HC Deb 19 March 1956 vol 550 cc825-6
44. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on the negotiations with the West German Government about payment for British troops stationed in Germany.

The Minister of Defence (Sir Walter Monckton)

Negotiations have begun, but I am not yet in a position to make any statement.

Mr. Swingler

I appreciate the Minister's position whilst negotiations are going on, but may I ask if he is aware that statements are appearing in a number of quarters—including B.B.C. news bulletins —about the proposals in those negotiations; and that it has been stated, with the authority of the B.B.C., that the West German Government propose to make no payment for the cost of troops in Germany, but are merely prepared to buy armaments from this country? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that that position is most undesirable, that the majority of people in this country would be most strongly opposed to it, and that, therefore, it is expected that he will take a firm attitude on the subject?

Sir W. Monckton

I have heard and read certain suggestions as to what is taking place in the negotiations, but while they continue I cannot possibly make a statement as to their progress.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can we be assured that so far as the right hon. and learned Gentleman is concerned he is not accepting the reported statement of the West German Finance Minister that they will pay nothing and only give orders for armaments here?

Sir W. Monckton

We are not accepting that position. We are going ahead on the footing which I have stated to the House of Commons before.

Mr. E. Fletcher

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is much concern in the country about this matter? Can we take it that the policy of the Government is that there will not be any substantial reduction in the contribution made by the West German Government to the cost of occupation, notwithstanding the integration of West German forces in N.A.T.O.?

Sir W. Monckton

As I think I made plain on the last occasion I was asked a question on this subject, we are claiming, both under the terms of the protocol and in equity, that there should be substantial payments towards support costs.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can we take it that the American Government are also taking part in these negotiations? Would it be correct to say that their attitude is broadly the same as that of the right hon. and learned Gentleman?

Sir W. Monckton

The American Government are taking part in the negotiations together with us, and they are supporting the view we have taken, so far as I know.