§ 11.11 a.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Hynd)
Before attempting to give the Committee a short review of the problems with which we are faced in Germany and Austria, I think it might be useful if I were to say a word about the responsibility of the Control Office for Germany and Austria in this matter. The British Commander-in-Chief in Germany, apart from his duties as head of the British Armed Forces of Occupation, has two main functions. He is first the British member of the Allied Control Council for Germany, and as such has the responsibility for representing to our Allies the views of His Majesty's Government on questions affecting Germany as a whole. Secondly, he is the Military Governor of the British zone in Germany, responsible for the day to day administration of the zone. In both these capacities the Commander-in-Chief, assisted by the British element of the Allied Control Authority for Germany, is responsible to me as the member of the Government with special responsibility for German affairs. Similar arrangements apply, of course, to Austria.
Hon. Members will appreciate that the range of the problems involved on which 1351 British policy must be defined is necessarily a vast and complex one. First, there are large questions of foreign policy on which continuous touch must be maintained with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Second, there are questions of the relationship between the Control Commission and the British Army of the Rhine and British troops in Austria on which my contact is with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. Beyond this, there are questions affecting every aspect of German life and economy, be it disarmament, food, de-Nazification, re-education, or any other of a hundred facets of the problem. The work involved is, therefore, immense. It is indeed no less than the fulfilment of the task to which we set our hands in September, 1939. First, the defeat of German aggression and, second, the creation of conditions in which Germany might become a peaceful and useful member of society instead of a menace to the peace of the world.
The principles which are to govern the treatment of Germany in the initial period of occupation, as agreed between the United Kingdom. the United States and the U.S.S.R. were issued in the Potsdam Declaration on 2nd August, 1945. It is officially set out as the purposes of occupation, first, the complete disarmament and demilitarisation of Germany and the elimination or control of all German industry that could be used for military production; second, to convince the German people that they suffered a total military defeat, and that they must assume responsibility for the chaos and suffering they had brought upon themselves; third, to destroy the National Socialist Party and all Nazi institutions and ensure that they are not revived in any form; and, fourth, to prepare for the eventual reconstruction of German political life on a democratic basis and for the eventual peaceful cooperation in international life by Germany.
The relations between the four Powers in the occupation of Germany were defined by an agreement signed by the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, the U.S.S.R. and France on 1st May, 1945. Under this Agreement the four Powers each occupy and administer a separate zone of Germany with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of each Power in supreme 1352 authority in his zone. Supreme authority for Germany as a whole, therefore, rests with the Commanders-in-Chief of the four Powers jointly in their capacity as members of the Control Council, the supreme organ of control in Germany. The Allied Control Authority was actually established in July, 1945. Berlin is administered as a separate administrative unit under the joint control of the four Powers.
The work of government in the British zone of Germany has already been organised to some extent in regions in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration thatadministration in Germany should be directed towards the decentralisation of the political structure and the development of local responsibility.The corps commanders of the Rhine Army were formerly responsible for the work of the Control Commission staffs in the regions. Now, to mark a further stage in the development of regional government as well as in the process of civilianisation of control commission staffs, I have appointed four civil regional commissioners. These are—North Rhine Region, Mr. William Asbury; Westphalia Region, Mr. Henry Vaughan Berry; Schleswig-Holstein Region, Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Champion de Crespigny; Hanover Region, Lt.-General Sir Gordon Macready. The regional commissioners will be responsible to the Military Governor of the zone. They will supervise and coordinate the activities of the Control Commission staffs in the regions, and will supply an element of leadership and cohesion previously provided by the Army corps commanders. They will deal with German representative bodies and keep in touch with German political trends. They are men of varied experience and wide knowledge of affairs. I am considering the need for a fifth regional commissioner in the city of Hamburg, which is dealt with as a separate entity within the scheme of government in our zone.
When Germany surrendered unconditionally in May, 1945, her economy was completely disrupted. All communications in Western Germany had virtually come to a standstill. Of the total of 7,590 miles of railway track in the British zone only 656 miles were in operation. Roads were hopelessly damaged by cratering, and innumerable road bridges were blown. The Rhine was completely closed 1353 to traffic, being blocked by bridges which had been blown and were lying in midstream. The intricate canal system was similarly at a standstill. The almost complete destruction of transport facilities, the tangled wreckage of factories, pit shafts and pithead installations, first through the intensive Allied bombing and subsequently through the deliberate demolition by the retreating German Armies, added to the scene of desolation which had brought production and distribution of coal and the whole iron and steel industry to a standstill, whilst there was a complete dearth of young and middle aged Germans available for work. Out of a total of some 5½ million dwelling units more than 1½ million had been destroyed or required demolition and nearly 1½ million more were damaged. The health of the population showed some alarming symptoms. The distribution of food and water had been severely disrupted; sewers had been broken, medical supplies destroyed; doctors and nurses were not to be found. Typhus appeared in concentration camps and there was imminent danger of an outbreak of this and other epidemics, which might spread over the whole of Germany and beyond.
Perhaps the most formidable problem, in terms of human suffering, was presented by the displaced persons—a new term coined to describe those unfortunate multitudes who had been forcibly removed from their home countries by the Germans for slave labour or for reasons of racial persecution. At the end of the war, there were over 2,000,000 of these persons in the British zone of Germany and another 250,000 in Austria of some 40 nationalities, most of them desperately anxious to get home at any price, without any organisation or leaders to direct them or any relief societies or workers to help them. There was only the British administration—the British military government—available. In addition, we had nearly 2,000,000 prisoners of war or surrendered personnel on our hands, defeated men, expecting to be disarmed, fed and sent home. Among these were men of numerous nationalities who had been conscripted into the German army, including Russians, Poles, Yugoslavs, Italians and nearly every other conceivable nationality.
No form of German administration of any kind existed. The Nazi administrators, both local and national, had, with 1354 one accord, fled, often taking their records with them or destroying them before they went. Offices had been destroyed, and in the place of the vanished Nazis there was no one we could use. There were no organised anti-Nazi elements in existence; the Nazi terror machine had worked only too well during those 13 years. No effective underground or resistance movement had been able to develop and, in these circumstances, bona fide anti-Nazis were not easily identifiable and those who were, were often in no fit condition to assume the burden of administration.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
Before the hon. Gentleman proceeds, may I ask him a question? I presume that he is speaking with the authority of the Foreign Secretary when he says that no underground movement had been allowed to develop. Is it not a fact that no underground movement wanted to develop?
§ Earl Winterton
The hon Gentleman read out, "were allowed to develop." I ask him what he means by those words?
§ Earl Winterton
The hon. Gentleman is not allowed to read his speech, but that is exactly what he is doing.
§ Mr. Hynd
Naturally, I must have very close reference to the figures and facts which I give, and I submit to the Committee that what I am dealing with is, in effect, not a single Government Department, but the whole range of Government Departments and of their activities in a country at least the size of England, with all the ramifications of local government and all the complicated additional problems which exist in that country and that, therefore, it is necesary that I should pay some attention to the facts and figures with some degree of accuracy. 1355 In the conditions I have outlined, and with the absence of police, of law courts, the lack of power and of transport and the utter helplessness of the population, all these things added to the confusion with which our people had to deal. In addition, there was the movement of populations within Germany. Half of the population in our zone had been evacuated Eastwards during the war, owing to the bombing, and many of them were beginning to drift back. Those who remained were stunned and cowed as the result of the terrible experiences they had undergone in the last months of the war. As I say, in this area of a foreign country rather larger than England, in conditions which would certainly have tested the skill and experience of any established administration in its own land, with all the machinery of established government, police and public services at hand, some 2,000 British officers and 3,000 men achieved, in my opinion, a miracle of organisation in the midst of chaos.
The contribution, especially in the initial period, which was borne directly by the staffs and troops of the Rhine Army, and also of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, deserve special mention. In addition to their more obvious responsibilities in respect of the German armed forces, there has hardly been a single field of civil administration in which reliance has not been placed on military resources, both of personnel and material—the control of displaced persons, the repair of signal communication and the rebuilding of road and rail bridges, to mention only a few. The energy, patience, and resourcefulness with which all these tasks were tackled are in the best tradition of our people and reflect the highest credit on all concerned.
There were, therefore, a great number of tangled problems facing us if we were to restore order in the British zone. We had to restore industry, at least essential industry, and to do this we had to get the pits working. But the majority of the technical men and of the men in high administrative positions in the coalmines, as well as throughout industry, were almost invariably Nazis, some of them dangerous Nazis who had to be removed from their jobs at once. This, of course, was done, but the inevitable result was a loss of discipline and efficiency in the mines which not only reduced output, but 1356 began to threaten the safety of working. We had to face the problem that a too hasty or too extensive pressure on the de-Nazification policy might, in some instances, easily have led to serious pit disasters. We had to set about the job of reorganising democratic institutions. For this purpose we wanted to restore the free trade unions which had been destroyed by the Nazis. But, here again, the whole of industry had been, and had to continue to be, in these conditions, worked under a system of rigidly controlled wages and hours and conditions of work which made it difficult to provide any real inspiration for the less enthusiastic trade unionist to associate himself with and to take any active part in the work of his organisation.
We desired to restore the freedom of the Press, to clear away the pollution of Goebbel's propaganda machine and to create in Germany a sound and healthy public opinion. But Germany was an enemy country under quadripartite government, and there were many elements still in existence—and there may still be quite a large number of them—which, given freedom of expression in these very difficult and complicated circumstances, would have utilised the opportunity to create distrust among the Allies or to inflame passions which it is our intention to suppress. Therefore, a careful censorship had to be maintained. We hoped to permit and encourage the free development of political parties, but, again, until the means of preserving law and order had been recreated, and until party leaders of responsibility had emerged, we could not take the risk of the re-emergence of totalitarian groups under the guise of democrats. These were some of our problems.
Now let me come a little nearer to the present stage. As was recognised by the Potsdam Agreement, the removal of all traces of the Nazi party and of its control over German political, intellectual and economic life, must rank as one of our major objectives. But the identification of the real Nazi is not always a simple matter. In Germany, which had been under the domination of a single party for 13 years, the Nazi party has permeated practically every form of organisation and administration. It must have been extremely difficult for anyone to keep clear of all association with one or other branch of the Nazi party or its subsidiary organi- 1357 sations. To give an example, from December, 1936, onwards, it was compulsory for all young men and women to be members of the Hitler Youth organisation, and refusal to bow to that compulsion led to results [...] hich, I think, are only too well known.
In dealing with the question of de-Nazification, therefore, we worked on the basis of classifications. The most dangerous elements were arrested on a pre-arranged scheme and put in internment. Other persons who were more than nominal Nazis were removed and excluded from office. The property of both of the above classes was blocked to prevent its being used to finance any revival of the movement. It should be understood. clearly that these classifications and the treatment of them were decided, not unilaterally by the British element of the Control Council, but by the Control Council itself. They were embodied in a directive to which all four Powers agreed, and the measure of success achieved can be shown by the fact that no major resistance movement to Allied occupation has yet developed. To give some idea of the size of this particular problem, by 31st March of this year, 812,747 cases had been evaluated by public safety officers, and further cases are now being cleared at the rate of between 90,000 and 100,000 per month. The number still requiring evaluation is roughly estimated at 1,500,000.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
What does the hon. Gentleman mean by "evaluation"? In the case of this large number of so-called Nazis who are interned, is there any effective way of sifting them and releasing those who are not dangerous Nazis?
§ Mr. Hynd
I was using the word "evaluation" in order to avoid the more difficult word fragebogen. The system of checking up these Nazis is by issuing fragebogen, a form of questionnaire. These questionnaires have to be sifted and analysed, and the assessment or evaluation is made as a result of that examination. Subsequently, if a person is considered to be within one of the arrest or removal categories, he is given due notice, the necessary action is taken, and there is a procedure by which, if necessary, his case can be reviewed, if he wishes to appeal against the decision. We have, therefore, had to set up throughout the zone a large number of German de-Nazification panels 1358 and committees in order to assist us in the discovery of Nazis, in checking these questionnaires, and in hearing appeals, or considering any representations that may be made for or against the persons concerned.
The elimination of Nazis is, of course, only the negative side of the operation for the resuscitation of democratic ideas and institutions Here, again, 13 years of Nazi terror have created very serious problems. There is a shortage of responsible leaders of the right type. Nearly all the old democratic leaders were liquidated by the Nazis. Many were murdered and many others spent long years in concentration camps, and are now often old and broken men. The younger leaders who have come to the fore since the surrender naturally lack experience and training in administration and in political work, without which no party programme can be turned into practical politics. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that a number of individuals did, at the greatest risk and often with serious consequences to themselves, stand out firmly to the end in opposition to the Nazi regime. Many of these men and women are now contributing to the future of their country and the re-establishment of the principles for which they suffered during 13 years. I think it is right that due recognition should be given to them. There certainly does exist some good material on which a new democratic Germany can be built—
Major Houghton (Antrim)
Will the hon. Gentleman speak a little louder, please? It is difficult to hear him.
§ Mr. Hynd
if it is properly used and properly encouraged. It is our intention that elections should be held as soon as the necessary machinery can be completed. Here, again, we are working in unusual conditions. The task of constructing an electoral register which would ensure a fair and representative expression of opinion is one of great complexity. In conditions in which there are vast movements of population, returning refugees and evacuees from other parts of Germany, displaced persons and refugees coming from the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, the task of constructing an electoral register is one of great difficulty.
In the meantime, pending these elections, and in order to introduce the Ger- 1359 mans, at the level of local government, to democratic methods, and to give them some experience, we have set up a system of Nominated Councils, comprising representatives nominated or recommended by various political parties and other anti-Nazi elements in the community. These Nominated Councils are not a good expression of democratic opinion, but they are the best that can be achieved in the circumstances, and they represent the first step towards self-government. As soon as possible, they will be replaced by elected councils. On the higher levels of Government, a start has been made by the formation of a nominated Advisory Council of Germans for the British zone. The function of this council is to provide advice generally to all divisions of the Control Commission, to act in an advisory capacity, and to represent a further step in the process, which we are endeavouring to pursue at every level and as speedily as possible, in the interests of a curtailment of manpower and economy of British resources, of handing over as much responsibility as we safely can to the Germans themselves.
It is worth mentioning, and it is probably of some significance to those who are concerned with endeavouring to assess the possibilities of the development of democracy in Germany, that in that country, where open identification with any political point of view over the last 13 years brought fearful penalties—first, from 1933 onwards, to anti-Nazis, and subsequent to May, 1945, to the Nazis themselves—there is no lack of men and women ready to come forward and associate themselves with the democratic parties that have been set up, and take their part openly in the attempts to re-establish democratic government and machinery in their country. Political meetings, too, attract large audiences, and where a particular issue emerges, political consciousness and interests are seen to a marked degree: for instance, in the recent elections in the American zone, 70 per cent. of the electorate voted, a fairly high percentage. In the case of the recent controversy over the fusion of the Socialist Party and the Communist Party in Berlin no less than 71 per cent. of the electorate voted. There is, therefore, some evidence, to put it mildly, of a degree of political interest in Germany at the present time. 1360 In the meantime, remarkable progress has been made in the disposal of displaced persons. By October we had repatriated some 1,500,000 of these people. Practically all the French, Russians and Belgians had gone home, and in the case of the Russians alone nearly a million had returned to their country. By January, 1,750,000 had gone and today only some 400,000 remain. In the assembly centres we were manfully assisted by the Royal Engineers, by the British Red Cross and numerous voluntary societies working under its aegis, and later by the U.N.R.R.A. teams. Facilities have been provided for employing the time of the displaced persons and providing them with educational facilities and generally for keeping them alive and interested in their situation and in the future. Special places have been allocated to them in the universities and a special university has been established at Hamburg for their benefit.
We are now at the point where we have to consider the question of dealing with what is generally known as the "hard core" of these displaced persons. There are still some prepared and anxious to return home, but this question of the remainder will have to be faced. In this connection there is sitting in London a Special Committee on Refugees and Displaced Persons set up by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. I would mention in passing the encouragement we have given to these people to return home. We have, of course, refused to consider any question of forcible repatriation of all except war criminals, quislings and traitors, and in that policy again we have the support of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I take it that the Special Committee sitting in London concerns itself with displaced persons other than those included in the terms of reference of the Anglo-American Committee on Palestine, in order not to duplicate the investigation of that part of the question which was the subject of that latter inquiry.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I did not quite gather all the Minister's categories of exceptions.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I must ask this question. When the Minister says "traitors," is the charge of being a traitor proffered by the Government of one of these people accepted without any question?
§ Mr. Nicholson
Is there a preliminary trial by our own authorities and are the alleged traitors represented at this investigation?
§ Mr. Hynd
Certainly not. There is no formal court, but the people are responsible themselves for deciding according to the information at their disposal. Sometimes the evidence is quite clear as to whether these people are in one of the categories—for example, men who are found in German uniforms and can give no satisfactory reason why they should be wearing them, deserters from Allied forces, and so on.
§ Mr. Nicholson
The Minister said that these people are responsible themselves in making their investigations. To whom are they responsible?
I think it would be to the advantage of all if the Minister were allowed to proceed with his speech and were not subjected to repeated interruptions.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of Order. I would submit to you, Mr. Beaumont, that I intervened and that my hon. Friend was kind enough to give way to me. He would have answered my question but before he could do so there was a whole series of supplementary interruptions from the other side of the Committee. I hope that I am not to be disqualified from receiving a reply.
My remarks were not directed at any particular hon. Member. It was merely that we are in danger of having a very ragged Debate if there is constant cross questioning. It is quite true that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) put his question and I am quite willing that he should receive an answer.
§ Earl Winterton
On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. With reference to your Ruling, may I point out that the hon. Member spoke for at least 25 minutes without a single interruption? It is at least the unwritten rule that if a Minister is interrupted it is for him to decide whether he shall reply.
That is perfectly true, but it is also the duty of the Chair to ensure that as far as is possible the Debate should be carried out in a seemly manner. I merely suggested to the Committee that it might be an advantage if we did not have these constant and persistent interruptions.
§ Earl Winterton
Do I understand, Mr. Beaumont, that you were merely making a suggestion and that your Ruling in no way meant that on this or any future occasion, if an hon. Member choose to give way, he has not the right to do so?
Certainly not, but I think it would be to the advantage of the Committee if there were fewer interruptions.
§ Mr. Hynd
The answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is that the United Nations Committee to which I referred, but which is not within my jurisdiction, deals with all questions affecting refugees and displaced persons and does not confine itself to any particular section. Nor is it a duplication of the committee to which my hon. Friend refers.
I should have liked to make some observations about the special difficulties we have had to face in the matter of handling problems connected with children, particularly during the first winter, but I do not want to infringe too much upon the time of the Committee. Nevertheless, I should like it to be appreciated that this did present some very special problems; the lack of fuel, shortage of food and fear 1363 of epidemic had all to be considered. I could give some vivid illustrations from my own direct experience of the effects they had upon children. They had to be taught in schools which were not heated and there were some cases where teachers and children had to work in overcoats and where schooling had to be interrupted at intervals in order to enable exercise to restore circulation. We had at one stage to evacuate a large number of children from Berlin in order to enable them to avoid the worst effects of the winter. In the famous operation "Stork' 25,000 of these children were evacuated into the country, and they are now returning to Berlin.
