite convinced that, with the resources at our disposal even now, despite all the failures of the harvest, if we will only deal with this problem of food in the same energetic manner as we dealt with the problems of war, we can save all the communities of the world from starvation, including India and the European communities, and ourselves as well.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Hynd)
I make no complaint to my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) that heshould have raised this Debate even on such short notice or, in fact, that it should have taken such a wide range and touched upon so many questions upon which many Members complain that they have so little information, whereas the contributions to the Debate would seem to indicate that they are generally very well informed on most of the points, which makes my task perhaps a little easier than it might otherwise have been. As the hon. Member for South Croydon mentioned in introducing the Debate, the position in which Germany finds herself physically at the present time is a very serious one. Her leaders in the course of the war promised that if they went down, they would leave behind a trail of desolation, and they have been pretty successful. However, I can assure my hon. Friend and the House that it is not the purpose of His Majesty's Government either to' intensify the desolation that was left or to leave it unattended to, but that, on the contrary, our purposes are those laid down in the Potsdam Declaration as being the purposes of the present occupation, namely, the disarmament of Germany, the destruction of Nazism within Germany, and the encouragement of those democratic forces in the country which will enable us to bring Germany once again into the family of free and democratic nations. That will be a colossal job.
The range of the Debate has given some indication of the variety of tasks that have to be faced by our administra- 1648 tion in the. British zone and the administration of our Allies in theother zones. It should be borne in mind that we have to administer a territory which had no central government, no local government, no democratic organisations or administrations of any kind. Everything has to be handled by officers and men of the Control Commission and Military Government. As the hon. Member for South Croydon said, our team over there is facing a responsibility that was never contemplated, and I think, from all the evidences and all the witnesses, they have done extremely well.
It is true that the division of the country into zones makes our problems more difficult and complicates the whole picture, but it is again part of our purpose that as soon as possible we should achieve a situation in which Germany can be administered as a single economic unit, as was, in fact, laid down very clearly in the Potsdam Declaration. The hon. Member for South Croydon has raised the question of the conditions of service.
§ It being a quarter past Nine o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Captain Blenkinsop.]
The hon. Member raised the question of the conditions of service offered to the staff of the Control Commission and asked whether these could be considered sufficiently attractive to enable us to retain enough manpower to handle the tremendous job we have in the British zone. The figures of civilian officers which he quoted are already out of date, as a result of new conditions introduced.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
The figures I quoted are taken from my hon. Friend's latest reply to Questions in the House. I have no later information on the subject.
§ Mr. Hynd
That emphasises even further the attractiveness of the present conditions, because the figures have gone up since that date. The numbers of officers recruited now reach 3,500. The fact is, of course, that the Control Office is at the present time having as many applications for employment as it can handle, and more. There areno signs that the conditions are not attracting, either the 1649 numbers, or the quality, which we require. In fact, there have been many assurances given, some in this House, that the extent of contracts that were offered a little time ago and are now the basis of employment in the Control Commission, have proved extremely attractive and have been very satisfactory to the majority of those interested.
But when my hon. Friend suggests we should go ahead, offer better conditions, increase the staff and takeover more and more responsibility in Germany because that would not be a charge on the Exchequer, I could not try to convince the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that because the question of whether and to what extent we shallbe able to recover the costs ofthe occupation from German sources will depend on a large number of factors which I can only describe as imponderable at the moment. Many of these depend largely, not only on the success of our administration in our particular zone, but in our overall policy in collaboration with our Allies.
The salaries of the staff of the Control Commission, including bonuses, now consolidated, are the London Civil Service rates for men and women. In addition, there is a 25 per cent. commission allowance in the case ofmarried men and in the case of single men and all women there is 12½ per cent. on salary, plus a foreign service allowance tax free of £90 in the case of married men, and £25 for single men and all women.
My hon. Friend based the largest part of his argument, I gathered, on contracts. It is obviously difficult to give an indefinite number of extended contracts in the particular circumstances of this task. We have, however, been able to offer a number of contracts lasting until 1952, that is for seven years. Others have been offered until 1950 or 1948. The purpose of the varied length of contracts is to provide for a gradual diminution of the staff of the Control Commission as we hope the tasks will be reduced and responsibilities handedover to German administrations, German Governments and German personnel and for a great deal of the strain of administration over a period of years becoming less. The longer term of engagement up to 1952 will not, however, represent more than about 50 per cent. of the total strength of the Commission. It is quite 1650 obvious, and we are very conscious of the fact, that the position of younger men in those circumstances is a rather difficult one.
