HC Deb 15 March 1948 vol 448 cc1678-9
16. Mr. Vane

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on what grounds the payment of long-service pensions earned by former members of the German Wehrmacht has been suspended; and whether he intends that the payment of such pensions shall recommence under the new bizonal administrative arrangements.

Mr. Mayhew

The abolition of Wehrmacht long-service pensions was ordered by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in May, 1945, and subsequently confirmed by Control Council Law No. 34, as part of the general Allied policy to destroy the German military machine. A scheme authorising the payment of maintenance grants in cases of special hardship to career military personnel was approved in principle last month by the Military Governors of the British and American zones.

Mr. Vane

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the abolition of pensions in this way is a futile method of trying to destroy a war machine; secondly, it is not likely to command respect amongst the Germans as evidence of our sense of justice; and, finally, is he not aware that his argument is of the same class as those which the Nazis used about the Jews?

Mr. Mayhew

I cannot accept the implication in the supplementary question. I do not dispute that cases of special hardship did occur as a result of the action taken but, as I said in the last part of my reply, we have now worked out a scheme which we think will meet the cases mentioned here.

Mr. Warbey

Can my hon. Friend say whether arrangements have been made to ensure that pensions are paid to officers and other ranks who were engaged in anti-Nazi activities?

Mr. Mayhew

I should not like to anticipate the terms of the scheme which before long will be published.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that these officers and men earned their pensions as soldiers before the war, and surely in every sense of justice are entitled to them? We should not expect the Germans to take away the pensions of our men.