§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]
§ 3.35 P.m.
§ Mr. Richard Law (Kensington, South)
It is well that I should give the House some idea of the considerations which have moved the Opposition to ask for a Debate today upon Germany. We have not asked for this Debate in order to embarrass the Government. Heaven knows, the Government have enough embarrassments, most of them of their own making, without our seeking to add to them. Nor have we asked for this Debate because we pity the poor 1776 Germans. Magnanimity in victory has always been a characteristic of our people, and I think that we still keep that characteristic. It is, too, our Christian duty to forgive, or try to forgive, our enemies. That is sometimes difficult. It is difficult in this case. We have suffered greatly at the hands of these people, and the suffering that they have caused us covers, at any rate, the greater part of my life. I must declare to the House my own conviction that the Germans are as odious in defeat, abject, self-pitying and unwilling to face up to the responsibilities of their own actions, as they are arrogant and vicious in victory.
We have asked for this Debate because, in our judgment, neither the country, nor His Majesty's Government, is yet alive to the appalling gravity of the situation in the British zone of Germany today. The situation is grave, because there, in the heart of Western Europe, are 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 human beings rotting to death before our eyes. We deceive ourselves if we imagine that the corruption can be ended there, and if we imagine that the corruption can go on in Germany and not spread far beyond the confines of Germany. Of course it will spread. If we want to save Europe, we have to halt that corruption and we have to begin halting it, in my judgment, rather more quickly. The position in Germany is grave. I believe—I may be wrong—that we are piling up, by our muddle, our mismanagement, and our good intentions, the seeds of the third German, war.
Finally, we believe that the position in Germany today is so urgent because it has a vital bearing upon our own economic difficulties here at home. This is not a time to discuss the economic situation, but we all know that in this country we are living now under the shadow of a rapidly dwindling American credit. We all know, we knew at the time, that the credit was probably not sufficiently large for our needs. It has become even smaller as a result of the rise in prices. It is running out far more rapidly than those who negotiated it ever supposed. Our expenditure in Germany means that that credit will be running out—and this again was not foreseen by the negotiators—even more rapidly, and that we are drifting even more rapidly to the inevitable crisis.
1777 I do not believe that we have ever had a statement from the Government on this very important Memorandum of Agreement between the British and United States Government on the zones of occupation in Germany, and I hope we shall have such a statement today. In particular, I hope that the Minister who will reply will give us some indication of what the commitment under this Paper is likely to mean in terms of dollars, so that we can judge how quickly the American credit is, in fact, running out. I hope the Minister will give us that information, because this White Paper does not give us any figures of that kind, but just a general outline of what is proposed.
I know perfectly well—I am very conscious of the fact—that I am by no means the only hon. Member of this House who has been to Germany. I know that there are hon. Members on both sides of the House who have far greater experience of conditions in the zones today and who have been there for a far longer time than I have. Nevertheless, I would like to give some slight indication of the impression which was made upon my mind by what I saw when I was there shortly before Christmas.
First, there is the question of food. When I first got to the zone and went about there, I thought all this talk about starvation and lack of food was greatly exaggerated. It is perfectly true that one sees people going about looking rather pinched and blue in the cold weather, as we have seen them go about rather pinched and blue in this country ever since the Government took over the ownership of the coalmines. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] They seemed to be well dressed, and one would probably have to be a doctor to have seen anything seriously wrong with them from the nutritional point of view. It was only when one went into their homes—if that is the proper way to describe the holes in the ground in which they were living—that one discovered how terrible the conditions were and how very little exaggeration there had been. I remember diving into a cellar in Hamburg and finding there a woman, as I thought, of 50 or 60, skin and bone and half demented—a terrible spectacle. It was only when I left, that I was told that that was not a woman of 50 or 60 but a woman of 25 who was starving. I have been in those homes and seen the children listless and puffy.
1778 with no shoes to go out in, and in a terrible state of health.
I must say that the Germans are very formidable people. I was greatly impressed when I went into these homes by the extraordinary variety of ways in which they could cook a turnip—turnip steak, turnip mash, turnip cutlet, and Heaven knows what, but not a very satisfying diet. I have no doubt in my own mind that the reports we have had of conditions from the point of view of food in Germany have not been exaggerated. I would like to add that I am not sure that those of us who have stressed—as I am stressing it now—the food conditions in Germany have not, in fact, been doing a disservice, because they have led us to believe too easily and too readily that the German problem is just a problem in charity. It is far more than that. It is a problem of administration and of policy, and one that covers a far wider range than simply that of charity.
The other thing that obviously impresses the visitor to Germany is the physical destruction. That has been described endlessly. I do not believe that any description—and I am not going to try to give one—can give any idea of what that destruction really is and what it must mean in the lives of these people. I quote a set of figures just by way of illustration. I was told on good authority that, if we decided to clear away the rubble in Berlin in anticipation of rebuilding the shattered city, and decided to begin tomorrow and to clear away 1,000 tons of rubble every day, it would take 30 years before the site was cleared for rebuilding. Of course, if one began to clear the rubble, presumably one would clear more than 1,000 tons a day, but that gives one very vividly an indication of the physical destruction there. Berlin is probably not the worst case.
What impressed and appalled me more than the food situation, and the destruction, was the moral vacuum which has been created in Germany. It is impossible to realise it unless one has been there. One has to realise that these people have no homes. One has to remember that though a great many of those cities have been largely obliterated, they are still maintaining very much the same size of population as before the war—not the same, but within the range of the same population—and that these people are living in the ruins in holes in the ground. 1779 As far as they can see, both young and old, that will be their fate for as long as their life lasts. They can see no end to it, and they can see no hope.
What is happening in Germany today with the young? Young people of both sexes on reaching the age of 15 or 16 leave these so-called homes in increasing numbers, and wander all over the country pillaging and looting and living by their wits. There is a question of juvenile delinquency. What I am going to say now applies only as far as I know to Berlin, but I cannot see why it should not apply to other parts of Germany which are similarly situated. The common form—samples and checks have been made of this—in Berlin, among German families of any class—not just the criminal class or the upper classes, but the working class, the professional class and every other class—runs something like this. The little toddler, as soon as he can walk, is sent out to pick up cigarette ends to trade in the black market. The child of 10 or 11 is sent out to play with the troops to get cigarettes for the black market. The girl of 14 or 15 or 16 is sent out to solicit to get cigarettes for trade in the black market. That, as I say, is not confined to just one, perhaps subnormal, class; that, I was informed, is not uncharacteristic of the whole range of classes in Berlin at this moment. All of that means that there is a nothingness, a moral vacuum in Germany at this moment. I do not believe that, with all our good intentions, we are filling that vacuum, but I believe that it is being filled. It may be being filled by Communism; I do not know, I rather doubt it. But it is being filled by something that will prove in 10 or 15 or 20 years' time, perhaps even 'before that, very terrible for us all.
Almost as soon as I got to Germany, I was talking to an Englishman, a man of high intelligence. He had nothing to do with the Control Commission or Military Government and, as far as I know, had no political views at all. He said to me, "You know, it is appalling how we have lost the respect of the German people." I had just gone to Germany, and I was irritated by that. I said, "I do not want the respect of the German people, and I do not mind if I have their contempt. I want nothing from them." My friend said to me, "You misunderstand. Respect is not something that you 1780 either want or do not want; it is not something which you either accept or refuse; respect is a by-product of your conduct and your actions, and the fact is that the by-product which we are getting in Germany is not respect but contempt." After I had been in the zone a little time, I could understand that.
A lot of people talk about how the German population welcomed our troops as liberators. I must say I still cannot understand that expression, in that context. No external force can liberate people from their own folly, and their own supineness, and their own mistakes; they have to liberate themselves. However, I have no doubt at all that when our troops went into Germany, decent, disciplined and, above all, sensible, the German people said, "These people have something that is good, they have something that wins wars. We can look around and we can see where our own leadership has brought us. Let us find out what this secret is that these people have." We have never given them that secret, and now I believe that the Germans are saying, "It is true that our leaders brought us to hell, but at least we had some fun on the way. It is true that our leaders denied us butter, in order that we should have guns, but now we have neither guns nor butter." It is my honest conviction that we have lost the respect of the German people by our inefficiency.
I do not believe, for one moment, that this is due to the personnel of the Control Commission. There have been almost endless criticisms of the Control Commission. I think those criticisms are unjustified, exaggerated and unfair. I must say, however, that I think the hon. Gentleman himself is responsible, in some degree, for their exaggeration, because these stories of corruption, of malpractices in the zone on the part of junior officials of the Control Commission have been very widespread for a long time, and I do not think anyone can doubt that there was something in them. I think it was the last time we debated this subject on the Address in November, that the hon. Gentleman said that there was all this talk about malpractices, but, in fact, only one case had come to his notice and that was being investigated. I am not accusing him of misleading the House, because obviously he was speaking the 1781 truth, but I am pretty sure that more than one case existed even at that time, and I am certain that a great number of cases have existed and that this is being cleaned up.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Hynd)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will give the reference?
§ Mr. Law
Yes, I will read it. This is what the hon. Gentleman said:On the question of corrupt practices, which is again a question of staffing, I say-to all those who repeat this charge of widespread corruption, 'Where is your evidence?' On every occasion when this has been raised in this House in previous Debates, I have taken it up with the Member concerned, and I have said to him, 'Please can you give me some evidence we can follow up?' So far, I have been unable to get a single case, except that in one instance, after several months of pressure upon the hon. Member's informant in Germany, he was able to tell us that he had found one case that had come to his notice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1946: Vol. 430, c. 298–299.]I suggest to the hon. Gentleman, not that he was misleading the House, but that he ought to have known more about what was going on in the zone, and not have had to rely upon information supplied to him by hon. Members of this House. But, apart from those cases, I can only testify here that I was tremendously impressed by the zeal, the devotion, the industry and the complete forgetfulness of self of those members of the Control Commission whom I met and they included members of all ranks. Within the framework of the administration, which I consider to be bad, and which I will deal with in a few minutes—
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
The right hon. Gentleman has just made a statement alleging fairly widespread malpractices. Is he going to produce any evidence himself?
§ Mr. Law
I was trying to make the point that I think every hon. Member of this House who has been to Germany knows that these malpractices have occurred, and it would be scarcely conceivable, in the circumstances, that they had not occurred. I suggest to the Minister, and I suggest to the hon. Gentleman, that if the hon. Gentleman and the Minister do not believe this, they had better go and see for themselves. I can 1782 only say that when I was in Hamm, I think it was, a train went through, and I was told on very good authority that there were six members of the Control Commission in that train, under guard, going back to England. This is well-known in Germany. I say that it has been very much exaggerated partly because the Chancellor of the Duchy—with, I am sure, the best intentions in the world, and certainly with no intention of deceiving the House—minimised them. But there is another reason why they have been exaggerated. Every case of this kind which occurs is seized upon by the Germans, magnified and multiplied, and made the very most of.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge (Bedford)
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the implication of what he is saying will lead the Germans to suppose that these malpractices are very widespread indeed?
§ Mr. Law
No, I hope that is not the implication of what I am saying. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is."] I hope the implication of what I am saying is that the Chancellor of the Duchy will be able to make a statement to this House which will be more accurate than the statement he made last November, and will show how limited this matter is and how very much exaggerated it has been. I formed the very highest opinion of the personnel of the Control Commission.
I do not believe anyone in this House, or in this country, has any conception of the value of the work which is being done in the British zone today by the members of British voluntary societies such as the Red Cross, the Quakers, the Salvation Army, the Catholic Committee for Relief, and so on. I think it would be difficult to over-value that work. They are there in teams of ten, or a dozen, isolated and grappling with these hideous problems of administration, helping the Germans, cutting through red tape, and doing it all without any kind of sentimentality, but with pure devotion, disinterestedness, and very great efficiency. What is being done there should be more widely known than it is. It is extraordinarily difficult to get the situation in Germany into any kind of perspective. As one sees it, it is so horrible that, inevitably, one' s judgment is apt to get warped. Indeed, when one goes through Germany, one is very much inclined to believe the whole responsibility for this 1783 appalling mess is ours, and that the Germans had nothing to do with it. One is almost inclined to believe that it was we who invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Low Countries, so little sign does one see from the Germans themselves of any acceptance of responsibility. But of course the great bulk of the responsibility must he with the German people themselves, and it is nonsense to blame His Majesty's Government or the hon. Gentleman for the mess that exists there today.
The greater part of the responsibility then, is the responsibility of the Germans. But there is a charge to be made against the Government, and I propose to make it. First, I believe His Majesty's Government have never understood the gravity of this situation in Germany. If they had understood it—I say this with all respect to the Chancellor of the Duchy, who, I think, is entitled far more to the sympathy of the House than to its censure—they would not have farmed it out to a junior Minister, without authority in the Governmental hierarchy. Secondly, I believe the Government, throughout, have misconceived the nature of our responsibility in this matter. I think they have always imagined that it was our job to govern Germany, whereas I believe we ought to have seen that our main job in Germany was to control them, and to see that they did not start a third German war. The third charge I make is that whatever conception of our responsibility to Germany one may hold, the existing system of administration is entirely wrong, hopelessly ill-conceived, and quite inadequate to the task which it has to perform. Fourthly, I say—and I am afraid this may not please hon. Members opposite—the Government are making in Germany exactly the same kind of mistakes they are making here. They are sticking to preconceived notions, against the pressure of facts. They are going out for ideal theoretical solutions, instead of dealing with the immediate emergency as a matter of urgency as it arises; and they imagine that the proliferation of Government controllers is a substitute for the multiplication of private energy, which it is not.
I take that last point first—the parallel between Government policy here and 1784 Government policy in Germany. I read in the newspapers that the Ministry of Works have recently issued an edict which forbids the private citizen, if he happens to be handy about the house, and to have paint or timber, to do any work, in his own time, on his own house, beyond the value of £10, including the value of his own labour. That does not matter very greatly here, because I hope no one would pay the least attention to it. But, it matters quite a lot in Germany. I wonder if all hon. Members are aware, keeping in mind the destruction and the appalling housing conditions, that it is an offence for a German to go into the ruins, collect some rubble, and build with his own hands any kind of shelter, unless he first gets a permit? I am not sure how the permit is obtained. I think it first has to go to the Regional Commissioner, and then to Berlin. That kind of thing brings our administration into disrepute. I always imagined that the Germans were a docile people, who rather liked being ordered about, rather liked forms, and having everything cut and dried. But, I found that every German with whom I talked said that the one thing they could not understand about our administration was the necessity for all these forms, bogging everything down.
The question of de-Nazification is very important. There again the Government, once having got the idea of de-Nazification into their heads, have been unable to get it out again, even though conditions prove it to be patently absurd. I remember sitting in a room in Gt. George Street during the war, when every now and then flying bombs were falling in St. James Park, and feeling that de-Nazification was an excellent thing. But the war had not ended then, and none of us had been to Germany. What is happening today? Does the House know, for example, that no young man who has been an officer in the German armed forces is allowed to go to the university? Does the House realise that civil administrators, business executives, all kinds of people, are under permanent risk of dismissal? We must realise that everybody in Germany had to be a member of the Nazi Party, either professed or active. A great number were not active but professed. That may have been weak-minded of them but it is a fact, and in that kind of thing, people are weak-minded. After all, we know how difficult it is, even in this country, 1785 to find any one to say that they voted Labour two years ago. We must not be too hard in the matter of moral fibre in that respect.
We all know, I expect, of ludicrous examples of the way de-Nazification works. There was the question of a coalmine manager who was doing very well, getting good production, but who was found to be a Nazi and dismissed. Production fell. He got on his bicycle, cycled into the Russian zone, and is managing a mine there at this moment. There is another case of the burgomaster of a German town who was doing very well, was informed against as a Nazi and dismissed. Within a few weeks he was chairman of the local de-Nazification committee. There are many ludicrous instances of that kind. I wish the House to understand that by pursuing that policy now, two years after the war has ended, we are creating a vested interest which operates against what we are trying to do in Germany, a vested interest in favour of a war of revenge, in the minds of hundreds of thousands of the most efficient people in Germany today. We all know—if we do not, it is strange—that there is a food shortage in Germany. Most of the food production is in the other zones. There is little production in our zone. Nevertheless there are large numbers of farmers in the British zone. I was informed, when I was? in Germany, that an edict had gone forth that even the farmers in the British zone, who have so far been spared, were to be screened for de-Nazification. I would, like the Chancellor of the Duchy to find out if it is true, for if it is, I can only say it seems to me an extraordinary way of increasing food production in the British zone.
There is an analogous question of categorisation. The House is aware that there are thousands, I imagine tens of thousands, of people in concentration camps awaiting screening as Nazis. They have been there for one year, two years; they look like being there indefinitely. I wonder if the Minister can give any estimate of how many of these people in these concentration camps are, in fact, likely to turn out to have been bad Nazis, because I was talking to someone who had been over there, and he told me that in his judgment 95 per cent. would be cleared If the facts should turn out to be anything like that, I say that it is a monstrous travesty of justice to keep people in con- 1786 centration camps indefinitely on a charge that will never be proved. That, again, is just adding to this vested interest of which I have spoken. I would like the Minister, also, to tell us, if he can, what is being done about prisoners of war. I know we are sending them back, but are we sending them back quickly? There is a terrible shortage of manpower in Germany. That is one of the keys to the position. It may be that it pays us to keep them here, but I believe that it will cost us, indirectly, far more to keep them here, than it would if we, sent them back-to Germany to do a job of work there.
I would like to say just a word about education in Germany—I do not mean reeducation, just ordinary straightforward education. That will lead me on to a criticism of the general organisational structure in the zone. In my judgment, for what it is worth, the Educational section of the Control Commission has done a first-class job of work. Anybody who read the article in "The Times," I think it was yesterday, would agree that they battled with every kind of difficulty, lack of text books, lack of teachers, lack of food, lack of everything, but they have earned the confidence of German educationists, and they have been doing a great job. I understand that education has now become a German responsibility. That may or may not be a good thing. On balance, I think it is a good thing, but it seems to me that if it is a German responsibility, the importance of these education officers is even greater, because now they will have to advise, and as far as they can, by their influence, to direct German education. That is a point of vital importance. I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy whether, in his general drive for a reduction, he is, in fact, reducing the number of education officers in Berlin and the zone, and, if so, by how many. I must tell him that I very much hope that he is not reducing their numbers.
Another point arises out of that. A few months ago a number of education officers were taken out of the zone, where they had been doing magnificent work, and put down in Berlin, in order that they might advise the Commander-in-Chief. I suggest to the Chancellor of the Duchy that the people who need advice on this, especially now that education has been transferred to the Lãnderadministrations, are the people in the zone itself, not the 1787 Commander-in-Chief. I hope it may be possible, if that order still exists, to rescind it, and restore these educational officers to the zone, where, I am sure, the value of their contribution will be infinitely greater.
That leads me to one of my main points on the administrative structure. I believe that the tremendous centralisation of administration in Berlin is a terrible mistake. I shall never forget the impression which my visit to Berlin made upon me after I had been some little time in the zone. One leaves the zone and motors through a hundred or 150 miles of the Soviet zone, and comes to Berlin. It is like coming into another world. The administration in Berlin is extremely efficient, I would not deny that, but it is remote, and it seemed to me that what it is doing is entirely irrelevant to the problem we have to solve. One goes to these huge offices, down the long lighted corridors, one sees the files circulating with immense briskness. That is all very well done, but it has no relevance to these awful conditions in the zone. One can talk to officers there, and find that the atmosphere of unreality in which they live, is very largely intensified—if one can intensify unreality—by this elaborate diplomatic game they are playing on the quadripartite discussions. The combination of the quadripartite aspect and the secretariat, or efficient bureaucracy, aspect, only made me feel that the analogy was something like this. It was rather as though one tried to impose the Government of India, in the time of the late Lord Curzon, upon India as it existed in the days of Clive and Plassey. It was really as remote as that.
It seems to me that there is an answer to that. Of course, we must have these quadripartite discussions. They are important. But these discussions do not, or should not, cover the whole field of German life. I suggest to the Chancellor and to the Government that the real answer is to take our administrative machine out of Berlin. We should leave in Berlin a diplomatic mission, as it were, to carry on the quadripartite negotiations, and put the administrative machine in the zone, and let it get on with the job there. I know that this is not a Debate on policy. We cannot entirely discuss this question without reference to policy, and there is one point in that connection that I would like to put to the House before I sit down. 1788 What is it we are trying to do in Germany? Are we governing Germany? Are we trying to run their economy for them? I think that is precisely what we have been trying to do. We have failed in that, and, in failing, we have gained the hatred and contempt of the Germans. We have enabled them to shuffle out of their own responsibilities. They can say now, "Look at the mess you have made." It is not the mess we have made; it is the mess they have made, and they are the people to clear it up.
Our proper policy should be to abandon all this idea of trying to run the Germans for their own good. We should revert to the conception that our job is to control the Germans so that they will not make a third German war. For the rest, we should throw the responsibility upon the Germans. I do not mean that we should not help them. We should help. We are helping them now, but we get no credit for it, because they have put the whole responsibility on to us. We should help them, but let us leave it to them to organise their industries. I have an idea that they are probably better fitted to do that than we are. Let us confine our efforts to giving them such help as we can, and to seeing that they do not make another German war. We do not really need 20,000 people in an administrative capacity to see to that. I ask the Government to consider, before it is too late, where the present course is leading, and where it has already led.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Hynd)
I tried to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his assessment of the whole of the situation in the British zone of Germany, and also his assessment of responsibility for the situation as it exists today. I must confess, however, that I found it extremely difficult. In one breath he charged our administration with muddle and mismanagement, and then absolved them; he told us the Germans were to blame, and then returned to the criticism of our own administration. It is extremely difficult to know precisely what he meant.
§ Mr. Law
If I did not make it clear, may I do so now? What I was trying to say was that the Germans were responsible for 95 per cent. of their own troubles, that the Government had a responsibility 1789 —for reasons which I gave—for the remaining 5 per cent., and that that 5 per cent. is still extremely important.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that assessment. The position is now clear. We are responsible only for 5 per cent. of the difficulties that exist in Germany. I would say that his remarks generally at the beginning of his speech certainly did not give that impression. I wish to advise hon. Members, at the beginning of this Debate, to remember that we have done at least one thing in Germany. We have established a form of democracy in regard to institutions. We have established the mechanics, at any rate. We have established German political parties, trade unions, local administrations and governments, Press, publicity, wireless and all the rest of it. What is said in this House is broadcast in Germany, and is closely studied by Germans of all kinds.
When people set out to criticise, and I would even say to vilify our administration, they are not doing a service either to the people who have carried on under very difficult circumstances there, whatever one may think of the results, or to British prestige. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the gravity of the food problem. He admitted the indescribable destruction. To what is that due? It is not due to any faults in our administration or to Government policy. It is due entirely to circumstances created by the war, for which the Germans were largely responsible, and to postwar conditions over which this Government certainly had no direct control. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for such remarks as he did make, in parentheses, about the great efficiency of our administration in many of its branches. I am sure those remarks will be received with appreciation by our representatives over there.
Before I leave that aspect, I will again say, in regard to the question of malpractices and corruption, that I have never, at any time, said that there was no corruption or malpractice among the 25,000 people who are in Germany. Obviously, it would be impossible to assume that. On the contrary, on many occasions I have pointed out that there must be, especially with the conditions which exist in Germany, quite a degree of temptation to which it is probable, and very likely, that our people in some cases 1790 have been susceptible, and to which some have given way. One only needs to read the newspapers from day to day, to see that many of these cases are brought to justice. The reason why I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman when he quoted me as having said I had only heard of one case, became clear later. I think it became clear to the House when he read the paragraph. I was challenging those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who make general allegations about widespread corruption, without giving us any cases. I said I had only received one case from one hon. Member and that case was under examination. Never have I said that I had only heard of one case of corruption in the British zone. I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman himself provided an illustration of the very unfortunate practice of making these wild allegations, without being able to substantiate them when challenged.
I do not want to make any reference to the repeated gibes about my status as a junior Minister. I think hon. and right hon. Gentlemen might polish up their knowledge of the status of His Majesty's Ministers. In so far as the Government can be charged with not having realised sufficiently the importance of the German problem, I would point out that a considerable time ago, in October, 1945, almost at the beginning of the occupation, the Government decided that the situation was so important that control of it should be separated entirely from other Departments and that a separate Department should be established with a special Minister directly responsible. I think that was a recognition of the importance of this problem.
Another charge that was made by the right hon. Gentleman was that we have tried to govern and not to control Germany. Again I ask him to remember the conditions which existed when we went to Germany. There was no German Government or German administration. There was colossal destruction which caused almost superhuman problems. There were no Germans whom we could trust from the beginning. It was a difficult task to sort them out, even during the 12 or 18 months that have elapsed since the Department was set up.
There was certainly no German administration at that time to which we could hand over capital administration, and we 1791 had to take over detailed control of almost every aspect of German life; otherwise the situation would have deteriorated to a point, perhaps, from which it would never have recovered. That is precisely what we have been doing. We have been regularly and progressively withdrawing from detailed control and handing over to German administration. We commenced by setting up nominated councils to take over the local conduct of affairs. We proceeded from that to the election of Gemeinde councils. Then, Kreise elections were held last October, and now we are on the way to electing popularly elected land governments, which will take over much bigger responsibilities. I do not think myself, from the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, that he takes these facts with the seriousness they deserve. What did he say? He has visited Germany, and he agrees that it is difficult to assess the problem, and to know where we are, but yet he has made these unfounded statements about corruption.
§ Mr. Law
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? I went out of my way to say that I thought that these statements about corruption had been exaggerated. I was not trying to repeat them. I was trying to make it clear that they have been exaggerated, and I said that I had received the full assistance of the Commission.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I thank the right hon. Gentleman very much, and I think that what he has said will be appreciated. These statements have been very much exaggerated. In regard to de-Nazification, I am surprised to find, 18 months after the end of the war, that we are told that we have now got to stop de-Nazifying, and have to leave the big landowners and the big agriculturists—[HON. MEMBERS: "What does the size matter?"] It is precisely these people who were most loyal to the old regime. Again, it is not true that the universities were closed to all ex-officers. Again, it is not true that, in order to patch up their houses or make a little shelter of some kind from rubble, men have had to get permits from the Regional Controller, or, as some hon. Gentlemen say, probably also from Berlin. That is a type of exaggeration without any foundation, and, certainly, I have no information to that 1792 effect. It is true that we have to require building permits. Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest that we should abolish them and allow all these materials to go into the black market, which is potentially so prevalent in a situation of that kind? Obviously not. Surely, before the right hon. Gentleman makes a statement of that kind in this House, it ought to be thoroughly checked. Similarly, in regard to the coal mine manager. I do not know in what mine this manager works, but, as the mines are as far away from the Russian zone as possible, he had a long way to go.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)
The coalmine is at Helmstadt, half in the British zone and half in the Russian.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Again, we are told, as we have been told in certain recent publications, of other allegations about a certain man in a certain town who did a certain thing. But I am not told who, where or in what conditions. These things should be substantiated.
The main point of the criticisms made by the right hon. Gentleman was in regard to the centralisation of our headquarters in Berlin. As it happens, we are parties to the agreements between the four Allies for the quadripartite administration of Germany. For that purpose, a Control Council was established in Berlin as the most convenient and appropriate centre, and we must maintain, as I think the right hon. Gentleman admitted, top-ranking officers who are responsible for high policy to be discussed with the other parties in Berlin. What the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting, as I interpret it, is the establishment of another bureaucracy, if he likes, or another Poona, if he likes, in the zone. There is really no need for it. The administration in Germany provides everything possible for that administration under the controlling hand of the Regional Commissioners, who are given full powers to carry out policy when approved from the centre, and to administer policy for a wide range of subjects entirely on their own responsibility, so long as this is in accordance with the general policy. I really do not think that many hon. Members of this House would endorse the suggestion that we should establish another central headquarters in the zone, which would not necessarily be in direct contact with 1793 Berlin, but would, in fact, be a duplication.