There are however quite a large number of opportunities within the services of the Control Commission for some form of specialist work which would attract young men looking for a career after the control job is over, and fitting them, by that experience, for a professional career after they have returned to this country. On the other hand, there is a large amount of non-professional, non-technical work, some routine jobs. For these we are trying to find and to attract to them, the older men whose careers are largely behind them. As I have said, the general result has been satisfactory up to date.
My hon. Friend said that there was a provision in our conditions for a small measure of compensation in the event of a contract expiring before its normal expiry date. I do not know whether he was being entirely fair in referring to it as a small measure of compensation, because the gratuities that are offered in the event of redundancy are, in my opinion, fairly reasonable. I do not think many Members of the House would challenge that. They are calculated on salary including bonus consolidation, plus the Control Commission allowance. As an example, I will quote, for instance, the case of a woman employee engaged at a salary of £300. Added to that is £37 10s. Control Commission allowance, giving a total of £337 10s. which is taxable. She has £25 foreign service allowance tax free. If she were engaged for a period to end 30th September, 1950, and was prematurely discharged for redundancy, say in January, 1948, her compensation would be seven-twelfths of that amount of £337 10s., or £197 16s. 6d., that is, for two years short of the period of contract. In the case of a married man employed at a salary of £640, plus a Control Commission allowance bringing his remuneration up to £8oo, and being employed on a contract expiring 30th September, 1952, and discharged for redundancy three years earlier, in 1949. his compensation would be £400. I do not think that these can be considered to be small amounts of compensation in relation to the curtailment of the contract.
One other point which my hon. Friend made, in arguing we should set about establishing a permanent or semi-per- 1651 manent civil service for Germany, was that we should look to a period of 25 years. I hope that it will not be necessary to maintain substantial numbers of British personnel in Germany for such a long period, but there are many factors affecting the type, the variety and scope of our occupation which we cannot estimate at this stage. The degree ofde-mocratisation of the country, the degree of co-operation we can obtain from German democratic organisations, the speed and efficiency with which German administrations are set up, particularly the question of central administrations, all these affect the requirements. Above all, there will be the question of whether or not we develop detailed control by British personnel or whether we can, in reasonable time, reach a position where we shall be able to depend on a smaller number of central British advisers to German administrations.
It is, therefore, obviously impossible to formulate extremely long term contracts in every case, in the peculiar circumstances of this employment, but we realise that there is a need for reassurance to those who are anxious to take on the work, and who are also anxious as to the future. For that reason the seven year contract was introduced. It is possible that the Occupation, or rather the employment of these numbers, may not last for that period, but on the other hand it is possible that even these contracts may have to be lengthened still further.
On the question of the size of the personnel of the Commission, this also, of course, is difficult to fix. Reference has already been made to the tremendous scope of the work, the tremendous responsibility of those who are in charge of it, the problems of refugees, the rehabilitation of industry, de-Nazification, the control and dispersal of displaced persons, of disarmament, and the police, security and Intelligence services—all these uncountable tasks that fall upon the relatively small British administration trying to administer this very difficult land in these very difficult times It is recognised that the job is a necessary one. It is recognised that the burden on the taxpayer and the prospects of the repayment of these costs will demand the wisest and most efficient policy and administration of which we are capable. But the price of security as we conceive it is a 1652 high one, and it will prove to be a high one which the British public will have to face if they are to continue to follow the policy which, it has been generally accepted by all the United Nations, is the only policy that will secure us from the danger of further German aggression.
The hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) raised the question of the employment of Germans and to what extent we are employing, or can still further employ, Germans instead of British personnel. That obviously means that we have to decide on the measure of confidence which we can place in the German population. It also depends to a considerable degree upon the amount of employment our policy will make it possible for us to offer to the German population. In other words, taking it the other way, the amount of unemployment that may arise in Germany will obviously affect the contentment of mind of the Germans which it will be possible for us to exploit in seeking their co-operation in the rehabilitation of their land. It would be possible, taking the extreme view, to employ Germans in every branch of the Control Commission and to replace entirely the present British personnel. The logic of a number of representations in this connection would seem to point in that direction. That, of course, can be dismissed because it would be no longer a British Control Commission but would be a German Control Commission and would have no meaning at all within the policy this country is seeking to follow.
