HC Deb 10 June 1952 vol 502 cc32-41
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)

I should like to give the House a brief account of the important agreements which I signed in Bonn and Paris on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on 26th and 27th May shortly before the Whitsun Recess.

These agreements are subject to ratification by all the signatory Powers. Copies of all of them have already been laid before the House. There will be opportunity for full debate before they are ratified.

Mr. Dodds

See the "Sunday Express."

Mr. Eden

I explained to the House in my statement of 28th February, and again in my speech in the Foreign Affairs debate on 14th May, that two sets of negotiations had been proceeding concurrently; those in Bonn to establish a new relationship between the three Western Powers and the German Federal Republic; and those in Paris to set up a European Defence Community embracing Germany and other leading countries of Continental Europe.

The agreements establishing a new relationship with the German Federal Republic were signed in Bonn on 26th May by Dr. Adenauer, M. Schuman, Mr. Acheson and myself. They will enter into for, when they have been ratified by all four signatories and when the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community has also entered into force. They will remain in force indefinitely but will be subject to review and modification by all the parties in the event—to quote the words of the contract—of the unification of Germany, the creation of a European federation or any other development which all the signatory States recognise to be of a similarly fundamental character.

These agreements were in all their details the product of free and lengthy negotiations, in which the German Federal Government took part from the outset on an equal footing with the other three Powers. They thus provide a sound basis for Germany's future co-operation with the Western Powers in defence and in other matters. They rest upon the conception that the German Federal Republic shall henceforth have full authority over its internal and external affairs, the three Allied Powers retaining only those special rights which they must keep, in the common interest of all the signatories, because of the special international situation in Germany.

These rights are those relating to, first, the stationing of armed forces in Germany and the protection of their security, secondly, Berlin, and thirdly, matters affecting Germany as a whole, including the unification of Germany and a peace settlement. The agreements define the manner in which the Allies shall exercise each of these special rights. They provide that the four Powers shall work together for the peaceful re-establishment of a united, democratic Germany, which shall be entitled to assume similar rights and obligations to those now being assumed by the Federal Republic and with which a freely negotiated peace settlement may be concluded.

The agreements lay down in detail the rights and obligations of the foreign forces stationed in Germany. They record the obligation of the German Federal Republic to make a continuing annual contribution to the costs of defence, including a contribution to the costs of those forces in Germany which, like the United Kingdom forces, will not be part of the E.D.C. forces.

The Financial Convention could only cover in detail the arrangements until the end of the N.A.T.O. year 1953. These should fully meet the local costs of United Kingdom forces stationed in Germany during that period. The Convention also lays down the procedure for negotiating the division of the German financial contribution in subsequent years. The agreements make detailed provision for the settlement of matters arising out of the war and the occupation. They establish an Arbitration Tribunal for the settlement of disputes.

At the time of signature in Paris of the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community the German Federal Chancellor addressed to Her Majesty's Government and the other Allied Governments concerned letters accepting the controls over armaments production laid down in the Treaty and giving certain additional assurances about civil aircraft production and controls in the field of atomic energy in the German Federal Republic.

Although, as the House knows, Her Majesty's Government are not a party to the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community, I signed in Paris on behalf of Her Majesty's Government three related documents.

First, there is the treaty to establish mutual security guarantees between this country and the members of the European Defence Community. I made a statement to the House about this treaty on 21st April.

Secondly, there is the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty under which all the parties to that treaty agree, in return for a reciprocal undertaking from the members of the European Defence Community, to regard an attack on any one of those members or on the E.D.C. forces as an attack upon themselves within the meaning of the North Atlantic Treaty. I informed the House in my statement on 28th February that these reciprocal guarantees between the two organisations had been decided upon at the Lisbon meeting last February of the North Atlantic Council.

Thirdly, there is the declaration by Her Majesty's Government, the United States Government and the French Government in which they summarise their common policy for Europe. This declaration demonstrates the confidence of the three Governments in the various acts completed in Bonn and Paris. It states their belief that these acts provide a new basis for uniting Europe and preventing conflicts. It affirms that Her Majesty's Government and the U.S. Government have an abiding interest in the effectiveness of the E.D.C. Treaty and in the strength and integrity of that community. The two Governments declare that, if action from whatever quarter threatens the integrity or unity of the Community, they will regard this as a threat to their own security and will act in accordance with Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The Tripartite Declaration also affirms that the three Powers regard the security and welfare of Berlin and the maintenance of their position there as essential elements to the peace of the free world in the present international situation. Accordingly, they will maintain armed forces in Berlin as long as their responsibilities require it and will continue to treat any attack against Berlin from any quarter as an attack upon their own forces and themselves.