I am not suggesting for a moment that the situation in the zone at the present time is a comforting one. I am not suggesting that we have achieved all that we might have achieved, but I beg the House to remember that, in the government of Germany and, particularly, in the British zone, we have to observe certain fundamental understandings and agreements, which have been reached with our Allies, and that these have imposed limitations on many of the things we would like to do and in regard to many of the things that probably have had to be left undone. But there have been considerable developments. I think it is due to the fact that there has been a considerable amount of publicity in the Press over recent months, coupled with the visits of hon. Members of this House, the extension of postal and Press facilities, which have gone on for the last few months and to the visits of German representatives to this country, Debates in this House and so on, all of which have done a great deal towards creating a better and more balanced picture of the situation.
I think it is fantastic to compare the morale of the Germans, or their physical condition, with the physical condition or moral of the people of this country, even under a Labour Government. I think hon. Members do understand that there are certain outstanding factors in the German situation. There has been much contradictory, and sometimes ill-informed criticism. We are told sometimes that the Germans were better dressed than the people in this country. We were told that they were starving, and that we were responsible for their starvation. We were told, not so long ago, that our staff in Germany were living in luxury and were over-paid; now, we are being pressed to improve their conditions because of the high cost of living and so, on. We were told that we were not getting on sufficiently with de-Nazification, and that we were leaving out the big Nazis; now we are told that it is being overdone and that de-Nazification must stop. All that, I think, has led to a rather unbalanced picture in the minds of the people, but I think they do know that, in Germany, there is immense destruction, a calamitous housing situation and a desperate physical need for food and clothes. In spite of all that, there have been tremendous 1794 achievements by the comparatively small staff of British personnel in many fields, and considerable credit is due to them.
When we come to the criticisms which have been made, and there is ample field for criticism—it is the easiest thing in the world to criticise conditions in Germany—I find, after a careful study of the solutions put forward on these problems, that they can be summed up in four general headings. The first is "Scrap Potsdam." But at the same time, the same critics tell us that we must go ahead and achieve economic unity in Germany. The two are not possible together. We have been told to stop all exports and at the same time throw all German resources into use for the rehabilitation of Europe. We have been told, "Stop de-Nazification," and, at the same time, to hand over domestic control to the Germans. We have also been told that we must send more food. That is, of course, the key criticism. We did send more food and gave them more than the 1,500 calories ration. That criticism ignores entirely the desperate efforts which I, my administration and the Government have been making for the last 18 months to get even those quantities of food which it has been possible to send into Germany. Whatever effort might have been made and whatever policy might have been adopted, I am satisfied that, in view of the resources available, and the fact that we have not got full control over them, would not have made the situation one whit better.
I will refer to one or two of these points in more detail. To begin with, I will deal with the food situation, because I know that many hon. Members are anxious about the present situation, in view of the recent cold spell and the difficulties with which we were faced some months ago before the new assurances were given to us by the American-British zonal fusion agreement. It will be remembered that up to March, 1946, we worked on a basis of 1,550 calories a day for the normal consumer, plusstocks then available. In March, we reduced that figure to 1,000 calories, there being no stocks available, although we realised that that was a disastrous situation which might survive the summer, but certainly would not survive the winter. In October last year it was decided that, at all costs, we must raise the official ration to 1,550 calories. That decision has now been criticised, but it 1795 was taken deliberately and knowing that we were not necessarily in a position to maintain that ration over a long period of time, or even over the winter period. But there was no alternative. It was impossible for people who had been on a ration of 1,000 calories a day for six months or more, with no reserves, and in conditions of a German winter, to face the winter on anything less than 1,550 calories, even if it was possible for them to exist on that.
It is true that there have been local breakdowns. There have been arguments as to whether, in this or that part of the zone, we should have raised the ration 70, 80 or 90 per cent., although I do not know what the arguments are meant to prove. In some places, the ration has fallen short, but, in others, we have maintained it. We have maintained it over-all up to 80 or 85 per cent., and where it has fallen for a particular period, it has, so far as possible, been made up for the subsequent period. These breakdowns are not due to any policy, or to any lack of efficiency on the part of our administration. They are due to the physical conditions created by the American shipping difficulties, at one stage, and the transport difficulties in Germany, which have been intensified as the result of the terrible winter conditions with which we have recently been faced. The canals and rivers have been frozen, and everything has been loaded on to inadequate railways, which have been unable to cope with the load. Therefore, there have been further breakdowns. It is true that, in the case of the little town of Wupperthal, the ration met in the week ended 19th January, 1946, was only 1,322 calories. The following week it fell to 990 calories and the week after reached 1,200–1,300 calories. We hope that the steps which we have now taken to rush supplies into that area will be successful, and that we shall not only be able to make up the ration to 1,550 calories in that town, but in the others as well.
I would like to refer to one misunderstanding which is generally held, not only in this House, but throughout the country. It is that the ration of 1,550 calories is the standard ration for the average person in Germany. That is the basic ration for the normal consumer—the non-working adult. The normal consumers represent some 36 per cent. of the popula- 1796 tion in the British zone. The other 64 per cent. are categorised according to the amount of work they do, whether they are children, nursing or expectant mothers, and so on. Their rations range from 2,500 to 3,966 calories, according to the work they do. The working underground miner receives a ration of 3,966 calories which, in the view of the tripartite nutrition committee which studies the conditions in the three zones, is sufficient for the underground miner. In addition to that, supplementary steps are taken, apart from the relief parcels which have been pouring in over recent months. There are school meals, about which I do not think sufficient is known in this country; 1,700,000 children in German schools are now receiving coupon-free meals, in addition to their ordinary rations. The meals may be small, but they represent 300 to 490 calories, according to the age of the child. However, it is something additional, and it is something new in Germany, because never before, except, I think, in Hamburg, have free school meals been provided for the German children.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
Would the hon. Gentleman say what percentage of the total school population is receiving those meals?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I do not know offhand, but I will get the information. However, I can say that it is a high percentage, in fact the vast majority. I should like it to be clearly understood that that is the position, and that the ration is not 1,550 calories per head.
I am not at all satisfied with the situation, particularly in the present condition from which we are suffering very severely. But I would say that, as a result of the zonal fusion, and the greater assurance which we now have of an equitable share in the available resources we can look forward more hopefully to the next few months and, perhaps, until the next harvest, than we have been able to do hitherto. Above all, I am satisfied that the decision taken last December to increase the ration to 1,550 calories was right, even if it has not been possible to maintain it in every case.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Corbett (Ludlow)
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether, when it is impossible to keep up the official ration, the increased ration for the 64 per cent. of the population can be maintained?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Yes. They represent the priorities; I am afraid that it is generally the people on the normal ration who suffer. The working population, the children, the nursing and expectant mothers, and so on, are a first priority. I have not had any complaints of a breakdown in any of these rations.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
Is the hon. Gentleman certain that the children receiving these extra rations are the vast majority, because I do not think that they are?
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
Is it not true that those are the children in the big towns, and that this extra ration is not given to the children in the countryside? I think it is 60 per cent. of the children.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
That is quite true; they are the children in the large towns, because the conditions in the countryside do not make it necessary to provide it for the children there. As to the actual proportion of the total children receiving the extra ration, I will give that figure later, as regards both the towns and the entire population.
I should like to make reference to what has been the second great menace with which our people in Germany have been faced since 1945. It is the problem of the health of the people, which is closely associated with the food problem. I would like the House to bear in mind the exceptionally bad conditions that exist in Germany for maintaining anything like reasonable health conditions—lack of sanitation, food, clothing, heating and the tremendous influx of refugees, many of them suffering from illnesses and in very poor condition. A certain amount of publicity has been given to the health statistics figures, particularly those referring to tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is bad, and we are very worried about it. It is inevitable that, in the conditions which exist, it should be a serious problem. The House will be interested in the following figures. The number of cases reported in January of last year was 3,730, and the number in November was 5,140, but deaths have dropped from 1,300 to 800. It should also be noted, however, that all cases must now be notified, and, therefore, the figures do not reflect the exact position. The second serious incidence is venereal disease, but, 1798 fortunately, there has been no significant increase in it over recent months, in spite of the additional encouragement that has been given to notification and treatment, in view of the availability of the appropriate treatment.
But when one comes to the vital statistics, one finds an entirely different picture. I will not go into the details, but it is to be borne in mind that this is a situation which should be compared with 1938, when Nazi measures had driven the birth rate up to the highest possible level. The birth rate has improved since January, 1946, from 9.9 per thousand, to 15.1 in November, which compares with the United Kingdom figure for 1939 of 15.3. The number of live births has increased from 18,000 in January to 31,000 in October. The death rate, on the contrary, has fallen from 15.4 per thousand in January, to 11.6 per thousand in November, and the number of deaths has also fallen from 28,000 in January to 19,000 in October. Here we come across one of those unfortunate illustrations of what I might call ill-informed or ill-advised criticism which has appeared in the Press. When we look at the infant mortality rates we find that the figure in January, 1946, which was 137 per thousand, had been reduced to 68 per thousand by September. Hon. Members may recall that in attacking our administration, a point was made recently in the Press which drew attention to the fact that the infant mortality rate had increased from the 1939 figure, which was, I think, about 62 per thousand, to 137 in 1946. What the critic omitted to say was that it was in January, 1946. It has since been reduced from 137 to 68. I mention that because of the danger of some of these publicised figures.
We have two further diseases which should be referred to, namely, typhoid and typhus. In November, 1945, the reported cases of typhoid were 2,716, and in November, 1946, they had been reduced by 1,662 to 1,054. The number of deaths had fallen from 361 to 94. In the case of typhus—and this is a condition which is normally very prevalent in a situation such as we have in Germany today—there was an increase from July, 1945, when there were 27 cases, to December, 1945, when there were 93, and to February, 1946, when there were 394 cases, mainly due to the large influx of refugees. That is an increase from 1799 27 cases in July, 1945, to 394 cases in February, 1946. There have been no cases since October last, and only one since last June, although the refugees have continued to pour in.
It is difficult to give a picture, but most of these refugees are coming in through a narrow bottle neck, handled by a small team of British personnel not adequately equipped with medicinal supplies. They have, in my opinion, done a remarkably fine job, because had they not succeeded so well, we might well have been faced with insuperable difficulties with epidemics throughout the whole of the British zone. Having given these figures, let me tell the House that I fully appreciate that this is not necessarily a happy situation, because the resistance of the people is extremely low. The conditions in which the people are unfortunately compelled to live make it possible for an epidemic, once it breaks cut, to spread like wild fire, but I think I am justified in saying that our people have done something remarkable, and that is an indication of their readiness and capacity for dealing with any other crisis that may arise.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
These figures are very striking and interesting. Would the hon. Gentleman give the comparable figures for the other zones?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I am afraid I could not guarantee to supply comparable figures for the other zones, but if the hon. Member will refer to the monthly report which is available in the Library, he will find most of that information in respect of the British zone and probably some in respect of the other zones. I will be glad to supply the information to him if he will write to me and remind me. I would like to have a little more time to describe more of the conditions in which Members might be interested, but I must leave time for others to speak.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
Before my hon. Friend leaves the food and health situation, I would like to ask him if he could make any sort of promise with regard to an agreed calorific value for the Germans after a period of years. I understand that at the moment they are under the impression they will never get more 1800 than 2,300 calories, even so far ahead as 1951. Can my hon. Friend raise their hopes oh that point?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Certainly. Already the American and British authorities, under the fusion agreement, have fixed a target of 1,800 calories for the normal consumer, as a first step. We recognise that nothing less than 2,000 calories can be regarded as approaching a satisfactory condition. The rest will depend largely on availability, on the development of the import and export arrangements which are being organised in co-operation with the German authorities under the fusion arrangement, and on the efforts of the German agriculturists and the population themselves. But there is no limit being made to the amount of food which can be made available to the Germans in the course of time.
Considerable attention has been paid to the housing situation. Again, I do not want to go into this matter in detail because I want hon. Members to have an opportunity of raising other questions, but it should be known that here again, in spite of the colossal difficulties such as the shortage of coal which has led to shortages of housing materials, steel and timber and so on, we are getting on with this job. We are now repairing houses in the Ruhr at the rate of 4,000 per month. In regard to miners' houses alone, out of a total of 128,000 repairable dwellings we have repaired 109,000, which is pretty good going. Many of these are only first-aid repairs, and it will certainly take many years yet before we can repair the large number involved. I forget the exact figure, but I think it is about 1,500,000 houses, and that task would take about 10 or 15 years to accomplish at the present rate. The single problem of clearing the rubble is itself a herculean task which can hardly be tackled with bare hands or shovels, but will require the production, or by some means the procurement of, large scale implements for the purpose, and it will also require a tremendous improvement in German physique and morale and availability of German manpower.
The job is going on and the production of building materials, too, is improving quite satisfactorily in relation to general conditions. Cement and tile production has gone up by 100 per cent. during the last six months. The production of bricks 1801 has increased by over 150 per cent. and all these depend on the production of coal, steel and the necessary machinery, as well as on the availability of manpower.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I have not got the figures handy, but I can supply them. I regret I have not all the statistics in front of me. I now come to the question of consumer goods, which again is part of these general production and manpower problems. The production of consumer goods which, in January, 1946, was at the rate of 16.6 per cent. of 1936, had been increased to 21 per cent. by September. From 16 per cent. to 21 per cent. is not a substantial increase, but, at least, it gives an indication of progress. The increase has been largely in respect of such materials as crockery, glassware, paper, pharmaceuticals and tobacco, but there is a substantial and satisfactory increase in one of the most essential commodities, and that is footwear which has increased by over 100 per cent. in the last six months, and is now being produced at the rate of 13,000,000 pairs per annum. One million pairs were produced in October.
§ Major Bramall (Bexley)
Would my hon. Friend say whether these figures he is giving, of increases in commodities such as glassware, and so on, include the kind of commodities supplied for the British occupation requirements?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Certainly. I am giving the increases in general production. While I am giving these increases, again in order to give a proper balance to the picture, I must point out that in regard to two of the most imporant commodities the position is far from satisfactory. I refer to clothing, which is a matter of textiles, where production is improving, but very slowly; and soap, of which there is a very serious shortage in Germany at the present time, due not to any mismanagement, or corruption, or inefficiency on the part of the Control Commission, but to the general overall world fat problem. In order to try to meet that we are reactivating a number of 1802 synthetic fat plants in Germany, and these will now be coming into production. We hope that will help to overcome that particular problem. Whilst these production figures do show some progress, and whilst we are getting things more into gear, it is true that stocks are running out. There were considerable stocks in Germany in 1945. These stocks are being used up, and we must not only continue the progress that is being made in the production of these goods, but we must certainly increase it very rapidly if we are to maintain the situation. It is obvious there will be no real solution to this problem of production of goods of any kind until the coal position is clear, until raw materials are made available, and until there is the establishment of financial equilibrium.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the question of shoes. Everybody knows of the desperate shortage of footwear, in view of the production position in Germany. Could he say something about what is being done to import large quantities of footwear?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Certainly, if the hon. and gallant Member wishes. We have recently sent over 900,000 pairs of footwear from this country, and we are continuing to send from this country anything that can be of assistance in overcoming the present desperate situation, including air-raid shelter bunks, blankets and clothing of all kinds. They are sent over at cost to the British taxpayer, certainly, supplemented by voluntary gifts made from other quarters.
What I have been dealing with so far has been the physical side of the German problem. But our task is not limited to that. That is merely part of the interim period. We have a wider and a bigger task, namely, to restore democratic control and methods, in order to let the German people, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, manage their own affairs and achieve their own economic regeneration. In this direction, too, we have made progress. De-nazification—a point to which the right hon. Gentleman particularly referred—is well in hand. It is true that we have had a large number of people locked up in "concentration camps", as they are sometimes wrongly called. They should be properly called civil internment camps. The distinction 1803 is a real one: the conditions are entirely different, and the spirit in which they are run is also entirely different. The reason why it has been necessary is again a matter for which I think this House would accept responsibility, because most of those people have been held, pending the outcome of the Nuremberg trial. A large number of these people are extremely dangerous characters, and when it is suggested to me that we should simply open these camps and let these people loose on the German population at the present time, I certainly could not agree to such a possibility.
I now turn to the bi-zonal arrangements, to which reference has been made. I do not wish to go into it in detail, because there is not much that can be said at the moment, except as to the general arrangements. In those bi-zonal arrangements we have achieved two things, which represent a considerable and effective step in the development of our administration in Germany. They are, first, a greater assurance than we have ever had of maintenance of the food supplies and the raw materials which will be necessary if we are to get the zone into working order, and to achieve some kind of economic stability in Western Germany; and secondly, we have achieved a possibility of much more rapid devolution of responsibility and authority upon the German themselves, a great deal of which has already been done on a zonal basis, but which can now be developed on a bi-zonal basis.
Under this scheme, we have already established bi-zonal German authorities, in respect of finance, economics, transport and food, two of the headquarters being in the British zone and two in the American zone. The Bi-zonal Economic Executive Committee, which operates from Minden, works in close conjunction with the British authorities in the zone, and is also given its instructions on policy from a bipartite Anglo-American authority, which is also established in the zone at Minden. These committees are now taking over direct German responsibility for a large amount of the functional work within the zone, including, in particular, the allocation of production in the various directions.
In addition to that, the development of German production for the purposes of 1804 trade, of imports and exports, is going on at a considerable pace. The links with the outside world are being developed, as they have already been developed in other directions—in the educational and political fields, and so on. Through the bi-zonal agency, the links on the trading side are also now being rapidly developed. Business correspondence has been opened up within the last few weeks. It is true that up to date it has been confined to non-transactional correspondence, but we are anxious that it should be open to free business correspondence for the completion of transactions as between purchaser and seller, and we are seeking to have quadripartite agreement on that as a policy applicable to the whole of Germany. Whilst it is not true, as I have seen stated in one of the newspapers, that the British and American zones are flooded with thousands of British and American business men, we are encouraging business visits. Unfortunately, they are on a limited scale, because of the physical conditions in Germany—the absence of hotel accommodation, transport and so on. But we are building those up, and endeavouring to expedite and to spread this development as much as we can.
I would warn the House that this does mean British staff, because we must have a certain amount of British personnel, owing to the difficult conditions in Germany, to handle these visitors from abroad. The visitors will not only be from the United Kingdom and America. We are opening up this matter with other countries, too. We are now engaged in trade negotiations with Holland, and beginning to form links with other countries. We are taking steps with regard to the trading with the enemy regulations in this country, in so far as they hamper the development of German trade. However, there are other obstacles, apart from the trading with the enemy regulations, which have to be cleared out of the way; there is a very difficult foreign exchange problem. There is no exchange rate for the mark at the moment, and international trading conditions are, in these circumstances, very difficult indeed.
§ Mr. K. Lindsay
My hon. Friend will know that a mission has recently been to Holland. Can he give an assurance that Dutch business men can also go to Germany? I have heard a lot of complaints. It is quite impossible to start trade unless they are allowed to go into the zone.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
So far as I am aware, there is nothing to prevent Dutch business men going. I should be surprised to learn that there were any difficulties, because we are encouraging direct contacts with Holland and other Western countries in the business field.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I nave been rather a long time, partly because of the interruptions, to which, however, I do not object; but I am afraid I cannot give way any more, because I must draw my remarks to a close.
I would say this, in a final word about the bi-zonal arrangements. They are, I think, getting under way very rapidly and very satisfactorily. The planning and the provisioning are well in hand for securing the necessary raw materials to get German industry into production, and for making possible those exports which we intend, within the next three or four years, shall pay for the imports into the western zones, and shall pay, also, for the amount that we have already spent on Germany, both for imports of food and for our own administration. But it is, unfortunately, true that the recent severe weather has held them up very considerably. The weather was not unexpected, but it has meant that our task has been hampered, that new and serious problems have been created which, in normal conditions, might be regarded as temporary, but which, in present conditions, could have serious results, and gravely prejudice all the work we are undertaking and all the prospects to which we now look forward. There have been further local breakdowns in the transport of food. There have been breakdowns of power, due partly to the absence of local stocks of coal, and partly to the fact that, while power production is increasing, so also is the consumption of electrical power. But each lapse in the winter spell is being used to rush help forward to the localities.
Everything is being done that is possible in these conditions to meet and overcome this severe test, which is a test, not only of the British administration, but of those German authorities which we have been able to build up, and which are now cooperating closely with us, and are now taking such a large degree of 1806 responsibility for the production and distribution of these materials. This bi-zonal fusion, upon the success of which so much depends, not only for the British taxpayers or the American taxpayers, but for the future peace of Europe, may well itself depend on the maintenance of that admirable spirit of determination which has been shown by our administration in Germany over the last 18 months. What has already been done, in spite of immense obstacles, which are now admitted on all hands, is, I think, an assurance that we shall surmount this test.
The future, at the moment, is not entirely clear because we are only a quarter of the government of Germany. A solution of the major problems must depend largely upon the forthcoming conferences of the Foreign Ministers. But meantime, the zonal fusion represents an important step in the development of the British and American zones, and gives a clearer assurance of wider cooperation over a wider area, which is an important factor in the economic development of the Western zones; a better assurance of supplies; and a better possibility of planning economic stability in the British and American zones. That assurance, the assurance of at least stabilisation, the achievement of equilibrium, in the British and American zones, is, I admit quite openly, possibly a poor substitute for the objective we have sought from the beginning of our occupation, namely, the single economic unity of Germany; but the integration of the British and American zones at least is one further step towards the achievement of what we set out to achieve when we signed the Potsdam Declaration, that is, to make Germany economically self-supporting, and to establish in Germany a democratic nation which will eventually be able to take its part in the democratic councils of the world.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
I should first like to express my appreciation to the Government for agreeing to my proposal on behalf of my hon. Friends to extend to us an extra hour tonight, and I think that all hon. Members will agree that that is a great advantage for us all. In listening to the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy, the point that struck me most, was that he was so excessively pleased with everything in Germany.
§ Mr. Marshall
That was the point that struck me, but I am not going on with that until I have had time to read the hon. Gentleman's speech. At the same time, I should like to ask the Chancellor two questions arising out of his speech. I wonder if I could possibly have the Minister's attention? The first question is this. He mentioned the fact that school children get school meals, but he was not quite certain of the percentage who do, in fact, get free school meals. I should be grateful to know whether that percentage would be based on the number of school children, or the number of children attending school.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
May I reply at once? The number of children attending school is 99 per cent. of the total available for attending school. The actual percentage of those receiving school meals of that 99 per cent. is 52 per cent. over the whole zone.
§ Mr. Marshall
The other question I wanted to ask the Chancellor was this. He used a rather strange term with regard to correspondence. I should like him to tell me what he meant by that term. Now, in approaching this subject, I think we must be mindful of its vastness. I think that we must not be forgetful of the past; nor must one divorce oneself from the present; and it is only in that spirit that we should speak on this subject of Germany today. What exactly is worrying us? What exactly is troubling us? I think that all hon. Members of this House are troubled about what is the best for the life and health of western civilisation. Why is Germany in this tragic position today? Why are our occupational Forces necessary? Some hon. Members may think—I am afraid I certainly do at times—that the German people have somehow acquired double portion of original sin. And we must not forget—it is imperative that we should not forget—that for 200 years, this race has committed depredations upon the peace-loving peoples of the world.
§ Mr. Marshall
At the same time, I think we should equally remember that the actions they have committed have caused millions of deaths, and suffering to tens of millions throughout the world. I think that it was in such a mood that the 1808 quadripartite Powers considered and formulated their plan for the control of Germany. This was not in any spirit of vengeance, but in a desire to stop this country perpetrating these horrors in the future. Therefore, at that time, I think, the plans that were made, were reasonable plans for quadripartite control and uniformity of treatment of Germany as a whole. Quite naturally, the way to do that was, to get directives on a common basis from Berlin. The essential requirement of that policy was completely and, if necessary, with pitiless severity, to disarm Germany. But these plans were made on two assumptions. The first assumption was that Germany was going to receive uniform treatment; and the second assumption was that destruction had been inflicted upon Germany—although that was assumed, perhaps, without knowledge of how much damage had been done. My chief quarrel with the present Government is that they will not adjust their minds to this fast-moving theatre. I hope that the Minister will always remember that part of the greatness of our race lies in the fact that we can improvise from time to time. Let us now face the present, instead of facing the future. It is all very well for high-ranking officials in Berlin to pat themselves on the back. They are undoubtedly doing their best to get agreement on paper, but those agreements are not carried out.
The physical damage in Germany is immense. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law), that it is impossible to visualise the physical damage in Germany without having been there. I, myself, have had the opportunity of going to Germany twice in the last 18 months, and while still remembering that they perpetrated these horrors, one is bound to describe the situation there as an appalling tragedy. It is very hard to describe, but I think that any hon. Member who has ever been in a bunker in Hamburg or elsewhere, or who has been in the streets of Berlin at night, will realise the frightfulness of it all and that civilised life is at its lowest ebb. Life lived in that way must and does lead to human misery, vice and filth. No one who has been to Germany will challenge me when I say that the only people who remain physically mobile are either those that are workers in heavy industry, or those 1809 that have bodies or possessions to sell. Those who are in neither category are not seen in the streets, but when you go into their homes, if you can call them homes, you see exactly the wretchedness of their lives and how appallingly low a civilised being can fall under such conditions. The children are undernourished, there is no question about that. It is all very well for the Minister to say that great work has been done in providing free meals and the like, but the children are under-nourished, and all this ghastly tragedy is costing the British taxpayer £80 million. All might be well if it so happened that the British people's philosophy of life was based upon "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," but it does not happen that way. Our greatness is based on our Christian beliefs, and on a Christian way of life, and I would point out to the Minister that it is all very well to have the establishment of democracy as a target, but it is difficult to bring democracy to a people in hell, and that is what the life of the German people is like today.
Statements have been made again and again in this Chamber, and in the Press, about the staff of the Control Commission. I hope hon. Members will realise that it is very difficult to live in the centre of such human misery, vice and filth, without finding it very infectious. Let us not be too quick to blame one individual here or there, but let us remember that there are a great number of men and women in the Control Commission doing sterling work on behalf of this country in controlling Germany. The problem in Germany today is both an economic problem and a spiritual problem, and on the spiritual side I sincerely trust that the great leaders of the different forms of religion will do all they possibly can to help Germany.
I think it right at this moment to remind hon. Members once more of how this state of things has arisen. During the early period of the war, the German people were advancing and conquering, and everything was going their way; they were attacking and robbing wherever they thought fit. Then, suddenly, they awoke to find that they were no longer herrenvolk,that their great leader was a suicidal maniac, and that they had no houses, no food, and apparently no hope. That is the point where, to my mind, our Government failed to adjust their minds. 1810 Endless time was spent during that period on finding out how much capital equipment should be retained, and deciding on the limitation of the steel industry to an output of 7.5 or 5.5 millions, entirely forgetting that the maximum production of steel is required at present owing to the enormous devastation that has taken place. In actual fact, I think I am right in saying that even the permitted production of steel has not yet been reached.
