HC Deb 05 December 1951 vol 494 cc2364-5
15. Professor Savory

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that in a recent speech the Danish Foreign Minister in the Danish Parliament complained that the new Franchise Law, passed on 10th October, 1951, by the Diet of Slesvig-Holstein, will deprive the Danish population of South Slesvig of their fair share of representation in the Diet, and that this is inconsistent with the Kiel Agreement sponsored by the British Government; and whether he will make representations on the subject to the German authorities.

Mr. Eden

A spokesman of the Provincial Government of Slesvig-Holstein has assured the South Slesvig Voters' Association (which is the party of Danish sympathisers) that if the new law has the effect, in a future election, of leaving them unrepresented in the Diet, steps will be taken to find a satisfactory solution. The South Slesvig Voters' Association have also announced their intention of bringing the matter before the Federal Constitutional Court if no change acceptable to them is made in the law. There would therefore seem to be no grounds for action by His Majesty's Government.

Professor Savory

Would my right hon. Friend finally compare the old law with the new? I have copies of both of them here which I shall be glad to pass to him. I think he will see the experts are perfectly right when they say it is quite probable that the Danish-minded population would have no representation whatever under this law.

Mr. Eden

I have compared the two laws and it is true that under the new law they will not do as well as they did under the old one. I am bound to say that under the old law I think they did pretty well—5.4 per cent. of votes cast for two seats. That was not too bad in a small Parliament. But the reason is not the presence of this particular organisation, it is the other splinter bodies which cause anxiety and which bring about these laws.