As the House knows, I was able after the signature of these instruments in Paris to pay a visit to Berlin. I was impressed by the resolution and calm of the people of that city. I was glad to have this opportunity to convey personally to them the undertakings embodied in the Tripartite Declaration. I was able to show them our own continuing interest in Berlin. All this, I am assured, was highly valued.

All the agreements and declarations which I have mentioned must be regarded as forming a single whole. Taken together they represent a very important further step towards the consolidation and unity of Europe. Ever since the formation of the German Federal Republic in 1949, it has been the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government and of the French and United States Governments to bring the Republic into the Western European community and at the same time gradually to relax the Occupation controls. The present agreements represent the culmination of that policy.

Though forced upon us by Soviet actions, our policy in Germany has never been directed against the Soviet Union. Nor are the present agreements. It is not our choice that co-operation in Europe ends on the Elbe. We shall miss no chance of extending it. But meanwhile we can best serve peace by lending our full support to all efforts to foster international unity wherever co-operation is possible.

That is our purpose in signing the present agreements. They are an achievement of which all the countries concerned may well be proud. They offer a new hope for the future. If ratified and brought into force, they will make possible an intimacy of partnership and collaboration among the ancient nations of Europe which they have long dreamed of but never in modern times attained.

Mr. Attlee

We shall, of course, study the right hon. Gentleman's statement with great care. Meanwhile, may I ask him what is the present position with regard to the conversations with Soviet Russia and the other Powers as to a meeting on the general question of Germany?

Mr. Eden

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that we received from the Soviet Government a reply to our last Allied Note. I do not want to debate the reply now, but I think he will agree that it was not a reply that carried us very much further, to put it mildly, and we are now engaged on the answer we shall send to that Note. I should not like to say more than that we shall do our best to ensure that our reply is truly constructive.

Mr. Attlee

May I also ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the position with regard to the decision as to the powers of the present German Parliament for signing? There is the question of the two-thirds majority; is that now before the courts?

Mr. Eden

Of course, that is not a matter for us. That is an internal German constitutional question and it is now before the courts in Germany.

Mr. Wyatt

Does the right hon. Gentleman's statement mean that we have now altogether abandoned any notion of ourselves joining the European Defence Community as a participating member, and does it mean that we have irreparably handed over all control over the German arms industry and the recruiting of German soldiers to the French, Italians and other members of the European Defence Community—because that is what the Treaty says—or is there to be some arrangement by which we can have a voice in the European Defence Community itself?

Mr. Eden

The undertakings given to the European Defence Community are also addressed to us separately and to the United States—that is, the undertakings of the German Federal Republic. As regards our relations with E.D.C., we have made a number of suggestions on this point, one of which was discussed at Strasbourg. There is not any question of our becoming a member of E.D.C. That was a decision taken some time back and we re-affirmed it. I do not think that the House will consider that it can be physically re-opened, apart from any other reasons, at this time. We shall, we hope, work in close collaboration with E.D.C. by the various methods, political and military, which we are now pursuing.

Mr. Bevan

Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that arrangements have been made to cover the cost of British troops in Germany up to the end of next year? Will the right hon. Gentleman say what will be the provisions afterwards, and what will be the annual cost to Great Britain?

Mr. Eden

I said until the end of the N.A.T.O. year, which is to the end of June next year. For that period I am satisfied, but it cannot be guaranteed. It depends on a number of circumstances which we cannot control. In general, I am satisfied that up to June, 1953, no major financial problem will arise; I hope no financial problem at all. After that period, the German contribution, like everyone else's contribution, will be decided under N.A.T.O. arrangements, as ours has been hitherto. Obviously, I cannot forecast what the N.A.T.O. arrangement will be, and what their decision will be, after June of next year.

Mr. Bevan

Is not the right hon. Gentleman able to give the House some idea of the financial implication of the treaties entered into? Can he give us no idea at all of what may be the cost to Great Britain of maintaining her troops on the Continent?

Mr. Eden

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has seized my answer. The position is that until June of next year there are sufficient funds to bear the whole cost of British expenditure in Germany. After June next year, Germany will itself be making a contribution, together with all the rest of the Powers, which will be assessed by the international authority which has always assessed international contributions for the defence of Europe. We are, of course, represented on that authority, but it is clearly impossible for me now to say what the assessment will be at that time. Germany will make a contribution, but the assessment of that contribution must obviously depend on Germany's own costs in respect of her own defence contribution.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not perfectly obvious that, after the N.A.T.O. arrangement has come to an end in June, 1953, whatever new arrangement is come to, our contribution to the maintenance of our Forces in the West is bound to be higher than it is at the present time? Is not that perfectly obvious, whatever the arrangement will be?