Before I pass to the wider economic aspects of our present problems there is one matter which requires mention. It is the question of disarmament and demilitarisation. The Potsdam Agreement requiredthe complete disarmament and demilitarisation of Germany and the elimination or control of all German industry that could be used for military production.Much has been done in these two fields but obviously much still remains to be done. There is, first, the removal of movable weapons and warlike stores For this task, labour on a large scale is needed, as well as transport, including ships, to carry the stuff away for disposal at sea. The dumping of gas ammunition alone is a major operation. This task cannot be completed in Germany this year. The removal of permanent fortifications is also a substantial operation, which will take several years to complete. All these tasks mean substantial British manpower commitments. Finally, there is the demolition of factories and plants, the purpose or potential of which is the production of armaments.
Everything today is a war potential, and that is another complication. The production of arms, ammunition and instruments of war, as well as of all types of aircraft, etc., and obvious items of war material, must be prohibited. The production of such items as metals, chemicals, and various forms of machinery, is directly necessary to a war economy but is also equally essential to a peace economy. Such industries must not be destroyed in all cases. They must be controlled and restricted to Germany's approved postwar, peacetime needs, as de- 1364 fined in the Potsdam Agreement. All these things involved the drawing up of a plan. Upon the stardard of living which would be permitted to Germany after the demolition and the destruction of war potential and after the delivery of reparations, depended the amounts which we could afford to destroy and the amounts we could afford to make available for reparations.
The discussion of this plan has naturally been approached by the four Powers from different points of view, which were genuinely held. On the one hand, there was the demand for security which competed with the necessity for making Germany itself a viable economic state at some period if it was not to be a permanent liability to ourselves and to our allies. The plan that was eventually produced and which was agreed upon by all the Four Powers, after protracted, very difficult, and sometimes critical negotiations, could be regarded as a fair interpretation of the Potsdam Agreement. It is based on four assumptions; that the population of Germany should not exceed 66½ million, that Germany will be treated as a single economic unit; that the present Western frontiers of Germany remain unchanged; that exports from Germany will be acceptable in international markets. It was further agreed that, in the event of any of those assumptions not being realised, the plan will be open to review. We, for our part, attach great importance to this provision. Obviously, if the population of Germany is greater than 66½ million there will be more hands seeking employment and there will be more mouths to feed. Most of this extra food will have to come from imports, and extra industrial capacity will be required both to employ the hands and to provide exports to pay for the food, unless we are to pay for it ourselves.
If Germany were not to be treated as a single economic unit and if zonal boundaries were maintained, or if territory were removed from the West, Germany would not be able to utilize the resources which the plan assumes will be available to her, and some compensating adjustment might have to be made on this account. Similarly if particular markets do not prove to be open to Germany because of discriminatory tariffs or for other reasons, she will not be able to expand those peaceful industries to compensate her for the loss of the other 1365 industries now denied her on security grounds. Much of the result will depend upon the recovery of German agriculture and other peaceful industry, and also upon the capacity of the Germans themselves to adapt themselves to the circumstances. Given the opportunity and the will to do so, it is reasonable to expect that Germany will achieve a balance of payments and that in the long run she will be able to provide a tolerable standard of living for her people. This level of industry was the greatest test that the Quadripartite Government has had to face. It satisfies no one completely and all had to make concessions. The fact that the agreement was finally reached is not without significance in the present state of world affairs.
With the progress that has been made in all these tasks, and with the agreement now reached on the level of industry to be allowed to Germany to enable us to begin planning for reconstruction, a new menace has arisen. I refer to the impending crisis in food supplies. The British zone is the most industrialised of the four zones of occupation and the least self-sufficient in food supplies. The population of 23½ millions is preponderantly urban. Before the war, the area which comprises the zone was deficient in food supplies to the extent of about 50 per cent. of its requirements. It drew most of the remainder from what is now the Eastern zone of Germany. It is necessary to import into the zone, in order to maintain even a minimum level of nutrition. In considering the special difficulties in the British zone there are other facts which have to be borne in mind. The first of them is that although it was agreed by the Four Powers that a common standard of feeding should apply throughout Germany, there is as yet no pooling of resources for that purpose. Secondly, agricultural capacity varies considerably, even among the three Western zones, the American zone being best and the British zone the worst placed in this respect.
In addition, the British zone is the one which requires the most, as it has the highest proportion of population engaged in heavy industrial work, particularly coal mining, which is basic to almost all the industrial activities, not only in Western Germany but of the whole of Germany. We require more food. In the first quarter of the year the world 1366 supply position, as everyone knows, had already become so difficult that heavy cuts in the already low rations operating in these localities had to be made, and not only in our zone but in all three zones. In the French zone, the normal consumers' ration was reduced to 1,075 calories; in the British zone to 1040 calories; in the American zone to 1,275 calories. Since then and during recent weeks, the overall supply position has again deteriorated, until we are again faced with the fact that there is barely enough wheat in sight to provide the present 1,000-calory ration in our zone until the end of this month. Grain to provide a minimum stock on which to base a June ration distribution has not yet been made available.
§ Mr. Hynd
They are organised upon a somewhat different basis. They are what are called differential rations, and they range from the very low ration, for what is called the self-supplier in the country districts and a slightly higher ration in the provincial towns, to the much higher ration in the heavy industrial centres.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
If the Minister cannot give us the exact figures—I was surprised to hear that he has not got them now—can he not give us a general indication of how the level of feeding in the Russian zone compares with the general level of feeding in our zone? Some of us are very much disturbed about this aspect of the matter.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
On a point of Order. May I ask whether the Minister is to be continually subjected to questioning?
That is not a point of Order. The matter is entirely one for the Minister to decide.
§ Mr. Hynd
The reason why I cannot give comparable figures in the case of the Russian zone I thought I made clear in 1367 my answer to the first question. In the three Western zones we work on the basis of the normal consumer ration. There are variable rations for different classes of consumer, heavy workers, expectant mothers, children, and so on. In the Russian zone there is an entirely different system. It is impossible to give a comparison with any conditions that exist there without going through the whole range of rations among the different categories, and trying to strike some kind of balance sheet. The situation is entirely different. As to giving a general picture of feeding conditions in the Russian zone, I am afraid I must confess that full information on that matter is not available to us at the present time.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman? Does he mean to say that the Allied Control Commission is supplied with the calorific figure of food for the Western zone in Germany and that they are not supplied with figures about the food imported and produced in the Eastern zone?
§ Mr. Hynd
In regard to figures of food imported and produced, we are supplied with figures. In regard to the calorific standards in the Russian zone and the various areas in the Russian zone, we are also supplied with figures. What I am trying to say is that the two situations are rather dissimilar and difficult of comparison, because of the fact that there are no comparable categories in the Russian zone. In fact, in regard to what is called the normal system of rationing in the Western zone, which is used for purposes of broad comparison, that in itself is largely—
§ Mr. Hynd
May I finish the sentence? —is largely a fictitious figure because of the fact that, obviously, the normal consumer generally lives in a family or lives with other people, in many cases receiving either heavy worker's rations or children's rations or nursing mother's rations, and it is not possible to say that this or that particular individual, or that number of individuals, are not quite getting 1,040 calories and that these other individuals—heavy workers—are receiving the particular ration allocated to them.
§ Mr. Hynd
The answer to that is that some bellies are much fuller in the Russian zone than some bellies in the British zone, and vice versa. I hope the Committee will realise that it is absolutely impossible to say, on the basis of these average figures, what is precisely the position of any group of people or of any individual at any time, unless a particular case is argued. It is obviously impossible.
§ Mr. Hynd
The general figures of the various classifications will be produced, but I have no normal figures for the Russian zone, any more than I can recite without reference all the different classifications in our own zone. I am quoting what is usually called the index of the three Western zones.
This food position is, of course, the key problem with which we are faced at the present time, and everybody knows the factors which have brought it about. The urgent demands of other claimants in face of the world wheat shortage have to be considered and given priority over our ex-enemies. India is threatened with prospects of famine. U.N.R.R.A. has been unable to secure wheat in anything like the quantities required for its programmes. Nevertheless, I have no hesitation in saying that serious consequences will be attendant upon a breakdown in food in the British zone of Germany. I need only refer to the importance of maintaining the production of coal in Aachen and the Ruhr to bring that home to every one who knows the circumstances.
To refer to the coal industry, the output from the coalfields in May, 1945, had fallen from a prewar capacity of II million tons per month to about 700,000 tons. It is only one of the many tributes to our administration that by January of this year they had reached 4,500,000 tons per month, in face of shortage of labour, destroyed and damaged pits, shortage of mining material and equipment, and the lack of normal production in commodity industries and others. Of this 4,500,000 tons, about 1 million tons was made available for export by quadripartite agree- 1369 ment. Here again, however, the food question comes in because, at the beginning of March, in reducing the normal consumer's ration we had to reduce relatively the other categories of consumers. The miner's ration was reduced from 3,400 calories per day to about 2,850. Production immediately declined but, as a result of special action taken by our authorities in the closest cooperation with the German Miners Works Council, we have been able to improve the position and production has slightly increased again. Whether it will be possible to maintain, let alone further improve this position, depends largely, if not entirely, on the food situation, but our administration in the zone—the very life of the zone itself—combined with the pressing needs of France and the other Western European countries, are all at stake in this matter of Ruhr coal.
We have, therefore, taken all possible measures to conserve food supplies in the zone and to increase the indigenous production. A considerable area of grassland was ploughed up, although shortage of seeds and fertilisers threatens to frustrate this measure to a large degree. The use of grain for any form of brewing has been prohibited; the destruction of livestock to conserve grain for human consumption has been drastic; the grain extraction rates have been increased to the limit of what is possible—in the case of wheat and rye to 100 per cent. In order to make sure that there was no hoarding of grain supplies by farmers, every farm in the zone has recently been thoroughly combed. All these steps will have serious long term effects and will affect the indigenous supplies of food next year, but the situation is serious and no expedient should be neglected. As the Committee will be aware, the Lord President is flying to Washington immediately to discuss with the President of the United States of America further measures of meeting the overall world food problem in which this will be placed in its proper context.
I must say something about the special problems of Austria. I would ask the indulgence of the Committee so that I may make reference to these, since clearly it would be impossible to cover the whole range of German problems within any reasonable time, owing to their range and complexity. While many of the problems of Austria are naturally similar to those of 1370 Germany—demobilisation, de-Nazification, the problem of the zonal divisions, the occupation troops, the costs of currency questions—all these are in one degree or another similar in the case of Austria. But there are one or two special matters in the Austrian picture to which I think the Committee would wish me to refer. Here again there have been on the control authority measures of agreement, but there have also been cases of quite substantial differences of opinion. On 1st November, 1943, an Allied declaration was made at Moscow that Austria should be liberated from German domination and re-established as a free and independent State. On 4th July, 1945, the European Advisory Commission signed an agreement on control machinery in Austria and defined the primary tasks of the allies in Austria, amongst which was the establishment of a central Austrian administrative machine and the making of preparations to secure a freely elected parliament and Government.
We have made considerable progress towards these ends. Elections were held in November last, resulting in a Government comprising representatives of all three parties. This Government was recognised by the Allies on the 18th December, 1945, and is now functioning as a legislative and executive body, though it is, of course, still necessarily subject to direction and guidance by the Allied Council. On these matters there has been no difference of opinion between the Allies. Thus, from being a province of Nazi Germany, Austria has advanced to a point where it possesses its own freely elected representative institutions. This is a tribute not only to the work of the Allied Commission but also to the inherent vitality of the democratic tradition in Austria itself, which is one of the advantages we have in this particular area of our responsibilities as compared with the other and greater ones.
We have, nevertheless, a large number of tasks still to complete in Austria—the protection of Austria's frontiers until such time as they have been defined by international agreements and secured by Austria herself. Questions of reparation and restitution remain to be settled, and there are many problems of international and internal trade, transport, and so on, that must be solved if a stable economy is to be restored. 1371 On these main objectives we have been in full agreement with our Allies but here again, as in Germany, perhaps inevitably, differences have appeared. Thus a number of cases have recently arisen where the other members of the Allied Commission, and also the Austrian Government, have had cause to protest against the assumption of ownership by the Soviet authorities in their area over property in Austria which, it is alleged, represents German assets. This term "German assets" was not defined in detail at Potsdam, and no clear definition has yet been agreed upon by the controlling Powers. It is essential that an early definition should be made. The policy to be pursued in this respect must clearly be considered most carefully in relation to other aspects of our policy towards Austria.
§ Mr. Hynd
The controlling Powers have agreed that every effort should be made to enable Austria to exist as a prosperous and independent State. Therefore, His Majesty's Government could not agree to any definition of German assets which would be so wide as to prejudice this aim. They also think it most important, in Austria's interest, that the present absence of clarity on this question should be removed as soon as possible, and regard with misgiving any action in this sphere which would be calculated to impede the speedy restoration of Austrian economy and independence as foreshadowed in the Moscow Declaration.
I must say a word about the food situation in Austria. It has always been recognised that Austria should be eligible for U.N.R.R.A. assistance, and after considerable negotiations in Vienna, London and. Washington, U.N.R.R.A., with the consent of the four occupying Powers, agreed to assume financial responsibility as from 1st April, 1946, and procurement responsibility as from 1st May for certain basic essential imports into Austria. The sum so far allocated for U.N.R.R.A. for Austrian relief is some 59 million dollars, of which rather over 33 million have been designated for food and the remainder divided between agricultural rehabilitation, essential industrial equipment, medi- 1372 cal supplies, clothing and all the other activities of U.N.R.R.A. U.N.R.R.A.'s problem is not, however, confined to finance. It involves the timely procurement of the necessary supplies. Unfortunately, it is not anticipated that U.N.R.R.A. arrivals of food in Austria will be in time to avoid a serious food crisis, and we are naturally taking all steps within our power in an effort to avert this.
Nor does the assumption by U.N.R.R.A. of responsibility in the field of relief in Austria absolve His Majesty's Government of our share of responsibility for the emergence of a free, independent and economically self-sufficient Austria, though I think the advent of U.N.R.R.A. should substantially contribute towards this end. U.N.R.R.A. can only operate in Austria, or any other country, as a whole, and its advent represents the first modification of the present zonal division of that country. This development we welcome, because the Austrian Government cannot hope successfully to operate either the internal or external economy of this small country—which is about the size of Scotland—until it can be treated as a single economic entity. Removal of the zonal barriers could be and ought to be synchronised with a substantial reduction of the size of the occupation Forces. What we wish to see is an Austrian Government conducting Austrian internal and external affairs with a minimum of supervision.
His Majesty's Government have placed before the Allied Commission in Vienna proposals which are now under discussion. We are anxious to relinquish at the earliest possible moment each and every one of the costly responsibilities we are now carrying. But we cannot finally cast aside the burden until it is clear beyond doubt, to ourselves and to our Allies, that the work we have undertaken is completed, and that Austria can once more take an honourable, independent place among the nations of Europe.
I must now say a few words about the Estimates themselves. The scope of our work is obviously much too wide to be dealt with in the confines of a reasonable speech. In relation to the estimates, of the net figure of £80 million in the Vote, about £70 million represents the net cost of supplies and services essential to the occupation, after taking into account the proceeds of exports from the British zone. 1373 This figure is the cost of a deliberate policy, and it is inevitable that our responsibility which, however onerous, is inescapable, should, for the time being at any rate, cost us a lot of money. How great, in all, will the price be? At this stage it is almost impossible to say. The two main items on either side of our balance sheet are £100 million for imports for the population of our zone, offset by £50 million, the proceeds of exports from our zone. We have put in round figures because the situation in Germany in particular—chaos and starvation which might arise—makes precise budgeting impossible. Thus, the less food we can find to import means less imports. Therefore, our estimate in that direction becomes upset. On the other hand, the less food imported the less coal is produced; therefore, there are less exports. The whole situation depends entirely on the movement of the food situation and other factors of the kind, so that we can do no better than put in these round figures. We are not likely to do much better this year than a net deficit of £50 million, and we may do worse; even if the cost of imports drops, the value of exports will drop with it.
This state of affairs obviously should not last for ever. The trouble is to start the machine; once started it should run with increasing momentum. We must expect a deficit next year and perhaps for one or two more years; but short of disaster Germany should in the long run produce enough exports to pay for her own current imports, and we hope to pay off the deficits of the past. That this will take a long time is due precisely to the fact that in the interests of eliminating Germany's war potential, and in the interests of European security, we are deliberately removing much of her old export capacity. Beside the cost of imports for the civil requirements of our zone, there is the cast of occupation—services and supplies for our Forces, and for the staff of the Control Commission.
All internal services and supplies, drawn from German resources, are paid for already by the Germans: there is nothing in our Vote for them. But supplies imported into Germany, and the pay of the Forces and of civilians working in Germany, in so far as these are not paid for in Reichsmarks, are a charge on the Exchequer If all goes well, we shall recover from the Germans, at a later 1374 date, a good part of this charge; not all, certainly; but we hope to recover the cost of imported supplies, other than warlike stores and clothing. It would be misleading to the Committee to rate this higher than a hope. We shall maintain our claim, and if the Germans have any surplus, it will be paid. But this is a case where we and our Allies have preferred elimination of war potential to the certainty of recovering our claim, and the plan for the level of industry to which I have referred contains no definite provision for industrial capacity enough to ensure repayment of these amounts. What the plan for the level of German industry confines itself to providing is an attempt to achieve a balance of payment between Germany's exports and imports. We cannot logically expect that there will be surplus from which we can make claims for these retrospective charges.
To sum up, of the net figure of £80 million, which is the estimated cost of the occupation of Germany for this financial year, we can look forward with fair confidence to recovering something like £50 million in due course; we have some hopes of recovering something like a further £20 million; the balance of £10 million we can probably write off as a loss, or, as I would prefer it, as money spent for the future, to achieve our main objective of security. From this rather sketchy and rather brief appraisal of the situation I think the Committee will agree that we must regard this expenditure, provided for in these Estimates, as a necessary investment for the future. What we have achieved in six years of deadly struggle must not be thrown away through a refusal to face, for a short period, this unavoidable financial burden. It cannot be a profit making investment and was never intended to be. It is part of the total price of security, of ensuring that Germany will never again be a menace to world peace.
May I remind the Committee, in conclusion, that nevertheless our objective is at the same time a constructive one, for, in the words of the Potsdam Agreement, which I have already quoted and which, with the permission of the Committee, I will quote again:It is not the intention of the Allies to destroy or enslave the German people. It is the intention of the Allies that the German people be given the opportunity to prepare for 1375 the eventual reconstruction of their life on a democratic and peaceful basis. If their own efforts are steadily directed to this end, it will be possible for them in due course to take their place among the free and peaceful peoples of the world.