We are in this matter covered by an inter-Allied Agreement, previous to Potsdam, laid down by the European Advisory Council, which provides that control commissions in all zones shall consist of the nationals of the occupying Powers or, in particular special cases, of nationals of other United Nations. It clearly excludes the direct employment of Germans by the Control Commission, for obvious reasons. Enemy aliens, therefore, are not eligible for employment by the Control Commission, although it is true in the early stages of the occupation, through the acute shortage of capable interpreters, it was necessary to employ temporarily the services of one or two enemy aliens in that capacity.
Again, it is quite clear that there are strong objections to employing Germans, however well meaning, however well 1653 intentioned, in positions where they have access to confidential documents and to information to which it might not be considered desirable that they should have access. Therefore, we are bound to recognise this policy and to refrain from employing German nationals in posts where they have access to such information. At the same time, we have been able to employ, we have been forced to, in any case, large numbers of local residents in the different districts in Germany—including Germans; mainly Ger-means, for that matter—for small-scaleinterpretation work, for typing work, and so on, in connection with de-Nazification and other day to day administration.. But these are not employed by the Control Commission; they are lent to the Control Commission, and are paid by the local German authorities.
The hon. Member for West Coventry also raised the question of the return of prisoners of war, and made special reference to the very interesting and remark-able experiments going on at the Wilton Park Camp. I had the pleasure of visiting it last week and of speaking at the official opening. I agree entirely that this very valuable experiment is something well worth studying by all people interested in the rehabilitation of Germany. It is, of course, in accordance with our policy, that, as far as possible, we should employ in Germany, the largest available proportion of reliable and democratically-minded Germans, and, quite obviously, if we are training selected prisoners of war for various types of occupation, public administration and so on, we shall seek, at the earliest opportunity, to get as many of these as possible back to Germany and into the right kind of employment. Some have gone already; others will follow according to the priority of the demand and the kind of position available, in whichthey can be of the most use to Germany and to our own administration.
I can hardly accept entirely, the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Coventry that we should seek to establish British labour attaches—I believe the hon. Member said in every town and village in the British zone, although I may be wrong—because that would heavily overburden the administration, and also because the cost would, at least immediately, fall on the British taxpayer. I 1654 myself, would prefer to continue thepolicy that we have adopted of employing German trade unionists and democrats, people who have shown their opposition to Nazism and Fascism by the fact that they have taken their principles into the concentration camps and—those who have survived—have brought those principles out with them. I believe the right policy is to use, as much as possible, Germans of that quality and calibre for this kind of administration in the local areas. For that purpose we have established de-Nazification committees in every section of the British zone—in towns and villages—and those committees are now functioning very well indeed. I believe they are better informed and in a much better position to advise us, in a particular district on who has been a confirmed or dangerous Nazi, or has been guilty of the maltreatment of. French or other prisoners, during the war and otherwise, and they are much better qualified for that work than people sent out from this country.
The hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Flight-Lieutenant Crawley) asked whether sufficient publicity was given in the German Press to the existence of these de-Nazification committees. I do not think there is need for any publicity in the German Press, in view of the fact that these committees exist in every town and village, and are exceedingly well-known to the Germans throughout the whole zone. The question of the speed of de-Nazification has been raised by a number of hon. Members. Some doubts have been expressed whether this workis proceeding efficiently, effectively and with the necessary speed. I have taken a very close interest in this question. As every hon. Member knows, charges have been raised from time to time concerning the employment of dangerous Nazis in high positions, but in scarcely one of these cases has the charge been substantiated. We have made immediate inquiries into any case where such an allegation has been made.
I cannot quote figures offhand, because I have very short notice of this Debate and was not aware that this question was to be raised, but many thousands of these Nazis have been displaced. The majority of the police and civil administrations in Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg have 1655 been dealt with. Very radical measures have been taken in every part of the zone, both in civil administration and industry, but I am prepared to say frankly that not 100per cent. of the Nazis, not even the long term 1933 Nazis, have yet been completely eradicated. I want to be quite frank with the House in this connection because it is, in some cases, a very difficult thing simply to remove every man who happens to be a Nazi, irrespective of the effect it may have on any particular set of circumstances. It is particularly dangerous, for example, in the mining industry,where long training is necessary to create the efficient mining engineer.
Hon. Members have no doubt read of certain accidents that have occurred in the Ruhr mines. and it is obvious that if there is not to be a considerable breakdown in the efficiency, inthe safety precautions and in the general control and administration of this most important industry in the British Zone—which is providing the life blood of France, Holland, Denmark and all the Western countries— we have to give some consideration both to the efficiency of the industry and to the factor of safety for human lives. That factor is indeed provided for in the quadripartite directive and. it is no use hon. Members charging the British authorities with being the only ones who haveNazis still in certain key positions, as they might be called, because it is a quadripartite directive which has been agreed by the Russians, the Americans, the French and ourselves on the Control Council. It provides that, where it is necessary for the efficiency of the occupation, it is permissible to continue to employ even Nazis who might be within the immediate dismissal category, provided, of course, that this provision is closely in our minds and closely administered and that the necessary supervision and check is kept upon those people while they are employed and that they are displaced as speedily as safety and circumstances permit.