I would like to draw the attention of hon. Members to the fact that on 16th August, 1945, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), in that great mind of his, foresaw these events, and said:In the meanwhile, it is in my view of the utmost importance that responsibility should be effectively assumed by German local bodies for carrying on under Allied supervision all the processes of production and of administration necessary to maintain the life of a vast population. It is not possible for the Allies to bear responsibility by themselves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th August, 1945, Vol. 413, c. 81.]Today in Germany there is complete despondency, and our reputation for fairness, honesty and mercy is being challenged. There is criticism all the time of the way we are running the country, and there is criticism of these fanatical witchhunts of Nazis, a great number of whom are, quite rightly, in prison. It is time in my view for those who are in prison to be brought to trial. While I was in Germany, I heard that certain Nazis were going over to the Russian zone from time to time because it was simpler there. They could sign on the dotted line to the effect that they were Communists—perhaps their minds did not see much difference. Nevertheless, it is a very dangerous state of affairs. What is its effect upon industry in the British zone? We are losing the best brains, though that to my mind is one of the least of its bad effects. The worst effect is the bitterness which is being built up in the hearts of a military race, for I am not one of those people who fear naught from Germany.
When I was in Germany last, I had occasion to go into the question of what we were actually doing in the running of some of the industries there. As far as I could see, there were cases in which we were getting a technician, of quite smallish standing, to run a vast industry because we could not find anybody else. I have nothing against the particular individuals, 1811 who, no doubt, are doing their best, but I doubt very much whether they are capable of carrying out such tasks.
I sum up by saying that there is devastation, that there is no housing, no food and the people are miserable and bitter. Each occupying force is wearing different spectacles, and each is looking at the problems from a different point of view. I consider it is high time that this Government took off their spectacles and looked at the problem of Germany in broad daylight. There is no uniformity of treatment, and it is no good wishfully thinking that there is. Furthermore, Western Germany cannot at any time produce sufficient food with which to feed itself. Vast numbers of people have already come into our zone, swelling its population. The Minister knows full well that these refugees and "expelees" primarily consist of old men, old women and children. These people will have to be supported, and meantime the area is dangerously overcrowded. If we continue with our present policy, it will wreck Western civilisation. We are forging a race of cave dwellers, who are bitter and revengeful. The worst feature is that this race will forget the reason why they have to go through this tragedy. They will remember only that they went through it under our rule, and they will be unmindful of the fact that they brought this tragedy upon themselves.
At this point the Minister would be quite right in asking me what I would propose to do in the circumstances. It might be that federation of Western Europe would be the answer, but I am not going to develop that point at the moment. I want to bring the House back to the question of why we are in Germany. What is our object? Our object is to see that Germany cannot rise again and wage war. I believe that there is another approach to this problem. I believe that we should control the radio, the Press and the film industry, supervise education and lay down two military requirements.
The first military requirement is that we should not allow Germany to have deep-sea and coast-wise shipping, or the capacity to build ships. This would make it possible for us to control the periphery of Germany. I am not denying bottoms to Germany, but suggesting that shipping 1812 should be under the management of British firms. The second military requirement is that we should use the Westphalian Plain to train our Army and the Royal Air Force. This would also give us an occupational force in Germany, and at the same time would release vast areas which are now being used for training purposes in this country. But for those requirements, I would let the Germans administer themselves and carry on with the essential requirements of the people. Let the witch-hunting cease, and let the little control fuehrers be withdrawn. Let the British Army, in its own inimitable way, prove to the Germans the greatness of our race, and that it is possible for a country to have one of the greatest armies in the world and at the same time not wish to use it to provoke war.
In conclusion, I should like to take this opportunity of thanking the Control Commission for the great number of kindnesses and considerations I received from them. I should particularly like to pay tribute to the work performed by the drivers of the delegations to which I was attached, and thank them for their great consideration and understanding.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
I do not propose to try to follow the argument of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall), because I could not follow his speech—I do not know what he was driving at. He does not seem to remember that it was his party who were very anxious to secure the results we now have to witness in Germany. When he speaks about other people forgetting history, he might cast his mind back to two years ago, when this policy was being carried out in the most ruthless way against some of the most intelligent and best advice the Government of the day could possibly have had.
§ Mr. Marshall
I do not quite follow what the hon. Member means. He speaks about two years ago. He is presumably speaking of before the war was ended. If that is so, is he referring to the devastation which occurred then, or to the Quadripartite Agreement?
§ Mr. Bowles
Today is the 5th of February, 1947. Two years ago would be 5th February, 1945, and, if I remember rightly, the war had not ended then 1813 and there were still another four months to go. It was most important then to make clear to the Germans that we would accept conditional surrender. I was not very long in Germany. I was invited to go there, and I seized the opportunity with very great pleasure. I was asked by various people whom I met there, whether I was going to write articles and make speeches on Germany when I returned. I said "No," because I remember years ago—in 1932—a man in Moscow saying to me, "I suppose you will go back and write a book about what you have seen during your ten days here," and when I said "No," he told me that he was very glad, because he had been in Moscow for 10 years, and the longer he remained there, the less he seemed to know about it. I realise the great difficulties in trying to assess what is really going on during a short visit. First impressions are important, but one of the dangers of first impressions is that they soon cease to be impressive. Hon. Members have referred to the colossal destruction. It has been described as indescribable, and that is certainly true, because it has to be seen to be believed. Even after ten days, it is difficult to remember it exists. I am not callous, but it seemed extraordinary that after seven days one did not seem to take so much notice of the destruction. During the last 24 hours of my stay in Berlin, I insisted on driving about the streets for hour after hour to impress upon myself that the destruction was not spasmodic, but was general. I also went into the Ruhr, and Essen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Cologne really need seeing to be believed. My first impression was that, from what I had seen in the country, any question of trying to extract reparations was the greatest idiocy I could imagine. I hope that the Government will pay some attention to that.
I think I understand the position. I am only guessing, but I think that they are possibly stalling until the Moscow Conference in March and, with great respect, to my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who has spent more time in Germany than I have, I do not think that much is being done in the British zone in the matter of taking goods and machinery in payment of reparations. I think there is a stalling policy in anticipation of the Moscow Conference.
An hon. Member opposite talked about people living in homes, in cellars, and 1814 under the ground. I found that there were families living in shelters made of pasteboard 4 ft. high, in houses which had been either shelled or bombed. There were big gashes in the walls of the house, and their shelters were exposed to 36 degrees of frost. Obviously, the pasteboard kept in no kind of heat, nor did it keep out the cold. I imagine that it was used only to obtain a certain amount of privacy, and to prevent children from falling through the great gashes in the walls. With the small amount of food and coal those people get, with the kind of clothing that they have, and the general conditions under which they live, it is beyond my comprehension how they possibly manage to remain alive at all. It passes the comprehension of anybody who has been there in the winter. Those who have been there in July and August did not find the same problem as I did when I went there in January. I suppose that by now the inland waterways have been frozen for about six or seven weeks. In Germany, that is a very serious matter, because a great deal of their inland transport was carried on their waterways. I was told that industry was either now, or was soon likely to be, on a mere care and maintenance basis for the winter months. I could not be sure whether that had started, or whether it was just the anxious statement of the responsible officials I met when I was there.
To come to the Control Commission, may I say how much I deplore, as strongly as possibly can, the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law), an ex-Minister of State, made reckless charges and general accusations of widespread malpractices, about which he had not any information to produce to the Minister when the House was waiting for him to produce it?
§ Mr. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
As my right hon. Friend is not here, may I say that he was not making widespread accusations? He said that there were inevitable instances of malpractice which were not being dealt with completely.
§ Mr. Bowles
If the right hon. Gentleman had evidence of any instance of it why did he not produce it, as a member of the Conservative Party, which is very largely responsible for the present posi- 1815 tion? I say, without fear of being criticised, that I was favourably impressed with what is being done in Germany. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington occupied 55 minutes of the time of the House to make one of the most appalling speeches I have ever heard him make—and that is saying something—and why he should have been a Minister of the Crown for so long passes the comprehension of myself and many of my hon. Friends. Our representatives on the Control Commission have a sense of mission. I am talking about the people who were at the head of divisions, people I have met. I am certain, so far as I can be certain of anything, that the men I met at the top of the various divisions had a sense of mission. I am glad that the Chancellor of the Duchy said what he did say, but I almost begged him to make his speech three times as long, because I think he has a good story to tell. Some of my hon. Friends think that he does not put himself and the Control Commission sufficiently on the mat. Maybe that is due to innate modesty on his part, but I beg of him to issue a White Paper, or do something more, to explain to the country, and particularly to the critics and his friends, what is going on in Germany.
My hon. Friend gave us some interesting figures, to which I would like to add a few more. We have not heard much about transport in Germany, so perhaps the House may be interested in these figures. We took control in June, 1945, and at that time there were 1,000 route kilometres of railway track, in detached lengths, which were fit for operation. By December, 1946, 12,000 route kilometres had been restored to use. By June, 1945. 1,300 railway bridges had been destroyed, some by bombing and some by the Germans themselves in their retreat. We have restored 1,100 of that number either on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. Three of those bridges over the Rhine are approximately half a mile long. That work is an essential prerequisite to the restoration of any kind of civilised organisation. I think these figures are very important, and that 1,100 restored out of 1,300, in 18 months, is a very good performance. In 1932, and in 1936, about 30 million passengers were carried per month in the British zone. In 1946 the number 1816 hang on to the buffers and so on, but, nevertheless, the railways did carry 50 million people instead of 30 million. No doubt many who travelled by rail travelled before by car, or in some other way, had risen to 50 million. It is true that they did not all have seats, and that they As regards the conditions of engines, the number of serviceable locomotives was 3,236 in July, 1946, with about the same number under, or awaiting, repair. The man who supplied me with these figures told me that one of the great difficulties in the way of continuing repairs is the shortage of coal. The Highway Transport Branch took over responsibility for the maintenance of roads from the Rhine Army in April, 1946, and no statistics are available before that date, but since then the following work has been carried out; normal repair to roads, 4,470 kilometres; under construction, 1,567 kilometres. In June, 1945, 1,284 road bridges were down, and by the end of December last 890 had been temporarily repaired. Figures are difficult to digest, but I think they ought to be placed on record. The production of coal is, obviously, the bottleneck. I think it is agreed by everyone that the miners in the Ruhr are getting 4,000 calories, or just under, per day, which is the same as the British miner gets. The German miner gets extra cigarette rations and schnapps, and priority for the repair of his bombed house.
He is, therefore, encouraged by every possible method to produce coal. What has been the result? In July, 1945, the coal production per day was 53,000 tons. In December, 1946, it was 177,000 tons. That is a very considerable increase—more than three times as much per day in 18 months. It is about half the prewar figure. In 1938, 375,000 tons of coal were produced per day, and the amount was approximately the same in 1943. It is essential, if we are to get German economy going, that the coal output should be increased to 375,000 tons a day. It cannot be said that we have been wasting our time, because the position has been considerably improved.
§ Mr. Spearman
If the services of 10,000 men were used to build houses for miners, would that not give them an incentive?
§ Mr. Bowles
I do not know about that, but one cannot just turn a stockbroker or a house builder into a miner.
1817 With regard to agriculture, I noticed that as I went about the British zone in Germany nearly all the land there was under cultivation. The Food and Agricultural Division have certainly encouraged production. I understand that the agricultural production in Germany during the war was not as highly organised as it was in this country. One of the great difficulties has been to pursuade the German farmer that there is a world shortage of food. I had hoped that the Debate on food which is to take place tomorrow might have taken place today, and that this Debate might have taken place tomorrow, when some of the facts about the world shortage of food had been discussed. It may be the German farmers natural dislike of being told to cultivate land in a way which they do not like, but they do not yet appear to have accepted the view that it is much more important to grow food for human consumption direct, than it is to put it through livestock. We have had the same trouble in this country. The German farmer has always believed in feeding a great number of livestock, rather than producing bread grain.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), in his speech in the Debate on the Address, talked about having a Minister of Cabinet rank in Germany. He suggested that there should be a resident executive Minister there, but I do not think that it is necessary to have a resident Minister of Cabinet rank in Germany. Although it might have sounded plausible at the time the suggestion was made, I think that on more serious reflection hon. Members may come to a different point of view. I am more than ever convinced that we must send back the German prisoners of war in this country. It is essential in order to get their own economy going. I have spoken to some of our gallant Air Force officers who were prisoners of war in German camps, and, although they do not pretend to be politically-minded, they said, "Do send the German prisoners of war back to their country as soon as possible." I would ask the Government to take some steps in that direction.
Finally, as I said earlier, and as every hon. Member knows, the Moscow Conference starts at the beginning of March. I want the Foreign Secretary to go to Germany. It is true that he went to Potsdam, 1818 but he was in conference practically the whole time, and as soon as it was over he returned here. He also went to Moscow and stopped at Berlin on his way for about two hours in December, 1945. He is now going to Moscow to discuss the future administration of Germany and Austria. I know that he has been overworked and is tired, but I would assure him and the Cabinet that a visit from him would be most popular with the people to whom I spoke in Germany, from the Commander-in-Chief downwards. I do not want him to start four days earlier on his way to Moscow and stay in Germany for only four days. If any words of mine carry any weight at all, I would assure him that it is essential that he should go for four or five days, and then return to this country, with a picture of Germany fresh in his mind, and not go on direct to Moscow from which he would return with his mind filled with the proceedings at the Conference. I would urge the Minister of Health and the learned Attorney-General, who are here today, to do all that they can to persuade the Foreign Secretary to do this. I think that is most essential. He has always based his foreign policy upon economics, and the Ruhr and Germany are the economic centre of Europe and possibly of the world. As he pays so much attention to the economic aspects, there is a perfect example in Germany of four countries trying to work together. I think that he should go and see it. I hope that every hon. Member who follows me in this Debate will reiterate the request which I am now making to him to go to Germany, and to see the Commander-in-Chief and others there, so that he may get some idea of the conditions, and talk to the people. I hope that he may see his way to do this, and that my request will be given some attention.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)
I certainly reiterate the demand made by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) that the Foreign Secretary should go to Germany and see conditions there. That was one of the major points I proposed to make in this Debate. It is not my intention tonight in any way to attack the administration of the Allied Control Council in Germany or to attack the Government, but I feel that the problem of Germany is not properly appreciated in the Cabinet. I think the Chancellor 1819 of the Duchy of Lancaster is regarded as a poor relation, and I do not think that is good for Germany, for the Chancellor of the Duchy, or for this country. Cabinet Ministers are so overworked at the present time that, unless a few of them can go to Germany to see the conditions that exist there, I think there is little hope of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster being taken seriously in the demands which he must inevitably make upon the Cabinet in order to carry out his job.
The Chancellor of the Duchy gave us today a very good defence of the administration in Germany. He produced a number of figures which to me, as a Liberal, were extremely heartening. He produced figures of health and of increased production. Let us not belittle what has been done. We shall be doing a grave disservice to the Germans and to ourselves if we belittle our achievements in Germany But I ask the Chancellor of the Duchy whether it would not be possible to enable the people of this country and of Germany to have at regular intervals, possibly every month, that sort of information. As it is, the Chancellor of the Duchy is on the defensive; we ask him questions. It would be very much better if, once a month, he were to say, "This is what we have done; here are the achievements; judge for yourselves whether they are good or bad." I believe that would have a tremendous effect. We should not belittle our achievements, but we cannot afford to have any sense of complacency about conditions in Germany.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a monthly report which gives statistics of what is going on?
§ Mr. Byers
There is a monthly report, but I think the hon. Member will agree that it does not get the publicity that is required; nor is that report as interesting and up to date as it should be. For instance, in regard to health and mortality, figures have been quoted in the Press for January, 1946, and yet the information for September was so much better. Has that fact ever been published before? That is the sort of approach I want to see to the problem, a hot, immediate approach, which would be far better than the ordinary routine digest of statistics. As I have said, we cannot afford to be com- 1820 placent about conditions in Germany. There are appalling misery and human suffering. I think the people who have been to Germany and have exposed those conditions have done a very great service. I think the articles which Lord Beveridge has written, the book published by Gollancz, and other publications, have all played a part in giving the British people a realisation of the degradation of human personality taking place in Germany, no matter who is to blame. I believe that we have to bring to the British public a proper realisation of those conditions, and I would like to see a lead given by a responsible Member of the Cabinet. That can only be done if Members of the Cabinet will go to Germany.
I am worried about the misery and human suffering not merely on moral grounds, but because, from that misery and human suffering, there will be generated hatred, not only of the British, but of the whole democratic system. That is the real danger for the future. The Potsdam Agreement has been mentioned. The Chancellor of the Duchy said that those people who want to scrap the Potsdam Agreement also want to see the economic unity of Germany. I think that, generally speaking, that is a fair complaint, but I think the term that is coming into current use is the "revision" of the Potsdam Agreement, because there were good and bad parts in that Agreement. The trouble, as I see it, is that the good parts have stood in abeyance, while the bad parts have been put into execution. Therefore, it is to revision of the Potsdam Agreement that we must turn our minds.
The Select Committee which went to Germany instanced four of the main purposes of the Potsdam Agreement, and I think it is interesting to judge the present situation by reference to those purposes. The first purpose was to eliminate Germany as a potential military menace. Obviously, that was a right objective. We want to see the war potential, the military menace, of Germany removed as a threat from our civilisation. But what has been the result of the methods we have adopted? One does not prevent nations from becoming militarily powerful by destroying their war potential. That is not the way to do it. While one occupies the Country and carries out inspections of what is happening, one can prevent a was 1821 potential from being created and used, because one has control; but the day one leaves the country—it may be in 20 or 30 years, or any time you like—that nation, independent, can manufacture its war potential, and the only thing that will stop it is the lesson that it has learned from the occupying Power in the meantime. The day we have to look to is the day on which control and inspection are removed, no matter how far ahead it may be. It is vitally important that we should get this approach to the problem. What lesson are the Germans learning from our methods in Germany now? It is not only our responsibility, it is a quadripartite responsibility; but what is that lesson? It is that there is not anything wrong in war so long as you are not defeated. That is a very dangerous lesson. What I want the Germans to feel, on the day we leave Germany, is that the democratic and peaceful way of life is the right one, so that they will not want to create a war potential and will want to take their proper place in international cooperation.
The second purpose of the Potsdam Agreement was to convince the Germans that they had been defeated and that they were responsible for their own sufferings. I have not been to Germany recently. I was in Germany for four or five months before the end of the war, and just after the war, at the time of the surrender, with the 21st Army Group. We saw all this coming. I think that now we can surely say that the Germans realise they have been defeated. The trouble is that they are now beginning to realise that we are responsible for their suffering, and not they themselves. That is a psychological turning point which is extremely important.
Thirdly and fourthly, the aims were to destroy Nazism and to prepare for the eventual reconstruction of Germany on a democratic basis and the eventual cooperation by the German people in international life. In fact, I believe that the situation is now arising in which we are bringing democracy into disrepute, and if we are not careful, we shall see a revival of totalitarianism, probably of the Nazi kind. It is for that reason that I put to the Chancellor the following questions: What is our object in Germany? Can we get our object straight? Can we have an assurance that the object for which we 1822 are working is to assist Germany so to construct her industrial and political life on a democratic and peaceful basis that she will be encouraged to take her full part as an independent nation in the world? Is that broadly speaking our object, because if that is our object a lot of other things follow from it? I take it that our object is not revenge on the German nation, but rather to build up a peaceful, democratic, social and industrial system. That ought to be said more often, but I do not think that the German people realise that. Here I speak without recent knowledge of Germany, but from the reports that I get it is clear that they do not realise that that is what we are trying to do.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
Will the hon. Gentleman agree that frequently the assertion has been made by the head of the present Government, as well as by the head of the previous Government in this country, that we are not anxious to keep Germany down for ever, but are anxious that she should take her proper place in the new world?
§ Mr. Byers
I think the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) will agree that there is a grave divergence between the Atlantic Charter, on which that statement is based, and the Potsdam Agreement which is being carried out at present, and that is the crux of the whole problem. We may be paying lip service to that idea, but we do not put it into operation. That brings me to the point of reparations from industry. I asked the Chancellor of the Duchy a question on this some time ago, and his answer was so long that it could not be given in the House and was published in HANSARD. I sent some hon. Members opposite a copy of it. I want now to ask the Chancellor what is happening about the destruction and dismantling of factories in Germany. Can we have an assurance that certainly between now and the approaching Moscow Conference, there will be a complete suspension on the nine factories in regard to which orders have been given for dismantling; and, secondly, that no action will be taken on the 51 factories which have been scheduled for dismantling but have not yet been allocated? That sort of thing to my mind would prove to the German people that we really mean what we say. We cannot say we are going to assist a nation to reconstruct itself and 1823 take its proper place in the comity of nations, and at the same time pinch from it its machine tools, factories and so forth.
As far as war potential is concerned, could we not provide a system of conversion to peace potential, instead of dismantling and destroying? After all, a number of these factories, which are scheduled for dismantling, were in peacetime used for peace purposes. They were then converted to war potential, and a very dangerous war potential it was, but I go back to the point I made originally, that we are not going to prevent a nation going in for war potential, merely by destroying its factories. We can only prevent a nation from going in for war potential if, when we have finished the occupation and control of the country, we can prove to the people that it is Wrong and undesirable to create war potential. Could we not convert some of these existing works and get some of the nations of the world who are demanding reparations—and it is not only Russia which is demanding reparations—to see that it is wrong to go in for this reparation policy at the present time, because it is bound to delay the reconstruction of Germany? I believe that that would be a far sounder and safer policy.
§ Mr. Medland (Plymouth, Drake)
This is the most important and interesting point in this Debate. I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Northern Dorset (Mr. Byers) will accept that statement that all these factories were in Nazi ownership. They were owned and controlled by prominent members of the Nazi organisation—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. Member seems to be making a, speech. He can only ask a question.
§ Mr. Medland
No, Sir, I only want to put a question. Would the hon. Member for Northern Dorset transfer the ownership of these factories to those same people who had them before the war, or would he agree that they should be nationalised?
§ Mr. Byers
—but whether we nationalise that industry depends entirely on what the factory produces. We on these benches do not bring any doctrinaire prejudices to bear on these questions. If it is a coalmine, I think it is probably the right thing to do to bring it under national ownership, but if it is a machine tool industry, running well under private enterprise, I see no reason for bringing it under nationalisation. I do 'not want to change this into an argument about nationalisation in Germany, but I would say to my hon. Friends on the other side of the House, "You have and always will have nationalism in Germany. You are now trying to impose Socialism. That is going to create National Socialism."
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
Where does the hon. Gentleman get the grounds for the statement that we are trying to impose Socialism on Germany?
§ Mr. Platts Mills (Finsbury)
Is not the real plan in the British and American zones to take these great industries out of the hands of those who built up Hitler and the Nazi Party?
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but really he has missed my point.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not want to spoil the cut and thrust of Debate, but 1825 there is a danger of the Debate getting ragged. The hon. Member for Northern Dorset (Mr. Byers) should be allowed to carry on with his speech.
§ Mr. Byers
I am perfectly prepared to take my share of the cut and thrust of Debate, but I have taken much longer than I intended to do. I have two more points which I wish to make. First, I should like to see a complete revision of the reparations plan. Pending the Moscow Conference, which is to take place in the near future, could we have an assurance that we shall not go in for the system of dismantling and destruction? I am not now going to deal with the question of food although I intended to do so, but the cut and thrust of Debate has cut that out.
I want to say a word, however, about the problem of the displaced persons in Germany, because that is a very big problem and I cannot do justice to it in the three minutes which I propose to devote to it. There are 269,000 displaced people in the British zone. They are not all potential foreign labour. Some of them constitute a social security problem—the older people, the widows and the orphans. Some of them must be an educational problem—the young children and so forth. I should like to see from this Government a little more drive, a little more initiative in getting those people settled. I should like to ask this specific question: What is going to happen when U.N.R.R.A. completes its tour of duty—and very fine duty in many respects it is if I may say so—in the middle of this year? What is to take its place? Is it true that an international organisation for refugees is in contemplation? Is it true that many nations have signed an agreement that that organisation shall come into being; and is it true that we have not yet signed it? Because, if not, we are leaving it a little late. Could we be assured either that the signature has been appended or that it is to be in the near future?
I have spoken long enough, but I do want to say to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that I feel that he should assert himself more over this problem. I consider it an insult to his status that he has no Parliamentary Secretary. I can conceive of no military or business operation in which a man's headquarters is separated by many miles from 1826 his base of operations, and in which he is not even given a second in command to assist him with his duties. If the Chancellor went to the Cabinet, and demanded a Parliamentary Secretary who could be-in Germany when he himself was here, to keep him in touch with the situation, and who could be here when the hon. Gentleman was in Germany, I believe that he would have the support of the whole House. It is vital that that should be done, and I hope he will assert himself and try to give to the Cabinet the impression which we are seeking to convey that we want a proper appreciation of the tremendous problem that is in Germany, and that he will have the fullest support in carrying out a very difficult task.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I should like to preface my remarks by adding my support to what has been said by the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party (Mr. Byers) and the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) about the visit of the Foreign Secretary to Germany. I think it is vitally important that the right hon. Gentleman should go with the right personal experience as background of the situation as it is today. My own anxiety is that he will not be shown the right things, and I should like to go with him myself, or send with him someone else who would ensure that he did not necessarily live among the high-ups all the time. In particular, I should like to show him some of the displaced persons' camps and so-called concentration camps. We might then get along more quickly with these vital human problems. I do not propose to discuss displaced persons but, as the hon. Gentleman mentioned them and I hope to speak about them on another occasion, may I say that I know something about those displaced persons and that in my opinion the vast majority of them—and by that I mean 80 or 90 per cent.—would be an asset to any nation? They are first-class people, and I agree that something ought to be done to obtain a large number of them. We want labour in this country, and if full employment or the opportunity of full employment is to be with us, as I hope, for ever, there will always be more jobs than people to do them, and we have here an opportunity to acquire good stock.
With regard to U.N.R.R.A., I hope the Minister may give us an assurance that the rumours which are rife that another, 1827 independent authority is to take over, and precede the authority of the Control Commission in Germany, are untrue. My understanding of the position is that when U.N.R.R.A. goes, displaced persons' camps will come under the Control Commission who, in turn, will act as agents for the international body in regard to which, I understand, we have given our signature—although I may be wrong about that. While prefacing my remarks, I should like particularly to endorse what was said by the hon. Gentleman opposite about the Minister's standing. I have always said that the Minister in charge of Germany ought to be a Minister with full Cabinet rank, standing foursquare with all the other Cabinet Ministers, and I am sure that is right. I took the view some time ago that the right place for him was in the zone. I now withdraw that view because the bi-zonal arrangement with America has made the situation different, and I do not know who would be his opposite number there. Nevertheless, I stick to the view that he should spend 50 per cent. of his time in the zone—and by that I do not mean in Berlin—and, of course, if he is to do that he must have a Parliamentary Secretary.
I should like to congratulate the hon. Gentleman—although I do not often congratulate Ministers—on the speech he made today. I agree with the hon. Member for Nuneaton that we could have listened to some more. There was more in his speech today than we have had from him at any time, and I hope it will be duly noted by hon. Members of this House, the Germans themselves, and people in the Control Commission. I also congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the improvement which has taken place in the relations between the officers of the Control Commission and the German people taking over development. I know that there has been criticism of the Control Commission, and I know that their job is a mighty difficult one. It is true that there have been some bad patches but I understand that Scotland Yard have been on the job and that everyone out there knows that there has been a report. If this is true—and I have it on the best authority—I hope there will be no mealy-mouthed whitewashing of the investigation. As my hon. Friend knows, the vast majority of the people on the Control Commission are doing a 1828 great job. The cheap Press always get hold of the dirt. The fact of the matter is that the public like dirt—it is a regrettable fact, but they do—and the Control Commission and the people there suffer in consequence. Nevertheless, I can assure the hon. Gentleman from what was said to me by people who knew about this report, that the people who are doing an honest-to-God job are just waiting to hear the report of the investigation, and are looking forward to seeing those who are supposed to be involved, publicly exposed and disgraced. I repeat that I hope that there will be no hesitation on the Minister's part on that score.