§ 12.21 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
We are much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his review of the situation. We know that the position in Germany is both confused and confusing. I am afraid some of the things which the hon. Gentleman said in his speech could have the same adjectives applied to them. It is not, however, my intention at the moment to discuss in detail what he has said, but rather to explain why it is that we have put down this Vote. We thought it was time that the country had some idea, through the House of Commons, of what was going on in Germany for which, owing to the expenditure involved, we all have some responsibility. This does not concern the Foreign Office. I see the Minister of State is here. We did not put down a Foreign Office Vote and we are not today questioning matters for which they are responsible, though we may have to do that on some future occasion. We are not questioning that this problem involves the Potsdam Agreement, and so on. When the time comes, and if we think it necessary, we will put down his Vote. We have put down this Vote to deal with the work of the Commission itself. We could not put down the Minister's salary because no doubt at least some hon. Members know he is the Minister who is not paid by this House. We can never get at him personally. Therefore, we put down the Vote of his office. We were not only tempted to do it when we came to look at the general corpus of the Estimates, but we had been rather egged on by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. If the hon. Gentleman complains he had better make his peace in that quarter. I will remind the Committee what the Chancellor said in his Budget speech. He pointed out in opening his speech, in column 1822 of the OFFICIAL REPORT:Moreover, we are spending this year no less than £80 millions under the estimate for the Control Office. This is a large figure. It represents, in part, the cost of the British civilian administration in the Western Zone of Germany—the cost not of the military, but of the civil administration—and, in part, the cost of the food for the Germans in that Zone. 1376 This food costs us dollars, from our limited reserves. So far, we are getting disappointingly little in return, and that is a matter which may have to be probed in the House one of these days. I am quite sure that the British taxpayer cannot, and should not, much longer be expected to go on paying, on this scale, what are, in effect, reparations to Germany.''—[OFFICAL REPORT, 9th April, 1946; Vol. 421, C. 1822.]
Taking that as our text, coming from the most orthodox sources in the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, there are a few further inquiries which I should like to make on these issues. In fact, I am not sure whether what I am going to do should be described as revolutionary or reactionary. I am actually going to refer to one or two of the items in an Estimate on a Supply day. That is very rare. On Supply days we are apt to go off into the most airy discussions on administrative policy which has no reference at all to the pounds, shillings and pence on which we are asked to vote. I am going to put one or two questions which I think the Committee should consider quite apart from the main issue of the control of Germany and Austria. First, there is the item of the Control Office. The first item in this Estimate, "Salaries of the Control Office, £400,000," of which no details are available, is a matter to which I wish to refer. There is an interesting footnote that it is not practicable to furnish details. I hope that hon. Gentlemen will realise that this is one of the ways in which the present administration seems to budget. Four hundred thousand pounds for an office. I know no more than that. However, from such inquiries as I have made, I understand it is situated in London. A sum of £400,000 for an office in London to do the administrative headquarters work of the Control Commission in Germany. I will compare that figure—and this I think will rather shock possibly even the Minister—with the administrative cost of other major Government Departments.
In 1939, the last prewar year, in the Estimates for which I was responsible, the whole of the corresponding cost for the Foreign Office was £324,000. In that year the whole of the corresponding cost for the Home Office was £287,000 and for the Treasury, £200,000—half of the cost for this Control Office this year. I know there is the difference in the cost of money to be considered, but it is the scale of the thing that I want to put before hon. Members. In those last prewar Estimates we expected the Colonial Office, the central administra- 1377 tion of the whole British Empire in London, to cost £80,000. That is less than half of what is proposed this year for the Control Office for Germany in this city. I do not know, but I hope the Minister will say what exactly that office does. Considering the estimate that the staff in Germany itself this year will number 26,000, one would assume that the Control Office in London is really nothing much more than the London end of the telephone. If that is what it is, it is far too expensive. If, on the other hand, it is concerned with the really detailed running of this vast staff in Germany and if the various missions and functionaries out there have delegated to them really no powers to deal with their own affairs and for every item of expenditure, promotion from a sergeant to an inspector in the police, or from a second class clerical officer in some obscure corner to a first class one, or whatever the corresponding terms are in Germany today, if all that kind of thing is to come back to London, then it will be a miracle if the figure stays at £400,000. I hope we shall have some explanation on that point.
The total expenditure is indicated as £8,000,000 to which must be added, so far as the British taxpayer is concerned, another £1,500,000, which is technically saved on this Vote because it goes on to the Army Estimate. It is all very serious and should be explained. I find here a small incidental expenditure. We find that, with a 26,000 staff in Germany, there is an allocation of no less than £20,000 for entertainment expenses. Whom are they going to entertain? If it is one another, they should do it out of their own salaries; if it is the Germans, the whole plan seems more quixotic than at first appeared—
§ Dr. Stephen Taylor (Barnet)
Is it not possible that it could be for the entertainment of the Americans or Russians?
§ Captain Crookshank
I do not know. I hope the Minister will tell us. I hope that too much of it is not spent upon Members of Parliament, and that this is not to disguise arrangements for those who are fortunate enough to go on these trips. Perhaps the Minister can say something about that. We all recognise the difficult and responsible work which the staff of the Commission are doing. Reading between the lines of the Minister's speech this 1378 morning, it will be clear that they have a very difficult job in hand.
As far as one can judge from reports, they are doing it quite competently. I am not making any criticism about that. If the answers to my questions are not satisfactory during the Supply season, which is open until the end of July, we might have to put down this Vote again. As I said once before on a Friday, if anyone has the I o'clock train to catch he need not wait for a Division for there will not be one today. I am concerned with the administration of the Commission. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman was not here when I said that we purposely had not raised the question of the Foreign Office and the big issues, but that we were trying to find out what the Commission are doing. We are satisfied that they are doing a very difficult job competently, but we want to know what is the chain of responsibility. According to this Estimate, there is a staff of 26,000 of all grades, some of whom, presumably, are highly paid, and others not highly paid. I do not know, and the Minister did not say anything to show, how the machine works. It is interesting, because in the long run administration depends upon effective organisation.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will not mind me interrupting, but I thought he was being a little lighthearted in mixing up important matters such as the entertainment allowance with the 1 o'clock train.
§ Captain Crookshank
No. As I said, it may be either revolutionary or reactionary, but it is legitimate on a Supply day to deal with matters involving money which Parliament is asked to vote. The hon. Gentleman is well aware that there are committees who help us in this purpose. For once in a way I am doing it here, and I do not see why he is objecting. As I was saying, all efficient administration depends on efficient organisation. What I have never yet been able to understand, because nobody has told me, is how exactly all this works. We have a staff of 26,000, some of whom are important administratives and some are not. Then the hon. Gentleman has told us, though I do not know whether this has anything to do with the British staff or whether it is merely the German aspect of it, that there are four regional commissioners, and the whole concern is under 1379 the military Commander-in-Chief. Where does the Minister himself come in? Does he send to the Commander-in-Chief such instructions as His Majesty's Government wish to give about these cognate matters? Is the Commander-in-Chief, in some way, under the Minister personally as well as under the Secretary of State for War? Does he receive instructions from two lots of people? This is important, because one knows there is a military occupation of Germany for which we have the Commander-in-Chief and, no doubt, military staff officers who perform the necessary military functions, and, as I see it, parallel to this there is this rather vague, amorphous Commission which is doing a great number of useful things which, we hope, will be productive of good results in the future, as the Minister has explained. Under whom do they all come, and where do they get their directions?
I admit it is a long time since we on this side of the Committee knew all the details, but we had something to do with the plans for building this up, and I remember, for example, that there was to be a mission from the Post Office to see to the resurrection of the postal communications. I believe that has been very successfully done, and I believe it works well in the British zone. I am told that one can send a letter from one end to the other, which was not so a year ago. There was to be a police mission which was to build up the German police and, I presume, to make them more of a civilian force than they were in the past. To whom do all these missions report? Does the police mission report to the Home Office? If the Post Office people are still there, do they report to the Postmaster-General? If so, where does the Minister come in? If we are to have a good and efficient administration these problems must be looked at, and I hope the Minister will explain to us how it works or, if necessary, give us a White Paper on the subject. Things may go wrong. I do not know if they have gone wrong yet, but it is always a human possibility, and if they do go wrong we shall not know where the responsibility lies.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
May I interrupt the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's questioning on this particular aspect, and make it clear that I said in my opening remarks that I am the Minister responsible for the 1380 whole of the operations of the Control Commission in Germany? Naturally, the Secretary of State for War is responsible for the occupation troops of the B.A.O.R., but for all sections of the administration in Germany, including postal services, police and everything else, there is only one Minister.
§ Captain Crookshank
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. That is what I thought, but it still does not show how it happens. Let us take a hypothetical case. As I say, I do not even know whether the Post Office people are still there, but supposing they wanted some instruction about some purely postal matter, from whom would the head of the mission get it? As I understand it, owing to there being a military occupation, he would get the instruction from the Commander-in-Chief, through the military staff of the Commander-in-Chief, though the hon. Gentleman himself is the responsible Minister. Is that what happens, or would the aforementioned Post Office mission send direct to the Control Office in London and thereby short-circuit what I understood is the authority in Germany?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Whether it be posts and telegraphs, or any other aspect of the Control, the procedure is that if it is necessary to consult on policy, the team in that particular division of the Control Commission in Germany consults through the Commander-in-Chief, as the head of the Control Commission, with the Control Office in London. Naturally, on certain specialised aspects such as posts and telegraphs, we do maintain what contact is necessary and obtain such assistance and advice as may be necessary from the other Government Departments concerned.
§ Captain Crookshank
I am glad to hear that. I may have to think it over. I am not sure whether it really meets the point. I took postal matters as being completely non-controversial, but when it comes to something which might have a political aspect, when it has to go through the military channels and out of the military channels into the civilian channels, I think it is very complicated and I am not certain,that it will work. The Minister may think that I have laboured this matter unduly, but I have not. This is not the first time we have occupied countries after wars, and the same principle involved in this particular set up 1381 which we are discussing was involved in Turkey after the last war, although it was not on the same scale. I happened to be a member of the British High Commission at the time. We did not have any of this sort of arrangement. The civilian administration was dealt with by a civilian head out there. There were a civilian chief, and the British High Commissioner; the first one was an admiral, and then Sir Horace Rumbold filled the post. The civil administration came through from the Foreign Office.
§ Captain Crookshank
I do not know if one can say that. There was a Turkish Government outside the occupation zone, and there were a few people who were vague shadows, but they did not really function. There was an Allied High Commission. There were the civilian High Commissioners and there were the military commanders-in-chief, and the roles of the two were quite distinct. All I am leading up to is to ask the Minister whether the time has not come to look again at the whole structure; whether, in fact, there ought not to be a high ranking—if I may use a rather horrid word—British civilian in Germany in general control, maybe parallel with, maybe slightly below, the military commander-in-chief, which is not for me to say because I do not profess to know enough about it. I wonder whether there ought not to be a British High Commissioner now. There was a time when, obviously, there could not be, when it was in military control. I wonder whether there ought not to be now; whether it might not be somebody of the pro-consular type, or whether we could resurrect the practice, on which there is a good deal to be said for and against, started by my right hon. Friend in wartime, of having a resident Cabinet Minister at headquarters, in the same way as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) was resident during the campaign of Lord Alexander, particularly during the latter part when political matters came within the purview of the commander-in-chief. I hope the Government are thinking seriously in order to see whether that is not possible.
We are not talking about a set-up for an administration of a few months. It is anticipated that this is to go on for a considerable time. Therefore, this is the for- 1382 mative period [...] sphere, executive action. I am prompted to say that, because so many people who have been to Germany tell me that there does seem to be a certain amount of criticism of the difficulty in getting directives from the Government. Of course, if that is so, one of the most fruitful sources of difficulty is, not having the right channels, or getting them blocked up by the wrong type of person. Therefore, I hope the Minister will look into that. It was really to put that point that I rose to speak. Many of my hon. Friends behind me, who have been to Germany, have often given the Committee the benefit of their views, as indeed, is the case with hon. Members opposite. I wanted to try to see what could be done to get the administration better, in view of the criticisms that I have heard in connection with continuing bottlenecks. If the Minister replies I hope he will say something about the functions of this Control Office. There is to be £400,000 this year, more than twice the cost of the corresponding service of the whole of the Colonial Empire before the war. Let us remember all the time that all this has to be paid for by our taxpayers, because, optimistic though the Minister may be that at some time we may get some of it back, in dealing with Germany, we have heard that sort of thing before. I doubt very much whether we shall recover a very large proportion of this expenditure. Indeed, the Minister made it clear that he did not expect it, because he went on to say that this was not a profitmaking investment. It certainly is not a profitmaking investment—it is reparations in reverse. This is the most quixotic act in history: we defeat a country and then call on our own taxpayers to grant £80 million or £100 million a year to put them on to their feet again.
§ Captain Crookshank
I do not think so. I do not think the hon. Gentleman will sustain that theory for very long. Of all the quixotic practices in this country, the particular ones which he advocates are perhaps the most quixotic. I hope the Minister will tell us something about this Control Office in London, and something more about the relations be- 1383 tween the milita[...] that those who have to do this very difficult work in Germany get sufficiently clearcut decisions out of His Majesty's Government in the present nature of the chain of responsibility. The second point about which I would like him to say something on the expenditure side is, that when he struck the rough balance sheet he said we were expected to send in £100 million of imports and might get £50 million out, but it all depended on how the Vote situation went. I would like to know, first of all, what, over and above that, is meant by the "Repayment to Service Votes"? That is one of those things in which the taxpayer pays on one Vote and then takes out on another, but he still has to pay it. Therefore, it is nothing for which the Minister can take credit, except in accounting, in respect of "external costs of occupation chargeable to Germany". I am puzzled in my mind about that. I cannot see what the "external costs of the occupation" of a country can be at all, unless it means freight charges, and that sort of thing, for the goods which we are importing into the country. That is the only explanation I can think of.
I merely call attention to that because, when the Minister says it is costing £100 million for essential imports, under the Estimate it is really £120 million, in view of the Repayment to Service Votes. The same thing applies to supplies provided by the Armed Forces, £3½ million; that has to be added so far as the taxpayer is concerned. Therefore, it is a much bigger sum than the £100 million to which he referred, some of which, £60 million, is for external costs. What are they? I hope he will tell us. I hope he will also tell us how far expenditure is incurred by U.N.R.R.A. In Austria, from what he has just said, it must be considerable; in Germany slight. I understand U.N.R.R.A. runs the displaced persons camps, and must have certain expenditure there. We come in on that too, because we make our contribution. If U.N.R.R.A. is paying something out of its funds to Germany, some proportion of that money will have to come out of the British taxpayer's pocket.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Yes, but I did give the figures of the U.N.R.R.A. allocations in 1384 respect of money for the purposes of Austria. That does not come within our Vote, because the U.N.R.R.A. Vote is an entirely separate proposition.
§ Captain Crookshank
I quite agree. It is the old game of the different accounts. It does not come under the Minister's Vote, but it does come out of the British taxpayer's pocket. I only point out that the British taxpayer is today paying a very large sum, in one way and another: part of it on Service Votes for supplies comes to the Minister; part of it on the Minister's Vote, which he himself collects, and part of it on the U.N.R.R.A. vote, some of whose services accrue to the advantage of his work. The total is a very vast amount. I am sure that, in the circumstances, no one thinks there is any alternative, granted the lines of policy which have hitherto animated this country and the victorious Allies. That is no doubt the case, but the time may come when we will want to review that; if so, we will do it on another Vote. I am obliged to the Minister for giving us such a detailed exposition, and I am sure he is grateful to us for giving him the opportunity of doing so. It is the first time he has had an opportunity of telling the country what is being done with this large sum of money which is taken from them. Whether they think it worth it or not is another matter for them to consider in the light of what has been said. We will want to consider such an important statement in very much greater detail. May be later on we will have to come back to this matter, if not this year at any rate another year, because the Commission are not to be wound up now. At any rate, we have secured from the Minister a general outline of what they are doing. As the Minister has told us, from time to time we shall have to probe some of this expenditure. If the Minister speaks again, if not today at any rate at an early date, I hope he will take the opportunity of answering specific questions about organisation. I am sure that in the long run the success of what we do or do not do in the occupied zone depends upon getting the machine right.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
Many of us on this side of the Committee are grateful to hon. Gentlemen opposite for making possible this Debate. We always 1385 listen to the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) with the greatest of interest; we know his competence and his ingenuity well enough to appreciate that, if he had wished on this occasion to raise larger issues, he is a sufficiently expert Member of the House to have done so. He has asked the Minister for certain detailed statements, but, in fact, from the leader in this Debate on the opposite side there has come a vote of complete confidence or agreement about the broad lines of British policy in Germany and Austria. I felt that our own Minister, in opening the discussion, was not feeling quite so happy. At one point in his remarks he gave some information as to why the removal of Nazis from important posts in Germany has had to be slowed down. His explanation was on grounds of efficiency—when too many of them were removed, production suffered. I hope our Minister and the Government in their general policy will look again, and look more closely, at the rate and method of de-Nazification in the British zone of Germany and Austria.
I have in my possession a number of documents which I will gladly hand to the Minister later; I can only touch on a small part of them this afternoon as there are trains to catch, lunch to be got at some time, and many other of the hon. Members have expert information which they want to give. But I am distressed by a report that has come to me from reliable democratic Socialist and trade union leaders in Hanover, who give me chapter and verse of not one. but scores of key positions which are still being manned by Nazi personnel. Among my list are included: the Chief of Police, the Chief of the Liaison Staff of the Military Government, the Chief of the Personnel Department and his assistant in charge of new appointments, the Chief of the Criminal Police and of the Criminal Police School, and the Chief of the Police Administration. I could go on, but I know the Minister is making note of these officers and I ask him, Is this really necessary, if we want to discredit Nazi values, if we want to build up within Germany good will and confidence in democratic Britain on the part of those Germans who were either neutral or definitely anti-Fascist during the years of the war and the previous Hitler regime? I have a great fear that at this moment 1386 in Germany and Austria we are not laying down policies which will avoid future wars as successfully as has been indicated in this House.
It is true that we have been dismantling those German industries with any war potential. It is true that, although victors after a long war, we have accepted a situation in which we are actually subsidising Germany, instead of the other way round, but are we seriously going to put forward in this Committee that the real gist of maintaining the peace lies within Germany at the present moment, and consists simply of the dismantling of industry and other restrictive measures of that kind? I think I had better be quite frank. Let me say in public what we are all saying in private. Germany and Austria at this moment are diplomatic battlegrounds, they are battlegrounds—sadly we must admit it—in which the former Allies, this country, America, Russia, France and the rest, are manoeuvring with one another for present position and future support.
I can remember that at one time during the war I debated the future of Germany with Lord Vansittart, and, of course, at that time he was saying that Germany was the sole future menace to the peace of the world and must be completely suppressed, and that it must be made impossible for Germany ever again to be a first rate Power. I then put forward another thesis, and I confess that I put it forward hardly believing in it myself, it seemed so fantastic. I then said—it was in a discussion that was going across to America—that we had better be careful lest, following on the Vansittart period of punishment and suppression for the Germans, there should follow a period, of competition in which America, ourselves, and Russia would begin to look at this great industrial nation in the heart of Europe and bid, inside Germany, for the favours of that nation. We have not got there exactly yet, but I submit that certain changes are necessary in our policy in Germany and Austria—and in that of Russia too, of course—if we are not to be in danger of getting there.