In regard to political parties and trade unions—and bound up with this is the question of democratic literature raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Wolverhampton (Lieut. Herbert Hughes)—I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the importance of introducing as much democratic literature as possible into the British Zone is having the closest possible 1656 attention. It is a difficult matter because, first of all, books, papers and journals have either to be provided from inside Germany, which means finding the paper—
§ Sir Henry Morris-Jones (Denbigh)
Would the hon. Gentleman define what he means by "democratic literature "? Russia has got democratic literature.
§ Mr. Hynd
I happen to be talking about the British Zone and the British administration, and I should have thought that was fairly well understood. There are practical difficulties such as the shortage of newsprint. We have been sent books from neighbouring countries, but very often they look as though they have been dug out of the cellar or taken out of the back shelves and they are not particu-larly suitable for sending into Germany or anywhere else where people want readable material.
§ Mr. Hynd
That suggestion will, of course, be borne in mind; I am all for it. Even with the difficulties and the shortage of newsprint, we have been able to develop the production of political newspapers on the basis of allowing each of the three political parties one news- paper which is published twice a week. That arrangement, if properly organised, covers the district six days in the week We have also begun the circulation of a zonal newspaper which is being run under the auspices of a group of Germans belonging to the democratic parties, to the trade unions and other groups.
I am afraid the amount of time at my disposal is inadequate and, therefore, I shall have to be very brief in dealing with other matters which have been raised. My hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry raised the question of trade unions and the development of zonal organisations. Those are coming. The policy we have followed is one of allowing trade unions to form themselves. We have not taken the line of establishing one individual in charge of some particular industry. We have taken the line that a trade union is a spontaneous development, that they grow within the industry, make their contacts outside their own immediate area and gradually build themselves up to a zonal organisation. We are not driving 1657 or forcing it, but we are encouraging it. My hon. Friend asked, why should not we let the unions which are unable to bargain on wages under present conditions, at least advise? We are. There is a quadripartite agreement on that subject, and the trade unions are allowed not only to advise but to discuss and negotiate any modifications in that connection. The authorities in the zone have been instructed, and are loyally carrying out the instruction, that they must give every opportunity to trade unions and political representatives of other democratic groups to have the fullest possible contact with our representatives on all levels
. The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) raised the question of our policy in the Ruhr. That is somewhat beyond my territory, but with regard to his statement that the British Government should make up their minds on this question, I would remind him, and others who have raised the question, that the British Government are only a quarter of the present government in Germany, and it would not be enough for the British Government to make up their minds. Nor do I think anything wouldbe gained by any unilateral declarations, by a kind of competitive broadcast by the four Powers on what they want in this particular direction. The wisest and obvious method is mutual discussion, and every attempt to seek a common agreement which can be applied by all governments simultaneously.
I have not much time in which to deal with the food situation, which has been raised by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). I endorse everything he said 1658 with regard to the difficulties which this situation will create in the production of coal, and on the effect of any fall in production of coal upon France, Holland and the other neighbouring countries. I am conscious of the growing need of France for Ruhr coal 1 have had to give a considerable amount oftime to an endeavour to meet that demand. It is not possible at the moment to get anywhere near providing France and these other countries with the amount of coal required for their immediate essential purposes. It is impossible for me, at this stage, to estimate what may be the final results of the food cut upon coal production of the Ruhr, but it is obvious that, if we curtail the food of the miner and his family, we are asking for a reduction in the total output of coal.
That is one of the additional problems arising out of this situation which will have to be faced. I am asked, what is the position in the British zone? We have had to cut the ration to a standard ration of 1,000 calories. That means that 1,000 calories is the basic ration for the non-worker—the housewife, the old age pensioner and people of that kind. Rations are graded according to whether one is a medium or a heavy worker, an expectant mother, a nursing mother and so on. We are endeavouring to spread out the available food to the best advantage, but it is obvious that 1,000 calories is a dangerous level. We are fully aware of the fact, and we have no intention—
§ It being a Quarter to Ten o'Clock, Mr. Deputy-Speaker adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.