The fact that I have said what I have said about the work the Control Commission is doing, does not mean necessarily that I think the administration is all it should be. Being an administrator myself, I cannot help being critical, and one of my first criticisms is that there seem to be too many of what are called out there "parallel lines" running—too many lines of communication from Berlin straight down through the zone, to all kinds of people, without any means of linking them up. It seems to me that this needs attention, and as an example that all matters such as religious affairs, education services, welfare and the like might well be unified under one head. I think that that would make for greater efficiency, and as we say that one of our aims is to re-educate—although I do not like the word—surely a grouping of that kind would be a great improvement in administration?
I am very glad to learn that the powers of the Regional Commissioners have been increased. I think I am voicing the views of responsible Germans to whom I have spoken, and of all responsible people in the Control Commission, when I say that I think that those powers should be increased even further. I want to see the powers of the military disappear altogether except as an occupying force. In my view the job of an occupying force is to be available but invisible, and they are still far too visible. Although I do not wish to be offensive I must say that they are a nuisance wherever they are. They will occupy the places they ought not to be in. For example, they should not be in Hamburg, but you cannot get into a hotel in that city because they have all been taken over by the military. I called at an hotel there the other day, just for 1829 fun, to see who was there. The establishment had 240 beds and there were 140 German servants, but so far as I know there had never been more than 80 beds occupied for the past six weeks because the place was occupied by the military. I think the Regional Commissioners should have power to kick them out, which would be a very good thing indeed.
With regard to the Commission itself, I know it has been announced in the Press that there is to be a reduction of personnel, but I am still puzzled by this. I cannot make out for the life of me what some of these people are doing; I am not referring here to the "tops" or leaders of sections, but to the ordinary rank and file. The Americans run their zone—although I grant that it is vastly less, complicated than our own—with 6,000 people. I agree that we do the job much more efficiently and that the Americans are making a botched job of it in all sorts of ways, but we have more than 20,000 people. I cannot believe that that is necessary, and even when the reductions have been made, we shall still have too many. I have spoken to all manner of people in the Control Commission and, making allowance for the necessity now of having more people for reasons which are internationally too "touchy" to mention, I still stick to my original contention that if we are to control Germany and not administer it—and the sooner we stop administering it the better—it should be possible to do so with a staff of not more than 5,000.
With regard to what is actually going on, it would seem to me, having read the speech which was made by Mr. Byrnes at Stuttgart and having listened to the Foreign Secretary's statement in the House last year, that those speeches are very much divorced from the actual facts on the ground. I can only believe that it is because of the Potsdam Villain, and the Morganthau plan. I hope that something will be done to correct this, because that is one of the most important steps which could be taken. With regard to the bizonal arrangement, it is too early to say how it will work out, so I will content myself with a few general remarks. The Minister has explained that the food situation is vastly more secure. It would seem that there is no doubt now that the rations will rise before the end of the summer 1830 to 1,800 calories, and will be kept there, or even go higher, and that is a good thing.
The thing that is puzzling me is this: I had a bit of a row in this House last year about what was known as the Hamburg Poona. I was told it was absolutely vital to concentrate, and that all those people from the zone had to be piled into Hamburg. I must say that now the Hamburg Poona has been killed stone dead, but the most astonishing thing is that the very people who said that that concentration was necessary under the bi-zonal arrangement, are now spreading the staff as far apart as they possibly can—food and agriculture to Stuttgart, something else to Frankfurt, economics to Minden, and something else to Hamburg. Surely, that is not the right thing to do. I believe there is a political reason involved in this matter. I believe there is a fear that it might be said that we are building a second capital city in Western Germany. But surely that is nonsense.
I am a personal friend of most of the high and mighty on the other side of the Channel. I regret having to say that I believe very strongly that there is not a sufficiently strong moral leadership among those who are on the job. I do not quite know how to describe it except to say that the spirit just is not there. There is no vitalising force. I put it down to the military mind. Soldiers are hopeless 'as soon as they try to become political crusaders. The military mind does not lend itself to high moral emotions, especially of a political kind. Soldiers may be tremendously brave, and so on, but the military mind is certainly lacking in that direction. I hope something can be done to instil a more positive crusading spirit throughout the zone.
§ Mr. Stokes
That is an extremely sore subject.
I want the House to turn for a moment to the background. I find it very difficult to talk about the economic situation and the general physical situation in Germany today and in Western Europe, without harking back to Yalta and Potsdam, those two thoroughly bad eggs which were laid by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). I agree that we ought to have gone to Potsdam and 1831 smashed them. It is very regrettable that we did not. Possibly some of our leaders did not realise with the same certainty as I did that we were going to win the Election. Those two bad eggs are responsible for the bad situation that we have today. I look forward to the time when I shall have the opportunity of saying this across the Floor of the House to the right hon. Member for Woodford when he is in his place. The Morganthau plan is now seen to be so insane that even the Americans do not believe in it any more.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
Does the hon. Gentleman really mean that the Leader of the Opposition was solely responsible for what happened at Potsdam? Was it not the present Government that went out to Potsdam and dotted the i's and crossed the t's of the Agreement which was only in draft? There is no reason to suppose that the present Leader of the Opposition would not have succeeded in modifying the Agreement very substantially.
§ Mr. Stokes
I am sorry. I know that the hon. Gentleman is a great protagonist in these matters. But I am not moved at all by what he has said. I do not believe that the Potsdam position could have arisen without the evil background of Teheran and Yalta. Look at what was laid down at Potsdam, on this question of the 'standard of living. It was drawn up that there was to be maintained in Germany an average living standard not exceeding the standard of living of other European countries. Suddenly, everyone has come to realise what some of us knew before, that Germany is the hub of the economy of Europe, and that we were insanely asking the people in the hub to accept a lower standard of living than the people on the periphery. It just would not work.
There is a second, and even worse, vilely insane policy which sprang up at Potsdam and which showed itself in those appalling expulsions. It has upset the whole economy of Western Germany. Even if Germany had been treated as an economic whole, that kind of thing would have upset it. As it is, we now have something of the order of eight million extra souls who have been turned out of their homesteads. If we add the Russian zone figures, I think the total will come to about 12 millions. We 1832 therefore have about 12 million irredentists, who, sooner or later, are going to turn round the other way and probably will get back to where they started. It presents us with an economic problem which it is almost impossible for us to solve. Take the case of Schleswig-Holstein. It had a population of 1,400,000, and it now has added about 1,600,000 expelees. When the Foreign Secretary goes to Moscow, I hope he will stick to what was abviously the intention of the signatories at Potsdam, that the western frontier of Poland had not been settled. I hope that they will put back that western frontier to something approximating to the original western Polish border. It is just as well to realise that, in the Potsdam Declaration, nothing whatever was said about clearing population out of that area to the western zone. Those areas were only to come into the administration of the Polish Government. There was no statement at Potsdam about adding to the difficulties of the western zone by heaving all the people out. The whole of the Potsdam arrangements involving the acquisition of land by Russia and Poland was contrary to the principles of the Atlantic Charter.
The report of this Debate will be read, I can assure hon. Members, now that the post is open to Germany, by every intelligent German. It will be widely put about the country. Most people I have spoken to during the last two or three days there have told me that they were only waiting to hear what was said on both sides of the House. They are most interested about the French disintegration plan, and for that reason I mention it.
I do not want to touch upon too delicate a subject but I sincerely hope that the French Foreign Minister will reflect and study the past. My fear is this. We have seen nationalism in Germany grow up and try to express itself in two forcible ways in the past two or three generations—first under Bismarck and then under Hitler. If we break up Germany again, the same thing will happen once more. The States will all be at loggerheads with one another, there will be all kinds of intrigue with outside Powers, and the whole situation will become so charged in favour of Nationalism that, to use a rather bad electrical simile, all the positive poles will go off against the first suitable negative pole that appears, and there will be another wholesale row in Europe. 1833 I hope that the proposal to break up and dismember Germany will be entirely set aside and condemned for all time.
I turn to the situation as it is visible in Germany today. I would like to preface these remarks by saying this. Everybody except the pundits of Norfolk House realised that this winter would be a worse one than the last. I say, "the pundits of Norfolk House" because the Minister certainly gave us an optimistic view, when some of us thought the situation would certainly be worse. This winter has in fact proved to be worse than the last—there has been less food; no fuel; much worse weather; industries practically at a standstill; textiles, except for cotton, ran out completely last month; January was the worst month for steel production, it being at the rate of one million tons a year; the overcrowding in the cities and outside everybody knows about; the general apathy of the people is at a much lower level than when I was there three months ago; and among the population as a whole there is absolutely no hope. That is how the Germans feel.
I am not saying that the Control Commission or the Germans with whom they are in direct touch feel like that, but that is the background of the situation today with the ordinary man in the street. It is all very well for the Minister to tell the House that the policy of promising 1,550 calories last October was a correct one. It may have been right, but the fact remains that in the Hamburg district certainly for the last four months that basic ration has not been met. The trade union leaders, the burgomaster and others showed me the figures, endorsed by the Food and Agriculture section, and they never got above 1,350 calories. I agree that the situation is better today. As against that, the food produced in the zone has very much improved, and while people here express criticism that we are not getting along as well as we might, the House should realise what a good job the Agriculture Section has done. The Hanover region has produced 20 to 25 per cent. greater than the Nazis got out of it and are self-supporting in bread grains to 80 per cent. of their total requirements. That is all to the good. I gather that we can now throughout the zone produce about 25 per cent. of the bread grains we require to feed all the people at the anticipated level of 1,800 calories. The bizonal arrangement will be all for the 1834 good, but let us make sure that it will work fairly. It is being said that the ration in the American zone contains four times the meat content that ours contains, and that we have made ours up by bunging in more potatoes. It is not by calories alone that one lives. Diet wants a bit of variety in the menu.
I turn now to another point—manpower and population—mentioned by the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party—[Laughter.]The Liberal Party was once a great party and still has great people in it. There is a desperate shortage of manpower. I do not know how far people realise the problem. It is not only an economic but a moral problem as well. I add my views to the urgency of sending the prisoners of war back at once. I do not believe we are legally entitled to keep them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] You cannot be at war with a country which has not got a Government. You may have hostilities against them, but that is another matter. If that is so, either we are in a state of peace with Germany or a state of war with ourselves—the C.C.G.—which is ridiculous. I have been trying to get at the Attorney-General on this one, but he never seems to be able to come to the House when there is a Question on the Order Paper. Perhaps he may meanwhile think it out.
We have 300,000 prisoners of war here. The French have 700,000, most of whom do not belong to them as the Americanslent them about 450,000. We are keeping about 0.0,000 in the Middle East under perfectly intolerable conditions. I do not mean that the conditions are worse than they need be—it cannot be helped in a semi-tropical climate. It is variously reputed that there are between three and four million in Russia. That is about six million. The Germans lost six million in the war, which makes a total of 12 million, and therefore the whole country is hopelessly undermanned. Out of these figures there are 54,000 miners in France, who are being treated fairly well now—I gather they started by treating them as slaves—and 30,000 miners in the Belgian mines. We would like these miners back in the Ruhr as they would bring out more coal and would help the economic situation.
But there is another side of the question—the moral side. In Berlin today in the age groups from 20 to 35 there is a proportion of six women to one man. That 1835 brings up dreadful social problems, into which I need not go here. I do not know the average over the zone but when I suggested 75 per cent. women that was not contradicted, and it was in fact said that it was as much as four to one. We have therefore piles of women and children, many of them turned out of their homes and many of them not knowing whether their fathers or husbands are alive. Women do not know whether they are free to marry again or not. I hope that we shall double up the quantity of prisoners going back, and that the Foreign Secretary will make strong representations to our friends the Russians when he goes to Moscow, to let the maximum number of their prisoners go back at the earliest possible date.
I now come to several suggestions I should like to make. There has been some talk about the abolition of de-Nazification. I do not suggest that that should happen, but a time limit should certainly be set. As far as I can see, de-Nazification can go on for ever; it breeds uncertainty and discomfiture, and leads to people denouncing each other, which is unpleasant at any time. I should like to hear some definite date being set after which there will be no de-Nazification. It is perfectly simple. It is known in Germany who the real bad boys are. It is known through the Nuremberg trials—I am not saying I agree with the findings—as to who are supposed to be the criminals. Many intellectual people were forced into those organisations, or had to give up their jobs if they did not, and the country is now being flooded with a large number of people who are trying to do manual work for which they are thoroughly unsuited, and it is breeding a heap of trouble for the Germans and ourselves in the future by bringing people to that condition of intellectual isolation.
As to reparations, I join with the appeal that the dismantling of factories should stop. I cannot understand why, when the Americans said in October that they had given up, we did not do likewise. I wish to put this question to the Minister. Are we or are we not entitled under the quadripartite Agreement to accept for this purpose any action taken by any other subscriber to the quadripartite Agreement? In other words, as the Americans have said that they are stopping dismantling, are we not, under 1836 the quadripartite Agreement, entitled to say likewise? If so, why not do it? And above all, why not tell the Germans so?
My next point is, why on earth do we not tell the Germans what we mean? There was one eloquent pamphlet written during the war called "Why don't we tell the Germans What we Mean?" I was the author. I set out to explain in that pamphlet that if only we told the Germans what we meant, it was possible that we might have a shorter rather than a longer war. The fact of the matter is that quite a lot of people in this country and in the Government did not know what we were fighting about either. When the war stopped, they had not the slightest idea of what to do with Germany, so that added to the problem. Now we have peace, and we still do not tell the Germans what we mean. For example, they do not understand our policy with regard to prisoners of war. [An HON. MEMBER: "Neither do we."] I think I do. The Opposition may not, but I think it is known to us. But the Germans may not be or are not told.
We have always been in this same jam about reparations. If it is a fact that we are entitled to follow the example of the Americans and stop dismantling, why not tell the Germans so? It would bring an entirely different point of view to them, and would relieve the anxiety which now leaves them in a state of absolute hopelessness; added to which, until some definite time limit is set for the taking away of capital goods for reparations, planning in our zone and the bi-zonal areas is absolutely impossible. I would like to remind the Minister that the final date was quite definitely in the Potsdam agreement. He shook his head last time I put a question about it, but I have looked it up, and the actual words are:The amount of equipment to be removed under reparations from the Western zones must be determined within six months at latest"—That is, six months within the signing of the Potsdam Agreement on 17th July, 1945, which means it ought all to have been settled by 17th February, 1946. Now it is 1947, and nobody knows when they will stop. Surely that is quite unreasonable; surely we should insist that reparations cease and that dismantling ceases, and get on to a full ten-year programme of reconstruction, and assure the Germans that they will have not only consumer goods but that they shall have an 1837 opportunity of obtaining full employment and of exchanging their surplus manufactured goods for the inevitably large quantities of food which they will have to import to keep themselves alive.
While on this point of not telling the Germans what we mean, I appeal to the Minister to appoint a man who really understands the art of propaganda. By that I do not mean the art of lying; I mean the art of putting over to the public what is the policy. I do not think we have anybody good enough in Germany today. There is the double difficulty that it has to be put over in another language. Let me give one example. When the ration cuts took place in this country last year, and it was clearly stated that it was partly done in order to make more food available for the starving people in Europe, that announcement, instead of being headlined right across the front pages of the German and British papers in the zone, occupied two lines in the left-hand bottom corner of the middle page, and no one read it at all. No one is selling policy. You want a really good propaganda salesman on the job. I hope something will be done about that.
While on the subject of the Press, may I urge that the Press be given greater freedom? I talked to lots of Press people, correspondents and editors during my stay, and a good deal of irritation has been caused by the fact that they are not allowed to criticise in the way they think they should, and I agree with them. Surely we understand in this country that the safety valve, the assurance of our freedom, is the fact that we have a free Press? It may be a bad Press, but it is a free Press and complaints can come out. Why should this be suppressed? A high official in Germany the other day made a speech which was a little outside his zone of occupation, and made the astonishing announcement that fats are not really necessary in diet. Because a newspaper editor wrote a leading article saying that was rot, he was severely reprimanded. Why should he not publish that? I recollect also that my hon. Friend got into trouble. Somebody said, or tried to say in his paper, that some of the answers which the Chancellor gave to a Press conference were evasive. I have seen the letter the man received from the C.C.G. severely reprimanding him for saying so. I should have thought it was 1838 better to train them up to the fact that most Ministers' answers are evasive. They have got to get used to that some time, or other, and the sooner the better.
I regret very much that there has not been any change in taxation. The people who are bearing the heat and burden of the day, are the people whose wages and salaries are on payrolls, and everybody else evades taxes in some way or another. I once said I would put a hammer through Norfolk House, but I would put a bomb under the Treasury. There are out-dated doctrinaire civil servants out there on behalf of the Treasury who ought to be brought home, for we could deal with them here but we cannot deal with them when they get out there on a very vital job.
I conclude by saying this: As I understand it, the object of our occupation is to stop Germany from preparing for war again by getting rid of her war potential and re-educate her for peace. Where war potential is real armaments, the sooner it is thrown into the North Sea the better, for it is no safer in the hands of our Allies than it is in our own. On the re-education problem, let, us understand what we mean. Surely, what we mean is that we want to make the Germans understand that there is a way of life, in which they really can live in a good neighbourly manner, and not as predatory gangsters. Surely we want to show them that set-up. We have a grand opportunity now with textiles coming in, more food coming in, with coal having reached a high level of 224,000 tons a day last week, which is a tremendous improvement since last September and is up by 40,000 tons a day. Why not let them realise that we in the Labour Party meant it when we said that a peace to be lasting must be agreed by all and not dictated by a few, and would only last as long as it brought benefit to all mankind? Why do we not show them by our example and inspiration that that is possible? Then, the minor part of petty education would fade into the background, real economic and moral issues would come to the front, and we might reach a final stage in Europe which would bring us peace for all time.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
I shall be more interrogative and less emphatic than the hon. Member for 1839 Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). I have not infrequently wished that I could be as certain on anything as he feels on everything. As usual, I find myself in agreement with a good deal of what he has said, and in disagreement with other parts. I do not propose to follow him into the controversial question of the respective responsibilities of Potsdam. I think that particular question has been debated quite enough if this Debate, as a whole, is to be profitable. I have quite a number of questions I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy. I agree that he has given us today some very interesting information, more than he usually does. But there is a great deal which he has not been able to tell us, and I shall, and many who succeed me will, ask him questions which probably cannot be dealt with in any single speech. I would suggest, therefore, that the time has arrived when we might have a comprehensive and general report as to the position in Germany, more comprehensive and more general than the monthly reports referred to, in the course of which he could give answers to a number of the questions which he will be unable to answer today.
Some reference has been made to the question of Ministerial responsibility I feel I must add a few words on this subject. I am extremely reluctant to say anything which might seem disparaging to the Chancellor. We all know that in addition to genuine good will and devoted zeal in his job, he has special knowledge of Germany, and various aspects of German life. But many of us are gravely anxious about the general situation in Germany. We are not at all convinced that all that has gone wrong there—although much of it is, of course, beyond anyone's control—has been unavoidable. This is a very exceptional kind of job, exceptional not only in its difficulty and importance, but also in this respect, that any Minister handling German affairs has to form and fuse his policy out of the policies of a number of Departments and secure co-ordinated action with those Departments. It is extraordinarily difficult for any Minister to do that, unless his personal calibre and official status are both adequate. Otherwise I do not see how he can stand up to the Foreign Secretary, or the head of the War Office, the Board of Trade, the 1840 Ministry of Food and other Departments concerned, as he must to handle the affairs of Germany.
I do not agree with the suggestion, made some time ago by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), as to the appointment of a resident Minister in Germany. I agree with the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) in thinking that that is not the right solution. For work of the kind which I have just described, if we have a Minister of the right quality and status, I think his main job is in this country, in the Cabinet with his fellow Cabinet Ministers. But I feel that arrangements should be made to enable a specialist Minister to be in Germany more frequently and for longer periods than the Chancellor has been. The Chancellor, in meeting the suggestion that the Government did not attach sufficient importance to Germany, said that they showed they had done so by separating his office, and making a separate Department. I am not quite sure that is the result of that action. I am not sure a specialist Minister who has not the full status of a Cabinet Minister of the first rank would not be better if his relations with the Foreign Secretary were the same as, say, the Minister of State. I think it is of the utmost importance that the responsibility should be so focused by a single Minister of high rank so that he will be able to secure unity of German policy to Germany and to its enforcement. I make this tentative suggestion at this moment, because we are at last entering a period when a treaty with Germany is occupying the forefront of the negotiations of the Foreign Ministers and the work for which the Chancellor is responsible, therefore, is now very closely, almost inseparably intertwined with the policy the Foreign Secretary must have in mind.
The Chancellor gave us interesting information as to the extent of political devolution. I wish to ask him whether suitable units for a later federal state are being really satisfactorily developed in the Western part of Germany, in particular in our zone? Have we proceeded as far in political devolution as, for example, the Americans in their zone? The Minister indicated that it would be rather soon, but I would like to know how soon will the devolution extend to the Lander levels; and where German authorities have taken over at the lower levels, what is his experience, and information, as to the politi- 1841 cal complexion of the authorities coming into power? Are arrangements being made in our zone, and in association with Americans in their zone, in such a way that the units of a possible federation will fit either into an ultimately united Germany, or—if that should prove to be necessary—into a Germany divided between West and East? I think it is important, however much we may still aim at a united Germany, to take steps to see that Western Germany can if necessary live, and live effectively, by itself. If we develop those arrangements while negotiating for the wider solution, I think there is an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, in making it clear that we are doing so.
Passing from the political to the economic sphere, I wish to ask some definite questions as to the financial effect of the agreement which has just been made with America. We were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it was contemplated that £250 million would be spent over the next three years in the execution of the general plan there described of which we should pay half, and the Americans half. Most of us, bearing in mind that we have been spending at the rate of £80 million a year, thought at first that this would be a reduction to approximately half of our annual expenditure. But reading the agreement more closely I am not quite sure that the £42 million a year which we shall be paying under this new proposal will really cover the whole of the work to which the £80 million related. For example, does the £250 million, or the £125 million as our share, over the next three years, cover the cost of the Control Commission, its salaries and expenses and any expenses that we may defray on behalf of the Germans who are under the Control Commission, or under its orders? If not, there is a considerable addition to be made. In any case, the figure is exclusive of the cost of our Army of Occupation. But, supposing this new figure is all inclusive, and disregarding the Army altogether, the position will remain in three years' time that as regards reparations we shall have something like £250 million minus. That is a rather terrible figure. I have had no illusions that we shall be able to draw reparations from Germany but to be down by £250 million in three years' time—and the amount will possibly be more, if the answer to the question is what I think it will be—will be a pretty sorry business.
1842 I had intended, when I made this point, to draw certain conclusions as to our reparations policy, but the point I should have made has been so fully made by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) and endorsed afterwards by the hon. Member for Ipswich, that I do not propose to add anything further along those lines, beyond saying that I entirely agree that this policy of dismantling factories which could be usefully used for the rebuilding of the German economy, and hastening the day when our burden could be greatly reduced, seems to me extraordinarily regrettable, and I do not think it is, at present, unavoidable.
I would make just one last remark on the subject of our economic control. I got the impression, when I was in Germany, that our control, although I greatly admire both the ability and the spirit of many of the highest officers in it, was not sufficiently confining itself to the general control of policy, and was getting into the specialist zone and proceeding to administer rather than just control. I dare say that that situation has been improved since I was there, but from what I hear I should doubt whether the process of transferring responsibility has gone as far as it should have gone, or as far as it is desirable it should go.
Coming to more detailed matters, there is the question of coal. Some reference has already been made today to the fact that in Germany and in Western Europe, as in this country, the shortage of coal is the basic factor in all the economic difficulties of the countries concerned. It is rather unfortunate that we happen to be directly responsible for the two great coal areas upon which this part of the world has depended. Western Europe has depended partly upon exports from this country, and partly upon exports from the Ruhr, and it is a basic fact throughout the whole economy of Western Europe that they have lost their imports from this country and have also lost through the-fall in the production of the Ruhr.
Roughly speaking, I suppose it is true to say that the fall in our production of coal has been about offset at the expense of our exports. Broadly speaking, we are consuming about as much coal in this country as we were before the war. We are conscious that we have a most serious coal shortage, but in the whole of western Europe, not Germany only, the consump- 1843 tion of coal is not about what it was before the war; it is not more than about 75 per cent. of what it was then. It is indeed much less in Germany itself, where we have this responsibility for production. The production from the mines, I believe—I hope the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—is only between 40 and 50 per cent. of the production of the same mines before the war. I know the difficulties, but in spite of that, it seems to me at this stage to be a disappointing result, since the mines have not themselves been destroyed to any important extent. I know that there has been some improvement in the last few weeks, but taking the last six months I do not think that production of these mines—and they are mines that were not destroyed by the war—has exceeded something like 45 per cent. of what it was before the war.
I wonder whether more cannot be done at this moment to accelerate and increase that production. It is impossible to exaggerate what it would mean to the whole German problem. If one looks at the industries the problem is the shortage of fuel with which to start them. If one looks at domestic misery it is shortage—indeed the complete absence of coal—that is responsible for much of the misery, as of course no coal whatever is allowed to be consumed. When one turns to food even, the shortage of coal is a big factor for it stops food factories, for example, beet sugar. If one takes even such an apparently remote thing as education, one finds that shortage of paper results from the fact that Sweden, which has hitherto depended upon imports of coal from us, is burning timber instead of coal, and, therefore, is not exporting timber.
§ Mr. Stokes
Would the right hon. Gentleman say what tonnage figure is represented by the 45 per cent. he has mentioned?
§ Sir A. Salter
I took my percentage figure from the official report of the European Coal Organisation. In the latter part of last year the percentage was 42. I know it has increased a little but not much, I think.
§ Sir A. Salter
In the last few weeks, but there have been fluctuations before. I do not know whether it is a fluctuation or a permanent improvement. Production has both risen and fallen previously.
As to food, the Minister gave us some interesting information and corrected what is, I know, a general misunderstanding as to the exact meaning of 1,550 calories. It should however be known, as a background to any examination of this question, that 1,550 calories is only about a half of the calory value of the average diet in this country. I am not saying that by way of general criticism at the moment, but as an additional fact that anybody ought to have in mind in considering the Minister's statement.
I wish to add one or two words in support of what has been said by previous speakers about displaced persons. I do not think that the number of people eligible for immigration to a country like this is as high as my hon. Friend thought it, but undoubtedly there are a great number of displaced persons in camps and settlements in the British zone of Germany who would make an admirable and valuable addition to the manpower of this country, and of other countries also, which are short of manpower. If we would carefully select, classify and make all the arrangements for the rapid immigration of those who have the necessary skill and experience to meet deficiencies of manpower in different industries here, we should at one time be effecting a triple result. First, there would be the humanitarian advantage of relieving the individuals concerned, and preventing the demoralisation of good human material. Secondly, we should be saving the expense of keeping them in their present position. Thirdly, we should be relieving, in the best possible way, our own manpower deficiency.
There has already been, I believe, a classification of these persons from the point of view of skill by U.N.R.R.A. I do not know how far our Government have full information. What we need at once is that representatives of the Ministry of Labour should go, with definite and specific authority, to select and offer work to people with the requisite skill to meet deficiencies of manpower in this country. Even if they cannot be immediately transported and absorbed they would, if they were selected and knew they had been selected, at least have 1845 a better chance of keeping their morale under the difficult conditions under which they have been living there for so long. Like the hon. Member, I have seen many of these persons, and I am quite sure we could be doing great good to our own country as well as solving their problem, and also be helping to solve the difficulty of our problem in Germany if we put real drive into this matter.