I notice that the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) intervened while the Minister was speaking to ask, with a good deal of ardour and aggressiveness, if it were not a fact that bellies were fuller in the Russian zone of Germany than they were in the British zone. He was not 1387 asking for an assurance, in the orthodox Vansittart fashion, that bellies were emptier in the Russian zone than in the British zone, and hon. Members of this Committee know that I am not stretching the facts too far when I say that behind the mood of that question, and many other questions that are being asked, is a desire to see whether Soviet Russia or ourselves are winning the larger measure of good will in Germany and Austria. This is an exceedingly alarming and distressing situation, and I want to submit to the Committee that it is more than time now that we, as a British Labour Government, had a clear policy to put before the German people which would take us altogether outside the area of Anglo-Russian or Anglo-American competition. It will be fatal for the future of the world if Germany and Austria become either a British zone of influence or a Russian zone of influence.
I want to see our policy directed towards assuring the people of Germany and Austria—I take Germany first—that we do not want to dismember Germany. We want a Germany, with the accepted frontiers in the West, which is an economic unity. In deciding the future of German industry, we should surely be doing no disservice if we suggested that the most sensible thing to do, beginning with the heavy industries of the Ruhr, would be to nationalise them, and take them out of the hands of rich Germans. The Russians in their zone have done a good job with the Junkers. I am not competent to speak of what is going on inside the Russian zone—I hear many things, some pleasing and some depressing—but it is true to say, I think, that the power of the Junkers has been broken. I wish that I could feel equally happy that the power of the great industrialists is being broken in the British zone. I know that something is already being done, but this power will have to be broken if we are to look forward to a future Germany believing in democratic values.
Let us face the fact that a year after the end of the war those who know Germany best are willing to declare that if Hitler were alive today he would obtain a clear majority, although he failed in 1933 to secure a clear majority. That is the measure of the discontent with 1388 Allied policy inside Germany. The people know that they have lost the war, and even those Germans who were ready to rejoice in the defeat of Hitler are now bewildered, confused, unhappy and uncertain of the future. It is because I am concerned about these things that I venture to take up the time of the Committee on this aspect.
I have mentioned that many prominent Nazis are still in positions which enable them to build up their prestige among the members of their townships. If the Minister says that the Government have not the alternative personnel to replace them, I would ask him for an explanation of something which to me is quite intolerable and inexplicable. At the present time we have anti-Fascist prisoners of war in British camps in Egypt. Some of them were old friends of ours before the war, and some have been part of our underground contacts during the war. These men, in September last year, sent a detailed memorandum to the War Office, and I believe that the particulars have also been brought to the notice of the Minister. We are in the fantastic position of keeping in prison camps men who have most distinguished and lengthy anti-Fascist records. One of the charms of the present House of Commons is that we are still in the process of making discoveries about one another, and sometimes these discoveries are pleasing and interesting. I published in a weekly political periodical, which every Member reads and knows very well, the story—
§ Miss Lee
The publication is the "Tribune," and I am glad that the last Member of the Committee has now got to know it. Carefully checked facts have been published about the nature of prisoners in these camps, and I was interested and pleased when the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) told me that he was one of the British officers who went round these camps during the war. getting the good will of the prisoners for our cause, and, if not on a legal document, certainly in terms of honour, pledged our support and friendship to these men at the end of the war. Why should not these people go back to Germany? This is not a matter of party 1389 politics. I should like the hon. Member for Grimsby, and a Member from the Liberal Party, on one of the days when the Liberal Party are present, to join with me in this plea. Although the personnel affected is only a few hundred, they could profoundly influence public opinion among hundreds of thousands of people inside Germany.
Why do we not send representatives from the House to go to these camps and find out the men with proved anti-Fascist records? I have many cases of men who after four years and more in German concentration camps, in the last phases of the war, when manpower was short, were put into penal battalions which had been specially formed by Hitler for the politically unreliable. Why do we not go out and find these men wherever they are, in this country or abroad? I know that we are doing a splendid job in the re-education of certain German prisoners of war in this country. But it is not enough. It is wrong that in May of this year I should have to bring to the notice of Members all the facts reported by the men themselves which were checked in September last year. If we are concerned about our honour and the building up of a Germany which will respect and love democratic values, we dare not allow this state of affairs to continue. If the Minister tells me that the Government are short of reliable personnel inside Germany, he should take every step in his power to see that these men, whatever may be their qualifications or age, are returned.
What could be more moving for the people in Germany than to see old and broken anti-Fascists the first to go back to their townships, and what can be more completely demoralising than what is happening now, when many known Nazis, because they are skilled engineers or technicians, are the first to come home? Many anti-Fascists out there have for five or six years been in concentration camps in Germany, and now they are British prisoners of war. We cannot expect them to be impressed by the difference in nomenclature. I ask the Committee to pardon me for getting rather overheated on this subject, but I believe if we want decently and permanently to solve the problem of Germany, we have to go out and look for our own friends and sustain them to an extent which we are not doing at present. The Minister, 1390 in answer to a Question on 8th May, said thatonly 197 written applications have been received in the Control Officefrom German and Austrian refugees. He stated:Thirty-six have been repatriated who were urgently required for reconstruction tasks.Again we come back to this question that only those specially required for reconstruction tasks are repatriated. Of these 36 there were17 politicians, 11 civil servants, five trade union leaders, two journalists and one judge." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1936; Vol. 422, c. 90.]I do not know whether there is any significance about the proportion of these figures. I am delighted that those friends of ours are back in their own country, but there is no reason for failing to send back others of them although they may not be specialists in a particular job, for they are specialists' in a point of view. They are upholders of a faith, and if we want the sort of Germany and Austria of the future which I think we do want, then I do ask the Minister that there should not be so much delay in tackling this type of problem.
I want to ask another question. I am told that in the British zone in Germany at this moment, where food is absorbing the attention of everyone, we are still working through an old fashioned Nazi food organisation known as the Reich Food Estate I am told that the personnel, which is acting as contact between the German city and village, and the personnel used in the drive on the agricultural front is largely, if not wholly, made up of the same people who were used by the Nazis. I am also in formed—and I would be very happy if I could be corrected in this respect—that in the British zone we are not tackling the problem of the big estates as it is being tackled in the Russian zone. I am perfectly well aware that we have not got so many of those big estates, but we must remember quality values as well as quantitative values, and although we may have a small quantity of Junkers that is no reason why we should not deal with those gentlemen. Again this question arises of how we expect the Germans to think or us.
I also have a complaint from our anti-Nazi people in Germany that there are Nazi internees who are receiving higher 1391 rations in their camps than the free working-class civilians in the industrial areas. We have all read the explanation in the Press. We have been told that because they cannot supplement their rations they must be given extra food. Any of us know that an industrial worker in any country does not find it easy to supplement his rations if he is living on the pavement. It is so in this country, or at any rate it is relatively easy in the countryside to supplement those rations. However, this is another issue and I would be glad if the Minister would look into it.
We are engaged in a conflict of ideas and ultimately it is ideas which will solve this problem. The question I wish to put is that while Soviet Russia has quite properly been given the most adequate supplies of paper in order that those who wish to put the Communist point of view should have every facility to do so, many Liberals and Democratic Socialists have been having the greatest difficulty in securing newsprint in the British zone. I do appreciate the Minister's difficulty and what all this costs us, as well as the import problems involved, but just now he said to the Members of the Opposition that we cannot grudge £10 million, £15 million, or even £100 million if it is to be an insurance against future war. I suggest we must not grudge a few more millions if that is going to be an insurance on our part in favour of the right kind of peace.
If I may, I should like to say just one word about a country for which some of us have great warmth and admiration, namely, Austria I think we were delighted to hear the tribute that the Minister paid to democratic vitality inside Austria. Many of us have long associations with the Austrian Socialist movement, and are the first to applaud and understand. But I would ask the Minister to remember this also, that there are powerful Fascist elements in Austria, that we are fighting for the very soul of that country, and that if we want the democratic force to prevail there we must be careful that we do not interfere with the freely elected Austrian Parliament and reduce that Parliament to a most humiliating position in the eyes of the Austrian people by subjecting it not only to proper military controls but to controls which undermine its entire status. I was most distressed by our conduct when the Austrian Parliament sought to pass legis- 1392 lation that would nationalise some of the basic industries of Austria. That seemed to me to be an excellent idea. It seemed to me to be one way of holding that property and not allowing it to be dispersed by Russian, American, British or other interests. Whilst the Austrian Parliament, not even under the leadership of a Socialist Chancellor, was seeking to carry through that Measure, it was told by Allied Control in Austria that it coud not be done.
I must finish now, because there are many people in this Committee who know as much and a great deal more about this entire problem than I do. Cannot we from the British House of Commons send out a message to the people of Austria and the people of Germany that we are working hard for the time when the ordinary families there will have a home and will have a job and will enjoy all civil liberties: and that we are not going to allow any great land owning classes or wealthy industrialist groups to develop? We talk about Germany and Austria paying, but we should see that there is some kind of fair play as between one German family and another German family. I do not like the situation in which we have poor folk in Germany starving in the industrial areas and at the same time considerable groups of exceedingly wealthy and exceedingly privileged Germans and Austrians. I think that is bad for those countries and bad for us. As I see the future of Europe, I want Germany free from British control, Russian control, American control or any other control. I want to see an economic unit and a united country. I want from the British House of Commons a message go forth that we are going to redouble our efforts to withdraw Nazis from positions of responsibility; that we are going to seek out all anti-Fascists whom we can trust irrespective of technical qualifications, age or infirmities, and have them sent back to Germany and Austria as our friends; and that they and us together will work for a Germany and Austria which, instead of being a threat to the future peace of the world, can once again, I am firmly convinced, make great contributions in all civilising fields.
§ 1.18 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
I wish I could feel with the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) that these 1393 problems can be solved by giving sentimental support, or concerning ourselves with, individuals of a certain party and helping them to obtain positions of importance in those two countries. I wish indeed that the problems were as simple as that. Indeed, I regret to say that the Minister today has not given any of the sense of urgency which these problems demand. He has glossed over items of considerable importance and he has avoided pointing out that there must be immediate action in some instances if disaster does not overtake the British administration in our zone. I visited the Ruhr in November of last year, and I was struck, as I believe anyone would be, at what our administration had, in fact, achieved. It was to my mind miraculous when we remember that our forces took over a country which had been almost completely destroyed, all the services of which had been rendered useless. Even in that short space of time it had been possible to get trams and trains running, sanitation and water supplies re-established and electricity and gas supplied not only to the British zone but in some instances exported to another zone.
On my second visit I was struck very forcibly with the fact that the situation in Germany had deteriorated enormously between November of last year and May of this year. The Minister has not made that point clear today. I suggest that it is something of which we should take due notice and regard as a real cause for alarm The people in Germany today are, in the main, without any visible means of support. The industries are slowing down to almost a stop and they have no hope of the future. They do not know where the next month's food is coming from. Whatever one may feel about Germans—and I am not sympathetic towards them at all—it is impossible to administer a country where the people have no hope whatever.
We are conducting this organisation in Germany with a large staff. The Minister, I am sorry to say, did not dwell upon the necessity for cutting that staff. I am of opinion that the staff of the Control Commission in Germany could be cut by 50 per cent. without any loss in efficiency of the control of the country. When I was in that country a few weeks ago, I was told that, in certain towns, one could find 30 or 40 members of the British Con- 1394 trol Commission in bed in the afternoon. I am quite prepared to believe that that is the truth; in fact I tried to get it denied, but my information was that it could be supported and that, perhaps, the number was on the low side. Whilst, out of a total expenditure of £80 million, only £10 million is represented by administration, I contend that a case is made out for an urgent reduction in the number of personnel on more grounds than one. First, a lot of the members of the staff are below the calibre required for the job and they could be lopped off without any loss, and, indeed, with an increase in efficiency. Second there is an urgent need to take the control of Germany from the direct and low level of the hands of the Control Commission and to operate it from a high level. That is a policy which I feel must be actively pursued in the next few months. The third reason for a reduction is very important. It is that we are tending to make the German people, by this low level of control and organisation, far too much dependent upon ourselves. We have to make the German people dependent upon themselves and not upon us, and we have to get rid of this sympathy complex which is developing. In the course of our visit, we were interviewed by reporters, and one of them told me that the German people feel that the British do not want to help them. That is indicative of the state of mind in Germany today. There must be a spirit of enterprise and independence as, otherwise, there is no future for the country at all.
A lot has been said about de-Nazification. I agree that that is a problem of immense difficulty for the Control Commission, but I do not share the fears of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock that this process is not going far enough. I am rather afraid that, in many ways, it is going too far, and that we are robbing Germany of the very men necessary for her recovery. I would ask the Minister to let us know what are the standards by which a Nazi is judged. Is mere nominal membership of the party—which was compulsory on any industrialist as early as about 1935—a reason for dispossession and for removal from office? If that is so, it is something which should be corrected right away. On more than one occasion I have heard it said in Germany that a hunt is being conducted against men who have, or had, any social position during the Nazi régime. If that is true, 1395 is it not an evil thing? I hope the Minister will look at it and see that something is done.
I would ask the Minister, too, for a statement as to the policy in the future with regard to the people who have been dispossessed and taken from their jobs. What a vast potential for danger and disruption is being built up in Germany today by casting men who are skilled in their trade, profession or industry on to the industrial scrap heap. This may give a certain amount of satisfaction to those who are politically opposed to them, but are we not building up a potential source of danger in, say, eight or ten years' time? I would like to hear from the Minister what the policy is with regard to dispossessed persons.
I must say that the work of the British Control Commission which I most admire, and which I think is most fruitful of results, is the establishment of local government in Germany. Local democratic government has never existed there before and I feel that our attempts to establish it are really the best means by which democracy can be achieved in Germany if, indeed, it can be achieved. The rights of a Member of Parliament can be wiped away without, perhaps, much trouble, but if one tries to interfere with the dignity and power of a rural district council, a serious state of affairs exists right away. Therefore, I believe that this attempt to establish democratic government at the lowest level is the most important thing at the present time.
I am also worried about the position of the parties in Germany. It is true that lots of the supporters of the moderate Left are old and broken men. They have had a very bad time, but I am not impressed, from reading the history of the last war, with the power and capacity of a lot of the Social Democrats in Germany. Whilst I agree that, for the moment, it is impossible to see any other party assuming any large measure of power and securing any large measure of support, I am not happy that the affairs of Germany are being conducted by men of the calibre of the existing Social Democrats. My impression was that the men who represented the local Civil Service were much more forceful characters and were more likely to grasp power than the democratic representatives of the people. I am not 1396 happy about the position; I feel that the position in the British zone at the moment is a direct encouragement to the Communist elements. I share the alarm expressed by the hon. Member for Cannock about the paper which is accorded to the Communists and the lack of facilities given to the moderate parties. In a conversation that we had on this matter with members of all parties, we raised the question of the amount of paper coming in from Berlin, and the Communist admitted that it did come in, and he added this cynical observation, "If the other parties like to take this paper with what is printed on it, they can have it." Will the Minister tell the Committee what exports are being sent from the Russian zone to Russia or to other countries, and whether those exports are being calculated against imports, on the basis of the Potsdam Agreement?
§ Mr. Shepherd
Yes. This is a most important matter, because the position of moderate parties in the British zone is being undermined by stories, emanating from the Russian zone, of intense industrial activity, of relatively better feeding and housing, as indeed we know that housing conditions are much better in the Russian zone than in the British zone. Those stories from the Russian zone are causing great difficulty and anxiety to those who are trying to put forward a moderate policy in the British zone. I should be glad if the Minister could give us information as to whether exports are taking place from the Russian zone to Russia and other countries, and whether they are calculated against imports, on the basis of the Potsdam Agreement.
There are one or two other matters on which I should like to have information. What does the Minister intend to do about displaced persons? These people have to be seen to be believed. Never in my life have I seen such human driftwood, and I cannot imagine the means by which the social problem which these displaced persons represent is to be overcome. I do not know what we are to do with them, but I feel that to have 400,000 of these people in our zone, eating away, and when they cannot get what they want, robbing other people in the vicinity, causing almost unlimited cases of assault and battery on the civilian population, causing the British 1397 Army to spend an immense amount of man hours on guard, is something that has to be dealt with immediately. They ought to be told that either they must work or they will not eat. I think that is a fairly reasonable proposition.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
Surely, the hon. Member will admit that, while his description applies in certain instances, it does not apply throughout the displaced persons' camps?
§ Mr. Shepherd
My experience of three displaced persons' camps, and questioning of officials connected with them, leads me to believe that the level of behaviour by the displaced persons who are now left —and it is the worst elements who are now left—is so bad as to constitute a major problem to the British administration. What is the Minister going to do about civilian internment camps? There are about 50,000 people in these camps, and I understand that they are in very bad condition. It is very difficult to get soldiers to guard men inside wire who are in such a bad state that they can hardly move. Are these men to be kept in these camps for two or three years until they are all killed off, or what is the policy? It is not consistent with honour and dignity to allow the present state of affairs to continue.
I want to ask the Minister about expellees. We received a very ingenious, answer in the House the other day to a Question about the number of able-bodied persons represented by these expellees. So far the British zone has received 250,000 out of a total of 1,500,000 to be received by the end of September. Eight per cent. of these people are able bodied and fit for work. Will the Minister confirm that the total number of men fit for work who have been received from the Eastern zone is only 8 per cent. of the total, and that the figure quoted refers to the whole of the women and children, and not to the men? I want also to ask for some elucidation on the question of prisoners of war. I understand that prisoners of war are being sent from Germany to this country. It is, I believe, intended that 150,000 should be sent, if they have not already been sent. I am not at all happy about this procedure. It may be that, according to the letter of the law, we are justified in doing this, but whether our conscience will allow us to do it is a different matter. There are problems in 1398 Germany the solution of which demands able-bodied men, and unless there are those able-bodied men we shall be confronted with a very serious position.
§ Earl Winterton
Will my hon. Friend bring out the fact that these people are being sent here—and this makes it even more serious—in order to work in the mines and in the harvest fields?
§ Mr. Shepherd
I want, before I conclude, to refer to the general economic position in the British zone, and to put one or two questions to the Minister. The key to the whole problem in Germany is obviously coal, and at the moment there is only about one-third of the prewar production, with about two-thirds of the labour. Various things account for the rather low rate of production that obtains at present. The whole basis of the difficulty in Germany is in the coal production. We are being asked to face a bill of —80 million a year largely because of the inability of German industry to operate owing to a lack of coal. What does the Minister intend to do to get coal production moving? Is it right and proper, in view of the cost to the British taxpayer of German administration, to export able-bodied prisoners of war from Germany to this country when they are so urgently needed in the mines in Germany? I do not think it is a very sound policy. In my view, the position in Germany has not been made clear by the Minister. He has not pointed out the extreme urgency which exists, or the alternatives to the present position. It is not known where the food will come from at the end of this month. Production is slowing down. Factories are going out of operation. Perhaps the Minister will tell us how many factories have gone out of operation since last November. The number is quite considerable. The German people face a hopeless position. What are we to do about it? We cannot allow the situation to develop for another month or so without doing something.
