HC Deb 08 March 1954 vol 524 cc1714-6
10. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what instructions he has given to the British High Commissioner for Germany in regard to the constitutional amendment on defence passed by the West German Bundestag.

23. Mr. A. J. Irvine

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will instruct the British representative on the Allied High Commission to oppose the giving assent by the Commission to constitutional amendments designed to add the right to legislate on conscription to the powers reserved to the German Federal Republic.

Mr. Eden

These amendments have so far been passed only by the Bundestag. Until the German parliamentary process is complete they will not come before the Allied High Commission. It is, therefore, premature to determine what instructions should be given to the United Kingdom High Commissioner.

Mr. Warbey

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that no approval will be given to these constitutional changes in advance of any ratification of the European Defence Community agreements by France and other countries concerned? Will he at the same time make it clear that this rather arrogant attempt to rush the pace of German rearmament is deeply resented in this country?

Mr. Eden

It would be quite wrong to call it an arrogant attempt. I think the right hon. Gentleman is making charges that are not justified. These arrangements are in any event permissive and not mandatory. In the second place, as I have said, they do not come into force until they have been passed by the Bundesrat. When that happens they will come before the Allied High Commission for approval in the ordinary way. I do not think we should prejudge matters in the way the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mr. Irvine

Without mentioning the matter of arrogant behaviour by the Bundestag, would the right hon. Gentleman agree that it was undesirable that the Bundestag should proceed to pass constitutional amendments without first ascertaining whether such Amendments would in the event have the approval of the occupying Powers?

Mr. Eden

As I have said, these are permissive and not mandatory arrangements, and if and when they are passed by the Parliament of the West German Federal Republic—which they are not yet—then they will come before the Allied High Commission, and that will be the time for the three Governments to express their views in the matter. I think that until that stage is reached the House will be unwise to pass condemnation or otherwise on what has been done.

Mr. S. Silverman

Although they are permissive and not mandatory, nevertheless would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that they would give the Bonn Government powers far in excess of any powers that are necessary to implement any agreement concerning E.D.C. or any degree of German rearmament so far discussed? If that is so, would it not be well to indicate at any early stage that whatever agreement is ever come to about German rearmament it should not be a blank cheque, which these constitutional amendments provide?

Mr. Eden

I have no doubt at all that the Federal German Republic accept the E.D.C. proposals, but these matters have, if they are approved by the West German Parliament, to come before the Allied Governments collectively, and I am not prepared to pronounce judgment upon them until that time comes.

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