HC Deb 23 November 1949 vol 470 cc348-9
24. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has returned to the proposal of the Chancellor of the West German Federal Republic that French, American and other foreign private investors should be permitted to make investments in the Ruhr iron and steel industry.

Mr. Mayhew

No formal proposal for the investment of foreign capital in the Ruhr iron and steel industry has been put to His Majesty's Government. The Federal Chancellor, Dr. Adenauer, has, however, publicly declared his Government's readiness to consider, amongst other proposals, the participation of foreign capital in the Ruhr as a means of satisfying Allied security requirements. Dr. Adenauer has been advised that the Allied Governments are not prepared to pursue this proposal further.

Mr. Warbey

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he is conscious of the danger to democracy and peace of the re-establishment of privately owned steel cartels in Germany, even if they should go under the blessed name of re-integration?

Mr. Mayhew

Yes, Sir. We want to encourage new investment in Germany, including foreign investment, but it must, of course, be on a fair and democratic basis.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Is the influence of the Foreign Secretary with the Western German Government increased or diminished by the fact that Mr. Morgan Phillips is negotiating with the German Opposition?

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Could my hon. Friend say whether there is any machinery available whereby the trade unions and the workers can be adequately consulted in connection with such a development as that he has envisaged?

Mr. Mayhew

I am not sure how our powers would stand under the Occupation Statute, but I think that would be a matter for the new German Government.

Mr. Tiffany

Is not nationalisation a more democratic form of industrialisation?

25. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps have been taken to break up the German steel trust, Vereinigte Stahlwerke, in accordance with the decartellisation ordinance.

Mr. Mayhew

It is scheduled for liquidation under Law 75. The steel producing units, with the exception of two plants, have been severed from the parent concern. German trustees have been appointed to plan the reorganisation of the steel and colliery holdings of the concern. The subsidiaries, other than coal and steel, will be the subject of separate liquidation.

Mr. Warbey

Can my hon. Friend say, then, how it was possible for the West German Chancellor to make a proposal for the extension of the share capital of Vereinigte Stahlwerke, and to invite foreign participation in the capital of that concern?

Mr. Mayhew

I can only say that it is the firm intention of the High Commission to proceed with the liquidation of this concern.