Speaking more generally, the work of the Control Commission is now very closely associated with the task of the Foreign Minister. The problem of Germany is becoming more and more the very centre of his general problem. Germany is the crux of the European problem. It is more than that: it is the pivot of the international relationship of countries both in and outside Europe. The work of the Control Commission will greatly affect the future success or failure of the policy of the Foreign Minister and also that of the other Foreign Ministers with whom he is dealing. The work of the Commission will largely determine what happens to this great, efficient, industrious, terrible, dangerous and organisable people—the Germans—and what they do in and to the world of the future.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Jennings (Sheffield, Hallam)
I open my remarks by saying that I agree with the views of the Minister, to whose speech I listened with great interest, I also wish to pay my compliment to those engaged in the work of the Control Commission. Anyone who has been to the British zone and seen the work of these officers will know that they are sincere in their views and that they are tackling a very difficult problem, I do not think anyone who has had experience in Germany will disagree with me when I say that the food position is in an awful state. The position with regard to housing is also desperate. Among the people of Germany today there is a general feeling of complete apathy and frustration. If we wish to find fault, I do not think that we can find it with the personnel of the Commission. What is wrong is the policy, or the lack of policy, of the Government.
The maintenance of the Control Commission and the assistance we are giving to Germany places a grave burden on the taxpayers of this country. Nowadays, one needs to hide one's head when putting up a case for the British taxpayer. Never- 1846 the-less, I contend that the drain on the pocket of the British taxpayer will become unbearable and he will break down under the strain. I think it is right that the position of the taxpayer should be considered during a Debate of this nature, so that we can see whether value is being received for the terrific expenditure involved. Colossal figures have been mentioned. We talk in this House about the millions of pounds which are spent on Germany. That money must come from somewhere, and we wish to be sure that it is being spent in the right manner and in the furtherance of a proper policy with regard to our administration.
As a result of talks with many senior officers in Germany I gained the view that there is a lack of cohesion in the administration. People in the country said, "We take this view, but we hope that when you get to Berlin you will express these opinions there in order that a decision may be taken at a higher level." I heard suggestions for an alteration in policy, but no one appeared to be prepared to take a strong line on the matter I contend that if the Potsdam Agreement was wrong in certain things, it is right that those in control on behalf of the Government should reveal the errors, and put forward a remedy instead of sailing along blithely, as we are at the moment, with a policy which is doing endless harm in Germany. In Kiel I was told by our senior official that the position was so difficult that unless a decision was made quickly, he could not be responsible for the people. At that time an urgent decision was expected with regard to the employment of the people. It was suggested that people should be taken from that much battered town, to the country; but no decision was forthcoming. The officials said the decision was to be made at a higher level and they simply had to wait for it. What can we expect when the people there were without houses, had very little food and were walking about in idleness? What can we expect but that they should have a feeling of frustration?
When I went to Berlin I inquired further into the matter and was told, "Well, it is the Potsdam Agreement. Something will have to be done." Everything can be traced back to the Potsdam Agreement, yet nobody seems to have the courage or pluck to raise the subject so that the Agreement can be altered and 1847 some relief given to the Commission in Germany. There is another instance on which I am in complete disagreement with our policy. I visited a German internment camp, and spoke to the commanding officer. I would give him 100 per cent. marks for efficiency. He was a first-class commanding officer and humanitarian. He had the dangerous criminals locked up in one part of the camp and kept apart from the thousands of others who were interned. We asked why these people were interned and what offence they had committed. He replied, "When it is all boiled down, I think many of them have committed no sin except that they have been tacit members of the party. They joined because if they had refused they would have lost their jobs."
§ Major Bramall
Does the hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that the people who are interned, are merely those who were nominal members of the party?
§ Mr. Jennings
I would not seriously suggest that at all. I feel, however, that there were many men amongst those thousands who were capable of doing a day's work, thus helping to improve the productive capacity of the country instead of being locked up there. The men were kept in absolute idleness. The commanding officer said he had talked to these men, who included scientists and doctors, and he thought they could do a useful job of work in Germany. They were kept apart from the criminals whose fate depended upon the decisions at the Nuremberg trials. There were many men herded together in that camp who could be brought out, placed under proper supervision, and enabled to do a useful job of work. As long as we are prepared to hold the baby, the people of Germany will not object. It is high time that we should say to the Germans, "So far as you are able, you must get yourselves out of your economic difficulties. We will help you as far as we can. We will give you food, as far as we can, and we will help your industries, but you must put your best foot forward and help yourselves out of this difficulty. You have got into this, and you cannot sit back and give us the baby to hold, causing such a heavy burden and terrific cost to this country."
1848 I remember after the last war how the financial structure of Germany was broken. I think if we are not more careful, and if the Government fail to adopt a stronger and more determined policy, Germany will allow us to carry on with our efforts for as long as we are prepared to pour our millions into that country. I think this House and the Government have a duty to the British taxpayer to see that that does not take place, and that we get something back in return for the money we are expending.
On the question of de-Nazification, I would like to say something about my talks with some of the senior people out there. I quote one of them, who is the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, and who may be frowned upon as being a big business man, but who told me, quite frankly, that many men were turned out of industry by this de-Nazification policy. Because something had been said and reported to the committee, many able men were taken completely out of industry and all their efforts and energies were lost to that industry. I believe that we have brought ourselves, very largely, into ridicule among the German people today by this policy of de-Nazification. We have already wasted endless time on a policy the object of which could have been achieved in a much better way. This does not do us any good in the eyes of the German people. It has cost us much time, and a great deal of money as well.
I feel that I should also say this. I do not want to criticise too much, because I believe that we have to try to say something of a constructive nature. Nevertheless, if one has certain feelings about these things from one's own practical experience, it is right and proper that they should be expressed. I have seen demolitions going on, and I was sorry to see in Hamburg electrical equipment of all sorts—very expensive, irreplaceable equipment—absolutely destroyed because of the necessity for falling into line with the policy laid down in the Potsdam Agreement. It is high time that we stopped this demolition. I understand that it has now ceased, and I am glad to hear that that is so. Whatever else we do in Germany, I think we have to take a very strong line, and, if I may say so, take a stand with regard to Russia. [Interruption.]That is what hits hon. Members 1849 opposite. I was rather amazed at some of the things which I heard in Berlin. I went into the Russian area myself, and I was very glad to get out. I found that there was an atmosphere, noticeable whenever one spoke with senior officials, which seemed to be one of, "Don't do that; Russia might be involved." Now is the time that this country should stand on its feet and tell Russia that we are getting out of Germany, that we are not going to put in all we can, while Russia takes out what she wants. There has to be some collaboration, but that has not been forthcoming, and, in that regard, I blame this Government for its weakness.
Finally, I say, with the greatest possible respect for the Minister, that I believe the Government ought to appoint a resident Minister in Germany, of the highest possible calibre. It is no use sending an office boy to do a general manager's job. I respect the Minister, but I say that he is not big enough for the job. We have to get a man of capacity. We need a man with great experience to be responsible for the industries and for the great economic structure of Germany. Surely, it ought to be patent to an ordinary mind that this job needs a man of outstanding capacity? Until the Government get a man of that capacity, we shall still have these difficulties in Germany. I hope that the Government will take that as a warning. Too long have we carried on in a happy-go-lucky way in this business. We have to tackle the problem now and see that the policy we lay down is a policy that can be enforced. We should have a Minister over there who can see what is happening and not be dependent on messages passed backwards and forwards, but a man who can go round Germany and get his information at first-hand. I hope the Government will take note of that suggestion.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Evans (Lowestoft)
As the Debate has been concerned with major criticisms on the higher levels, I feel some diffidence in speaking in a minor key, but I want to draw the attention of the House and of the Minister to certain aspects of the situation which are not often mentioned in our discussions of these acute problems. I would refer to what we in this country call welfare services, and, particularly, I want to talk about the position of disabled persons in the British 1850 zone of Germany and in Berlin. This may seem to many hon. Members a domestic problem, end one on a very low level, but to a lot of us it is a very vital problem, and particularly to those of us who have spent most of our lives in welfare work and social service.
I had the privilege during the summer of going to Germany for a month at the invitation of the Council of the British Society for Relief Abroad in order to investigate certain social services, there. During that time, I worked in very close association with the British Red Cross, and, although I had complete freedom to move where I wanted and meet people whom I wanted to see, I spent a great deal of my time actually in the field with the teams. I was surprised to learn of the lack of recognition and the lack of know ledge on the part of the public of the tremendous services rendered by the British Red Cross in Germany. They had teams of all kinds—the Salvation Army, the Save-the-Children Fund and others. These teams operate, not only in sheltered places, but in close contact with those conditions of terrible distress which face the German people today. No recognition could be too great for these people who bring the alleviation of cold, hunger and sickness to the German people, and I am very pleased and proud to be able to pay a very small tribute to the work of the British Red Cross in Germany.
There are four main categories of disabled persons which I would like to mention, and the first of these comprises the limbless. I do not think anyone can fail to be struck by the number of men going about on crutches who cannot go about their normal work because they are now quite unable to perform the work they would normally do. I visited a hospital and there I saw about 2,000 limbless men, very well treated medically. But I also saw a factory in which artificial limbs are made, and I discovered that the output was staggeringly low. I think it was about 30 limbs per month, and at that rate of production it will take many years to satisfy the demand; in fact, some of the men now living will never get limbs.
In that sense, there is lost to the economic life of Germany a very high potential of young, active men who, if this provision were made, would be able to contribute something very useful to the life and activity of that country. I would 1851 urge the Minister to go into this question, and to see whether facilities cannot be provided, not only on the ground of the alleviation of their distress, but also that they may make their contribution to the life of the community.
The second disability to which I want to draw the attention of the House for a moment is that occasioned by tuberculosis, a disease which has already been mentioned by the Minister. When I was in Hamburg, I spent some time in going over the actual figures with the German medical officer of health. I was informed that tuberculosis has increased by about 300 per cent. over the prewar figure, and, in the present circumstances, it is bound to increase even more. This is a tremendous liability on the already strained resources of the country. I was informed that not only have active cases to live in the same room as other people, but that they have even to occupy the same bed. That is a condition which is neither humane nor sensible. It is uneconomic; in fact, it is altogether vicious. I would suggest that some of the elaborate requisitioning of houses for British personnel, which, I understand, is proceeding on a purely luxury scale, should be stopped. I am prepared to give the Minister facts. The other day I asked a question about the most ridiculous reservation being provided for British officers. I want our men in Germany to live in good and reasonable comfort, but I suggest that the standard of requisitioning has been on a thoroughly ridiculous luxury basis, and that it would pay the Government to take some of those houses for the accommodation of the more highly infectious cases of tuberculosis, and to do something for their rehabilitation and cure, as, otherwise, this terrible disease will gain the mastery and will grow to alarming proportions with which it will be impossible to cope.
A particular inquiry on which I was engaged while in Germany was in connection with blind welfare. I visited most of the blind institutions in the British zone in Berlin, and spent a good deal of time trying to find out what the actual figures were. The difficulty in discussing these social problems in Germany today is to get adequate statistics. It is extraordinarily difficult to get hold of the statistical elements involved in any inquiry. It is certain, however, that the number of Ger- 1852 man blinded as a result of the war, both civilian and Service personnel, is very much greater than that of casualties of a like nature among our own people. I was alarmed at the number of German soldiers blinded in the war, particularly on the Eastern Front, and at the number of persons blinded as the result of air raids. Although we must comfort ourselves that our figures were nothing approaching the German, it is a very terrible problem which confronts that form of social welfare in Germany. I also visited most of the schools and workshops in our zone in Berlin and found that they are almost all in ruins.
Before the war, Germany had built up a very fine system of blind welfare services. Their schools and training establishments were good and well equipped, and the whole system of blind welfare was very well co-ordinated. That system is now practically in ruins, and the Germans are struggling hard to rebuild it. The British Government can help them to do so. In Brunswick, I attended a conference of local associations which have formed themselves into a zonal society which can speak with one voice for all the blind of that zone. All they want is recognition of the North-West Association of the Blind in order that they may present to the Government as one coordinated body their needs, desires, and also their contribution to the life of the community. I hope that the Government will soon make up their minds to recognise this body, and to give it the status it should have.
With regard to the workshops, there are thousands of capable blind workmen in Germany who, if they were assisted, could contribute something tangible to the life of the community. It is perfectly fantastic to see the way in which they use every kind of ersatzmaterial. They even unravel sacks and cut up threads with which to make brushes. They take fir cones, and they slit up rubber tyres which they also make into decent brushes. All those are commodities which, if they were given a little more encouragement and material, they could use to the betterment of the country, and so relieve the financial responsibility of this country. It would also give them a great deal more self-respect.
I was very glad to hear that the Government had, at last, under a certain 1853 amount of pressure, removed the embargo on the transmission of braille and other embossed literature. We want a lot more; we want the Government to allow us to send books from this country. Nothing is more dispiriting to disabled persons, be they blind or deaf, than to be cut off intellectually from their friends. Although I understand that, first, the embargo on braille was instituted as a security measure, I can assure the Chancellor that there is no mystery about braille. I could teach it to him in ten minutes, if he had the time. It was felt that braille might serve as a means of transmitting subversive matter Although the embargo has been removed, we want it removed from the transmission of books to Germany, and the Institute for the Blind is prepared to do its part in sending over suitable literature. I also hope that the Control Commission will welcome the officer who is about to be sent there by the National Institute, a lady of very high distinction in welfare work. The Institute is sending her over at its own expense, in the hope that she will be welcomed by the Commission, that she will be able to give expert advice and guidance in this very difficult social problem, and that they will be able, with her help, to make the Germans help themselves.
When I was in Germany, I was very gratified and pleased to see this urge among the blind people who wanted to get on with their own job—to reconstitute their own system and to carry out their own welfare. One of the great tragedies of the war is that their braille libraries have been destroyed. Germany possessed marvellous braille libraries which brought a great deal of comfort to the intellectual life of blind people in that country. We hope that the Government will give the blind institutions which did the printing, every facility for getting back their machinery and will, perhaps, give them paper, zinc plates for embossing, and so on.
There is one feature of this aspect of the subject with which I am dealing about which I am very concerned. It is the lack of skilled ophthalmologists. I was informed when in Cologne that, out of 30 practising ophthalmologists before the war, only one remained, and he was an old gentleman of over 70. It will be fully realised that from the preventive side of blindness and partial defect of the sight 1854 of any kind, dreadful results might ensue from such a situation. Out of 30 ophthalmologists, only, one remains, with between 5,000 and 6,000 partial sighted children who need correction. An adequate service is practically negligible there, and the supply of spectacles is totally inadequate. Unless preventive measures are made adequate, these conditions will become cumulative in their effect and there will grow up in the State a greater body of disabled persons than existed before. I urge the Government carefully to examine that aspect of the situation.
I feel I should mention one last matter in which I have some interest, and that concerns the deaf and deaf aids. I have always contended that no section of disabled persons has been so misunderstood or has had so little done for it. We do not know, even approximately, the number of people who have lost their hearing through the war in this country, let alone in Germany. In Germany the number is very large indeed. I hope the Government will give every facility to children, and to those who have been deafened later in life in air raids, bombardments, and so on, to learn lip reading and benefit from other aids. The deaf schools are very good in this respect. I bring this matter to the attention of the House in order to emphasise the possibilities which exist for these disabled people to contribute towards the rehabilitation of their own country. At present they are a liability. It should be our aim to make them into useful and productive elements in the social and economic life of their country.
§ 7.52 p.m.
Mr. Vane (Westmorland)
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. E. Evans) pay a tribute to those who work in the useful field to which he referred. They too often work in darkness and are not given credit for work which is frequently unpaid. The hon. Member and I were together on a delegation which went from this House to Vienna last year, and I know he will forgive me if I do not carry his point further, because I want to be very brief. I want to touch on one point only—another homely point—and that is the question of food supplies in Germany, the plan for German farms and for the import of food and to make good the deficiencies, because at present Germany cannot be self sufficient.
1855 I was pleased to hear the Minister say that he considered the bi-zonal fusion was giving an added assurance to the food supply, and I was glad to note, too, that he did not really put too great confidence in that. He spoke of the German food supply as being carried on, on a month-to-month basis and he, therefore, did not forecast anything beyond the next harvest. Therefore, we cannot reasonably consider that we have gone far towards solving this problem. Unfortunately, as long as it is still being planned on a hand-to-mouth basis, there will continue to be food crises every few weeks, when we shall hear that a temporary solution is, apparently, discovered by some shipload of grain being diverted possibly from the ports of this country to the German ports. That is no real solution, and there is in it an element of danger to our own food supply, because in prewar years Central Europe did not draw on the grain grown in the Americas as we did, and still do. Now we have this new competitor.
In prewar years, the output of German agriculture was nearly sufficient to feed the German people, with the one exception of fats. But German agriculture has not the same character in the East and in the West. In the West, as the House knows, farming is mainly carried on in small units, as peasant farms surrounding the industrial districts. In the East, which is less mountainous, the land is light and, as one always finds in these conditions, large farms produce a large surplus for the market. I have forgotten the exact quantities crossing the Elbe from East to West every year. I believe I was told when I was a student in Germany that it was something like 1,500,000 tons of grain, not counting sugar and potatoes all of which was exchanged for manufactured goods. I know this trade cannot be restored completely as it was before the war, but I would like the Minister to tell us when he considers that trade can begin to flow again, not as a trickle but as a broad stream. If he cannot see that trade flowing strongly in a reasonable space of time, perhaps he could tell us what alternative plans he has.
I know certain excuses can be advanced—for instance, that the devastation of war has reduced the agricultural output and 1856 that certain territory has been lost. There is another reason. I do not know if he would put the same emphasis upon it as I do. It is the loss of output owing to the unwise wholesale break-up of the big farms in the East. Anyone who knew that district would agree that there is room for some reform, because in that area the land market was practically dead. But I think commonsense would dictate at this time that more emphasis should have been put on output, and less on Communist theory. It is ridiculous that anyone who owns more than a certain amount of land should be expropriated for that reason alone. That is what has happened in the Eastern zone, I believe, and so the surplus available to the market has been reduced almost to nil. I would like to hear from the Minister what protests we made in Berlin when we knew the Russians were carrying out that policy in that zone It is definitely a matter not for them alone, but for the millions of people in our zone as well.
I would like to hear from the Minister what policy or plan he may have for the British zone with its different character He did not disclose what it was this afternoon I would like him to say that the first consideration should be that the output of food should be maintained, even if it cannot be increased. Secondly, I would like him to say that whatever plans for reform he may have, they are, at least, something in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the Germans and not in accordance with the wishes of his friend Dr. Schumacher or any other Socialist to whom he may wish to do a good turn. I had heard the story, which he elaborated slightly, that there were plans for large-scale expropriation in the West. I have heard it said he intends to expropriate or reduce all farms to a maximum size of 150 hectares. We should be told more of these plans. We should be informed whether it is the wish of the majority of the Germans that this should be done, or whether it is simply a piece of Socialist planning and theory. I cannot see any reason why right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the opposite Bench should take it upon themselves to re-cast the whole of the agricultural system of Germany. Further, I have heard that they propose to give compensation on an entirely opportunist basis. Judging from the experience in this country, I do not 1857 suppose it will be any fairer there than it is here. I think this House should hear more of that plan.
I was sorry, too, to hear the Minister proposing to start a "witch hunt" among all the farmers in Germany who happen to own a farm of any size. From my experience in 1932 and 1933, when I was an agricultural pupil in Germany, I never found any large measure support for the Nazi Party among that class of farmer. On the contrary, we found exactly the opposite. I know it is easy, and it suits the Government's book, to pretend that anyone who has any property in this country or abroad is automatically to be a suspected man, but I think if the right hon. Gentleman investigates fairly on the spot he will find that no large support for the Nazi Party was ever given by farmers and, in particular, in our zone. I have heard that after this expropriation, it is proposed to create something called Landesgesellschaften, which, I understand, are going to be something in the nature of the land commission which is proposed for this country. Surely we deserve to be told a little more of their plans in that field.
I was sorry when my right hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law), who opened this Debate, divided the blame for the present conditions between the Germans and His Majesty's Government in the proportion of 95 per cent. to the Germans and 5 per cent. to His Majesty's Government. I think he must have made a slip. If I had to choose between those figures only, I should reverse them. Of course, everyone admits that a large part of the trouble has been brought on the Germans by themselves, but our record in Germany during the last 18 months is nothing of which to be proud, nothing to justify the complacency of the Minister. When he used to answer Questions daily last year, now less frequently, he always seemed to be in a mood of complacency; and it was his mood again this afternoon. If there is any advertisement for his planning it is simply that he has planned a desert—a desert in which there will be equality of opportunity to starve. On this failure alone, I sincerely hope we may soon see, as my hon. Friend the Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield (Mr. Jennings) said, a Minister with greater capacity in the place of the present 1858 Minister. We need a Minister who is capable of taking decisions on big and vast issues which come before him, and can ensure we will no longer find the great reputation of this country for administration being dragged in the dirt, as it is at present.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) made oblique reference in his opening remarks to the economic unity of Germany. From that I would not dissent, because I believe that this Debate would have even greater value than it has already had, if we could discuss policy, and not merely administration and conditions in Germany. It is over 18 months since I was last in Germany, but after listening this afternoon to hon. Members who have recently returned from there, I could not help feeling that in that period conditions have changed very little. When I was in Berlin 18 months ago, my feeling was that we have created a desert, and call it occupation. One could not help feeling that only by a massive effort on the part of both the Germans and ourselves would it be possible for that desert to change into any form of civilisation. But since that period we have tried, in a large number of ways, to irrigate that arid land with money, with help, and with advice.
I think any hon. Member of this House would be doing a great disservice to the country if he were to suggest that any of the difficulties from which Germany suffers today are due to the fact that voluntarily and maliciously we have tried to perpetuate the evil conditions which followed the war. It is quite clear that we have sincerely tried to feed the Germans, and we have sincerely tried, through the Control Commission, to help them rebuild their shattered economy within the scope of major policy. But it is because my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy has all the while been conditioned and limited by major policy that today he can report comparatively little progress. The Germans are still cold; they are still hungry; and they have not been able to build up their livelihood destroyed by the war, for which they share with Hitler the blame. It seems to me, therefore, that unless this evening we make some reference to high policy the Debate will not have advanced either our 1859 knowledge of Germany or our hopes for the future.
One thing is clear, namely, that the German people today are living in conditions of unqualified misery. I would refer merely to two statistics published in the monthly bulletin of the Control Commission. They refer, first, to the rising incidence of tuberculosis, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. E. Evans) has already referred, and secondly, to the rising incidence of venereal disease. These diseases are both social diseases; they are both the product of bad conditions of living, and, in the case of Germany, of demoralisation. I know that the Control Commission has worked very hard to try and improve the health of the German people. They have materially improved it in the case of epidemic diseases, such as diphtheria. But the fundamental conditions which produce diseases like tuberculosis exist and will continue to exist as long as we do not allow the Germans, by raising the level of their industry, simultaneously to raise their standard of life. Meanwhile we have tried all sorts of expedients in order to keep disease within its proper limits.
Here I would quote from an order published by the Allied Kommandaturaon 6th September, 1945, with reference to venereal disease, which shows both the problem which has to be faced in Germany, and the fearful difficulties which we encounter in dealing with it. I would ask hon. Members to consider what would be our reaction if this order had been issued in this country. I quote from paragraph (d),which reads:Sellers of food, cooks and barmaids shall be examined (for venereal disease) every six months at fixed times. Lists of persons carrying on these occupations shall be made on which are to be entered the dates and results of the examinations.It goes on:Dancing girls and barmaids in places of entertainment which, openly or not, offer opportunities for sexual relationship or are found by experience very often to conduce to them, as well as other persons of the female sex who regularly frequent such places, shall, unless there is proof to the contrary, be held to belong to the class of sexually promiscuous persons.This drastic order is a measure, both of the evil which has to be faced and also of the way in which the evil is being tackled. I think the manner in which 1860 we are approaching this evil is, in a sense, a superficial one. The evil of sexual promiscuity, in Berlin for example, derives from a fact which my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) mentioned, namely, that there are approximately six women for every one man. That seems to me to be a most cogent argument for sending the prisoners of war home. I ask hon. Members: Are we waging a biological war, against the Germans? When the Germans sterilised those of whom they did not approve racially, there were many who, very properly, protested. But today, if we deprive the German people of their men, so many of whom we are retaining in this country and in North Africa, I think we are achieving, in some measure, exactly the same sorts of results as the Germans set out to achieve by the process of physical sterilisation.
I now wish to refer to one other matter which lies within the competence of my hon. Friend, namely, the question of currency reform in Germany. I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite are as exercised about this matter as I am. But I would say that if there is to be currency reform, let the announcement be made rapidly and definitely. Do not let the German people live in a condition in which they fear that the currency may be called in at any time, and so rendered valueless.
The fact of the matter is that the Germans today do not trust the mark. They fear that the mark is inflated, and, because of that fear, they are unwilling to put their goods into circulation. And thus once again we have that break-down of modern civilisation, in which not only do the Germans live like troglodytes, but, also distrusting their currency, have reverted to primitive conditions of barter. It is of the highest importance that a decision as to whether there is going to be currency reform should be made as quickly as possible. I recognise that this is a matter for four-Power agreement. At the same time, however, I feel that we have not made sufficiently strong representations to the Control Commission in order that the currency should re-acquire in the minds of the German people a sense of value. Only under those conditions do I believe that the German worker will have an incentive to produce, and an incentive to accept paper marks as a fair reward for his services.
1861 I turn to another question which I regard as being fundamental, and that is the question of zonal fusion in Germany, and the creation of a joint economic agency. I am totally and completely opposed to the pastoralisation of Germany. It was an immoral and an evil conception, and I think it can result only in disaster, not merely for the Germans, but for the whole of Europe. The Ruhr must be revitalised, and German industry which is within our control and that of the Americans should be given every aid to recovery.
At the same time, I fear that there are considerable dangers in creating an artificial, self-sufficient economic entity within a quite arbitrary administrative region, and for this reason. In order to make the fused zones self sufficient we propose by 1949 to raise the level of exports to approximately £300 million. I do not know whether in practice this will be attainable, but it is certainly a massive figure. The last time exports from western Germany reached the level of £300 million was, I believe, in 1930, at a time when in this country there were 2,500,000 unemployed. I believe that by stimulating the economy of the fused zones, and injecting its exports particularly into hard currency areas—which is one of the ways by which that level of exports can be reached—we may ultimately do very grave harm to British trade, because those very industries which we shall naturally want to encourage will be those which are in competition with ours. I am quite sure that the excellent professional economists of the Control Commission and of the American Economic Division will want to do the best they can for the fused zones. I am quite sure they will try as hard as they can to push exports in that area, in order to reach the total value of £300 million.
I should like to give just one example of the sort of danger which may arise from that competition. Last July the Office of Milgov Germany (U.S.) Economic Division, Trade and Commerce Branch, sent a letter to a firm called Löwener of Copenhagen, offering them slip gauges which are manufactured by a German firm called Hommelwerke of Mannheim. Now, it so happens that this firm, Löwener, were agents of a Coventry firm, one of the largest manufacturers of slip gauges in this country; and as a conse- 1862 quence of that competition the Coventry firm was unable to get the order for the slip gauges, which happened to be surplus to the requirements of manufacturers in this country. Now, I do not grudge the Germans for one moment the possibility of exporting their goods. I hope that they will export again, and I hope that the result will be of the greatest benefit to the German people and to the recipients of the goods. But I feel that it would be literally economic suicide if, under British and American patronage, exports from the fused zones were stimulated to such a height that they directly affected British manufacturers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said not long ago that one of the major reasons for fusion was to aid the British taxpayer, and I hope that that result will be achieved; but it will be an extreme paradox if the fusion were to aid the British taxpayer only in the long run to damage the British manufacturers. I submit that for the consideration of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and I would ask him whether, in fact, it is economically sound to raise the exports, from these fused zones beyond that optimum, and to the degree that they will begin to compete with British manufactured goods.
