HC Deb 13 June 1956 vol 554 cc547-8
1. Mr. Hale

asked the Minister of Defence what sum is being paid in the current financial year by the Western German Government to the cost of the British Army of Occupation in Germany; what sum was paid in the two preceding years; and the estimated total costs of the occupying British forces for each of the three years.

The Minister of Defence (Sir Walter Monckton)

The amount to be provided to the Federal German Government during the current financial year for the support of British forces stationed in Germany will not be known until the current negotiations with that Government have been concluded, as I hope they will be shortly. I will then inform the House what has been agreed.

The amounts provided in the two preceding financial years were approximately £160 million in 1954–55 and £72 million in 1955–56. The total cost of maintaining British forces in Germany was approximately £160 million in 1954–55 and £113 million in 1955–56. The estimated total cost for the current financial year is about £114 million.

Mr. Hale

Is the position now, therefore, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's colleagues have undertaken to maintain British forces in Germany as a result of an undertaking with the French who have nearly all their forces in North Africa? Is it not a fact that the German contribution to the American forces has been agreed for the current financial year? What is holding up these negotiations? Does the Chancellor still really expect a payment of £50 million?

Sir W. Monckton

The Answer to the last part of the Question is that there has been a sum fixed for the American forces, and we are still pressing for more than has been offered to us.

Mr. Stokes

What is the difficulty in getting a settlement between us and the Germans if it is so easy for one to be reached between the Americans and the Germans? Secondly, is it not a fact that the Germans have built up a reserve of over £300 million in respect of occupation costs which were not incurred, and has that been taken into consideration?

Sir W. Monckton

The amount of the reserve fund has been borne in mind. The difficulty is that we are not satisfied with the offer that has been made to us, and are pressing for more.

Mr. Peyton

Would my right hon. and learned Friend make it clear to the West German Government that there is a growing feeling in this country that recent policies in West Germany have been designed to get as much and to give as little as possible to the common cause, and that their recent policies have revived to a dangerous extent old suspicions and prejudices which were beginning to die out?

Sir W. Monckton

I should not like to accept that suggestion. I would say that we are maintaining firmly our desire to get more, and are doing it in the best possible spirit.