Let the Minister tell the Committee the truth, that we agreed to a central control of Germany and to a pooling of imports and exports which has not been carried out. We are burdened with an uneconomic unit which we cannot sustain without large imports from outside, and for which the British taxpayer is being called upon to pay £80,000,000 a year. What is the alternative? Shortly we shall be faced 1399 with a starving people, with a people denied any hope for the future, and what will happen in those circumstances I leave to hon. Members to calculate. There are on the Continent plenty of forces waiting to take advantage of that situation. What should we do? I believe that, within the space of a few weeks, we should try to get a firm and definite understanding with the other elements controlling Germany as to whether they will agree to centralised control or not, and if we cannot get agreement, as is quite possible, we must determine immediately to set up our own zone on an entirely different basis. We shall have to make the zone an economic unit, and we shall have to cut coal exports to France, Holland, Belgium and other countries and zones of Germany, and get German industry going in the British zone, in order to export goods which will pay for the necessary imports of food.
That is the situation which faces us at the present time, and which the Minister must decide upon in a matter of weeks. I suggest that the Minister of State, when he replies, should make quite clear what is the Government's position. There has been a tragic deterioration in the situation in the British zone during the months between my first and second visits. This situation cannot continue. It demands much more urgent attention than, apparently, the Minister is giving it, and I hope that the Minister of State, in his reply, will indicate that the Government are fully seized of the real urgency of the situation.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
In the course of his very interesting and valuable speech, the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. W. Shepherd) referred to German prisoners of war who were being brought from Germany to this country. The justification, such as it is, which we have heard of that is that there is work for them here and in existing circumstances, with the raw material position as it is, there is not work for them in Germany. Is that so or not?
§ Mr. Shepherd
I think it is true to say that owing to the shortage of coal there is in many cases a lack of work in Germany, but this is very largely confined to those people who are normally engaged in administrative jobs. Clerks and similar people find it extremely diffi 1400 cult, and the incidence of unemployment in the British zone in these classes is quite high, but if these able-bodied men who are now being sent to this country were in fact set to produce coal and steel in their own country then the whole of the economic situation in Germany would, in my opinion, improve as the result.
§ 1.41 p.m
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devon-port)
The hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. W. Shepherd) has raised a series of most important questions. He has referred to the urgent matters of the future treatment of displaced persons and our treatment of and moral responsibility in dealing with, prisoners of war, and he also raised the larger question of the whole economic future of Germany. I think that the hon. Member's speech, like others which have been made in this Debate, have illustrated how wrong it is that this is the first Debate we have had on this subject, and how necessary it will be to have many more Debates in order that we may discuss all these urgent matters much more fully than we are able to today. There are many hon. Members who still wish to speak, so I will confine my remarks to a few brief comments on the speech made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
First, I welcome the statement he made about Austria I think it is of the highest importance that it should have been stated officially on behalf of the British Government that we are opposed to the dismantling of Austrian industry which appears to have been proceeding in the past few months. It is most important that it should be known how urgently the British people and the British Government desire the withdrawal of foreign troops from Austrian soil, and I hope that the statement will be given the utmost publicity in Austria. Unhappily the Austrians are perhaps going to feel a bitter disappointment in the next few days when they learn of the consequences of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers and that their problem has not been treated, and they may be cast back into a situation of despair. Anything we can do to assure them that we are concerned with this problem and determined to press upon our Allies the fact that Austria must have a real identity of her own and real recognition—in other words, that we intend to carry out in full the declaration 1401 made in Moscow in 1943—will be of enormous value.
I would like to thank the Minister for the statement he made regarding the Potsdam Agreement. It was not a very violent statement of policy, but I think it was some advance because he said that he attached special importance to the proviso which would enable the Agreement to be reviewed again if the circumstances in which it was made had changed. I believe, and have always maintained ever since the Agreement was announced—and many other hon. Members have held the same view—that the Potsdam Agreement was always utterly unworkable and will continue to prove so. We are spending, as has been said, £80 million of the British taxpayers' money on our occupation of Germany, and we have to keep in Germany many thousands of people who are anxious to be demobilised and to return to their homes. We have to supply Germany with large numbers of technicians who are preciously needed at home, and all this has to be done not only with the purpose of ensuring that Germany is never able again to go to war, but also with the purpose, ironically, of inflicting enormous economic damage on ourselves and on the other peoples of Europe. In my view it is the most futile enterprise upon which any people have ever embarked since, the building of the Pyramids, and if it continues it is likely to leave a monument almost as eternal. If the economic principles on which the Versailles Treaty was based were moonshine, then I believe the economic, principles of the Potsdam Agreement were madness on a cosmic scale, and certainly we must recognise that Potsdam has to go and that we must have a rewriting of the settlement with regard to Germany, including a real programme of economic reconstruction to be undertaken.
I would refer briefly to the welcome statement of the Minister that it is the policy of the Government, despite the difficulties of Potsdam, to build up the political and economic life of the German people. I also welcome the tribute he paid to those Social Democrats and others who fought against the Nazi tyranny, and who have survived and are now playing an honourable part in rebuilding their country. I should like to emphasise, however, that, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), it is not sufficient merely to provide the begin- 1402 nings of political liberty in the British zone in Germany, nor is it sufficient only to act as a neutral. It is most important that we should also pay regard to the economic programme of the Social Democrats, because ever since the war was concluded they have had a very consistent and clear programme on some of the major economic measures they wish to see put through in their country. For instance, they demand the nationalisation of the great industries, the break-up of the big estates, and a capital levy to enable what my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock called the "evening out" of the terrible hardship which the people of their country have to bear. They demand all these measures, and it is only right that we in this Committee should have some description from one of the responsible Ministers at some time as to precisely what is the economic plan which the Control Commission have for operating in the British zone.
Next I should like to refer to the question of newspapers, which has already been discussed. It is of absolutely urgent importance that we should supply the democrats in our zone with far better facilities for expressing their views. It is not only the fact that our supply of paper to the people who want to spread their propaganda and state their views is on a much smaller scale than in the Russian zone. In the American zone also they are far more adventurous and successful in this matter than we have been. In addition to a daily newspaper with a circulation of 2,500,000 they have also a very good weekly illustrated newspaper, whereas in our zone nothing comparable to that has been attempted. I know there are great difficulties, but as I say nothing has even been attempted, and further, I understand that some form of political censorship has been maintained over the newspapers that are printed in our zone. I do not know exactly how this censorship works—perhaps the Minister will explain—but I understand that there is an effort in the British zone to prevent the broad discussion of all the political issues raging in Germany. This does not operate in the American zone, although it exists in a much more severe sense in the Russian zone, and certainly we in our zone should be able to give a lead in showing that we really believe in political liberty and are not in favour of maintaining this censorship. 1403 Finally, there is a much more urgent problem than any of those I have mentioned, and one to which the Minister referred—that of food. We know that at the end of this month even the starvation standard of 1,000 calories is apparently to end, and nobody is able to tell us exactly what will happen then. We know that the Lord President of the Council has gone to Washington to make representations on this matter and that food discussions are to take place there. We all hope for the success of those conferences, but I suggest that they are long-term discussions. It is quite true that the Minister in Washington may be able to remedy the long-term situation if he can succeed in obtaining an agreement whereby American farmers will divert to human consumption even a small part of the stocks which they have been using for animal feeding in the past two or three years. That would remedy the situation in Europe in the future but not in the coming two or three months, and it is those coming two or three months which are the critical ones for all our political and economic purposes and for the whole rehabilitation of Germany and the proper conduct of the British zone. In the next two or three months this country, I claim, can do more to assist the food situation in the British zone than even the Americans. Responsibility for the past rests chiefly on those who failed to build up big stocks during the war when those stocks could have been built up on a much bigger scale.
Criticism of the past cannot remedy the immediate situation. Therefore, what are we to do? The Government have made it clear that bread rationing in this country is practicable. If it had not been, they would never have proposed that we should do it if the Americans did. By bread rationing in this country we could save 500,000 tons of food a year. If half the population of this country ate one ounce of bread less per day we should save 280,000 tons of food per year. Let hon. Members multiply it out for themselves. I got the calculation from my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and, therefore, it is bound to be accurate. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh. but I took the precaution of checking up on it.
Again, we have never had a really clear statement about the stock situation in this country. At the end of March, 1404 stocks of food in this country were reckoned at something like 4,000,000 tons. I believe we could spare 400,000 or 500,000 tons, which could change the whole aspect of the situation in the British zone in the coming few months. Therefore, we have a special responsibility in this House for that situation. It is no use our shelving it on to other nations. We are responsible for the British zone and we have it in our power to remedy the food situation there. We ought to ask ourselves very seriously whether we are doing everything that we can in order to achieve that purpose. I believe there ought to be bread rationing in this country; that coupons ought to be surrendered in the rich restaurants when people go to have meals there——
I cannot allow the hon. Member to pursue that line of argument, which is relevant to a Debate upon the rationing system and the Ministry of Food but is out of Order on the Debate which is now proceeding.
§ Mr. Foot
I do not wish to offend against your Ruling, Mr. Beaumont, but I do suggest, with great respect, that the food situation in Germany is very much he responsibility of the Minister who is responsible also for the cuts which are to be imposed in Germany. I submit, therefore, that a proper subject for discussion in this Debate is how this country is to remedy the food situation in Germany.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
On a point of Order. Is not my hon. Friend entitled to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to make representations to his colleagues on this vital issue of feeding 80,000,000 people?
To develop arguments about the rationing system would be out of Order on this Debate.
§ Mr. Foot
I must bow to your Ruling, Mr. Beaumont, but I continue to submit the point which I made at the beginning of my speech. I tell the Minister responsible that the food situation in Germany is far more urgent than any other part 1405 of the situation and that if we cannot seek methods in this country to remedy it all our other enterprises will collapse.
If the food situation goes on, if there is real starvation as there is at the moment and if there is a complete collapse in the economic development which we have been planning, all the other purposes we have in that country must be cast aside It means further, that any prospect of getting the kind of agreement which we wish to get with our Russian Allies will be seriously jeopardised. If there is continued increase in the wretchedness of the people in the British zone it will be a. constant incitement to the Russians to say that they will not come into a general agreement which will reopen the whole situation. They will seek rather to exploit that situation to the discomfiture of this country. I believe that these questions are certainly matters for discussion in this Supply Debate, and also that it is a matter for the conscience of every Member of this Committee.
§ 1.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I must begin by apologising to the Committee. I hope I am not usually below our normal level of virtue in respect of attendance in the Chamber, but hon. Members will know that on Friday afternoons it is not always possible to avoid engagements which cannot be broken. I hope, therefore, that I shall be forgiven if I do not stay to the end of the Debate
I find myself in unexpectedly wide agreement with the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). I am not quite sure that I agree with him in his dislike of the Pyramids. I do not quite know why they should incur his displeasure They do at least stand on their bottoms, instead of spinning on their heads. I should have thought they were rather agreeable objects. But on some other topics I did agree with him. I always agreed with him in thinking the Potsdam Declaration unworkable. I have always agreed with him in thinking the present Debate highly overdue. At the risk of a charge of wasting time, I would like to explain why I think the Debate is so overdue. We are having the Debate on a Friday. It ill becomes those few of us who are boring the rest of us to complain about those who have stayed away, but the fact is that Friday is the day 1406 when the least time is available, and the smallest number of listeners. We all know that.
Today, a year after the fighting was over, the British House of Commons is debating for the first time how, why, and to what end conquered Germany should be governed. Even now, we are not debating it in the broadest way and with the highest terms of reference, because, as was stated by the right hon. and gallant Member who opened the Debate from this side of the House in what I may respectfully call a model speech, this is on the Vote of the Control Commission. If we were to range over the widest field or to regard it from the highest point of view, we should have to address ourselves to the topic on the Foreign Office Vote or upon some other occasion. This lands us in an element of paradox, or gives a sort of fourth dimension of paradox to a situation already extremely paradoxical. It should at least show us that it is extremely difficult to fight a war for democracy. I was never quite sure that I was fighting a war for democracy when I was young enough to fight; there were other things I thought I was fighting for, but if some chaps cared to call it democracy, I did not pause to argue. In this recent section of the conflict which can be held to have begun about 1899, again I never felt so enthusiastically as did some hon. Members that we were fighting for democracy. It is very difficult indeed to fight for an abstraction, or even to fight for a system of government. That is what we may call the first paradoxical element, especially fighting, competing in force, for that political abstraction or system which claims to be most a matter of consent.
Then look at how we have doubled, or squared, the element of paradox in the equation. We have caused an entirely new situation, so far as I know, entirely new both in fact and in law, in Europe. We have caused a great State to cease to exist. I do not pause to inquire whether it was right to do so, or whether the immense increase in the seriousness of war and in the complexity of its effects is or is not—as I should be inclined to think is—the result of the tendency to Socialist thought in human minds. Whatever the cause of the thing, the fact is there: we have caused not only a great State but a great country to cease to exist—there is no Germany. 1407 The hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy said something today about Germany doing this or that. I do not blame him for a moment, I shall probably do it in three minutes' time myself; one naturally falls into one's habitual vocabulary. But there is no Germany, even in a geographical sense. We have caused that to happen in a world in which we said we were fighting against aggression, against the use of war for excessive purposes, and in favour of democracy, consent.
Now, having caused that to happen, we came to an agreement with our Allies that the defeated territory should be treated, during an unforseeable period before we make a treaty of peace, as an economic unit. It is not being treated as an economic unit. Here we square or cube the element of paradox in the thing, because, what human consent is there in the present situation? If the Potsdam Agreement, good or bad, were being carried out, I could see the argument that Russia is a sort of democracy—you can think so if you like—that America is a sort of democracy—you can think so if you like—that this country is a sort of democracy—you may think so if you choose—even that France is, and that these democracies, having agreed together to do something, that is being done. I could see a kind of dim democratic basis for that, or some argument that there was a measure of consent in what was happening, if that were happening; but, that decision having been made, it has been wholly ineffective.
That is not, in fact, at all the way in which Germany is being governed, and I would strongly warn hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen and, most strongly of all, those who honestly care about democracy—because I think many who use that valuable but not frightfully lovable word use it very fraudulently—to consider whether there is not very serious risk of making democracy quite impossible in Europe for all time; because when you say you are doing the thing for these purposes but you cause a country to cease to exist, when the result is that in Europe now there is less consent in the way that Europe is governed, there is a much smaller consent in my judgment than any time these 2,000 years, when that is, in fact, the case, if you keep telling people 1408 that this is democracy, and if you keep on saying, "You will take it, and like it too; and, if you do not like it, you will not be allowed to earn your living as a doctor or architect; and even then, you will go on liking it so much that things shall get more and more democratic"; if we keep on saying that, it is extremely dubious whether the result will actually be more consent and more democracy
So I think we are long overdue, not for a Friday Debate but for demanding all the attention of this country, and for having the House debating, for three or four days or longer, what it is that we are trying to do with Europe, or what we ought to do with Europe, or what we can do with Europe. These things are infinitely more important than coal nationalisation and most of the things on which we spend our time, and we are already extremely late in at last bringing some slight measure of attention to them.
That is my general approach to this problem and I am extremely anxious to be short because I know how many hon. Members there are who wish to speak. However, there are one or two rather minor questions, perhaps, that I should like to ask. This is in comparison a very minor point and it is not wholly the responsibility of the hon. Gentleman but it is partly, and I think it should get into HANSARD. What is being done about trying to protect the property of British subjects, and what I might call quasi-British subjects? I am thinking most particularly of friends of mine—I have more than one—mostly Jews, who left Germany some years before the war, came to England with the intention of becoming British subjects, but have not yet succeeded in so doing. One or two of them have done everything they possibly could throughout the war, fought, and so on—as much as if they had been natural-born subjects of his Britannic Majesty. They have, or have had, rights of property, especially in Berlin, and those rights have been completely removed. In some cases the actual machines or stock have been carried away to Russia.
It is the business of the Control Commission to watch such things, and, for instance, to allow or disallow correspondence about them. I am well aware that it is also the business of the Board of Trade and also of the Foreign Office, but I think I am quite in Order, and I 1409 will do my very best to keep so. What is happening at present is that even for British subjects little or nothing can be done. Correspondence cannot be allowed. Approaches to authorities in Germany cannot be allowed, even for British subjects, for lack of agreement at a high level, between the different Foreign Secretaries. That, of course, is not the responsibility of the hon. Gentleman, but what I suggest is his responsibility is that his administration must get into greater and greater difficulties; must more and more find itself in situations in which the best it can do will be a choice of serious evils, unless he can persuade the Board of Trade and the Foreign Office that some agreement of that sort must be made. Secondly, I beg of him to consider, and I beg the Committee to consider, whether what I have called quasi-British subjects, persons who have been on our side before and throughout this conflict, and have desired British citizenship all along, and behaved so as to deserve it, should not be allowed the same rights of approach and hopes of negotiation through official British channels as if they had been British subjects.
The other thing which I particularly wish to talk about is the actual behaviour of the administration. I approach this topic with extreme diffidence. I am not one of those who have visited Germany, though I have met very many people who have done so, and I have cross-examined many of them. I am not one of those who are tempted to suspect that British administration overseas is always bad; all my approach is the other way round. My natural inclination is to say, as my right hon. and gallant Friend on the Opposition Front Bench said, that he is quite sure that those responsible on the spot for this administration are doing a very good job, and I am quite sure that they are. I am equally certain that there must be a considerable number of cases where they are not doing the job as well as they ought to be doing it—the thing would not be a human machine if that were not so. If you pause to imagine the conditions in which this work is being done, I think you must admit that the number of cases in which things will be done badly must be likely to be unusually high unless there is unusually good supervision from above. 1410 First of all, how are you to get the best people to stay there? I see they are still advertising for schoolmasters at £800 or £1,000 a year to go to Germany. I am bound to say that if there are any schoolmasters still in the market worth £800 or —1,000 a year, I should have thought there was plenty for them to do in this country; and I personally cannot believe in this talk about re-educating the Germans, or educating the Germans up to democracy. It seems to me to be pantomime nonsense and a complete misunderstanding of all human history. The only way to educate people to be democrats is by exemplification and not by indoctrinisation, and that can be shown to be so even by a definition of the terms. A democracy which arises out of the fact that the education is so controlled and so effective that the persons who become democrats could not have become anything else, is not a democracy. I cannot believe that really they are getting the best schoolmasters for the purpose, and I hope they are not, because I believe there is plenty for good schoolmasters to do here, and I should be sorry to see them, so to speak, sitting on pot eggs over there, when they might be sitting on fertile eggs here. That is one difficulty.
