HC Deb 06 December 1960 vol 631 cc1038-9
7. Mr. Bence

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the cost of maintaining British troops in Western Germany in 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960 to date; what was the corresponding German contribution covering the same periods; and what steps he is taking to reduce the British costs.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

As the Answer to the first two parts of the Question involves a number of figures, I will with permission circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence and I are taking all practicable measures to keep these costs as low as possible in the circumstances.

Mr. Bence

Will the Chancellor give the House an assurance that, if the Americans succeed in getting the German Government to pay for the American troops in Germany, the German Government should pay for the British troops there and the British taxpayers be relieved of the bill?

Mr. Lloyd

I could not find anything to quarrel with in that statement, as a general proposition. We are examining the whole question of the imbalance of payments, to which I referred recently, and I think that some form of sharing of defence costs is a matter which should be discussed.

Mr. H. Wilson

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman seen the figures which the Financial Secretary gave ten days ago in respect of the net overseas military expenditure of the Government? In view of the very serious increase in those figures, will he treat this matter as one of urgency and report to the House when he has something to tell us?

Mr. Lloyd

I agree that one important factor in our balance of payments is the question of overseas military expenditure. I also agree that another disturbing matter is the imbalance of payments, and the way in which Western Germany is accumulating these large reserves and not pushing any Deutschmarks into the world economy. That is one matter which is relevant, and involved in that problem is the cost of the troops in Germany.

Following is the information:

Year Gross Cost German Contribution Net Cost
£m. £m. £m.
1957 63 41 22
1958 57 12 45
1959 51 24 27
1960 (first six months) 29 6 23