Mr. Eden

I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. That is entirely true and, of course, that is always part of the necessary consequences of a German contribution. What this House has to bear in mind is whether we would prefer that or prefer a situation in which Germany is taking no part in arms contributions or otherwise, and remains free to compete with us as much as she likes in the export trade.

Mr. J. Hynd

The Foreign Secretary will realise that, while most of us welcome any step towards the liberation of Germany or as much of Germany as we can deal with, it is essential that the greatest possible support should be given in this House and in the country for any such step. Therefore, does he realise that it would be unfortunate, to put it mildly, if the question of ratification were brought before this House before we could be satisfied that every opportunity had been examined by Her Majesty's Government and every opportunity given to the Soviet Government to test the offer that has been made for consultations regarding the possibility of an all-German election and an all-German Government?

Mr. Eden

I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree—I hope he will agree and that the House will agree—that our last Note on this matter was as constructive as it could be made, and it did make very clear certain specific proposals to the Soviet Government. I do not want to go into this in detail and prejudice future discussions, but, unfortunately, the reply we got was very negative and seemed to go back on what they had offered before. I can assure the House that our next communication will, I hope—and I think I can be sure—be constructive in its nature, but I cannot admit that the power of the free countries of the West to take action is dependent entirely upon the quality of the replies we receive from the Soviet Government.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it may be, possible more quickly to determine what are the Russian intentions by a conference, without a prolonged further exchange of Notes, and that in fact we might greatly serve the interests of Germany and of Europe if a conference could be called at an early date?

Mr. Eden

I do not want to be drawn into this, but that thought, perhaps I can say, is not excluded from my mind.

Mr. Wade

If it should so happen that the Contractual Agreements are ratified by all the Governments concerned but not the E.D.C. Treaty, will the terms of the Contractual Agreements be put into effect, or am I right in understanding from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the one is dependent on the other?

Mr. Eden

The two enter into force together, but if there were prolonged delays about the E.D.C. part of the arrangements, there is a clause in the Contractual Agreements which requires us to meet and discuss the situation, but there is no obligation.

Mr. Foot

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate when he will ask the House to ratify these arrangements? Can he also give any indication of the time-table of ratification in other Parliaments? Does he not think it very unwise for us to proceed with ratification when there is plentiful evidence that a majority of the German people may be opposed to the whole proposition?

Mr. Eden

I should not care to be as self-confident as the hon. Gentleman that I know what the majority of the German people think.

Mr. Bevan

Find out.

Mr. Eden

The right hon. Gentleman says "find out." There are ordinary democratic processes for doing that, and elected Governments in Germany have just as much right to speak for their people as have elected Governments in any other country——

Mr. Bevan

Just as much right.

Mr. Eden

—and I do not think we should conduct our foreign policy on the basis of a belief that it is only Socialist Governments that represent the people who elect them.

To return to the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, so far as our own proposals are concerned, it is, of course, a matter for discussion through the usual channels, but I think we had it in mind that the House would want to look at these agreements for a while and maybe it would be useful to have a debate on them, say, towards the end of the month. As regards what the other Governments will do, I really cannot tell. It is a matter for them, and they have to shoulder their responsibilities.

Mr. Crossman

I should like to return to the problem of the financial agreements and to ask two questions of the Foreign Secretary. Is it a fact that up to now £130 million a year in hard currency, a large sum, has been paid by the Germans towards the cost of B.A.O.R.? Do I understand from the Foreign Secretary's statement that the whole of that will continue to be paid by the German Government up to June of next year and that no further cost will fall on the British taxpayer? Secondly, do I understand that after June of next year most of this colossal sum will fall on us? In that case nobody will tell me that it will not be very expensive for us to re-arm the Germans and to pay this enormous sum ourselves for the Army of the Rhine.

Mr. Eden

As regards the first part of the supplementary question, it is my hope—I cannot give an undertaking; it depends how these things work out——

Mr. Crossman

Is it agreed?

Mr. Eden

I am dealing with an international negotiation and the final result, even to June, 1953, will, of course, depend on the rate at which ratification takes place. The hon. Gentleman need not get excited. It is quite a reasonable proposition. I am pretty confident that the sums to June, 1953, will be broadly sufficient to meet any charges that are at present met by the Germans; in other words, I do not think there will be an important, if any, additional contribution from us up to June, 1953.

After June, 1953, as I have repeatedly explained, a new assessment will be necessary, and the House must clearly understand that the policy of Germany making a contribution to the European Army is not a policy which can be carried out without any expenditure, and that has to be taken into consideration. Then it will be necessary for the "Three Wise Men," or whatever authority is set up, to make out an assessment. Clearly, at that time there will be an additional burden on countries other than Germany in accordance with the increased contribution in the military field which Germany herself makes. That was, of course, axiomatic in the proposals of the late Government.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

There is no Question before the House.

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