HC Deb 08 December 1952 vol 509 cc6-7
11. Mr. Jay

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now estimate the additional annual burden which will fall on the United Kingdom taxpayer, on account of defence expenditure in Germany, as a result of the recent Bonn Agreements.

Mr. Eden

No additional expenditure will fall on the United Kingdom in the period up to 30th June, 1953. Negotiations on the contribution from the German Federal Republic to Allied defence costs in 1953–54 have not yet taken place.

As I made clear in the debate on Germany on 31st July, if as a result of these negotiations additional expenditure should fall on the United Kingdom, reductions in other spheres would have to be made, in order to ensure that the total level of our defence expenditure in terms of external payments remains within our capacity.

Mr. Jay

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that I had in mind expenditure after June, 1953? Is it not very unsatisfactory that the Government should apparently have drifted into this large additional commitment without knowing what it was?

Mr. Eden

The Government have not drifted into any commitment, either large or small. The difficulty is that the Federal Government have not yet submitted proposals for defence expenditure and negotiations cannot take place until they do so—probably some time in the New Year.

Mr. Jay

Can the right hon. Gentleman at least deny Press reports that the burden on the British taxpayer is likely to be of the order of £80 million or £100 million a year?

Mr. Eden

I would prefer to adhere to what I have said, all the more so because I think that it bears a close resemblance to something which was said by the late Government.

Sir R. Acland

Would it be possible to negotiate or arrange a reduction of our defence burdens elsewhere without any damage to our safety? Why could that not be done now in order to reduce the burden on this country?

Mr. Eden

We have to see what the estimates for the German contribution will be. I think I may fairly say that the figure will not be of the order mentioned by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay).

Mr. Nicholson

Is this such a new development that it was not envisaged by the last Administration?

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