HC Deb 23 February 1955 vol 537 cc1259-61
18. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply has been sent to the resolution, sent to him on 31st January, by the 87 ex-Nazi generals and officers on the question of German unification; and how many of these officers are now employed in a military capacity.

Mr. Turton

These former German officers did not address their appeal to my right hon. Friend. So far as I know, no list of their names has been published.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that I am aware that no such appeal was addressed to the Foreign Office? But the appeal was given wide circulation in our own Press, and if he cannot give us a list, can he assure us at least that General von Paulas was the leader of the appeal? Can he have circulated in the Official Report any further information about any generals who headed this list?

Mr. H. Nicholls

On a point of order. I understood that an hon. Member was responsible for the accuracy of his Question. Now that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) has admitted that he knew that the inference behind his Question was untrue, was he in order in placing that Question upon the Order Paper?

Mr. Speaker

I did not understand the hon. Member to make that admission.

Mr. Turton

I should like to give the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) any information I have. I can assure him that General von Paulus was present, and I understand that also included among those present were a former chief supply officer to the Russian Zone police, a former S.S. leader, who was deputy to Himmler in 1944, and a former S.A. leader, who was at one time adviser to General Chiang Kai-shek.

19. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a conference of parliamentarians from East and West Germany and from East European countries was held at Warsaw on 6th February and that a resolution was passed calling for the reunification of Germany through free controlled elections on the basis of the electoral law envisaged in the plan put forward by him at Berlin; and whether he will approach the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to find out how far these proposals represent the views of the Soviet Government with a view to reopening negotiations on this basis.

Mr. Turton

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes," and to the second part of the Question, "No."

Mrs. Castle

Is the Joint Under-Secretary aware that the resolution passed at this conference of parliamentarians from Soviet satellite countries went much further than the Soviet broadcast of 15th January in accepting the plan for free German elections put forward by the British Foreign Secretary at Berlin? If there are ever to be any successful four-Power talks on Germany, does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it would be a good thing for us to start now to try to clarify the Soviet position and find out whether the Russians will accept these proposals?

Mr. Turton

I find it difficult to assume that the views of this conference necessarily represent the views of the Soviet Government, but, as my right hon. Friend reminded the House on 31st January, Her Majesty's Government are still awaiting a reply from the Soviet Government to our Note of 29th November, which asked them to submit concrete proposals.

Mr. John Hynd

Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that any members of the West German Parliament attended this conference, and, if so, from what party?

Mr. Turton

I understand that in the whole conference there was one representative from Western Germany.

Mr. S. Silverman

Will the Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind that at the Berlin Conference, which unfortunately failed, the Western Powers put forward certain proposals about free elections for the whole of Germany, which the Soviet Union at that time rejected—at any rate in any form acceptable to the Western Powers—but that since then there has been a whole series of official or quasi-official statements from the Soviet Union which make it appear to me that the Soviet Government have changed their attitude about this? Are the Government now afraid to inquire whether they have made such a change in case it should turn out that the Russians have agreed with them?

Mr. Turton

I have been asked a Question about a certain conference that took place. I cannot regard any resolution of that conference as an official, or even semi-official, statement of the Soviet Government. We are still awaiting an official reply from the Soviet Government.

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