It is quite clear that Germany can only become healthy again, can only re-acquire its former civilisation, can only become a democratic country, if Germany, in fact, does become Germany again; if there is real economic unity which will gradually transform itself into a form of political unity. I hope that that political unity will take a federal form so that Germany will be politically and economically enabled to support herself, but not strong enough to be a menace to her neighbours, as she has been in the past. I regret that tonight the Foreign Secretary is not here to reply to the Debate, because in the long run, when all these questions have been asked and answered, when all the matters of detailed administration have been considered, and all objections raised against the form and the processes of our administration in Germany, there still remains the overriding question, What is the future of Germany going to be? Is Germany going to be an asset to European civilisation as she has been in the past, and as she can be in the future, or is Germany going to be a disease in the heart of Europe which will ultimately bring ruin to the whole world?
1863 I would address one final request to the Chancellor of the Duchy, and that is, that he should use his powers and his position to impress on the Foreign Secretary and on the Government that what is required in Germany is not merely improvement in administration, not merely progress in its actual government, or in the economic development of the zone, but that what is required, above all, is a policy. If my hon. Friend asks for a policy in strong terms, he will have given us cause for gratitude, and amply justified his difficult stewardship.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I know that there are many other hon. Members who wish to speak, and, therefore, I should like to confine my remarks to one main question; but before I come to it, perhaps, I may make one comment on the speech of the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman). I agree with him that it is impossible to discuss this question unless we discuss policy. On the other hand, every hon. Member seems to say, "This, I think, is the object of our control in Germany," and makes a fairly good attempt at a definition of that policy. I am really wondering what it is the hon. Member really wants. I agree that either the Minister should be a Cabinet Minister with a Parliamentary Secretary or that he ought to be equivalent to the Minister of State—at any rate, of the same status, much more closely working with the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary. During the Debate, until the speech of the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane), I found no really strong opposition to or criticism of the Control Commission. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law) said that only five per cent. of the trouble was really due to the Control Commission at all, and therefore one wondered why there was so much criticism.
I would like to say one or two words on two points raised by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), one about U.N.R.R.A. and the other about de-Nazification. I really think we ought to know before long what is to happen to the quarter of a million refugees from Communism—let us state exactly what 1864 they are, and not beat about the bush—when U.N.R.R.A. closes down. There are many of them, especially the Baits, and others who are now going to the Belgian mines in exchange for prisoners of war, who would make excellent citizens of this or any other country. It is wrong to talk about emigration when we know perfectly well that the Dominions are not even prepared yet to take British immigrants on any scale that matters. The only place that I have heard mentioned is Brazil, and I therefore hope we shall receive an answer as to what is to happen to these people when U.N.R.R.A. closes down. So far we have had no reply at all.
With regard to de-Nazification, I should like to link it up with the main subject on which I want to ask a few questions, namely, education. There are two problems here, a short-term and a long-term problem. The short-term problem is fuel, food, clothes and housing, and we are now talking not about people who joined the S.S., but about innocent children whose position at the moment is so terrifying in Cologne, Hamburg, Hanover and Dusseldorf, from where I have just returned this morning. I recognise that the blind, the deaf and disabled referred to in the very interesting speech of the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Edward Evans) are one side of the problem. The other side concerns these children who are likely to be crippled for the whole of their lives. As far as the long-term question is concerned, it seems that we have to make some radical reforms throughout the whole system of education. If they are to take a different outlook on life, if they are to be taught to want a different type of Government, to accept other values, I think a directing head is needed, and I do not see that head at the present moment. He would need a competent body of advisers, both in England and on the spot; he has not got it at Norfolk House, and there is nobody at the moment who is really in charge. My criticism is that such advisers have not been appointed, and that the Department is not master in its own house. It is mixed up with posts, telegraphs and a whole number of other questions concerned with internal affairs; the staff on the spot have no future and are constantly changing.
My other criticism is that we have failed to consult other countries. I have come 1865 back this morning from Holland, and the people at Leyden University, where I was this week, are very anxious to do what they can. The situation is quite different from that which produced the wonderful resistance of that University against the Germans. They are now prepared to help out in the Rhine provinces—a 95 per cent. Catholic area—and I think the Dutch people will understand the German mentality and philosophy perhaps even better than ourselves. I would therefore suggest that the Dutch and possibly the Belgians should be associated with the cultural and educational sides of our policy, and certainly with the economic side. That is why I asked the Chancellor this afternoon why Dutch people are not allowed to go into Germany. A few journalists have been in, but very few others; who is stopping them? Is it the military, or it is a decision taken on quadripartite level in conjunction with the Russians? I think we ought to have an answer to that question. It is no good de-Nazifying the universities and leaving them to be filled by some doctrine which at the moment can only be called Nihilism. Either this work is important, or it is not. If it is not, let us follow a negative policy and close down the higher institutions of learning. If we do not mean to take a negative policy, what is our policy to be if we really mean to open up to the students, lecturers and professors another way of life? They have had 12 years of indoctrination; the degree of ignorance is alarming. Of the students at Cologne 80 per cent. are ex-Service officers and men They were brought up in the Hitler Jugend, they have been in the Army for six years, and they are utterly defeated—they have come back and they are completely lost. I believe that they are looking for something different. In many ways they are like the ex-Service students here. They are almost too serious, and are very anxious to get some connection with other lands. In fact their desire in that direction is almost as astonishing as their ignorance.
I want to ask the Minister what we are offering them. What is the guiding principle? Are we telling them we have something in our educational system that they have not, and if so what is it? Is it the Workers Educational Association, is it the public schools, the new Education Act, or some democratic faith? Do we believe in anything that they do not? Do we offer 1866 a Christian faith? It is very difficult for these students to know, and they are asking extremely pertinent questions. Now I hear that the British Council is to be added to the list of bodies that are out there trying to do this form of re-education.
What are we doing in the field of local government, and trade unionism? Now that the Chancellor is here, I should like to ask who is in charge of this vital task. We have been fairly successful in this country in devising schemes to deal with youth, by which I do not mean "Youth" with a capital Y—the sort of thing we have objected to so much in Germany and Austria. What is the policy in this respect? The Minister of Education has been on two visits to Germany, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education has also been there. What have they done? Does their writ run in Germany, have they any control at all over Germany? I very much doubt it, and that being so, what was the advice they gave to the Chancellor?
While on this point I should like to give an illustration of a completely contrasted method. My friend Mr. John Trevelyan, who was recently director of education for Westmorland, has been sent to Germany in connection with the education of British children. Being an experienced, local administrator, he has chosen personally the whole of his staff. They have all been seconded from other jobs, they can all look forward to a pension, and the consequence is that he has got a thoroughly happy team. The people in the Control Commission, however, have been picked in a rather more haphazard way. They cannot look forward to a pension, they cannot in fact look forward to anything, and the consequence is that the personnel is constantly changing. Mr. Trevelyan saw that he could get books, and he went to the publishers in this country, with the result that all the English students in Germany will have books by April. But there is not one history text book in any secondary school in Germany at the present moment.
What were we doing during the preparatory period? I had thought that we were going to send to Germany supplies of text books of the re-education kind, or at any rate reasonably sensible books. It is quite impossible to carry on secondary education, whatever we may do with 1867 primary, without history or English text books. The Russians can do it, why should not we get these books? Even now I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he can define the position of the English children out there. To whom is Mr. Trevelyan responsible? Is it to the Control Commission or is it to the Minister of Education? I cannot get any answer to that question. I quite agree with what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington said. I chink that the few people in the educational department of the Control Commission are doing a good job. I would ask the Minister to surround himself in this country with an expert advisory body of people who really know this problem. Will he simplify the channel between Norfolk House and the zone? Would he say why the central headquarters has been removed to the Berlin zone, instead of leaving it where it was? These people were very happy where they were, and they were working closely with their regional offices. They are completely lost, sitting in flats in Berlin miles away from the scene, with just their files before them, as my right hon. Friend has said. I do not think they wanted to go to Berlin. I think it was an overdone conception of tidy administration to move them. I ask the Minister whether it is not possible to send them back. Will he also see that there is someone looking after this whole field who has access to the highest level? The man at present in charge, who was one of His Majesty's inspectors of schools, has to go to a man who, among other things, has to run the fire brigades.
If we do not mean business, then let us bring back these education officers and the people attached to the universities, but if we do that, it will do the greatest possible harm to Germany. I have never seen a body of men so attached to their work, and these men have the genuine affection of the Germans. If it is worth £40,000 or £50,000 to have these educational officers, why not double the number? There are 20,000 men waiting to go into emergency training colleges in this country, and I say that the men coming out of these colleges next year will not have the schools in which they can teach, because there will not be the buildings. Why not let some of these people, who are mostly ex-Service men, go out there? The Germans want con- 1868 tact with walking democrats, and they want to see how people behave as democrats. We hear all this talk about great ideas for the future of Germany, but what do the Germans understand about democracy or local government? I discussed this with the Communist leaders in Cologne, and with the Christian and Social Democrats. They are only at the beginning of the task, I urge the Minister to continue the work which is being done, which I think is good—the adult education in the Hanover area—of bringing over here some of their best leaders. The work which is being done in connection with the universities is good, and I ask the Minister to associate Holland and Belgium in this task, because they know as much about it as we do.
§ Mr. Mitchison (Kettering)
Would the hon. Member include Denmark as a country to be associated in that respect?
§ Mr. Lindsay
I would probably include Denmark, but I happen to know these two countries better, particularly Holland. We cannot think of the Ruhr without considering the whole of Western Europe, and we cannot think of the revival of true democratic German culture unless Belgium and Holland and the rest of Western Europe are intimately connected. It seems to me that we are playing with this task, because the only real positive thing the Control Commission can do lies in education, and all the rest is negative I ask the Minister to send back a message to these people who are doing a magnificent job, to strengthen their hands and give them security of tenure. Make them feel that they have a job which is going to last. Otherwise let him bring them home and let them get jobs in civil life. They say to me, "Shall I go back to the teaching profession? All the administrative jobs will be gone. I am interested in this job, but I do not see any future in it.
If the Minister really means this to be one of the most important works of the Control Commission I ask him to make it such, to get the very best possible advice he can in this country, and to set up a man in charge who has real responsibility. I hope he will follow the advice which has been tendered to him today. When he comes to the House he always has to be or, the defensive, which, I think, is quite wrong. What we want is something of the spirit which my hon. Friend the Member 1869 for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) urged him to adopt in this vital task. A crusading task may be big language, but unless his task is conceived in that language, we shall have a poor sort of future, and a desert in the midst of Europe.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills (Finsbury)
Of all the threatening situations in the world today the most threatening is the situation in the two Western zones of Germany, controlled by Britain and the United States. Germany, of course, is now prostrate. But these two zones contain 80 per cent. of the great German heavy industries, with immense power of recuperation. The prostration of these zones is not accidental, and it is not our fault. It is deliberately organised by the Nazis themselves, who still remain in prominent positions, with the object of preparing the way for their own return to power. By and large, we all want the same, the rebirth of Germany as a whole; an independent, democratic, and even a strong Germany. I have not heard, as coming from any of the Three-Power Agreements, that the pastoralisation of Germany as mentioned by the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) is seriously regarded as the real approach. What we want is a strong Germany, with the fangs of her great, heavy industries drawn; industries which, up till now, have always led Germany into her disasters.
What is happening? The zones have been, and are being, split. I know that de-Nazification is disapproved by Members opposite, but in fact it is the essence of all progress in Germany and in our zone it is not succeeding. I know that 100.000 or more Nazis have been sacked from their jobs, but the "big shots," the heads of the German heavy industries who backed Hitler, and gave him his power and then ruled him, and made his war machine, still retain vital positions in that country today.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. and gallant Member cannot intervene unless the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) gives way.
§ Major Bramall
Would my hon. Friend give us the name of one leading man in German heavy industry who is still in control of his own firm?
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
I will come to some names in a few moments. I am prepared with up to a dozen or so. I was proposing, however, to deal with only one or two of the principals. I am not suggesting that they are controlling their own firms. Unfortunately, they are controlling the whole of the heavy industries, whereas they previously controlled only their own groups. The hon. Member may have the whole details of names and positions, as taken from the German newspapers of the last two months. Hitler spoke of a thousand years of Nazism, but what the Nazis are saying today is "a thousand years of de-Nazification" for it is a joke, and it leaves the leading figures in the heavy industries still in the positions in which they led Germany to disaster.
As for the socialisation of industry, however laudable may appear the intentions of my hon. Friend—and he says that any suggestion of postponement is unfounded—it certainly has not yet begun. As for the democratisation of industry, which is entirely dependent upon de-Nazification, it has made precious little progress and has only resulted in frustration and collapse of morale among the industrial workers Production in the zone is 30 per cent. of prewar. It will be remembered, of course, that in another zone production is up to 80 per cent. of prewar. What is the evidence for that? I take as my first witness—a witness who will be accepted by everyone on this side of the House—the word of the German trade unionists, the men whose cooperation is essential if German democracy is to be established. On 20th December of last year, at Bochum, in the heart of the Ruhr, 4,000 trade union delegates for the Nord-Rhein Westfalen area demanded the strongest measures against the Nazis still influential in German administration. The trade unionists in the British zone presented a memorial to the civil representative, Mr. Asbury, about the socialisation of industry and likened it to the corresponding de-Nazification policy which they had experienced in 1919 which came to nothing. They drew attention to the re-establishment of Germany heavy industry in the present organisations, namely, the North German Coal Control and the North German Iron and Steel Control.
§ Mr. Stokes
Will my hon. Friend tell the House which zone he is referring to 1871 when he speaks of 80 per cent., and upon what authority he states that figure? More trade unionists?
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
My hon. Friend knows very well, as the recent report of the Russian military officer—[Laughter,]I know that hon. Members opposite treat the leading Soviet figures with contempt, but what is quite certain is that the standard of nutrition in the Eastern zone and the standard of production are very much higher than—
§ Mr. Stokes
May I ask my hon. Friend whether he is aware that the trade unionists in the Western zone and in Berlin entirely deny that, and say that the Russian zone is derelict and near starvation?
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
Let me proceed with my evidence. The comparison between the two zones is shown by the fact that there is a steady tide of technicians going across the frontier from the two Western zones to the Soviet zone, because they have the conviction that only in that zone are there any real prospects for the man with skill in his fingers and mind. That tide has been gathering force during the last three or four months. I continue with the reports of the German trade union meetings, which are there for anyone to read, including my hon. Friend. On 6th December, at Hagen, near Dortmund, a meeting of 50 shop stewards, representing heavy industry workers, passed a resolution, pointing out that Nazi war criminals were still controlling the heavy industries—[HON. MEMBERS: "Names."]—and Nazi economists, now influential in the British control, were sabotaging any attempt Of the trade union movement to exert its influence in the factories and in the pits. Finally—most striking of all—on 20th December, at Hanover, was held the first four-zonal conference of trade unionists when they met the representatives of the World Federation of Trade Unions and discussed the project of interzonal unity in the trade union field. That was the first real step forward in interzonal unity in any field. They passed resolutions demanding that de-Nazification should be speeded up in the west, demanding destruction of monopolies in the west, and demanding the recognition of the trade unions in the western factories.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
Any Nazi can get a job working in the Russian zone, but no Nazi who was influential under the Nazi regime will get any prominent position. That is a profound difference.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
As it is obvious that the right hon. Gentleman does not accept the evidence of trade union interests—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
This crosstalk is quite irregular. Hon. Members must allow the hon. Member to get on with his speech.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not object to any hon. Member asking a question, but he must rise in his place.
§ Mr. Stokes
When the hon. Member continually refers to people in another country and does not give any factual reference which we can check, surely it is quite intolerable to the House.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
I assured the hon. Member that I would eventually give him the names. He seems to treat that assurance as a guarantee that I will not give them. I do not know quite what he means by that attitude but I regard it as an impertinence.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
I was proposing to give the House a dozen names, but I cut them down to a couple. I am quite prepared to raise the figure again. Let me now give a piece of evidence in this field which should satisfy the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It is a source of evidence which I would hot accept for one moment; it is, I suggest, a discredited source in Germany, it is a source which is very much backed by influential foreign aid, it is a group of activists who are busy on the dangerous work of trying to split the German working class movement. It is Mr. Schumacher and his group. But many hon. Members on both sides will accept the evidence of the Schumacher group, so let us see what it is. On 26th August, 1946, at a party conference in Cologne, they resolved that 1873'in politics, economics and administration the same forces that brought Germany to disaster are still ruling.That was six months ago. To make sure that they have not changed their minds, let me inform the House that on 12th January of this year, at a congress of Schumacher's party in Munich, they resolved to the same effect, and if I am not mistaken, it was at that conference that Schumacher himself expressed doubt as to whether his party could continue to collaborate with Military government if this policy of maintaining Nazis in strong positions in industry was continued. I cannot think of evidence more helpful to the right hon. Gentleman than that.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
I do not quote him as an authority that I respect. My hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster spoke of this being a testing time in Germany for this administrative machinery in industry which we have set up and which is co-operating with us. Let me now refer to the personnel of this British controlled organisation of heavy industry in Germany. I said that I had extracted a dozen names from the papers of recent date. Let me take a typical and leading one. Ernst Poensgen was deputy chairman of the Thyssen group. He is now chairman of the Association of Iron and Steel Trade Manufacturers in the British zone. In January, 1932, with Thyssen and Voegler, he pledged German heavy industry to the support of Hitler.
The same man in 1939, I believe in Dusseldorf, was bargaining with the Federation of British Industry for the final betrayal of Britain, if that had come off. I am not quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) was not mixed up in the same little intrigue. Director Dinkleback was the leading financial adviser of the steel monopoly in the great days of Hitler. He was the go-between for the industrialists and the Nazis. Of course, they made him a member of the party. He was the organiser of German heavy industry as the war machine for Hitler. Now he is the director of iron and steel in the British zone that works from North Cumberland House in Dusseldorf. North Cumberland House is an interesting place. It used to be called 1874 up to two years ago Stahl House. It was to the German heavy industry what Imperial Chemical House in Millbank is here for our chemical industry. Dinkleback on 17th January reported to the German and Ruhr industrialists on the future prospects of the work of decartelisation. He pointed out that to begin with four enterprises under British direction, were to be decartelised. He gave their names, and said those four were to be divided completely into their constituent elements. He said there would be no change in ownership. The four concerns would remain as juridical bodies but not as organisational bodies, that the 25 or 30 smaller groups into which they were sub-divided would now be rejoined under the North German Iron and Steel Control to be ruled by Brother Dinkleback, he to be not only director of the whole concern on behalf of the British, but trustee for the shareholders and owners.
This is strengthening the power of German heavy industry. The process is recartelising not decartelising. It may be pointed out that the American Military Government paper draws attention to the fact that the shares in these concerns which are booked for Socialism are now rising sharply on the German black market. That is to say, against the background of 30 per cent. production in German industry in this Western zone and, despite the threat of socialisation, shares are rising in the very businesses which are to be socialised. This is mainly due to the work of American industrialists, for whom there is an open field for their dollars with which to buy shares in German heavy industry. This is precisely what is going on.
I now draw the attention of the House to the position as far as German agriculture in the British zone is concerned. Mr. Schlange-Schoenigen, a Junker estate-owner, refugee from the East and friend of Hugenberg, is in control of agriculture in the British zone. The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) made a graceless, gratuitous, nonsensical and stupid attack on the administration of agriculture in the Soviet zone apparently only for the sake of showing that he was a pupil on a Junker estate himself. What is the result with such a man running German agriculture in the West? He is only concerned to bring 1875 about disaster for the German people if he can, or pave the way for a Nazi restoration. Whatever our hopes may be, and irrespective of what our aims may be, we are going straight back to where we were with Germany The fusion of the American and British zones opens up our zone to the Americans and to the American capital, but it does more; it destroys any possibility of four-zone unity.
What is the result of being able to conduct inter-zonal trade only with dollars? Have the French any dollars? Not one, and how do they react? They move their frontier forward so that they embrace the whole of the French zone. If this is a step towards four-zone unity I cannot see that it works in that way. What is the Russian position? Have they dollars? This is the ending of all interzonal trade except between our two zones or by barter unless we change our whole policy. It means that our interzonal trade with the Americans can continue only so long as we have dollars—that is, dollars from the American Loan. That is a necessary consequence of the bi-zonal agreement. It destroys the possibility of four-zone activity, both economic and political, and it likewise prevents our Government carrying out the project of socialising German industry in our zone.
Is it seriously to be supposed that the Americans will assist us or tolerate our activities at all in socialising industry in our zone? Mr. Dulles has made it abundantly clear that his notion of American participation in the bi-zonal agreement is that it ends the idea of the socialisation of German industry by us. I have no doubt that this will please hon. Members opposite. American capital is seeking to make Colonies of a new type out of these two mighty industrial areas, and to use them as part of a project of building up a war position in Europe against the Soviet Union. We must not be misled into a misunderstanding of the situation. This whole tendency can be reversed in one way only; that is, by bringing the workers organised in trade union into active participation in the de-Nazification and running of Germany. If we go to Moscow without any improved background in the running of industry, we should not be surprised if we meet with little success.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Brighton)
In the revolting speech to which we have just been treated the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) said that some of his information would please hon. Members on this side of the House, but I can assure him that that is not so. So far as I was concerned personally, it made me nearly physically sick. The hostility of the hon. Gentleman to everything British has certainly made my task a little more difficult because whereas I had intended to make some critical comments about the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in fact I found myself almost lining up beside the Minister in defence of our mutual country. The hon. Member for Finsbury speaks with the voice of Russia. I had hoped he was going to tell us something constructive as to the Russian approach to this problem but he gave us no hope in this direction at all. He did not indicate in any way that his Russian friends intended to co-operate in solving the zonal difficulties.
Many hon. Gentlemen opposite have referred to the revision or modification of Potsdam, but it would really be far better if hon. Members in all parts of the House realised that there is now no question either of such revision or modification, or of our repudiating Potsdam. It has already been repudiated by the other parties and we have to recognise the fact. We have tried honourably to meet some of our obligations under the agreement but we are the only party that has done so, and when the others have abandoned it we are entitled to recognise that position. What we have to do is to realise that Potsdam has gone and that the situation really falls into two parts. We should recognise the reality and operate the Eastern and Western halves, and if we deal with it on that basis we shall certainly arrive at a more satisfactory position.
I want now to revert to some of the things which the hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster dealt with in what I thought was a disturbing spirit of complacency. The hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) said quite rightly—and this was one of the many things about which I agree with him—that after 18 months the Government have very little progress to report. That is true, and the reason is 1877 that the whole of this matter has been characterised by that inertia and lack of imagination and leadership which has been the hallmark of everything done by this Government both at home and abroad.
This is the position as I see it. We have to look at Germany's chief, problem, which is one of manpower. Production is dependent upon manpower. Why are the German prisoners kept here when Germany is starved of manpower? It is time that the repatriation of prisoners of war was accelerated to a very great degree. It is a matter that concerns not only us. France has something like 650,000 German prisoners. What are we doing about those? We have recently entered into negotiation for a Treaty with France. Are we making it a condition that those 650,000 prisoners should be returned to Germany? If not, why not? No one knows.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
Is the hon. and learned Member aware that one of his colleagues on those benches has recently publicly advocated the retention of German prisoners here for an indefinite period?
§ Mr. Marlowe
What has that to do with me? I am advocating the return of them Had I known that the intervention of the hon. Gentleman was to be so inane I would not have given way to him.
We do not know how many prisoners of war Russia has. They may amount to two million or four million. Why do we continue to be so abject when it comes to talking to a foreign Power? Why do we not talk with a firm voice? Russia wants a trade agreement with us. Why cannot we use some influence with her? We are not A third-class Power. We should stand up and let our voice be heard. Let us make it a condition before we trade with Russia that something shall be done about the prisoners. Russia is not making the slightest effort to co-operate with us in these matters.
Let me turn to the question of food. The internal production of food in our zone is not sufficient. It can be increased, and help considerably towards the self-support of Germany. There are many reasons why production is not up to standard. The main one is that the British zone is riddled with bureaucracy. A man cannot grow a potato without a horde of officials buzzing around to see what it is 1878 all about, and getting him to fill up forms, even in the harmless business of growing his own food. There is no danger in the growing of food. I quite understand that industry has to have a strong measure of control, but the growing of food is a harmless project, and the Germans should be left alone in order to do it.
So far as the Ruhr is concerned, only about half the coal production is allowed to be retained in the Ruhr zone. Half of the other half is exported.
§ Mr. Marlowe
And the remainder of that half out of the Ruhr to Berlin. I am concerned only with the half that is allowed to be retained in the Ruhr zone. That is not enough for the heavy industries of the Ruhr, which need more coal in their own districts. I hope the Minister will have this proportion reconsidered. There have been very considerable references to de-Nazification. I am not one to advocate the abolition of the system, but it ought to be speeded up because it has a very serious effect on manpower. Tens of thousands of people are kept behind bars and off production. Apart from the undesirable elements, many of those people are there on the unsupported word of a malicious neighbour. The system should be speeded up and while the people are awaiting the tribunal they should be used in production.
It has become fashionable to use rude words about the members of the Control Commission, but I do not entirely support that. Some are very bad types and some are extremely good, and on the whole they are doing a very good job in very difficult circumstances. However, I suggest that the Minister should consider the recruitment of that service. At the moment it does not offer enough attractions to get the very best people. We have built up a. Colonial Service and a reputation for Colonial administration which is unbeaten in the world, and it would be a perfectly good model from which the hon. Gentleman could build up a reliable service giving people an attractive and permanent job.
The subject of the socialisation of Germany has been referred to by an hon. Member opposite. I do not know whether that is part of the Government's policy or not. It certainly appears to be, and 1879 I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman was speaking with knowledge of what goes on inside his party. The Government is perhaps entitled to claim that it has a mandate for socialisation in this country, but it has no mandate for socialisation in Germany, and the great mistake which the Government are making is in introducing a political question into the British zone at all. Before introducing any question of politics they must first teach the Germans democracy, and at the moment, as a result of what they see, the Germans say, "If this is democracy, we do not want it." We must find some way of convincing them that it is a desirable system of Government. That is the first pre-requisite before we let them enter into party politics. I have no sympathy whatsoever with the Germans in the difficulties they have brought upon themselves, but the problem is there and has to be dealt with. What it needs is firmness and decision, qualities in which His Majesty's Government have shown themselves sadly lacking both at home and abroad.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I would like for a short time to draw the attention of the House to an aspect of this matter which has not been mentioned, and which I think will not be mentioned except in my speech, unless my hon. Friend does me the honour of referring to it, when he comes to reply. I have never been one of those who have taken a vindictive or pessimistic view about the German nation or the German character, and during the war years, when it was more difficult to take a generous sympathetic, and optimistic view than it is now, I endeavoured with the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), and the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), and a number of other hon. Members to take that view.
Nevertheless, I think there is a category of persons now in Germany which is being forgotten and neglected in all these discussions. I am talking about the Jewish survivors of the Nazi annihilation policy still to be found in the various internment or concentration camps in Germany. I know that term is not popular, but I cannot think of one which is more descriptive. I know it is not the responsibility of the Chancellor that no decision has yet been 1880 taken as to what the ultimate future of these people is to be. There are very bitter things to be said about that. I am afraid I have said them, bitterly, on other occasions and I do not propose to deal with that aspect of the matter at all because it is not my hon. Friend's responsibility. What is his responsibility is their conditions of life now, and the conditions inside those camps. I say again that these people are being shamefully and disgracefully neglected and not looked after at all.
