HC Deb 09 February 1948 vol 447 cc21-3
32. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will give the capacity that it was agreed upon in 1945 or 1946 should be allowed and the capacity that is is intended shall now be allowed Germany in steel, electric power, machine tools and chemicals; the amounts agreed upon in 1945 that Germany should pay in reparations; the amounts that they have paid, and what it is intended they shall now pay in coal, steel, machine tools and engineering chemicals; and the amounts paid to Britain.

Mr. McNeil

Since the answer is long and contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will my right hon. Friend have the goodness to give an answer to this Question in regard to proposed capacity? Is it the intention of the Foreign Office to facilitate increased production, and, if so, have proposals been made for public ownership and have the trade unions been consulted?

Mr. McNeil

The answer is that we have continually been trying to raise production. There have been various proposals about socialisation, and we are in contact with all representatives of organised elements on this subject.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Can my right hon. Friend give a categorical answer "Yes" or "No" to the question whether a scheme has been submitted by the trade unions for the public ownership of all the key industries in the Ruhr?

Mr. Platts-Mills

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the holding of positions, some official and some unofficial, in the important Ruhr industries by the gentlemen whose names were given in the previous Question—names to which I have drawn the attention of the Minister for over a year past—is the main reason why production in the Western zone does not increase?

Mr. McNeil

I have already pointed out that none of the people to whom the hon. Gentleman refers are so employed. I have repeatedly investigated detailed charges, and I am more than willing to continue to investigate such detailed charges, but much general nonsense is talked on this subject.

Following is the answer:

The Level of Industry Plan for the whole of Germany fixed in March, 1946 (which was based on certain assumptions that have not been fulfilled and has therefore been superseded) imposed the following limits on industrial capacity: Steel: 7.5 million ingot tons (production to be restricted to 5.8 million). Electric Power: 9 million kilowatts. Machine Tools: Reichsmarks 74 million (at 1936 prices). Industrial Chemicals: Reichsmarks 2,309 million (at 1936 prices).

No quadripartite agreement has yet been reached on the revised level of industry for Germany as a whole with the exception of steel, which the Council of Foreign Ministers at their meeting in December last considered should be set at 11.5 million ingot tons a year. Since I have no detailed information as to the value of removals from the Eastern zone, nor as to the future plans for the level of industry and reparations for that or the French zone, I cannot give the other information requested for the whole of Germany.

However, the revised level of industry plan agreed on by the United States and United Kingdom Governments last summer provides for the following capacity in the Bizonal Area: Steel: 10.7 million ingot tons (production). Electric Power: Unrestricted. Machine Tools: Reichsmarks 170 million. Chemicals: Reichsmarks 2,271 million.

No monetary value was set in 1945 on the German reparations obligation. Instead, it was agreed that all capital equipment surplus to the authorised level of industry and German external assets should be paid as reparations.

No coal, steel or engineering chemicals have been removed from the Bizonal Area as reparations, and His Majesty's Government have made it clear that in present circumstances they are opposed to the policy of reparations from current production. No detailed valuation of the capital plant which is to be removed from the Bizonal Area is yet available, but equipment for manufacturing steel, machine tools and chemicals valued at 415 million Reichsmarks at 1938 prices in the three Western zones has already been allocated. Of this, equipment to the value of 10 million Reichsmarks has been sub-allocated to the United Kingdom.

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