HC Deb 21 April 1948 vol 449 cc1784-5
6. Mr. Vane

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the proposal to re-start the payment of long-service pensions to members of the German Army is subject to many restrictive conditions, while the payment of pensions similarly earned by police, railway and postal official is made in full.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

The scheme authorising Laender Governments to pay maintenance grants to former long-service personnel of the German armed forces does not represent restoration of military pensions. In view of the provisions of Control Council Law No. 34 such pensions cannot be paid, and it has been necessary to specify that the grants shall be made in recognition of public rather than military service. The grants are designed to assist in cases of real hardship and the conditions relating to age and loss of earning capacity through physical causes have been inserted to restrict payment to such cases. The restrictions on grounds of denazification policy are no more stringent than those applying to the payment of Civil Service pensions. Police, Reichspost and Reichsbahn pensions are not analogous as they are payable under German Civil Service laws which have not been abrogated by quadripartite agreement.

Mr. Vane

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is strange that the postal and railway services, which were strongholds of the Nazi Party, should be given so much advantage over the armed forces whose senior members on the whole provided the greatest resistance to the Nazi Party?

Mr. Bevin

The matter must be adjusted with what the economy of the country can afford. I cannot take anything from the British taxpayer for this purpose. Therefore, we have tried to adjust it on the basis of the economy of the country.

Mr. Molson

Does the Foreign Secretary, who has a reputation for being a fair-minded man, really justify this penalisation of military personnel who have earned their pensions by service to their country?

Mr. Bevin

I do not attempt to justify the difficulties which arise from people going to war.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Would not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this question which concerns a number of men who, whether they were right or wrong, did the job they were meant to do for many years? We expect our own people to be properly treated in this respect: why should not we do our best for these people, because, much as I dislike the Germans, I cannot see why we should not treat them equally fairly?

Mr. Bevin

I really cannot undertake responsibility which involves the money of taxpayers in this country. I have done my best within the economy of the country to help harsh and difficult cases. I cannot go further.

Mr. Pickthorn

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's two answers indicating that the governing factor is the amount of money available, can he tell us why, if that is so, any distinction should be made between military pensions and police or other pensions? Why should they not all be cut down pro rata?

Mr. Bevin

The civil pensions are dealt with under German Civil Service laws. They have been earned, and the services are still running.

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