Nobody ever goes to see them. My hon. Friend, although he sees their representatives sometimes in London, in all his visits to Germany has never yet been to the Belsen Camp where they are. I would not expect my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich to go; his sympathies are fully engaged elsewhere. I am quite proud of the fact that it should be Mr. Victor Gollancz who has done so much to draw the attention of the world to the quite frightful conditions under which the German people are living. I am very glad of it. I shall always be proud to remember that he was prominently associated with it, but even he, when he wrote his book "In Darkest Germany" could not spare even half a page for these people. I think that the House ought to take some cognisance of them. Surely we owe these people a special debt?
I was a member of a delegation of hon. Members who went to see the camp at Buchenwald some six or seven days after it was liberated—I hope nobody will object to the word in this connection—by the American Army. I saw what these people were like. I shall not describe the scene again—we published our report in a White Paper, and I do not think I could bear to repeat it. I cannot say, however, that I shall ever forget it—and there it is for anybody to read. I think enough publicity was given to it at the time, and perhaps some vague memory of it may still linger in the hearts and minds of hon. Members of this House, and in the mind of the Chancellor too. I say we owe them a debt.
Take, for instance, the question of food. The Chancellor said that the basic ration of 1,550 calories must not be regarded as the average ration. He said that there was a graduated scheme, and of course it is so, by which special categories of persons get more than the basic ration of 1,550. I think he will remember that 1881 those who were recognised by authority as having been the victims of persecution—"persecutees" is the word they use in this ugly modern jargon which is employed—the persecutee ration is supposed to be 1,850. There are 10,500 people recognised as legitimately living in the camp at Belsen. They are getting only rather less than the basic ration of 1,550. On 17th No ember last, they were promised the additional ration of some 300 calories, bringing it up to 1,850, which is the ration accorded to those who are recognised as being the victims of persecution. So far, they have not had it.
I want to ask my hon. Friend why. It is not their fault that they are still there. The place where they want to go is barred to them by political considerations. Other places where perhaps they do not want to go, but which are capable of receiving them, refuse to do so. They are there still in these camps after years of captivity; during years when the German people were not suffering as they are suffering now, these were suffering. They survived years of the most horrible persecution known in modern, or indeed mediaeval and ancient, history as far as I know, and, I daresay, in recorded human history. They fought Nazism when the rest of the world was paying compliments and lending money to Nazism. They are still in our hands. When I saw Major-General Glyn Hughes, the medical officer in charge of the medical units which rescued them in the first place, and which did so much to enable so many to survive, I asked him, "What can we do for them now?" He said, "They will be quite normal, if only you can give them hope, and take them out of Germany." We have not given them hope, not taken them out of Germany and in this camp we are still maintaining them on less than the bare basic ration. My hon. Friend ought to do something about it; the facts have been brought to his notice more than once.
I am dealing with only one camp as I have not time to deal with more. These 10,500 are actual survivors of the original German concentration camps; not necessarily that particular camp, because there has been a collection of them into one camp. In that camp there are some 3,000 others. Again, to use the jargon which is used, they are "infiltrees." It is a horrible word; it is a horrible thing. Infiltrees are people who have percolated 1882 through from other areas in Eastern Europe, where they felt themselves unsafe. The authorities do not complain about this, they are perfectly prepared to treat them as displaced persons, and to provide them with displaced persons' cards and accommodation, and displaced persons' rations, and to look after them on the basis to which they are entitled. But the authorities do not want them to go into these camps. It is a perfectly understandable policy, though I think it is a mistaken policy. I do not complain of it. It is a purely administrative policy, and there are good, arguable reasons for it, although, in my view, they are insufficient reasons. They take the view that these people would be better spread among the general population, than: added to the concentrated remnants of these communities in the camps.
The people themselves take another view. They say they are refugees from persecution, and have been the victims of pogroms. They do not want to spread among the rest of the population, but prefer to go into the camps to be with their own people, living their own kind of life, speaking their own language, and sharing their own kind of communal living, and sharing, perhaps, their ultimate hopes, if they still have any, it may have been wrong for them to go into camps without authority, and the authorities may be entitled to tell them to go out. They may even be entitled to compel them to go out. I do not know. But I suggest to the House that there is no justification whatever for the kind of method that the authorities have chosen to display their disapproval. What they have done is to say, "We will give no rations whatever for the people who go-inside the camp without our approval, although we would have fed them outside."
What is the effect of that? It is that the people already in the camp must choose between two courses. Either they must let them starve in their midst, which obviously they cannot do, or they must maintain them out of their own basic, or rather less than basic, rations of some 1,450 calories. This is—I hope I may use the word without offence—blackmailing the people who are legitimately there, in order to force out the people who ought not to have gone there, and whose presence there is not the re 1883 sponsibility of those already there. Those already there would have no power of any sort to compel them to go out. If the authorities believe that those people ought to be put out, let them put them out. If they think that the political repercussions of any such brutality or callousness would be greater than they are prepared to bear, they must be prepared to feed them where they are. I say that there cannot be the slightest moral justification for knowing they are in the camps and treating them, so far as food is concerned, as though they did not exist at all. That is not the proper way in which authority should be enforced. The Chancellor of the Duchy cannot justify it—I do not think he desires to do so, but it should be put right.
If there is anything wrong with the figures that is another matter, but I take it that there is nothing wrong with them. These figures of 10,500 which I have mentioned I have seen in an official document. They are certified by the military authorities as a result of a census taken by them. Even if there was any question about the figures, it will not be denied that the principle adopted by the authorities is, "If you live where we want you to live, amongst the German population, you can have your card and your rations and such other privileges as displaced persons are entitled to have, but if you go into the camp, where we do not want you to go, you will either starve to death or be maintained out of the basic rations which the others are already getting." That is entirely wrong. This is not paying the debt we owe. Perhaps the position of the country is now so bad that the debt ought to be forgiven, but do not treat them worse than the others, the normal German population. That is what we are doing, if we first give those legitimately there a basic ration only, or something less than that, and then expect them to maintain out of that 3,000 more persons, who are there without their authority and not under their control.
I wish to say one other thing. It is not so important a matter. It affects only a handful of people. I suppose it is not a matter of life and death anyhow, but I wish to tell the House about it. These people in the camps are wholly unemployed. They have an objection, with which I sympathise, to being 1884 employed to rebuild Germany, but they would willingly train themselves, or be trained, for useful occupations, and they would prefer to maintain themselves rather than live on anybody's charity. A number of them endeavoured to do that. I think there were 60 or 70 of them. They had a house in Hamburg. They got three little boats. It is stated that they did not get the house very regularly, but they got it on the intervention of an U.N.R.R.A. official. If there was any irregularity about it, it was his and not theirs. But it cannot have been anything very serious, because the thing went on under everybody's eyes for many weeks or months without complaint. They trained themselves to take their three little boats out into the river and they caught 150 kilograms of fish every week. Then the sharp ears of my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich heard about this. I am sure that he was not interested in the fish but he thought he had discovered a source for illegal emigration out of Europe and so, very properly—and I make no complaint about it because he was quite right in doing what he did—he raised the question in this House. He thought there were five boats and he thought they were oceangoing boats.
My hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy gave the hon. Member the real facts. He said that there were not five boats, there were only three, and the three did not go to sea but only in the river where the men caught fish. The Chancellor was appealed to by a great many hon. Members from all sides of the House. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bexley (Major Bramall) was one, and the Leader of the Opposition was another. There were others in various parts of the House who said to my hon. Friend. "Well, is it a criminal offence in Germany for people to eke out their scant rations by catching a few fish for themselves by using boats in rivers?" There it was left. But as the result of that intervention that place was closed down. These young people had taken a derelict building. By their own efforts they had furnished and equipped it, and by their own efforts they were eking out their scanty existence. They were not allowed to go on. They did not add their 150 kilograms to the 3,000 tons of fish that were being caught, and so the ration 1885 of fish generally available was not increased to the public by the amount of 150 kilograms.
However, perhaps it could have been said they ought to have put it into the pool and not kept it for themselves. That seems to me to be a small point. It was not necessary to send police into the building to break it up and evict these people from it, and to prevent them going out again into the river in boats to catch a few fish, in order to secure that objective. I do not want to dilate upon it. It is a small matter. It is an incident. One does not expect my hon. Friend to be able to keep track of every administrative detail all over Germany, but I think his officials might be asked to deal with these matters in a spirit more in accordance with the way in which many of us feel we should treat these survivors.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
I think this Debate has been interesting from two points of view. It has emphasised the fact that, whilst in Germany people are groping to try to find some new way of life and some leadership to help them reach it, we are still in search of a policy. I do not think it is altogether fair to blame the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, or indeed His Majesty's Government, for all these things. I think fundamentally what has gone wrong is that from the very start we have not been able to "put over" in Germany what we look upon as the British way and purpose. We have been influenced by various considerations—Potsdam and others—and it has been extremely difficult for the Germans to recognise in some of the things we have done what they always believed were our own characteristics. That has led to a sense of disappointment and frustration. One German said to me, "We expected you to come here as conquerors but not as tyrants." That was rather an exaggerated way of expressing his disappointment that we have not been able to do more to help them on the road to recovery.
Many hon. Members have mentioned facts about displaced persons, and I want to ask the Minister whether he cannot really make a desperate effort now to do something to help these poor people who are worthy of assistance, and especially these Balts, of whom there are quite a number. As far as I know, they cannot 1886 possibly go back whence they came. At one time, there were 92,000 in the British zone, and only four of them had been repatriated. The Baits are hard-working people but they do not speak the German language. The Estonians and the Latvians are very good at agricultural work, and I recognise that we here are in need of labour on the land and to help our internal economy. I feel equally, that it is utterly wrong to keep German prisoners of war here a single month longer than is absolutely necessary, and, for the life of me, I cannot see why this exchange should not be made.
Here are these Baits longing to come to England, many of them trained agriculturists, who would be assimilated here very well—far better than Germans—and who are anxious to give what assistance they can. I believe that they would settle down very well with our own people. To have Germans here, some of whom have come from the United States and are now spread about our farms, suddenly realising that that to which they were accustomed in America cannot be got here is only causing discontent among them. There are obvious signs of this discontent, and I do not think that we can really blame them.
I see that the Secretary of State for War is here. There is a matter I should like to mention which, I think, is one which would merit his attention. We have very rightly given German prisoners greater liberty now, and they are able to go into our towns on restricted leave. It is only natural, I am afraid, that in some cases they have relations with English girls, and I have had cases in my own constituency, where I am trying to get authority for those Germans who wish to marry our girls to do so. I am told that, if I give the name of a German, he will be court-martialled immediately and be liable to two years' imprisonment. How much longer are we going on with Germans walking about our streets and these things happening, without any possibility of a girl being able to marry a German if she wishes to do so? It seems to me to be complete nonsense, to be immoral and utterly wrong.
We have to remember that, some day, those Germans will go back to their own country, and they will go back with a feeling of great bitterness, instead of being apostles of our way of life to spread the doctrine of how we live. They will go back with very different thoughts to 1887 astonish all their friends in Germany who still believe that there is in this country that fount of the democratic way of life about which we fought the war. From every point of view, I think the time has come to beg the Government to consider if it is not possible to bring some of these Baits here to work on the land and get them out of the camps in Germany and settled in this country, and, in exchange, return those Germans who, I still say, we have no business to keep any longer. In many of the camps, we are treating them almost the same as we are treating the incarcerated Germans who are accused of being Nazis. I do not think it is right, and, although I am afraid some hon. Members will not agree, how can we expect Europe to settle down again if we are to perpetuate those views which are going to create a feeling of Nazism again? These people are not allowed any occupation and hardly any recreation; they are mouldering in these camps, and becoming more and more bitter. Is it our policy to keep them in these camps for ever? Would it not be better to send them back to do some really useful work, and thus reduce the number of people in Germany longing to get out, and whom we are keeping there? I ask the Chancellor to realise—he may be bored with this matter of displaced persons—that it is utterly wrong to permit any organisation, other than the official British organisation, to have anything to do with these camps, and I beg of him not to permit some sort of international organisation, some sort of U.N.R.R.A., to carry on this business. Dual control and double responsibility have been proved to be great failures.
There is one other point I would like to mention, which I think is very urgent. It is in regard to education and the way in which we must try to have a long-term policy. It is cbvious, apart from the short-term and immediate problems of administration, that the thing that matters most is, if we are there at all, whether we are really succeeding in carrying out a long-term policy which is going to make Germany feel that she can make some contribution to world recovery. I do not believe that we have the right people there, and I cannot believe that it is right for them to repress what is, after all, good in Germany. There is no doubt that one of the only ways in which we can 1888 ever eliminate the horrors of what we know as "Nazism" is by the encouragement of the belief in something that is not wholly material. There is no other way. For instance, we are not encouraging the Y.M.C.A. to go out and help boys' clubs. There are plenty of people who would like to do that, but we do not even permit men who have been commissioned officers in the German Army, no matter how good their qualifications or how much we know chat they disliked Nazism, to play their part in trying to bring something into the lives of the young men and boys of Germany. I am confident that, if we had some of the men accustomed to run hostels and centres of the Y.M.C.A. type, and encouraged the Churches to go and do something, we could achieve a great deal. It is terrible to see, in the German cities today, boys and young men wandering about with no one to look after them. I think that we are creating a grave problem. We must realise that the boys of, say, 16 to 18 are going to be the real problem. We must retain our control of their education and bring them to a better way of life, at least until they reach the age of 25 or 30.
I feel that this House is responsible; it reflects the feeling of the country. As British people, irrespective of party, we all believe in those great principles of truth and justice and in what we think is right. I also think—at least I hope we do—that we believe in reason. Those are qualities, to which all of us in this House can make our contribution by affirming without fear of contradiction. We may each have our approach to these things, but we can never do anything unless we are quite determined that we shall not be deflected by any other country's ideologies from what we believe to be our way of life. The time has come when we cannot risk wavering any more. The matter has been drifting, there is not enough policy, and it is because I feel this so deeply that I beg of the Chancellor to realise that there are so many people who feel we have not shown that grip of the situation and that determination to rule because we believe we can do it with justice and determination. If we can do that, I believe most of the difficulties will solve themselves. I beg of the hon. Gentleman to remember that so long as we keep German prisoners 1889 of war in this country and displaced persons in camps, and until we can get communications in operation, it will be impossible to feel confident that we have removed the sore which is troubling Europe.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
I have listened to the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) talking about the wonderful qualities which we have in this country, but I am sure he does not think I possess those qualities. He also said we did not want the ideologies of other countries in this country. What ideologies? Hon. Members talk about ideologies from Russia and other places, but they forget that the ideology in Russia or in any other part of Europe was exported from this country. Let them read their own history and see where all this ideology has come from. Let them read the literature of the Peasant Revolt or of the "Levellers" when the bourgeois of this country cut off the head of their King. Nowhere in Europe is there an atom of ideology which was not exported from this country, and hon. Members seem to be afraid that their own export will come back.
I want to say a few words on this serious question of Germany. A lot of "mushy" sentiment and dangerous tendencies have been expressed with regard to Germany. A stranger coming to this House and listening to what goes on, could be excused if he believed that Poland was our enemy in the war and that Germany was our Ally. No doubt they would be convinced that Russia was our enemy instead of Germany. There is a lot of talk about hunger in Germany. Wherever there is hunger, I would join with anybody in trying to assuage that hunger. But there is hunger in Poland and she was our Ally. There is hunger in Yugoslavia and she was a brave and courageous Ally. We hear nothing about helping these countries, nothing but venomous language directed towards them. Some hon. Members on this side, as well as on the other side of the House, speak about rebuilding German industry and economy. It is madness, and would be a betrayal of all those men who fought and died for this country, just as it was a betrayal after the last war.
We heard a lot about helping German industry and economy in those days. It was in consequence of rebuilding German 1890 economy and industry that Germany became the one great centre of economic power in Europe at the expense of every other country in Europe. When Germany marched into France, every industry in France had to become an auxiliary of German industry, and France had to become an agricultural hinterland of Germany. If it had not been for the war, that powerful industrial force in Germany would have put British industry completely out of business. If that industry had been running full pressure, on peacetime production, there would be no need for steel engineering, or any other industry in Britain.
There has been talk about rebuilding German economy. Do hon. Members want a balanced economy in Europe? If they do it is no use dealing only with German industry. There must be industries in Poland, Czechoslovakia, France and various other countries; they all have to be rebuilt. If there is to be a balanced economy in Europe, and if Germany is to be made safe and prosperous, we must have an entirely new economy in Germany. There is a new economy in the Soviet zone. Whatever questions may be raised about the Soviet zone, one thing cannot be denied—the big estates of the Junkers have been divided up. That is a new economy, and a very important new economy, which nobody can dispute. In the Soviet zone, the industries are under the control of German administration, not military administration, although the military are there. In the Soviet zone there is a German administration and a new economy, and we must get a new economy all over Germany. Carry out Potsdam, destroy German war potential, de-Nazify Germany, and get a new economic policy for the whole of Germany. Will we get that under the direction of the American dollar? No. The only new economy that will make Germany safe and prosperous, as well as giving a balanced European economy, is a Socialist economy for the whole of Germany. Get that Socialist economy, and there will be unity of the four zones, and a Germany that is a safe, prosperous and good neighbour to the rest of Europe.
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)
the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) said that all the ideologies had come from 1891 this country. Certainly the ideology which he professes did, and from a Ger man displaced person received in this country—Karl Marx. I hope the hon. Member will remember that when he shows lack of charity to Yugoslavs and other displaced persons.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is it not a fact that Karl Marx got all his information and material in the British Museum?
§ Mr. Birch
That is exactly what I was saying. This particular gentleman, with his carbuncles, beard and all, was charitably received in this country, and therefore it ill becomes the hon. Member and his party to be so uncharitable to other refugees. The hon. Member sets himself up as a considerable economist, talking about moving the economy of Europe from one country to another. He must remember one cannot very well move a coal mine. That may be a Communist plan, but it is not a very easy thing to do.
I would like to start by saying that, obviously, a great many hon. Members on all sides of the House have visited Germany. Here I would like to pay tribute to the ability and kindness of the Control Commission in Germany. I imagine a great many of their guests are very unwelcome. When they get home, they ask awkward questions, and those awkward questions have to be looked up by the officials. I would also extend that tribute to the hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and his staff at Norfolk House, who have certainly been very helpful whenever I have gone there, as I know they have been to many other hon. Members in all parts of the House I have succeeded in getting outside less meals in the British zone than Mr. Gollancz, therefore my experience is not so extensive. But I would say it is a gross misrepresentation to say that our Control Commission there lives in a state of Oriental luxury, because they do not. As far as the Control Commission officials are concerned, I would say, certainly about those at the top, those who have the highest responsibility, that they are people of very great ability, integrity and devotion to duty. I will be a happy day for this country when the same thing can be said about the Government here.
I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is not here, because 1892 I am going to say some fairly strong things about him. Perhaps, he will come back in a minute.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Bellenger)
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will admit that my hon. Friend has been here for most of the Debate.
§ Mr. Birch
I only regret his absence and apologise in advance for saying certain things about him when he is not here. He came very near to suggesting that anybody who criticised the Control Commission was being a traitor to his country because the criticism would be reported in Germany [Interruption.]Oh, yes, he did. He said it would be reported in Germany and would reflect upon the credit of our country. Well, it is a risk we must take. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has taken it, and I am very well prepared to do so myself. I was not much reassured by the hon. Gentleman's speech. He showed his usual courage and his usual indignation, but his speech was not, I thought, the speech of a statesman, but the speech of a mouse at bay. Some of the statistics he gave were, of course, reassuring. The health statistics are very remarkable. It is a mystery to me how the German people keep alive. But they have kept alive so far, and these health statistics do reflect great credit on the Commission.
The industrial statistics which the Minister produced were, I thought, really deplorable. The time has come when the Chief Whip might, perhaps, arrange some lectures for Ministers on statistics, perhaps by some of the excellent statisticians on the back Benches opposite. One cannot, as the hon. Gentleman did, put up a case simply by saying that something has gone up 100 per cent. without showing what it has gone up from, and what it has gone up to. If a factory produces one pair of boots, and next year produces three pairs of boots, that is much better than 100 per cent.: production has gone up by 200 per cent. It is not, however, a very great contribution to those who are short of millions of pairs of boots. It is entirely and absolutely irrelevant, and I think it quite 1893 unworthy of a Minister in this House to produce statistics of that sort.
Then the hon. Gentleman went on with, I thought, elementary dialectic to charge with inconsistency those who have criticised Potsdam. He said, "Some people say 'scrap' Potsdam, and some say 'unify Germany.'" Well, they are perfectly consistent. It is perfectly consistent to unify Germany, and to scrap Potsdam. There is no inconsistency of any sort. Then he said, "Some say 'export more coal,' and some say 'export less.'" But what everybody says is, that if we do not export less coal, the whole of Germany will run down. The Minister of State was put up last July to say that in no circumstances would less coal be exported; and then, of course, three or four months later, exports had to be cut down. Then the Chancellor came to de-Nazification. He said, "Some say there should be more de-Nazification, and some say there should be less." I will come to that point in a minute. He further has said, "Some people say the Germans have too much food, and some say they have too little." The point there is that the Germans did have very considerable food stocks when we invaded the country, but nobody says now that they have got great stocks, or says that the Germans are in anything but a deplorable state of affairs, so far as the food position is concerned.
The whole Debate has shown again the disquiet and anxiety felt in all parts of the House about this problem of Germany. I am very glad that, at last, the Liberal Party have spoken up. Since the war, every liberal value has been traduced in Germany, but the Liberal Party in this House have viewed the matter with supine inattention.
§ Mr. Birch
I admit that Lord Beveridge and the Liberals in the country and in the Press have not been supine, but I was talking about those in this House. I. therefore, said I was glad to hear an echo of the denunciations of misdeeds abroad, which Mr. Gladstone used to thunder out.
There are two chief grounds for this disquiet and anxiety. First is the moral 1894 and material ruin going on in our zone, with its cancerous growth of misery and hatred and all the political and economic implications that go with it. Second, and I do not think this has been sufficiently brought out, there is the effect of all this on our own economy. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law) asked certain questions to which the Minister did not reply, but o which I hope a reply will be given. In the Estimates, as hon. Members know, we allowed £80 million for the Control Commissions in Germany and Austria, but that item was what economists describe as a "constructive item." It was made up of gross expenses of £130 million, with a set-off of exports from Germany of £50 million. There is, of course, no doubt that that sum of £80 million will be exceeded. In the sum of £130 million for gross expenses, there was an item of £100 million for essential imports for the German people, and I think it is reasonable to expect, in the present circumstances, not only that that estimate will be exceeded, but that a very great part of it will have to be met in dollars, because the only places where we can get those things nowadays, are the hard currency countries.
Further, under the New York Agreement we have guaranteed to put up a minimum of £125 million more—again probably a considerable under-estimate—of which sum a large part, at any rate, will have to be spent in dollars. When all these things are added up, it is not a very wild estimate to say that something between one-fifth and one-quarter of the American Loan will have to go on Germany, with the most grievous results to the standard of living in this country. I very much hope that in replying the hon. Gentleman will deal with that.
Why has this come about? It is only fair of course to recognise that there have been difficulties. First was the division of the zones, and the destruction which everybody has mentioned, and which is particularly bad in our zone—very much worse than in any other. Then there is the fact that food cannot be obtained at the present time without hard currency, and hard currency is a thing of which we are very short. The problem, therefore, was never going to be easy, but I would say that when we went into Germany we were faced with Hitler's errors, 1895 while now we are faced not only with those errors but with our own.
It is absolutely wrong to blame the Control Commission itself. The vital mistakes have been mistakes of high policy, and the really vital mistake has been that we have continually pursued policies which are no longer relevant. It is no good asking whether Potsdam was right or wrong, because it has never been carried out. The great Lord Salisbury once said that the commonest aim in politics consisted in sticking to the carcasses of dead policies, and that is exactly what we have done: Our original plans were based on certain assumptions, of which the two main ones were these. First, that there would be agreements among the Allies, and that such agreements as were come to would be kept. I will not enlarge on that point; obviously agreements have not come off, but it was not in our power to make them come off. The second main assumption—and I think it was made because at the time we thought it likely that a German surrender might take place while our forces and the forces of our Allies were still outside the German frontier—was that the first priority was de-Nazification, demilitarisation, and convincing the Germans that they were defeated rather than getting the wheels of the German economy going again. That was looked upon as purely a subsidiary and far less important task.
What the future potentiality of Germany as an aggressor may be, I am not discussing tonight, but I think anyone who has been to Germany and walked in the streets of Essen, Cologne, Berlin or Hamburg knows that there is no prospect of Germany making war either now, or five or ten years hence. The consequences of not getting the wheels of industry going are only too apparent, and rather ghastly. To get things going, was largely within our power, and the real criticism is that the Government have not put first things first. When you are planning—and I have done a tidy bit of planning—you have to make certain assumptions. Those assumptions are very often wrong, but if you are a good planner and you have made wrong assumptions, you alter your plans as quickly as possible, and you do not go on pursuing a policy which is dead and damned, and that is precisely what we 1896 have done. All the readjustments the Government have made have been in the right direction. They have cut down coal exports, and gone in for control rather than administration. They have fused with the United States zone, have slowed down the destruction of German factories, and are just beginning to contemplate putting in a little capital instead of taking it out. This is all right, but they have been terribly slow, and the situation has been-deteriorating all the time. We have been slow in not giving absolute priority in getting the means of life available to the German people, and we are still not giving this absolute priority.
The effect of these two false assumptions has had the most evil inter-reactions. It has led, first, to concentration of everyone of any power and influence on the Commission in Berlin. I thought that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was extremely cavalier with my right hon. Friend on this point. We had 2,700 officials, mostly of the top grade, in Berlin out of a total 25,800 people. I do not know the exact figure now, but I have no doubt that the proportion is even more in favour of Berlin. That would be right if Germany were administered as a whole, but it should be apparent that that is not so. After all, Berlin is 180 miles from Hamburg, and if one tries to telephone between the two places one is cut off every two minutes. There is no doubt that the people in Berlin are out of touch, and that was said by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and by my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined Engish Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay); it is a fact which everyone knows who has been to Germany. Further, the energies of the people in Berlin are very largely devoted to trying to get international agreement. It is very much as if the British Government were to emigrate to Dublin, and spend the whole of their time trying to induce Mr. de Valera to rejoin the British Empire; they would not be very successful, and the government of this country would be carried on even worse than it is now.
The next point which arose from these two false assumptions was the old one of de-Nazification. I thought the Minister begged this question. There is nothing wrong with the idea, because, obviously, blood had to flow after what had gone on. What was wrong was the scale. I think 1897 it was shown, in answer to a Question, that 1,368,000 people have been examined, and that 234,000 are to be reexamined, and one-quarter of the teachers have been thrown out. So, the whole business is going on. There is a great consensus of opinion, and very wide political thought in this country, that that is morally wrong. The only dissidents from that view are the Marxists, like the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills). Those are the people who believe that justice and mercy are bourgeoise ideals, that truth is what the party thinks, and who believe that religion is the opium of the people.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Crawley
Did not General Clay complain to the American authorities that de-Nazification in their zone was being done inefficiently; and did he not suggest to the American authorities that he should take it over and do it thoroughly?
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas (Llandaff and Barry)
Was the hon. Member referring to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Buckingham (Flight-Lieutenant Crawley) or to General Clay?