There is another difficulty. We have got a world in which the standards of misery are so terrific that we can hardly imagine them. The great difference, even in prewar days, between this country and the rest of Europe, was that happiness was assumed to be normal here. I do not say that more of us were happier than people in France or Italy, but happiness was assumed to be normal, and anything that departed from it was assumed to be an unfortunate accident. That was the great difference between ourselves and the Continent in the years before 1939. In a country where happiness can be assumed to be normal, corruption and blackmail are much more easy to resist, but in a world where extreme unhappiness is not only the normal, but almost the universal air that men breathe. in such a world corruption and blackmail will seep through every pore of the skin of all but the best men. It must be so; it cannot but be so.
In this matter of hundreds of thousands of pounds we are spending here—I will come back to these figures in a moment for the purpose of another specific question—how many of them are being spent 1411 with the consciousness that it would be immensely to our disadvantage as a Power, immensely to the disadvantage of democracy, for what democracy is worth, if scandals arose, if there were found to be, here, say, a concentration camp where there were a series of cruelties, or there a counter-intelligence department in connection with which there was a good deal of blackmail, or immorality, or if there were cases of officials taking a large rake-off from a black market? It is of immense importance that we should avoid such scandals. I confront the possibility of such scandals, not at all by way of criticising those of our fellow subjects who are doing this extremely difficult work, but it seems to me not grown-up to doubt that there is grave risk of such scandals.
I should like to know whether some of this £400,000 a year which the hon. Gentleman spends in St. James' Square, or elsewhere, is spent on an inspecting staff of the highest possible ability, with the highest possible authority, which visits the occupied zones from time to time, making surprise visits, with authority to go to any and every establishment, and, in Parliamentary terms, send for persons and papers. I am certain that some such machinery as that is absolutely necessary if we are to avoid what, in, I am quite clear, a hopelessly paradoxical situation, and in, I very much fear, an abominably nonsensical situation—if, in that situation, we are to avoid the grossest disasters and misfortunes. I believe that question I have suggested is the least that this House ought to ask before parting with this Vote.
§ 2.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Haydn Davies (St. Pancras, South-West)
It would be of advantage to the Committee if we left any academic discussion of democracy——
§ Mr. Davies
—and returned to the question of Germany. It might be some consolation to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) to know that I am one of the Members who visited Germany, and, therefore, benefited from the vast sum of money which he supposed might, in the Vote, cover our visit. All I can say is that the kind of life we had to live did not quite account for the amount of money which he seemed to think had been 1412 provided for that purpose. It was a most instructive visit. I was interested when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman reverted to the occupation of Germany at the end of the last war. Part of the trouble then was that we were tough on paper and very soft in application. As a result there was a ready made staircase for Adolf Hitler in the Versailles Treaty. I hope that this time we shall be tough both in theory and in- application, but that at the same time we shall not create conditions which will allow another Hitler to come into power immediately we walk out of Germany. That is why anyone who tries to separate political and economic problems in Germany is heading for disaster.
It is most unfortunate that the moment one begins talking about how Germany can be put, on her feet, one is accused of wanting a soft peace. At the same time, if one mentions food, one is accused of wanting to divert food from this country to feed the Germans. Neither of these things is true, certainly in my case. But there is a great problem of food, and it must be faced, because unless it is faced all the other problems cannot be solved. When talking of food, I wish to be quite honest with this Committee. I know malnutrition. I saw it in the years between the wars in the distressed areas. One had only to get out of the station at Myrthyr Tydvil or at any other of the distressed areas to see malnutrition on the faces of the people—malnutrition caused by the complacency of hon. Members of the Party opposite. In the course of a brief visit to Germany I never saw anything on the faces of the German people to compare with what I saw in the distressed areas of our own country in the years between the wars.
I realise that Germany will face a serious problem in a week or two, but I can only report what I saw when I was there—no trace of malnutrition in the sense that we knew it. Indeed, a Canadian doctor who knows both this country and Germany, informed me that the state of health of the German people was far better than that of the British people at the present time. The answer is obvious. They are living on their fat, accumulated over six years, when they were about the best fed people in Europe on the loot of occupied territory. Therefore, they have a reserve upon which to build, and when the cuts in rations were made they were in a fair position to meet 1413 them. But that was over two months ago. I think that the end of the period when it was thought they could live on their own resources was 3rd May. From now onwards we can expect a progressive deterioration among the German people and German children. The first symptoms will be inability to work, and, after all, if Germany is to be made an economic proposition for this country, Germany must be made to work. Therefore, while I saw no signs of ill-feeding, we must expect those signs to show themselves from now on, and if it goes on we shall find that the Germans are unable to play their full part in the economy which is so necessary for the rehabilitation of Europe.
It is impossible for anyone to work on 1,000 calories a day. That is now the German ration. I have seen laid out on a table what 1,000 calories mean and what our ration means. Quite frankly, the German ration for one day is now equivalent to what any one of us would eat with a healthy breakfast appetite. People cannot be expected to work on that ration. Therefore, there must be increased rations for those who are to do the heavy work. If there is no further food available to increase the ration all round we face this problem: Either more has to be given to those who are to produce, or we can give an average all round and receive no production. It is inevitable that the German ration will have to be cut down even more in order that more food can be given to the miners, steel workers and the general producers in Germany. That is a hard course. The alternative is even worse. It is no good for people in this country to say, "Well, let them starve." That is no solution to the problem. If it was the solution, it would be so simple. People write abusive letters. I received one this morning which began:The only good German is a dead German.Whether or not that be true, it is still no solution of this great problem of how to deal with the German people during the course of the next 25 years. We must face up to the fact that unless we can make the Germans work, the problem will be a drain on the British taxpayer for far more than 25 years. The obvious thing is that this encourages the black market. I talked to one German woman who had a son aged five and a half years and she 1414 told me of cases where a loaf of bread costing 50 pfennig, or 3d., had been sold in the black market for 50 marks, or 25s. When I expressed surprise she said, "You can't be surprised. We are not allowed to eat potatoes and therefore we would pay anything for bread." The Germans will not save their money. They are terrified of inflation or of cancellation of the currency and, therefore, they are willing to spend freely. They are spending their money in this way to supplement their rations.
The first conclusion to which I came after visiting the British zone in Germany, was that we must work at all costs for an end to the present administration of all the zones and get back to Potsdam. Much as I dislike the Potsdam Agreement, I think if it is followed it would be far better than the present situation. Before the war Germany imported 20 per cent. of its food but the British zone of Germany always imported 50 per cent. of its food. That illustrates the unfair situation in which we are placed. We have the grave responsibility of feeding the people of our zone, which is the heavy industrial zone. We have to carry a disproportionate burden of the imports of food I thank the Minister for his most excellent and enlightened speech. I suggest to him that it should be his duty from now onwards to carry out the declaration of Potsdam that the first charge on exports should be the payment of imports. It is not fair that the resources of the British zone should be exported and at the same time we should have to pay out of all proportion to their respective values for the imports which come into the zone. Alternatively, if that suggestion is rejected by the quadripartite commission in Berlin, is it possible that the total cost of German food exports could be borne equally by the four administering Powers and the exports from Germany equally divided between those four Powers? At least then we would be having a better deal than we are getting at present.
The fundamental of the whole problem, of course, is coal. Everywhere we went it was like being in this country all over again, with one difference. That was that we here have a hope of getting some coal: there they have none. I say quite deliberately, knowing that my remarks will be unpopular, that the former occupied countries of Europe are taking far 1415 too much coal out of the British zone in Germany if they want Germany to get back on its feet. By that I do not mean that the German people would be able to live a life of comfort and ease but that it would relieve us of a great burden. More coal must be left inside Germany. At the moment Germany is whirling around in the embrace of our old friend the vicious circle. The Germans cannot get food because they have no imports to pay for it and they cannot get coal because they have not got food. Wherever they go they are whirling round. They cannot get consumer goods because there is no coal, and they cannot get coal because there is no food. That circle can be broken. Let us declare a moratorium for six months that no coal will be exported from the British zone in Germany, but it will be allowed to remain there to set the wheels of industry going. We can quite easily control the products of German industry. The great thing is to get the wheels turning and to give the Germans some hope that in our administration there is a chance of getting things done.
I would like to suggest to the Chancellor that there is far too great a change taking place in the personnel of the Control Commission. Men due for demobilisation will not stay on in Germany. They want to come home. One frequently meets men who are just going home or men who have just come out there. Would it not be possible when recruiting personnel for the military government to give them some guarantee of security of tenure? The best type of people are needed. Therefore, we must be prepared to give them something. It could be done either in the form of guaranteed service for, say, ten years, or attachment to some Government Department to which they could go on their return to this country. Alternatively, some form of compensation should be provided should the job end before any reasonable expectation. That suggestion was put to me very forcibly by the men inside Germany. I think if the Chancellor could consider that he would get a much better type of person than those who are now going out there. Certainly he would persuade those who are there to remain.
Bound up inseparably with this problem is the political question. I believe that 1416 unless something is done in the British zone we will have violent political fluctuations. I think we have made a mistake. It is the good traditional British mistake of being neutral and giving fair play all round. If that was happening in every zone in Germany it may be circumstances would not be quite as bad, but it is happening only in the British zone, as far as I could make out. Obviously, there is a fairly strong Right Wing element and a fairly strong Communist element. I would say, however, that the main body of opinion inside the British zone is the Social Democratic Party. We have been neutral up to date. I suggest to the Chancellor that that neutrality should end and that we should come out quite definitely in open support of the Social Democratic Party in Germany. I do not trust the Right Wing element in Germany. They are the same people who financed and encouraged Hitler when he was on his way to power. The same elements are now rallying round the new Right Wing party.
I am in favour of large-scale nationalisation policies, particularly with regard to coal, and iron and steel. If I am told that this will encourage some new Führer to have all the industries under his control for war, my answer is that when Germany has wanted to make war in the past the first people to rally around were the big industrialists who controlled the heavy industries of Germany. Therefore, we are running no danger. But it is not good enough merely to support the democratic party in Germany. We must support their policies as well. That is the one hope of achieving a democractic tradition inside Germany. We cannot keep Germany down for ever and we cannot exterminate the German people. They have got to be taught a terrible lesson, because we do not want a third experience of what has happened, but if we set out deliberately to encourage in every way possible Social Democracy in Germany by providing newsprint, by the printing of books and allowing them freedom not so much to develop equally with all other countries but to recognise Social Democracy as the dominant force inside Germany, backed and supported by the trade union movement, we shall be well on the way to achieving the kind of country which could live on good neighbourly terms with the rest of Europe and the world.
§ 2.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
It is indeed high time, as other hon. Members have remarked, that we had a Debate upon this subject, because the field and the number of aspects that it covers are immense. I propose to confine myself, in the few remarks that I shall make, to one or two relatively restricted aspects of the subject. My real reason for intervening in this Debate is that I have heard such alarming allegations of corruption in the Military Government in the British zone. I myself have not been to Germany, and I do not propose to level definite charges or to repeat definite stories of corruption unless I have first hand or very good second hand evidence to support them, for I can imagine the headlines in the papers tomorrow if I did so. I think I would not be justified in so doing. But the charges that I have heard cause me the greatest possible disquiet, and I beg the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to consider how the matter can be investigated, because if it is not investigated there are many Members on both sides of the House who will sooner or later be forced to bring the matter up in greater detail.
It seems to me that we in this Committee are at a disadvantage. Here we are. spending £80 million a year upon what is a direct British responsibility, and yet hon. Members have practically no opportunity of acquainting themselves with the conditions in that vast district in which that money is to be spent and in which that responsibility is exercised. The Chancellor, if one may say so, exercises a complete censorship upon who shall go to Germany and on what they shall do there. There was a very interesting Debate on the Adjournment dealing with this subject on 17th April, and I have just been re-reading it. It makes one very uneasy. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster can forbid any hon. Member from visiting the British zone alone Hon. Members are allowed to go in groups. I would like to know what right the Government have to institute this group system. I would like to know what right the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has to forbid me, for example—he has not done so, but he may very well do so—to go to Berlin to see some friend of mine in a high or a low position there, or to go to some town in the Ruhr where, in actual 1418 fact, a friend,of mine holds a subordinate position in the British Military Government. He might reply to me, "You can, if you like, go as a member of a group." I would like to tell him that members of the British Military Government are told what to say to groups of these visiting Members.
I repeat that as a serious charge. This House is stultifying itself by allowing these conditions to continue. They must be looked into. I cannot see that the military security plea can be raised. There can be raised the question of the difficulty of feeding, but is it really seriously suggested that the House ought not to insist upon sufficient food being provided for a Member to live for one or two weeks in Germany, considering the nature of the responsibilities for which we are answerable? We are making fools of ourselves, in allowing this sum of £80 million to be spent and in allowing Britain to be responsible for an area in Germany slightly smaller than England, and yet cutting ourselves off completely from genuine first-hand knowledge of what is going on. These conducted "Cook's Tours" are of very little use. I have not myself been on one, but I have discussed the matter with people who have, and I have talked it over with junior members of the British Military Government in Germany. They are everything for which the expression "conducted tour" stands, and that must stop. This is not a party question but a true House of Commons question. We must make ourselves acquainted, first of all, with the conditions under which these vast sums of money are spent. That is the main reason why I venture to detain the Committee for even a few minutes today.
But I am led on to another subject by various speeches that have been made, and that is the food situation. I honour all those—and I think everybody in the country is included in that category—who are seriously perturbed by the prospect of near-starvation conditions in the British zone. I warn you, Sir Charles MacAndrew, that I am going to sail near the border of being out of Order, although I shall try to keep within it. But I want to give an illustration. There is a large part of the world for which the House is just as directly responsible as it is for Germany; in fact, perhaps more directly responsible. In that part of the world it is possible during the next two months 1419 that between 15,000,000 and 20,000,000 people may be reduced not to 1,000 calories per day, or even to 100 calories but to no calories per day, and die. I am, of course, referring to India. I beg those who are perturbed about conditions in Germany to remember that in the relief of distress need must be the only criterion, and there is no need greater than that of those people who are faced with death by starvation. The need for those with only 1,000 calories per day is great, and we should thank our Creator that we ourselves are not placed in that category, but their need is not so great as the need of those who are faced with death by starvation.
I do not want my most bitter enemy to die from starvation, and I know that if I were faced with the sight of a child dying from starvation it would not enter my head to question whether it was a British subject or a German subject, or any other subject in the world. It would not cross anybody's mind to do that. But I do beg those who are interesting themselves in the conditions in the British zone in Germany to have a sense of proportion, or they will do their own cause much harm. I feel a desperate weight of responsibility for conditions in India, and I think many people in this country do. I want the relative conditions in the British zone in Germany and in India to be borne in mind. I want justice done as between Europeans and Asiatics, as between starving children in Germany and in India. I am afraid I am going to be out of Order in saying this, but we must be prepared for great sacrifices in this country. We must be prepared for the most vigorous representations to the American people on behalf of both the British zone and India. I beg of hon. Members, just because something is 5,000 or 6,000 miles away, not to let it pass from their minds.
§ 2.38 p.m.
§ Mrs. Ayrton Gould (Hendon, North)
I would like to say how much I agree with the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) in his remarks on our great responsibility for all children all over the world. I am confining myself today to talking about Austria, because the Austrian position is something that I know about firsthand. I went on what, I suppose, the hon. Member for Farnham would describe as a personally conducted 1420 tour. It was only a personally conducted tour in so far as we were given ample opportunity for seeing everything that we wanted to see. Indeed, in Vienna, where I had many old friends among the Austrian Social Democrats, it was so much an unconducted tour that I had free opportunity of mixing with those old friends, of taking part in a number of meetings and in having complete freedom of opportunity to investigate and to see everything I wanted to see. Unlike the conditions in Germany, as described by my hon. Friend the Member for South-West St. Pancras (Mr. Haydn Davies), who has recently been there, the people in Austria, when I was there towards the end of January, showed the most dreadful signs of starvation.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for South-West St. Pancras, I saw a great many of the starving people in this country in the distressed areas during the slump. I think there is very little that I do not know, as far as a layman can know, of the signs of malnutrition on the faces of the people, and particularly on the faces of the children. Let me say right away that in Austria I saw exactly the same conditions, exactly the same look —and it is a very special and a terrible look—on the faces of the children that I saw in the distressed areas during the slump. It is that state of what might be described as essential malnutrition; that is, malnutrition that has gone a great deal further than hunger, a malnutrition which comes to such a point that the children do not want food and have difficulty in eating what is put before them. Unfortunately, not I think through any fault of ours, the food that was put before them was of a particularly untempting and horrible nature. There was no proper food. Unless something more effective can be done, I can see how the children in Austria will be permanently affected, as were the children of the same age after the last war who had their health permanently impaired. Unlike the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) I care passionately about democracy.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I must say my care is not the same as that of the hon. Lady, but it is no less passionate.
§ Mrs. Gould
I am sorry if I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. I do care passionately about it. Perhaps it is because I care so passionately about it that I also care very passionately about Austria. I do not want it to be for a moment taken for granted that I am not extremely anxious about the conditions in Germany. I am, and I echo the things that the Minister and other hon. Members on this side of the Committee have said, as well as some hon. Members on the other side. But I do care very particularly about Austria, because I cannot forget that in Vienna, before it was destroyed, in my opinion and that of many people, there was the finest social democracy that at that time existed anywhere in Europe, or perhaps anywhere in the world. That was utterly crushed and destroyed. But the people remain, and they are a specially fine people, and a people for whom we want—and I know the Minister agrees with this—to do our very best. I do not think it is possible to help these people to regain their economic freedom, to regain the state in which we all want to see them, until something is done to get rid of the zonal boundaries. It is impossible to build up Austria, not a big country like Germany but a little country with a six million population, and to get it on to its feel again as long as there is a quadripartite commission running it.
At the moment there is a completely impossible situation. As the Minister pointed out, the Austrian Government has been made independent and, subject to certain conditions, is responsible for the governing of Austria. Look at the position of that Government. Every bit of legislation that goes through the Austrian Parliament has, before it is ratified, to go through the whole of the quadripartite council. It has to be approved by every one of the four members. It very often happens that four or five months pass before a particular bit of legislation is either ratified or turned down. During that period it may be that the particular bit of legislation becomes either inoperable or useless. As one can imagine might easily happen in this country if we had to wait four or five months before something urgent could be implemented, the whole thing has become a farce before it comes into operation. The result is that the authority of the Austrian Government is necessarily seriously impaired. As 1422 President Renner said to me, the government of the country is impossible. There are six Governments: there are the Military Government, each of the four quadripartite Governments, and finally, the Austrian Government itself, with the least power of the whole lot, added to which there are extraordinary misconceptions.
