HC Deb 08 March 1954 vol 524 cc1716-7
20. Miss Lee

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has made an estimate of the additional cost to the British taxpayer in maintaining British forces in Germany, once the Bonn Agreement is ratified.

Mr. Eden

No, Sir. Under an agreement negotiated last year we are assured that the local costs of our forces in Germany will be met by contributions by the Federal Republic, whatever the date of ratification, until 30th June, 1954. The position after that date is subject to negotiation.

Miss Lee

Although the position is subject to negotiation, have the Government, before entering on their present policy, not made at least an approximate estimate? Can the Foreign Secretary further say whether the figure of £100 million to £120 million as the possible additional burden on the British taxpayer is utterly without foundation? If so, would he like to suggest another figure?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Lady would like the estimated figure. I should like to look at the figure she has given again. I am sure it is a considerable overestimate. What I am dealing with is the actual present situation, which will continue until 30th June this year. We hope very shortly to engage in negotiations to cover our local costs until the end of this year. The figure for the following year—1955—is something I cannot at present estimate or give a figure for.

Mr. Bellenger

Does the right hon. Gentleman not recollect that Mr. Molotov has put it on record that all these costs against Germany should cease? Therefore, does the right hon. Gentleman not have to contemplate that at some time these costs will finish, as we cannot ask the German public to pay for British soldiers forever?

Mr. Eden

I think that the right hon. Gentleman gave a correct definition of Mr. Molotov's point of view, but I do not have to answer for him. But if the hon. Lady would like a further definition of the position, I did, so far as I could, on 8th December last year, give a detailed reply about additional expenditure. What I have said today is that there will be, I trust, no additional expenditure for this year.