§ Mr. Birch
There are those who wish to go on with de-Nazification and whom I despise much more than I do Marxists. They are the people who are mean, unsuccessful, feeble, and so hopeless them- 1898 selves that they want to pull down anyone who has ever reached any position.
Further, as well as being morally wrong, this policy is economically disastrous, because we are faced with having to run the economy of German with third-class brains. It may be possible, although this has not been proved, to tolerate a number of Sir Ben Smiths, but you cannot run the whole show with Sir Ben Smiths, which is what we are trying to do today. The third main result of these two false assumptions is the industrial paralysis which is now affecting Germany. I believe that the scheduling and destruction of factories, although it has caused great dislocation, great hardship, and loss of moral, has been a relatively minor factor. Why we did it, I do not know, in view of the fact that the Americans have stopped doing it. We have to remember that we are a long way below the level of the Potsdam Agreement. That cannot be the major factor. I would give much more weight to local maladministration and over-control, because we have a number of officials who are ignorant of the language, history, and economy of Germany. Most of them have not been trained for the job. When you try detailed administration you will get the classic muddle like there was over the subject of peat. The food control maintained that it was for them, and the coal control maintained that it was for fuel, with the consequence that very little peat was cut. That is the type of thing that has been going on.
I am inclined to think that the main reason for the troubles is the Schachtian twilight into which German economy has fallen. We have started on the same course as Dr. Schacht started on many years ago. In Germany, this course has reached its logical conclusion. There, production is one-quarter of its prewar figure; the national debt is 10 times greater than prewar; the note circulation is seven times the prewar figure; black market prices are 10 to 15 times the controlled prices; in that country a man can sell his monthly cigarette ration for more than a month's wages. Nationalisation is imposed as a punishment instead of an economic device, and, on top of all this, there is the attempt to freeze the prices and wages at the 1939 level by withdrawing subsidies from industry. Therefore, money has lost its function. There is no incentive to the worker to work, and it is impossible for 1899 most employers, because they can only produce at an enormous loss. We have reached the padded cell stage of the Schacht economy.
I might say in passing that there are many parallels between their economy and ours. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his famous Gateshead speech last week, said that there would be no financial crisis here—we shall only be short of food, clothes and houses. There is no financial crisis in Germany, but the essential supplies are not there—food, boots, clothes and cooking utensils—and I am not the least reassured by the hon. Gentleman that there will be a 100 per cent. increase in all these things, because I think it will be many years before supplies are adequate. A surgical operation is undoubtedly necessary on German economy. This was recognised in the White Paper issued by the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Byrnes, but it is being held up month after month.
That is the sorry tale, but I do not want to end on a completely gloomy note. The Foreign Secretary said the other day, after he had signed that agreement, that we were at the end of our economic troubles. That is being perhaps a little too optimistic, but if we remember that it is no good trying to re-educate a dead man, and that the one thing we have to do is to get the wheels going round again, if we realise the need for speed, then, I think, we have a chance to succeed. The main doubt which was expressed by the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson) is whether that would be possible on a diet of 1,800 calories. If we cannot increase that, I think that more money may well go down the drain.
The hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) discussed, in particular, the joining up of the zones. That will not automatically solve our troubles. I am informed that the Russian zone—Eastern Germany less the parts cut off by Poland and Russia—is only capable of producing 3,000 calories per head of those now there. That should give a certain alleviation to us, because we are only producing 900 calories per head in our zone, although we hope to get it up to some 1,350 calories. That is not the long-term or final solution. I would quote the "Economist" of a fortnight ago, which said:The Russian zone is now a stripped and impoverished area, which would be a burden 1900 on the rest of Germany for many years to come.Therefore the unification of the zones is not an easy way out of our troubles. We may hope for agreement with the east, and for agreement with the west. We must not leave out our friends in western Europe, who are even more vitally interested in this matter than we are. When we are negotiating, I hope that we will hold to certain essentials: First, the time factor—that things cannot go on as they are much longer, that we cannot afford to wait while negotiations go on month after month; that further privations cannot be imposed on the German people in our zone; and that no action must be taken further to weaken our balance of payments.
We are on the edge now, and we must take no action that will make our position worse. The last point is important. If we enter into any agreement, we must have some reasonable assurance that that agreement will be carried out. A barbarous agreement is not less barbarous because one introduces into it the words "orderly and humane," as the frozen corpses on the trains coming from Poland might well remind us. If we compromise on these four points, we run the risk not only of ruining Western Europe, but of ruining ourselves. The difficulties and dangers ahead are very great. I often feel—certainly when in a more depressed mood I often feel—that the evil consequences of the war are only just becoming apparent. For a solution of the German problem we shall require all the courage, the firmness, the wisdom and the humanity of which we are capable, and I pray to God we shall show those qualities.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Hynd)
I have listened with interest and attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch), and I may say that it contained, to put it generously, some rather ill-informed criticism of the situation. I have been accused of giving false statistics.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, but if he wishes to speak a second time, he must ask the leave of the House.
§ Mr. Hynd
They were not irrelevant, because they represent a considerable increase in the production over six months ago. I quoted as an example the increase in the production of footwear, which has gone up to one million pairs a month, which is equivalent to 13 million pairs a year—a very substantial increase.
§ Mr. Hynd
I should say that that would be about half the basic minimum in the condition of Germany today. I do not think, however, that those figures are irrelevant, and indeed they are highly important, considering the importance of that commodity. The hon. Member for Flint, I think rather gleefully, cited some of the difficulties that exist, and which I have described to the House on many occasions. He referred to the difficult position of production, to the fact that production now is only about 25 per cent. or 30 per cent. of the pre-war production, to the fact that there is a black market in the zone, that there is a high value on cigarettes as currency, and so on. I am not in the least gleeful about these things.
§ Mr. Hynd
On the contrary, as the one who is mainly responsible for facing these difficulties, I am exceedingly depressed by the spectacle. I think the general tenor of the Debate has been to recognise that these conditions are caused by certain circumstances which, as many hon. Members on both sides of the House have been fair enough to say, are not the fault cither of the Government or of the personnel of the British Control Commission. The hon. Member for Flint said that the development of policy to meet the changing conditions—for example, the putting of money into the zone and the pumping of raw materials into the economy of the zone—has been too slow and too late. That, again, is possibly true, but I would remind the House that in these things we are not free agents, that even a fusion agreement between two zones, as an alternative—perhaps a poor 1902 alternative—to the economic unity towards which we set out in the beginning, involves securing agreement with another party, and is not something that can be done unilaterally. The hon. Member for Flint compared the administration in Berlin with the position in which a representative of the Government might go to Dublin to negotiate with Mr. De Valera. I do not think that was a good parallel. I should rather compare the administration in Berlin with a Coalition Government in this country composed of the three main parties, with Ministers having no Cabinet responsibility, being responsible for different areas of the country with different economic resources, and no Minister having any responsibility for sharing those resources with the rest of his colleagues. That is the type of situation we have been in, but we are not dealing with a foreign country. We are, in fact, a part of the Government in Germany, and as we have to be in Germany, we are where the Central Control is situated, namely in Berlin.
There is a large field to cover, and I apologise in advance if I miss any of the points that have been made, but the House will appreciate that this subject does not cover only one field of administration but all fields of administration. I have to turn from being German Chancellor of the Exchequer to being German Home Secretary and then German Foreign Secretary. I cannot deal with or cover every subject that has been raised. One point has been stressed throughout the Debate—and I welcome it—and that is the question of education. I did not deal with this in my opening remarks because, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Mr. Law) mentioned, there was an excellent and admirable article in "The Times" yesterday which gave an objective review by an authority who recently visited the zone. Therefore, I thought it was redundant to go very far into that question. However, a number of points were raised in this connection by the Senior Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) to which I should like to make some reference.
I gather from his complaints that he believed little had been done in the educational world; that it was a mistake to interfere with the existing organisation of the education branch; and he suggested that we should take those who have gone to 1903 Berlin into the zone and let them remain there because they were very unhappy in Berlin. We do not run our administration entirely in order to make people happy. That is not our only consideration. There is a reason and purpose for their being there. He also suggested that someone who knows something about education should be appointed to give us advice in London on these matters. What has happened in education is this. Last year when we started to tackle this job in the conditions in Germany then we were faced with a fantastic accumulation of obstacles. There were no schools because of the bombing; there was no heating because of the shortage of coal; most of the school buildings that could be used had no windows; and there was a complete lack of equipment and of books. It is true, as one hon. Member said, that 25 per cent. of the teachers had to be dismissed, but those 25 per cent. were teachers who had been most active in preaching the Nazi ideology. Therefore, I make no apology for the fact that they were dismissed. Large numbers of the teachers now remaining had lost touch with democratic principles of teaching, and there was a complete absence of books which could be used as text books in schools in Germany unless we were, to continue to teach the children on Nazi lines. There was no paper and no pencils and practically no equipment of any kind.
The situation today is entirely changed. We have 99 per cent. of the children who should be attending school in the zone at school even if only half a day, but 42 per cent. of the children have, in fact, to attend in shifts because of the lack of accommodation, lack of heating, lack of shoes, lack of clothes and so on. These difficulties still exist. As I have mentioned, the production of shoes and footwear generally is having a very high priority for that reason. We have also, in addition to the increase in production of footwear in the zone, exported some 900,000 pairs from this country to assist in meeting this position. School meals are a very considerable help in getting the children to school.
In addition to that we have opened up teachers' training colleges, a very necessary part of the education machine, and we anticipate that we shall be able to turn out between 15,000 and 20,000 fully 1904 trained teachers in the next three years. This again will assist considerably in the development of education because it is clear that the classes are too large and the need for additional teachers is urgent. All the universities in the zone have been reopened and are functioning, together with all the equivalent colleges. Adult teaching centres are also functioning in nearly every Kreis and Gemeinde area. One hundred and eighty people's high schools have been opened and no less then 13,700 youth clubs are being carried on by religious organisations, political parties, trade unions, and so on. I think myself that these youth clubs are one of the best antidotes to the admittedly serious and grievous situation of child delinquency which is inevitable in the conditions which exist in Germany now and those which have existed there for the last 20 years.
I emphasise the difficulty of lack of buildings which affects not only schools but hospital and all kinds of other accommodation that is urgently required. The heating problem, the lack of books and teachers, and so on, are matters we have to overcome by one means or another, but there is the fact that amongst the teachers and the older children there is also a very important job of eradicating a mentality which has been injected into them by years of Nazi training, and that is probably one of the most difficult aspects of re-education which we have to face. I would also mention in passing the contributions which have been made by the visits of experts on adult education, the tours of lecturers from the British universities, and the visits to this country of German educationists, of whom there are seven here now under a Ministry of Education scheme. As an interesting sidelight, the education scheme for prisoners of war in this country has been so successful and popular that Germans have asked to be allowed to come from Germany to join in the courses and are actually here. We intend to bring others to join with the prisoners of war in these courses. I understand also that Wilton Park centres have been opened by returning prisoners in Germany. In addition we are considering restoring the British Council in the British zone and there are information centres in every town and village. British newspapers, both daily and Sunday editions, are now available in Berlin and I hope soon that they will 1905 be available throughout the zone. Postal facilities have been provided and newspapers may be sent into the zone.
§ Mr. Richard Law
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of education would he give me an answer to the point I raised earlier this afternoon? I asked whether the education establishments of the Control Commission had been cut down or whether it was proposed to cut it down, and, if so, by how much Would he also deal with another point which I think is of some importance? Why, now that we have handed over education to the Germans, is it necessary to withdraw these educational officers from the zone to Berlin to advise the Commander-in-Chief instead of advising the Germans?
§ Mr. Hynd
I had intended to answer those questions, but before doing so I should just like to finish the point I was making. The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) referred to text books. It is true that this has been a very difficult problem and, whether or not hon. Members on all sides agree, the text books which were in Germany at the time were not suitable for teaching young children. They therefore had practically all to be scrapped. The shortage of paper, coal and so on, and the time taken, has made the production of books a considerable task to overcome. Now, however, 6,000,000 educational books have been issued by us in Germany, we are also sending large quantities of secondhand books, and, in addition, all kinds of schemes are being examined to supplement these efforts. The education branch has not been asleep.
In regard to the reorganisation of the education branch, the right hon. Member suggested that we should have left things where they were. This is a progressive development. We cannot regard it as static. When we started education we had physically to take over the schools, get teachers into them and look after the provision of books and paper, equipment and materials. We patched up the windows in the schools and provided paper, etc. We got beyond that stage despite the, fact that we had to screen the teachers. Those we now have in the schools are more or less reliable. Now we are in a position to do our real job, and to withdraw that 1906 interference on the lower level to which so many hon. Members have referred.
We have concentrated on the real job of organising the re-education of Germany in the proper sense. We are placing our headquarters in Berlin because the Commander-in-Chief is in Berlin, the Deputy Military Governor, responsible for policy, is necessarily there and the heads of all Divisions are in Berlin. I do not regard education as merely a matter of sending teachers into schools and supplying books, but in terms of youth activities, adult education, and de-Nazification, in fact practically every aspect of our administration. We are raising the status of education from purely technical administration to one of study under the guidance of people who are eminently fitted for it. I hope I shall soon be able to announce the appointment of an education adviser, and that it will give satisfaction to the House and the country.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay
In view of the very important statement which the hon. Gentleman has just made, will he tell us what status the head of this branch will have?
§ Mr. Hynd
He will have a status which will be at least equivalent to that of the head of a division. He will be an education officer with the Commander-in-Chief, so that education can be injected into every one of our activities.
Another important matter is reparations. The hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) suggested that there should be no reparations from Germany. It was also suggested that we are stalling at present, pending the review of the levelling of industry. I want to make it clear to the House that the policy of reparations is one that we just cannot drop entirely. We are under a certain obligation at the moment with our Allies, not only our Eastern Allies but our Allies in the West. We are in Germany in the position of trustees as well as an occupying Power and are committed by international agreement. There is a suggestion, running through the criticism of reparations policy, that it will do irreparable damage to German economy. There is in Germany tremendous bomb damage and dislocation of industry, but there remains a considerable surplus of heavy industrial capacity, particularly in the steel and armaments industries, which would not be regarded even by progressive Germans 1907 as necessary for German peace economy. Speaking from memory, I think the present steel capacity in Germany is something in the nature of 18,000,000 tons per annum. That, and the war factories, and the armament equipment, and these tremendous factories and machines that were built specifically for war purposes are regarded as surplus to Germany's peace time economy, and will continue to be so regarded. The question is: what is to be done? Are we to leave them to stand there and rot, or are we to blow them up and be faced with criticism from certain hon. Members of this House? Or are we to face the fact that some of these factories, surplus as they are to Germany' s peace economy, can make an important contribution to certain countries which have suffered severe war damage and which are not in a position to restore their economy without such contributions?
That is the position we have to face today. The German economy, factories and productive capacity, still reflect the war policy which has been pursued by that country for many years. Her steel capacity is too large, her heavy engineering industries are too large, and her war potential is altogether too large. Germany requires a much better balanced economy for peace-time purposes. It is true we are going to review the present level of industry because of reasons which have been stated in this House on many occasions, and which I do not propose to repeat now. In short, the conditions under which their level of industry was agreed in March last year, with considerable reluctance on the part of the Government but as a compromise for getting on with some planning, have not been met and, therefore, we consider a drastic review of the level of industry—at least in the two zones now fused—will be necessary.
§ Mr. Stokes
Will my hon. Friend deal with the question I specifically put to him? Are we, or are we not, entitled under the quadripartite arrangement to suspend all dismantling if the Americans do so, and the Americans have done so, beyond the two lists?
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
The hon. Gentleman has made a most interesting and important statement that, as regards reparations policy we are doing nothing more and nothing less than the Americans. The Americans have announced they may take unilateral action,? because the Potsdam Agreement has not been put fully into operation. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us exactly what is being done about reparations in the British zone at the present time; and what he meant when he said we have followed the American method?
§ Mr. Hynd
What I meant was that the Americans had said they did not propose to proceed with the dismantling of any factories or any plant beyond the first two lists that had been declared under the original arrangement, and we are doing precisely the same. There have been supplementary proposals which have been put forward by ourselves on the one hand and by the Americans on the other hand, and by the French in another direction, in regard to war plants and to what are known as multilateral deliveries, that is, items of plant within factories which are not unique in character and which are not essential to the production of that particular factory and which can be made available to claimant countries immediately. Of course the whole question of reparations policy and high policy in general is really outside the confines of this debate, and will be the subject on a higher level to quadripartite discussion.
§ Mr. Hynd
Quite a number of hon. Members have referred to the displaced persons' problem, and I should like to 1909 comment on one or two of the points that were made. The hon. Member for North Dorset has asked what is to happen after U.N.R.R.A. I would point out that U.N.R.R.A. are not, of course, responsible for the displaced persons in Germany, but in Allied countries they are. The Control Commission is responsible for the administration of the camps in Germany, although U.N.R.R.A. is providing personnel for some of these camps. It will continue to be so unless some other organisation is provided to take over the responsibility. But when I am asked what we are doing to get these people repatriated, I think the answer is that which I gave first of all, that 2,000,000 of these people have already been repatriated. We are exploring every possible means of repatriation and settlement and I would tell the House that the rate was 3,600 a week in the fourth quarter of last year. In regard to the remarks about the bringing of displaced persons to this country, it is well known that a start has been made with the women who are coming here for work in hospitals and sanatoria, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is well aware of the need to bring male labour to this country. We are both agreed on the advantages of this proposal being thoroughly examined. If I may—
§ Mr. Hynd)
It has yet to be implemented by the necessary number of signatories. This country is willing to append its signature, and I think I am right in saying we have already signed it. In any case, we are prepared to sign, but this agreement requires fifteen nations to sign before it becomes operative and I understand that up to date we have not yet sufficient signatories. With reference to the remarks by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), I should like to say that I appreciate the restrained way in which he put his argument, because I know that he 1910 has Very strong feelings on this subject. But, I think, if I may say so, that he has been misled rather badly in some of his comments. He has referred to concentration camps, and what he has said is a clear travesty. The Belsen to which he refers is certainly not the camp which we knew, because that has been burned down and completely destroyed. The Belsen camp now consists of blocks of fiats, well-planned and commodious, and I do not think he can know the facts.
§ Mr. Silverman
I would like to say this. I had no intention of letting it be thought that the place as now inhabited was anything at all like the one which existed before. I called them concentration camps because they are places in which people are grouped together awaiting movement.
§ Mr. Hynd
I accept that, but the conditions are very different. The people are free to move in and out of the camp, and they are provided with the same rations as the people outside, which are the standard rations at the moment. It is also a misrepresentation to say that these people have less than 1,550 calories, because different rates for different types of work are provided.
§ Mr. Hynd
I am very sorry, but I cannot give way. Specific complaints in regard to these camps were under two heads. First, "the persecutee" and his ration, and the "infiltrees." I am accused of not having visited that camp. But one of the first things which I did was to meet the Jewish representative—Dr. Rosensaft—in Belsen, and I was given a denial of the stories which had appeared in the Press a few days before, and an endorsement of the denial I had given in the House of allegations which had appeared in the American Press of ill-treatment of the displaced persons in the camp.
Now in regard to the "persecutee" ration, to which my hon. Friend referred, the position is that at one stage the displaced persons' rations were on an extremely preferential basis compared with those of the German population. Subse- 1911 quently they were reduced to 1,550 calories basic when the German rations were reduced to 1,000 calories. Eventually the German rations were raised to 1,550 calories, with the displaced persons rations on the same level as the German rations. The question of the "persecutee" ration was considered. Representations have been made to me with regard to it. I inquired whether it was being applied, and I was informed that it is not being provided at the present time, but that it is being considered sympathetically, and I anticipate that if it is not already in being it soon will be.
With regard to the "infiltrees," it is true that there are a number of illegal "infiltrees" in this particular camp. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is an "infiltree"?"] "Infiltree" is the term used by my hon. Friend, and therefore I am sticking to it. There is a large number of displaced persons who are "displaced persons" within the meaning of that term, which was adopted by U.N.R.R.A. and is recognised toy international parlance. These persons are registered, and are entitled to certain special treatment and conditions because they were found in Germany, and we undertook the responsibility for maintaining them and looking after them until we could provide facilities for them to go home. Most of them have gone home. Those who have not gone home we still accept as our responsibility, up to the moment, but we are now asking them at least to be prepared to accept some kind of employment in return for the maintenance provided. In addition, there is a large number, I understand, of refugees from Poland and elsewhere, mainly Jews, so far as I can gather, who have come into our zone in defiance of the regulations. But we are still prepared to accept and maintain them, and to provide them with food, shelter and clothing if necessary. But they have not announced themselves. They have taken it upon themselves to go into these camps and seek the protection of their fellow countrymen, or religious communities, or whatever it may be. We are not aware of who these people are, how many there are of them, and in what camps they may be. The position is plain that if they will announce that they are in the zone, and allow themselves to be registered, they will be provided with food, shelter and clothing. For what reason they have taken the other 1912 course, I do not know. I can make a guess, and I think my guess would not be far wrong. They have taken their decision on their own responsibility.
§ Mr. Silverman
I only want to clear up one fact. It will not take long. I want the hon. Gentleman to make clear whether he is now saying that if these people announce themselves, and if, in good faith, their cases are properly investigated, they will then be accorded their proper rights as displaced persons even if they are in the camps.
§ Mr. Hynd
They have no proper rights as displaced persons. "Displaced persons" is a term adopted by U.N.R.R.A. for those people found in Germany, and for whom we accepted this responsibility But we cannot really accept responsibility for everyone who cares to come into Germany and expects us to maintain him in these camps without obligation, and to provide food, shelter and clothing. If these people will announce themselves, we are prepared to make proper provision for them.
§ Mr. Hynd
We do not know who are there, or where they are. Our purpose is to achieve dispersal of these persons as soon as possible, and to use the camps for other much-needed purposes. I do not want to say any more about the displaced persons unless there is any particular point which I have overlooked, but I do not think I have overlooked any.
I would now like to make one or two remarks about the question of devolution on to the German authorities, which I thought I had adequately covered in my opening remarks but apparently did not. The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities asked when responsibility will be devolved upon the German Länder.That has, in fact, been done. It was done from 1st December. The Ländergovernments were made responsible on 1st December for a wide scope of administrative, executive and legislative powers and activities, including local government, for which they are now entirely responsible, police, public health, 1913 justice, prisoners, education and so on. We are extending that. We are* rapidly devolving that type of activity upon those governments, although they are only at the moment nominated governments. Certain activities are still being reserved to the Military Government which would properly be the functions of a central government if and when such were established.
As to the question of the Control Commission personnel, this has been compared with the staff in the American zone, and it has been stated that there are 6,000 in the American zone as against 20,000 in the British zone. That is not a strict or correct comparison because the American 6,000 does not include the Intelligence Section which amounts to another 6,000. I believe, bringing the figure to at least 12,000. That compares not only with the different kind of responsibility they have in their zone but also with the greater amount of responsibility we have taken in certain activities, rightly or wrongly, in our zone. The comparison is therefore not so invidious. But there are still a number of functions which we cannot as yet hand over to the Germans. There is the question of the procurement of food and essential supplies. One hon. Member suggested that there is nothing we need control about the growing of potatoes, and that if a German wants to grow potatoes he has to get permission from the Military Government. That is nonsense. There are large numbers of allotment holders and smallholders growing potatoes, but in present conditions it is necessary that there should be a very close supervision of the production and distribution of food, and that is likely to go on for a long time. There is the question of denazification which we have already handed over in great part to the Germans, but it still requires a certain amount of supervision. There is also demilitarisation, dealing with the Nuremberg criminals and other categories, the question of reparations and restitution, displaced persons and so on. We shall have to continue conducting a large number of these activities ourselves for quite a considerable period, I am afraid. The question of security of tenure has been raised—
§ Mr. Hynd
I am sorry but I cannot give way. The question of security of 1914 tenure has been raised by a number of hon. Members. We have examined this very carefully and sympathetically since it was brought to our notice in the Report of the Estimates Committee, but the fact is that this is an exceedingly difficult problem in the context of the Control service. We have discussed it with the Treasury and other responsible departments but we have not yet been able to reach a satisfactory scheme whereby we could provide security of tenure. It is bound up with the type of work we have to do, with the indefiniteness of the particular activities going on and with the prospects of absorbing large numbers into the Civil Service. I am afraid that up to the moment I cannot provide any satisfactory solution to that problem.
I will now say a few words about de-Nazincation, which again has been one of the main points in the Debate. It has been suggested that there should be a time limit. I have heard this one before and I can sympathise with the purpose of it, but not with the practicability of a time limit as a solution. Until the Nuremberg verdicts came out we were not in a position to get on with the clearance of the large numbers of those who were held pending verdicts in regard to the organisation of which they were members, but we have now been able to speed up this process to an extent which promises the possibility of an almost complete solution by the end of the current year, and the solution of the greater part of it by the middle of this year. Unfortunately, I have not the time to go into all the details, but I can assure the House that we are aware of the need for the utmost expedition in completing this job and giving the German population the necessary assurance that this is finished so far as we are concerned. The necessity of dealing with people who are subject to punishment for Nazi activities is fully appreciated by the Government and by the Control Commission, and the steps that have been taken can be regarded as satisfactory in relation to the magnitude of this problem.
I would have liked to spend some time on the amazing allegations made by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) but unfortunately I have not the time. I would only say that when he talked of leading Nazis in administration and industry in the British zone, he was 1915 talking without any foundation whatever. If he had such information, he would certainly have provided us with it. He mentioned Mr. Schlange-Schoeningen. I do not know Mr. Schlange-Schoeningen personally and hold no brief for him. I only know he is an efficient agriculturist. I do not know his record in detail, but it is interesting to note that when the question of Mr. Schlange-Schoeningen's reliability and acceptibility was discussed at the German Zonal Advisory Council—which consists not only of trade unionists, social democrats and other politicians and technical people but also members of the Communist party—I understand that a unanimous vote of confidence was passed in him.
The question of the fusion agreement has been raised and a large number of questions put. I do not propose to go into the financial aspects of it because they will be dealt with in the Estimate Debate which will be taking place very shortly, and it would be invidious for me to enter into a debate on the figures at the present stage, but I think I made sufficient reference to the progress that has been made in the fusion agreement in my opening remarks.
The success of the fusion agreement, which has for its purpose the boosting up of German industry to the point where we can export sufficient to pay not only for the German imports but to recover the amount which we are pouring into the zone at the present time and that we shall be investing in this industrial rehabilitation programme with our American colleagues, depends upon coal output, and I was surprised to find that one right hon. Gentleman deplored the coal output for the last six months and suggested that much more could have been done. He asked if more could not now be done. As a matter of fact, the output during the past six months has not been unsatisfactory. Six months ago it certainly was; three months, four months ago it certainly was, but that was due entirely to the food position, which was forced upon us because of the shortage of supplies and the difficulty of obtaining those supplies. But the fact is that whilst we were told only a few months ago that we ought to stop exports in order to solve this problem, the answer that I gave at the time was, "No, we cannot allow the 1916 Western allies simply to be cut oft entirely from the coal from the Ruhr." The answer was not to stop exports but to put up production, We have done that, and we have done it in a most satisfactory fashion. The progress has been consistent day by day since the end of last September and we have increased production from 180.000 tons per day in that month to the latest figure of last Friday of 223,750 tons per day.
§ Mr. Hynd
The increase represents about three times the total amount of exports, it does not represent either sabotage on the part of the German miners, as was alleged, nor on the part of the non-existent Nazi directors of the mines, nor inefficiency on the part of our administration. What it does represent is the effectiveness of the methods we have adopted and the contribution we are able to make to the new fusion Agreement, which in turn will make the finest contribution yet made to rehabilitation of German economy.
§ It being Eleven o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the Home lapsed, without Question put.