We came across one of those misconceptions ourselves. The British Delegation had great opportunities, with access to everybody in the British zone, and, of course, the Austrian Government. We were told categorically that it had been laid down by the quadripartite council, in regard to dismissal, that the Austrian Government could dismiss members of the police, or whoever it might be, whom they did not trust. The one thing that it was necessary to do was to get the permission of the quadripartite council on the new appointment made in the place of the person dismissed. We found that the heads of the Austrian Government were very concerned about a certain very high police official whom they considered had Nazi leanings, to put it mildly, and a bad history. This man had been dismissed by the Renner Government before December, 1945, when the Austrian Government was made independent. That was not recognised, and so this man had been reappointed. When the new Government came into power we were told by our own people that it would have been possible for him to be redismissed. We were told by the Austrian Government, with the greatest sincerity, that they had been forbidden to dismiss him, and that it was essential to get rid of him. There was a complete misunderstanding between the Austrians and the British Control authorities. Finally, we took the matter up to our own High Command and, to our great surprise, we found that in our own Control Council there was a difference of opinion among the highest people there as to whether the Austrian Government could be allowed to dismiss this man or whether they could not. It was not surprising, therefore, that the Austrian Government themselves had not known the position, which had led to a lot of difficulties, and to this man, whom they feared and distrusted, remaining in his position. I have explained this at some length because it shows how completely impossible it is for a country to be governed in this ridiculous way, with an 1423 enormous occupying army from four Allied countries.
Another proof of it is this. A most extraordinary thing happened during the period we were there; there was, in lower Austria and in Vienna particularly, no salt for a number of weeks. With their very restricted diet the food they had to eat was completely unpalatable unless it could be salted. There was no salt at all; it could not be got for love or money in Vienna or in lower Austria, although there are salt mines in Upper Austria. Upper Austria, however, was in the French zone and Lower Austria was partly in a mixed zone and partly in the Russian zone. It had been agreed that salt should be sent from Upper Austria to Lower Austria in return for petroleum being sent from Lower Austria to Upper Austria, but one was in the Russian zone and one was in the French zone and neither High Command would allow the material to be moved until the other had been received. The whole thing was a sort of "Alice in Wonderland" deadlock, with the result that for weeks, until the problem could be resolved by the quadripartite government, there was no salt at all in Lower Austria.
It must, surely, be obvious that it Austria is to get on to its feet again it must be possible for them to trade and carry on effectively. Everyone wants them to do so, and I think that everyone recognises that whatever may be felt about the history of Germany, Austria is an entirely different matter. I would remind the Committee that more than one tenth of the entire population of Austria spent a considerable period, if not all the war, in concentration camps or in prison, which showed their attitude towards Nazidom and the Hitler Government. At any rate, we have recognised it because we have set up an independent Austrian Government. But unless they can move things from one part of the country to another unless the civilian government can be carried on as an ordinary Austrian Government without this over ruling, time destroying quadri-partite government, it is obvious that they cannot get on to their feet again. I urge upon the Chancellor—and I believe I am pressing at an open door—that everything should be done to do away with the zones altogether and to do away with every form of non-Austrian government, 1424 apart from the military occupying forces which, I think, everyone agrees need not be very large. In that way the country will get on to its feet and will start to become an economic asset. At present the standard of life is going down and down, suffering is increasing and a very large percentage of very fine people are having their health destroyed. The one thing we have to work for, apart from the import of food which, of course, is essential, is for the Austrian Government itself to be allowed free trading, free government, and complete freedom in every way, apart from the agreed military occupying forces.
§ 2.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, for allowing me to catch your eye at this stage and I hope the Minister and the Committee will not think I am discourteous if I leave as soon as I have spoken, owing to a constituency engagement. For that reason if for no other I will cut my remarks as short as possible.
In spite of what the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) has said, I believe the Government are quite right in the priority they have given, and in the great sacrifices they have asked the British taxpayer to make, for the reconstruction of Germany, because as the hon. Member for South-West St. Pancras (Mr. Haydn Davies) has said, whether we like it or not the Germans are bound to rise again. We have there a nation of very virile, imaginative and hard-working people, with great traditions and positive achievements behind them, and in the full course of time they are bound to find their feet again. It is therefore of particular interest to us to assist them in the process in order that we can encourage their groping footsteps towards freedom and the peace loving, democratic ways of the West rather than allow them to stray on other paths.
I believe that the Government are to be congratulated upon the very positive achievements of the Control Commission in Germany. What I am concerned about is the fact that we have in my judgment failed to bring home to the people of Germany what we have done in reconstructing the country. As the hon. Member for South-West St. Pancras said most accurately and eloquently, we are, whether we like it or not, at the present time starving the people of Germany, and it 1425 therefore seems even more important now than it would be at any other time to make the people of Germany realise the very positive efforts we are making and the very positive successes we are having in helping them to reconstruct their country, because we shall need the good will of the German people of the future in the generations that lie ahead. I am bound to say that I think we are failing lamentably in this task of educating German people about the aims and achievements of Great Britain, particularly in Germany.
The Control Commission is to be congratulated on having men of the calibre, ability and imagination of Generals Robertson, Templar, and Erskine, but British generals do not understand publicity. The British regular officer never has understood and never will understand publicity; it is quite alien to all his traditions and creed, and I therefore ask the Minister why it is that the chief Public Relations Officer in Germany today is another British general, instead of a highly-qualified and highly-paid civilian whose whole life has been spent in publicity. If any hon. Member wants an example of the publicity of the Control Commission in Germany he need go no further than the tea room of this House, and there he will see a paper called "British Zone Review." Is there a more miserable little rag than this I have in my hand? A more inadequate representation of the great achievements of the Control Commission it would not be possible to find. A Boy Scout could edit a more effective organ than this little rag.
The hon. Member for Devonport has spoken about the German newspapers. He has spoken about the question of censorship. It is quite true that we have put Germans in charge of the local newspapers, and that we have submitted them to pre-editorial censorship, but censorship of this nature is purely negative. I submit that we should have done better if we had striven to provide them with more positive information about Great Britain, her aims and culture, and the work she is doing in Germany. He spoke about the circulation of the British zonal paper, edited by the Control Commission, and compared it with the more successful American contemporaries. That is quite true, and the reason for it is that the paper we are providing for Germans in the British zone, in my judgment—I am 1426 sure the hon. Member will agree with me —is not what the Germans like. It is not what they call ganz modern, or, in other words, a paper with all that scintillating brightness, for example, of the "Daily Express" and the "Daily Herald"—it has not that streamlined technique of modern publicity. Instead of that, the Control Commission have gone in for a kind of pale ghost of the "Manchester Guardian." The reason why we are falling down on our publicity is because we are not employing the expert. We have put in charge of that paper, not a highly paid and trained journalist, but an Oxford don, and no wonder it fails.
I come to one more suggestion on the subject of publicity in Germany. If you visit the Control Commission Headquarters at Lübbeke, you will find a magnificent information room. You can see pictures and graphs showing the progress which has been made, week after week and month after month, in getting teachers and schools available, and the children into the schools. You can see how the output of the coal industry has gone up, how many roads have been put into good repair, what waterways have been cleared, and so on. I think that these information rooms should be in every large town in Germany, so that the people can see what we are doing to assist them. At the present time, as I have said, whether we want to or not, we are having to starve the people of Germany. I believe that it is of immense importance that we should employ the highest qualified publicity technicians to show that we are not in Germany today for vengeance. I believe that the Control Commission are doing a magnificent job. I believe that what we are doing in Germany today is as magnificent a story as any we have to show in all our long history. I am concerned that we are not getting credit for what we are doing. I am concerned that we are not getting value for our money. I am concerned that day after day and week after week are going by without us encouraging the Germans to realise that in the freedom and peace-loving ways of the Western democracies lies Germany's true future.
§ 3.5 P.m.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
I think the House will be grateful to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for 1427 the informative review he gave us on the Control Commission in Germany and in Austria, but there are certain points, if I may say so, which he did not make clear. The first one has been touched upon by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), namely, the relations of the British commander-in-chief, Air Chief Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, with the Minister and with the Cabinet. I think in his opening sentence the Chancellor referred to Sir Sholto as having three offices. First, he was commander-in-chief, second, British representative on the quadripartite Commission of Control in Berlin and, third, he was military governor in Germany. As commander-in-chief he is in relation with the political head of the Service Department here; as representative on the quadripartite Commission of Control he must accept the instructions of the Foreign Office; but his relations with his own control office are by no means clear. Then, we pass on to the regional commissioners who have been appointed. What is their relationship, on the one hand, with the military office, and, on the other, with the Control Commission here? I think that we must take steps now to see that in this organisation of Germany which is being taken in hand, and which is going to last for several years, we have got the right channels of communication to begin with and that they are clear and well defined.
Then I would take up me point made by the hon. Member the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) who said the Chancellor must be scrupulous to see that the integrity of the men on the spot, the men who are representing this country in Germany. is entirely beyond suspicion. The British Civil Service has certain failures, but it is incorruptible and so was the pre-1914 German Civil Service. We must make quite sure that the best traditions of the British Civil Service and the German Civil Service are shown by those who represent this country in Germany. Their opportunities are great. They are moving among a foreign population and they have positions of great power. They are comparatively cut off from their superiors and we must do all we possibly can to prevent opportunities for corruption or favouritism during our rule in Germany. 1428 I should like now it I might to put certain questions to the Chancellor of the Duchy which he may not find it possible to answer, yet on which I believe he will be able to give us considerable information. As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough pointed out it is not a Foreign Office Vote which has been put down. And, therefore, I do not want to touch on this point too much, but I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy to what extent economic restoration is being hampered at the present time by the existence of the four zones. These zones were established in terms of military necessity and convenience to the occupying Powers. Is it possible to relax the rather rigid limits of those zones at the present time? Is it possible to permit a German to travel from one zone to another? As an example, can a German travel from the American to the British zone in Austria on normal business, can he secure building materials and bring them back from one zone to the other, and if there is a surplus of labour on one side and a shortage on the other, is it possible for a transfer to take place, and to take place quickly?
There is another point which I know does not rest in the hands of the Chancellor of the Duchy, but with which he must be deeply concerned. When are the able-bodied Germans now being kept in various Allied countries, including our own, to be restored? 1 think it was yesterday that we had an answer from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State. If I may say so, it was hardly up to his usual standard. He pointed out that there had been no armistice, that there had been a surrender and that there had been no peace treaty, but the fact remains that, sooner or later, those Germans have got to be sent back to their own country.
§ Mr. Butcher
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman and I are in agreement. Let us be in agreement still more and say that the time to send them back is now. In his speech, the Chancellor told us that the removal of German permanent fortifications is making substantial demands on British manpower. At the same time, we have German manpower employed on British farms, and I am bound to say that the sooner we get the young men of Germany back to Germany and the young 1429 men of Britain back to Britain, the happier it will be for the people of both countries.
At Question time some weeks ago, a point was referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Captain F. Noel-Baker). He referred to the extremely low rations provided for those held in prison camps who were suspected of being active and ardent Nazis. If the facts which the hon. and gallant Gentleman brought before the House were correct, I do not think they reflect, in any way, to the credit of this country. If those people are prisoners of war, they are entitled to be treated in accordance with international usage. If, on the other hand, they are civilians, they are entitled to have the same opportunity of reinforcing and supplementing their rations as are accorded to other civilians. I trust, therefore, that we will clearly make up our minds as to the position of those men and will treat them accordingly.
This afternoon we have largely been discussing the question of food which, indeed, is a subject in the minds of us all. There is no country in the world whose statesmen are not absorbed with this subject. But equally important are the questions of clothing and shelter. I would be grateful if, later on, the Chancellor could give us some further information about the provision of clothing and shelter in those areas of Germany and Austria for which we are responsible. I believe it is quite true that, at the time of the German collapse, the German civilian population was as well clothed as any other community. But since then, they have been subjected to levies; they have been required to supply certain clothing—and quite properly so—for displaced persons. We want to know, however, whether there is going to be a moderate standard of warmth in terms of clothing and also in terms of shelter.
There is one other subject to which I wish to refer before I sit down—the question of displaced persons. There are two groups of displaced persons in our zone at the present time. First, there are the persons who were brought there by the Germans and of whom, I believe, there is a hard core of 400,000, according to the Chancellor. It would be interesting to know of what nationalities they are, why they will not go back to their places of 1430 origin and whether we have any idea as to how this terrible and tragic problem can finally be solved. The other group of displaced persons are Germans who have been transferred from another zone in Germany to ours. I would be glad if the Chancellor could say to what extent we are responsible for the housing, clothing and shelter of these people. Is it in any way a matter for which we are responsible, or is it a matter which is solely under the control of such German civil authorities as must exist?
Finally, the question of food is a matter in which all of us are deeply concerned. To a very large extent, our honour is engaged. These people surrendered to us unconditionally, and by accepting their surrender, we equally accepted some obligation for them. It is quite impossible that anyone should think that the Germans can be pampered—that would be the greatest possible mistake—but I say to the Chancellor of the Duchy that he is misusing his great influence unless he compels the Ministry of Food to take a more realistic view about this matter than they are doing at the present time. I should be out of Order if I were to develop that point, but I urge the Chancellor of the Duchy to realise that the responsibility for feeding the people of Germany, as well as for feeding the people of this country, is one that rests fairly and squarely upon the shoulders of His Majesty's Government. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will do all he can to establish, first, a clear chain of control throughout the whole of the zone for which we are responsible, so that we may do what we can, by precept and by example, and, if necessary, by sacrifice ourselves, to provide a tolerable standard of living for the Germans and Austrians, which will enable them at some future date, after they, too, have worked their passage, to take their place among the nations of Western Europe.
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I should like to take the Committee back to a remark made by the hon. Member the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and with other hon. Members who have made similar remarks, that the subject of our discussion today is of vital importance. The hon. Gentleman said that it was unfortunate that, after all these months, we were only having this Debate 1431 on a Friday, that there were many hon. Members who wanted to speak, and that the matter was of such urgency that more time should be given by His Majesty's Government for a Debate. But the hon. Gentleman must blame his own party for that. I have not yet heard any strong representations from the Opposition that this matter should be discussed, and although some hon. Members on this side have urged that there should be a discussion, the response from the Government has always been that these matters are left largely in the hands of the Opposition, and that as they had not asked for a Debate on the subject, it was very difficult for the Government to provide an opportunity.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am very grateful for the hon. Member's reference to me. Perhaps I may say that I do to some extent blame my own party, and I do to a very great extent blame the Coalition Government. I would remind the hon. Member that he and his friends were as much responsible for that Government as I and my friends.
That must be a matter of opinion. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Members for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) emphasised the importance of the situation by urging that there should be a Cabinet Minister resident in Berlin I am inclined to agree with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I would go even further——
§ Mr. Stokes
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman spent such a long time doing what I call messing about on unimportant points that perhaps I did not realise he was not urging what seemed to me to be the most important part of his speech. I will go further and urge that the Minister who is responsible at this end should not only be a Minister of Cabinet rank, but should be a member of the Cabinet. We are dealing with the welfare of 80 million people, and it is vital that we should feel that the Minister's counsels will get fair and proper representation with the right authority in the right quarter.
I approach this Debate with two reflections. First, as was implied by the hon. 1432 Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher), much of the situation which we now face has arisen directly as a result of unconditional surrender. I shall not argue about unconditional surrender; the Committee knows my views on the subject well enough. But I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Holland with Boston when he emphasises that the more unconditional the surrender, the more our obligation to see that those who surrendered get a square deal. I want to remind the Committee of what the late Prime Minister said on the wireless and elsewhere to the people of Germany. Speaking on the B.B.C on 25th September, 1941, and referring to differences in the situation then and in past wars, he said:The second differences is this: that instead of trying to ruin German trade by all kinds of additional trade barriers and hindrances, as was the mood of 1917, we have definitely adopted the view that it is not in the interests of the world and of our two countries that any large nation should be unprosperous or shut out from the means of making a decent living for itself and its people by its industry and enterprise.At a later date, in February, 1943, he was even more definite when he said:Our inflexible insistence upon unconditional surrender does not mean that we shall stain our victorious arms by any cruel treatment of whole populations.Yet we have to listen today to an hon. Gentleman saying that in his opinion we have been forced into a position where we have to starve people. I do not accept that version.
My second reflection is, what a pity it is that due regard was not given to the contention of those of us in this Party who, throughout the war from its very earliest days to its end, insisted that during the war was the time for us to make clear to the enemy peoples precisely what constructive aims we had in fighting the war, and what kind of peace settlement there was to be, and how disastrous it would prove—as indeed it has—if the end of the war came and there was no clear cut and dried plan which everybody understood and, above all, upon which the people of the defeated nations could build their hopes for the future. In passing, may I say how much more profitable it would have been had that advice been taken and had the fine aims for which my Party stood at the beginning of the war, and still stands, been followed. It 1433 was summarised in the statement made by the present Prime Minister on 8th November, 1939:There should be no dictated peace. We have no desire to humiliate, crush or defeat the German nation. All idea of revenge or punishment must be excluded. If peace is to be lasting it must result from the agreement of all, not from the dictation of a few nations.It is from that background that I turn to the conditions across the water. The question arises as to what we are going to do now. I have not time before the Minister winds up to go through all the arguments placed before the Committee today, but I ask the Minister seriously to bear in mind the criticisms that have been made against what I call the idiotic economic policy of Potsdam. It is quite time that we were forthright in saying that that policy simply will not work. It is all very well for the Minister or for anybody else to refer to the Declaration of the Allied Control Commission which was published, I believe, on 28th March of this year, giving the level of German industrial production and so on, but the Minister and the Committee should also remember that two of the four main conditions attached to the maintenance of that policy by the Allied Control Commission are already not fulfilled.
First, Germany is not being treated as an economic unit, and it does not appear likely that she is to be so treated, at any rate in the near future. Secondly, the population is already over 66,500,000, and so, on the evidence of the people who drew up that policy and who announced the conditions in which it might work, it is clear that these conditions do not prevail, and the authors of the policy themselves should consider it an unworkable one. I do not want to develop that matter further, but I do want to say something about food. I am not going to transgress, but only to use what I say as an illustration.
Everybody responsible on the Rhine and in the Ruhr, in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany, will say that the whole situation in Germany today depends upon food, and the Minister knows it too. The responsibility for determining where food goes is that of the Minister of Food, but surely this Committee can urge the Chancellor of the Duchy to make the strongest possible representation to that Minister that something should be done now. Two 1434 or three months hence will be too late. An hon. Member said a few minutes ago that, unfortunately, these people must starve. I wonder whether he knows what the facts are. I do not think he can know. If the nation knew the facts I believe that the conscience of the nation would be roused and the Minister of Food would be forced to release the hoards of food which he has, and which are far more than he needs as an ordinary reserve.
I can only suppose that the hon. Member was actuated by a guilty conscience. I need not now say what I then intended to say.
§ Mr. Stokes
That was telepathic. I still submit that I am in Order in raising this matter. The question is whether we are entitled to make a representation to the Minister about what we think he should do to save the situation. Ex-President Hoover emphasised publicly that no country can save the present situation in Europe but this country, by letting go the millions of tons of food which are hoarded here.
We hear all sorts of stories about the feeding conditions in Europe. I can only briefly give my own experiences. I spent two days in the Ruhr a month ago. I did not follow the set paths of the organised and herded delegations, but I managed to do what I call a little slumming in Essen. I stopped now and again to look at the children, to see what they were like. I endorse everything said by the hon. Lady the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Gould), who said how bad were the conditions of the children in Austria. I say that the conditions are worse in Germany. All the children I saw had a skin disease of some kind or another. That is not to be wondered at. The fact is that the food level for the civilian population, although supposed to be of the order of 1,000 calories, is mostly, in point of fact, down to 700, and sometimes lower. I have a report in my hand which comes from a Krupps organisation which is occupied with statistics. It states that on 6th April this year the immediate food level of the civilian popu- 1435 lation in Essen was reduced to 700 calories. It is worse now than it was then. Obviously, that condition of things cannot go on. The living conditions there are so deplorable that unless some hope of rebuilding the town again is held out to the people an atmosphere of despair must descend upon them.
