HC Deb 27 May 1957 vol 571 cc10-3
14. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards proposals made to them by the German Federal Government to waive the allied post-war deconcentration measures agreed upon in respect of Krupps.

18. Mr. Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken to implement the agreement signed in 1953 by Herr Alfred Krupp von Bohlen with the British, French and United States Governments to sell off his coal and steel interests in five years, and that signed the following year by Chancellor Adenauer with the Western Powers committing his Government to the destruction of the pre-war cartels; what recent discussions or negotiations with Her Majesty's Government have ensued for the alteration or abrogation of these agreements; and whether he will give an assurance that it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to maintain these agreements without amendment.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

In the Convention on the settlement of Matters Arising out of the War and Occupation, signed at Bonn in 1952 and amended at Paris in 1954, the Federal Government have agreed to complete the programme of deconcentration of the German heavy industry undertaken under Allied High Commission legislation. This programme includes the coal and steel holdings of the firm of Krupp.

As an explanation of the documents in the case is rather lengthy, I think it would be more convenient to the House if I were to circulate a note in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

It remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to maintain the Bonn Conventions, but the Federal Government have drawn the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and that of the French and American Governments, to difficulties that have arisen in the application of some of the deconcentration measures.

Further information has been requested from the Federal Government about the nature of the difficulties encountered and the extent to which their deconcentration obligations under the Conventions have so far been carried out. Once this information has been obtained, the matter will be discussed with the other signatories to the Bonn Conventions.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

Do those difficulties affect the substance of these deconcentration measures?

Mr. Lloyd

As I indicated in my Answer, I have not yet got information as to the extent to which deconcentration has already been carried out, but I think we shall find that it has been to a considerable extent in this matter.

Mr. Lewis

Before agreeing with the West German Government on any alteration to the agreements which they may suggest, will the Foreign Secretary give the House an assurance that he will consult the House, or at least inform the House, before taking any irrevocable steps?.

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly think I can give an undertaking to inform the House, but I should like to consider the other question the hon. Member has put. Of course, the first step must be consultation with the other signatories to the Bonn Conventions.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman press on the German Government that, in our view, the Krupp family and the Krupp firm are a very dangerous influence in German affairs? Before the war, they purchased the German Press and financed the organisation by which the Weimar Republic was undermined.

Mr. Lloyd

I think the Federal German Government are fully conscious of all the facts about this matter. I think it is a question of practical difficulty. Considerable assets of the Krupp firm, I understand, have been sold.

Mr. Bellenger

Is the undertaking given by the West German Government absolute for all time? Is it not the case that in decartelisation or deconcentration, or whatever one calls it, there is nothing to prevent any of the firms from coming together again, now that Germany is a sovereign Power, after the German Federal Government have observed their obligations?

Mr. Lloyd

If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to do so, I should like to consider that question. I cannot, without refreshing my memory, say whether there was any provision to prevent the re-integration of the parts which have been disposed of.

Mr. J. Hynd

Will the Foreign Secretary emphasise that the agreement was one not on decartelisation but on the de-concentration of heavy industry, and that, whatever merits it may have had at that time, it has now been outdated by events? Is it not true that the question of cartelisation is already adequately looked after by the European Coal and Steel Community, and that, whatever we may think about the Krupp family, the agreement does not prevent it from re-investing in other industries, including atomic energy, the money it has obtained from selling its coal and steel shares? Would it not be better to cancel the arrangement? Would it not be better if Herr Krupp invested his money in coal and steel instead of atomic energy?

Mr. Lloyd

The matters raised by the hon. Gentleman are certainly among those which we shall consider.

Following is the note:

Deconcentration of the Coal, Iron and Steel Industries in Germany—Krupp Plan In accordance with the provisions of Allied High Commission Law No. 27, a plan was drawn up in March, 1953, by the Combined Steel Group of the Allied High Commission for Germany for the deconcentation of the firm of Friedrich Krupp. The order giving effect to this plan was signed by the United Kingdom, French and American Chairmen of the Combined Steel Group. At the same time Alfred Krupp von Bohlen made a Statutory Declaration to the effect that he would not use the proceeds of the sale of the securities to re-acquire interests in the German coal or iron and steel industries. The provisions of Allied legislation in Germany about deconcentration had previously been confirmed and accepted by the Federal Government in the Bonn Conventions of 1952 and these provisions were retained when these Conventions were revised and amended in Paris in 1954.
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