I went among the ruins and I saw one little girl trotting along the street with a basin of water. I asked here where she was going. She said she was going to the Josefstrasse. She ran away. I discovered afterwards that she was frightened. She suddenly disappeared behind a pile of brick rubble. I followed her round. There, in a hole in the ground, and literally in a cellar not more than 10 feet by 10, was a middle-aged woman, aged about 50, with five children under 10. Her husband, suffering from consumption, was working part time for the North German coal Control. She had some furniture, consisting of three iron bedsteads with no bedclothes, a table in the corner, on which were heaped the remains of the washing that had come out of a mangle. There was food on the other end of the table. There was a washing mangle in the middle of the room. The woman had just been washing. I asked her, "What are you doing for your conveniences?" She said they made the best of things in the rubble.
There are 20,000 people living in those conditions in Essen alone. When one asks what is to be done about building houses he is told, "Nothing." Why? Because of this fictitious idea that we are to keep Germany down by restricting the degree of production to such an extent as to make it impossible even to go on with housing or even to promise that a start shall be made on building. An hon. Member who spoke earlier said that a nation without hope was a menace. I say more than that. I say it is sheer inhumanity on the part of the Allied Control and of those responsible to let those conditions prevail without offering any hope for the future to those people.
One of the things which conduces normally to the present situation is our retention of prisoners of war. I propose to return to that subject on another occasion, and it is not the responsibility of the hon. Gentleman, but may I ask him this? Will he bear in mind the number of people 1436 coming into this territory now from the East—expellees, as they now call them—women with young children? Will he make representations in the right quarter so that those who have husbands who are prisoners of war, either in this country or in America, get their men back, so that they have some hope of getting things not on a fair footing, because that is impossible under present conditions, but some possibility of having their breadwinner alongside them?
I agree with everything that has been said about the importance of supplying newsprint for the purpose of disseminating different political points of view. I would make this representation: I understand that a limited number of the more serious newspapers, such as "The Times," the "Manchester Guardian" and the "Daily Herald" are now going into Germany, but, in my view, they are not being distributed widely enough. Why cannot it be arranged for those papers to be quite widely on sale in all the industrial centres of Germany? The people are pining for news, and they are being completely bottled up and not getting the truth.
As for the political parties themselves, feel that to back any one single party will damn it, and that the right approach to this problem is to stiffen up the trade unions and get the trade union organisations going throughout the country. If that is to be, there must be uniform policy, at least in our zone, for I found this state of things—and I was dealing with the Miners' Union. I saw both the president and the secretary of the Miners' Union and they told me that in five sections of the British zone, whilst it had been generally agreed at top level that a single trade union for the miners should be formed, in two areas they had been allowed to form it, but in three areas they had been stopped. This means that some little Hitler on our side had taken charge on his own and was preventing the policy which ought to be followed, from the instructions at the top, from being carried through at the bottom. I emphasise that I think the right way in this political situation is through the proper establishment of the trade unions.
One word before I sit down with regard to displaced persons, in whose fate I have taken some considerable interest. I want to put just this one point to the Minister: 1437 will he make representations to the Foreign Secretary, or to whoever controls these matters, that this question of the displaced persons shall be settled this summer? There are at least 500,000 persons jointly in our zone and in the American zone who will never go back to their own countries. I, for the life of me, cannot see why the three Western Powers cannot get together and absorb that half million in their multiple populations of about 250 million which they have in their big Empires. I cannot see why that cannot be done and say nothing more about it, but, if it is impossible, then the Social and Economic Council of U.N.O. meets almost immediately.
Surely, if the three great Powers cannot settle this issue, it can go immediately before that body, so that these persons may know their destiny and may have some chance of settling down in their new homes before the winter comes. The only other body I know which is likely to move in the matter is U.N.O. in September, but that is too late; that means another winter of wretchedness for these hundreds of thousands of people. It is quite unthinkable that you should do either of the other two things—force them to go back against their will—we have already ruled that out—or leave them straying about Germany which, as some reports from America say, will be disastrous too. For what will happen? They will be tacked on to the end of a population already overcrowded, and they will get the worst of an already very bad deal.
In conclusion, I feel that we, at the present time, have a tremendous opportunity. I have always felt that, if handled the right way, a new social order can be started up in Western Europe which will leave the outworn monopoly capitalism of America standing, and will show the other totalitarian régime from the East, the Communists, that they also are outworn and out of date. I believe that unless we take the right action now, which we can take by giving them a proper lead, we shall miss the opportunity, and then goodness knows what will happen in Western Europe. Millions of people are waiting for a lead from us; millions of people look with hope in this direction expecting us to take a definite line, a political line. That definite lead has not been forthcoming; I hope to good- 1438 ness that, after this Debate, His Majesty's Government will get a move on.
§ 3.35 P.m.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
The Debate has shown, probably even better than my opening remarks attempted to show, at least the tremendous scope covered by the control office for Germany and Austria. Although time for replying to the large number of different kinds of questions which have been raised is limited, I would like to try to deal .with as many points as possible. Therefore, I hope the Committee will excuse me if I am a little brief in my explanation. I will be as concise as possible. The right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) put some pointed questions to me. He referred to the cost of the Control Office in London, and talked in terms of my spending £400,000 a year in St. James's Square. Put in that graphic context it sounds rather extravagant. In support of his criticism, or his question, he referred to some figures which were rather startling, comparing the cost of the Foreign Office and other Departments with that figure, which seemed to put it entirely out of proportion. The fact is that the cost of the Foreign Office establishment is not some £300,000 to which he referred, but over £2,500,000
§ Mr. Hynd
If the point is what might have been the cost of a similar office in prewar conditions, when there would have been no need for such an office, with such ramifications, such comparisons cannot be made. The Foreign Office cost is considerably higher than the figure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman quoted, and so are those of other Government Departments
§ Captain Crookshank
The hon. Gentleman must not misrepresent me. I did not say anything about the Foreign Office cost at present. I said, to give some idea of comparison, that the Control 1439 Office was costing more than twice as much as the Colonial Office did prewar, and the figures I quoted were for 1939 I said nothing about this year.
§ Mr. Hynd
That is a remarkable argument, because if a real comparison is wanted on that basis, I suggest that it is essential to take the cost of the Foreign Office, or any other Department, in its first year, which might be comparable. If we do not discuss current costs the whole criticism falls.
I will now deal with the relationship between the Commander-in-Chief and myself I thought I had made it clear, but apparently I did not, and I apologise. The Commander-in-Chief in Germany and Austria is at one time the head of the occupation troops, that is, troops who are there for the maintenance of order and security, and he is responsible, as such, to the War Office. In his capacity as head of the Control Commission for the British zone, and in his capacity as our representative on the quadri-partite Control Council, he is directly responsible to me. All matters requiring negotiation or discussion on the quadripartite Control Council are referred to myself for policy direction and guidance. In all matters of administration, of Government policy and of quadri-partite policy in the zone, when it is necessary that a lead should be given, or technical information should be supplied, that comes from the Control Office in London. It would take up a considerable time to explain the extent of the Control Office. It represents in embryo a combination of Government Departments, because we require to have the equivalent of the non-existent German administration, the duties of which, for the time being, we are trying to undertake.
In regard to how this machine works, in Germany there is a Commander-in-Chief who is the head of the British Government in our zone. Under him there are the four civilian regional commissioners who will be completely responsible for the administration and interpretation of policy within their regions. They will be directly responsible to the Commander-in-Chief who, in turn, will be responsible to myself. Necessarily, there are the zonal organisations in the different divisions. These divisions cover every aspect of administration and life in the 1440 zone —finance, legal, political, internal affairs, communications, manpower and all the other various activities. There are in all 13 of these divisions. The structure was laid down by quadripartite agreement. This operates over the whole of the zone and they cut across and through the regions, the staff, of course, being operated within the regions under the direct supervision of the regional commissioner. I hope that explanation is sufficiently clear. In the circumstances, I consider it is not a complicated machine. From the remarks that have been made in the course of the Debate, I think it has been shown that, to date at least, under very difficult conditions, under conditions of unprecedented difficulty, it has worked with some degree of success.
The question was also put as to what are these external costs of occupation. They are the costs of the supplies imported into Germany for the occupying Forces and the Control Commission. The occupying Forces have two aspects of, supplies in Germany. They have those goods that can be bought in Germany, and which in the course of my speech I stated were paid for by the Germans in Reichmarks; then they have the imported food and other supplies and services from this country. These are external costs. There is the supply of equipment, warlike stores, munitions and so on. These are not brought within the same head. Military equipment and the necessary military supplies are the items for which I said we may not eventually be able to secure payment. As Germany has at the present no foreign exchange, she is in any case unable to pay for them at the moment.
The hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) raised a number of questions, including de-Nazification. She submitted that she had evidence of a number of cases where Nazis are still in control of important posts. I have no doubt there are such cases. I am unable to understand why it should be assumed that the Minister in charge, or even the Commander-in-Chief on the spot in charge of an area like Germany, with all its dislocation and disorganisation, should be in any better position to place his finger in every single Nazi and be able to identify him and know his record and history and say where he is at any particular time, than the Home Secretary of this country should be in a position to 1441 know every criminal, his record and where he happens to be in this country. There are cases where it is not possible always to know in advance but, wherever information is supplied, naturally immediate steps are taken to deal with the case. We would be only too glad to get the information. As I said, there are difficulties in this matter. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucklow (Mr. W. Shepherd) took the other line and said we had already gone too far. We have to balance these considerations. We have to maintain the administration and life of the zone and the essential services but we must proceed as rapidly as possible with de-Nazification.
My hon. Friend the Member tor Cannock also raised the issue of Germany being treated as an economic unit, and suggested that unless that can be secured we will be driven back to considering a zonal policy. I gathered that she rather tended to favour pursuing immediately a separate zonal policy in preference to carrying on with our policy of quadripartite government. Our policy is quadripartite administration. We have succeeded in many ways in this quadripartite administration. It is a very important experiment in world affairs at the present time, and it is our intention to pursue that policy so long as we find that it is practicable and that it can show any signs of the possibility of final success. There are many things we are not doing in our zone and which are being done in the Russian zone, as my hon. Friend said.
We are not tackling the big estates on the same lines as the Russians. It is not a question of the number of Junkers. There are not in the British zone any Junkers in that sense of the term as applied in East Prussia—or very few. The large estates, in great part, are owned publicly or by cooperative organisations—there are, of course, private ones—and we are taking steps to deal with these concentrations of economic power, but not on the same lines, because we are satisfied that the urgency of the food position and the necessity for producing the maximum amount of bulk foods would be prejudiced if we followed the policy of breaking these estates into small units and trying to provide all the additional machinery and equipment to enable that policy to be carried through. 1442 The hon. Member for Bucklow raised a large variety of issues. He referred, for instance, to the deterioration of the situation in the Ruhr since last year, to the fact that people have no jobs, that in many cases industry is at a standstill, that people do not know where their food is coming from and that they have little hope in the future. That is all true in its proper perspective. Obviously, as I said in my speech, the food situation in March forced us to reduce supplies to miners and other heavy workers, which means a reduction in coal production, which in turn has its effect on the production of commodity goods and which has an effect on the purchasing value of money, and the whole thing becomes more and more depressing. That is the problem we have to tackle. It is a problem which is inseparable from conditions which, unfortunately, exist in that unhappy country, but I can hardly accept the criticism that the hon. Gentleman made about the control staffs in Germany, suggesting that they were inflated and that they should be reduced. They are, in fact, being cut to the marrow. He mentioned a case of a town where 40 members of the Control Commission had nothing to do all the afternoon, and I believe he said they spent the afternoon in bed. All that was last November——
§ Mr. W. Shepherd
I did not say that happened last November. I said it happened now. Surely, the hon. Gentleman accepts my criticism when he tells the Committee that he is reducing the staffs.
§ Mr. Hynd
No, not necessarily. We are reducing the staffs only because of the necessity for financial economy, but if there is any such situation as the hon. Member has described, the information should be supplied so that full inquiry may be made. That we are pursuing the policy which he suggested, is illustrated by the appointment of the four regional commissioners to take over the control of these regions and gradually to hand over more and more responsibility to the Germans themselves. I agree that is a policy which we should pursue, and we are pressing it to the maximum, so far as conditions allow. The hon. Gentleman also asked a question about de-Nazification and asked what is the test with regard to nominal members of the Nazi Party. I thought I had made it clear. We are pursuing that policy in categories which are laid down in 1443 the quadripartite agreement, and we exclude from any consideration of punishment or prejudice of any kind people who are regarded as merely nominal members of the Nazi Party. I hope that will satisfy the hon. Member on that point.
The hon. Gentleman also raised the very important and serious issue of imports and exports. He asked what exports are made from the Russian zone to Russia and to other countries, and whether these are balanced between zones. This is rather a wide subject and it is entering the scope of a different "ministry" altogether. The simple position is that we have not been able to get agreement on the implementation of the key points of the Potsdam Agreement for treating Germany as a single economic unit. Obviously we are not satisfied with that, but it should always be borne in mind, when criticising either the Minister, as in this case, or the commander-in-chief in Germany, that we are only one quarter of the government of Germany. However much we may desire some of these principles to be adopted we must, so long as we maintain that machinery, try to get unanimous agreement with our partners. We are pressing for this agreement now, because we insist, particularly with the food situation developing as it is now that it is otherwise impossible. One hon. Member asked whether the existence of the zonal barriers is hampering the position. The zonal barriers are doing more. They are making the administration of the country as a unit almost impossible.
§ Mr. Stokes
Could the hon. Gentleman tell us a little more about this disagreement? Which parties to the Potsdam Agreement disagree with that policy?
§ Mr. Hynd
As I have said, this matter is now before the council, and I hope I will not be pressed to say more, because the matter is being discussed. All I would like to say is that we are insisting that this principle should be adopted. The question of refugees has been raised with great emphasis, and we are asked what we are doing about the expelled Germans. I should like to develop this theme, but this is another big question. I recall the horror with which the country heard of the terrible scenes in the eastern stations of Berlin at the beginning of the winter. There were collections of miser- 1444 able, panic-stricken diseased and dying people, coming from all part of the Eastern and Central European countries, Germans expelled by countries that did not want them, into areas where they were not wanted, into areas where they had no contacts, no homes or hopes. It was unorganised; six and a half million people transferred, in the middle of winter, when there was no transportation and so on. We could do nothing about stopping the movement once it was on.
What we did do—and I consider it was the most we could achieve was to try to get some kind of order, some kind of control of the movement. For that purpose, in order to get some agreement on this, we accepted a quota of them into our zone; we accepted one and a half million from Poland; those from other countries and some others from Poland were accepted into the other zones. As a result of that agreement, which laid down that the movement should be made under humane conditions, and suspended during the winter months if heating of trains could not be supplied, that the refugees should be supplied with food on the train, which we ourselves provided with considerable difficulty, and that accommodation for their reception and dispersal within the zone of settlement should be provided we probably averted what would have been a tremendous human tragedy. That was one of the achievements of our small team in Germany at that difficult period. The movement is not completed, but it is improving as time goes on.
The question of what we are doing to improve coal production has been raised. It is suggested that until we increase the coal production we shall continue to pay this £50 million a year to keep the Germans. I think I emphasised that sufficiently in my opening remarks. We are doing everything possible. We are taking extraordinary steps to try to maintain and increase coal production, because we realise that upon the coal production depends the economic life, not only of our own zone but of countries outside Germany altogether. There was also the question of supporting the Social Democrats, or pursuing what is called a positive policy within the zone. All these matters have been discussed, but I hope it will be accepted that so long as we are a party to the quadripartite government of Germany, 1445 so long as we accept the lines upon which we have agreed with the other three allies on that quadripartite control for the establishment and activities of political parties, we shall accept loyally the agreements we have reached. We shall endeavour to carry that policy out so long as we are parties to the quadripartite machinery.
The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), who raised that point amongst others, incidentally spent some time on the food question, which I do not want to develop because I do not think I need say how fully aware I am of the importance of this so far as my responsibilities are concerned. But there are other considerations which the Government have to weigh in the balance. There is, as an hon. Member mentioned, the question of India; I mentioned it myself in trying to get this into its perspective. We have to balance all these considerations. I do not need to say much more about that, but I would like to say in passing that if the hon. Member for Devonport, in talking about food stocks in this country of 4 million tons, was talking in terms of grain foods—wheat and flour—I do not know where he got his information from.
§ Mr. Hynd
I thought the hon. Member was referring to grain and flour, and I will therefore make no further comment on that, but I thought that if that was his idea I had better correct it. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) also raised some very pregnant points. He asked what was being done about British property. That is well in hand; we are registering property, and providing facilities for communication between business men in this country and the banks in Germany. We are also providing for visits by business men to inspect their property. Those facilities must be limited under present conditions, but they must be developed. The question of irregularities and inefficiency amongst the control staff has also been raised. There have been cases of inefficiency and of irregularities, and of all kinds of crimes, in the past in the best of countries and in the best of conditions. These will be kept down to the very lowest level, and there is obviously no 1446 need to try and impress us with the importance of this question. What we want is information.
§ Mr. Hynd
I am afraid I cannot expand very far in three minutes. Some other hon. Members have raised quite a number of points I should have liked to deal with. There was the question of import and export arrangements, and as to whether there is starvation in Germany. The hon. Member for South West St. Pancras (Mr. Haydn Davies) and the hon. Member for Bucklow indicated that they had seen no evidence of starvation during the course of brief visits to Germany, and said that there was no trace of malnutrition, and so on. Really, you cannot test the malnutrition of a country by seeing the people who can get out into the streets. The example of Holland immediately springs to mind. A great reception was given to our troops by large crowds of apparently robust people waving flags, but that did not hide for very long the tragedy that lay behind the walls in that unhappy country. The same situation will inevitably develop in Germany or any other country where there is a food shortage on the scale which we are having to face there at the present time.
I am afraid it would be impossible for me to cover the whole scope of the Debate as I would have liked in the time available. I would only say that in spite of the criticisms that have been made about the cost of the Control Office and about inefficiency in Germany, the Debate has shown that our people in Germany, the small number of officers and men and civilians who are carrying out this colossal task, have done a tremendously good job in unprecedented circumstances. If we look at the scope and variety of the work and its responsibility, and compare it with the figures in the Estimate, I think it will be agreed that it is being operated with the maximum amount of economy. I think it has also been shown that there is general recognition that what we are doing there is not trying to pamper the Germans nor trying to revenge ourselves: having spent six years at war and having now reached the position where Nazism has been destroyed and all the elements that went to build up German aggression 1447 are within our control, what we are doing in Germany now is trying to finish the job.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again "—[Captain Michael Stewart]—put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.