HC Deb 07 March 1960 vol 619 cc5-7
9. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, for a period of twelve months, he will arrange for the original captured German documents, jointly owned by the United States and British Governments and presently kept in Washington, to be transferred to London and made available for study by English and European scholars, historians and research workers.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

No, Sir.

Mr. Jones

I understand from the Foreign Secretary's answer to an earlier Question that a sorting-out process is now taking place and that some of these documents are being retained for security reasons and the rest returned to Germany. Is it not desirable that before that return takes place British scholars and others should have an opportunity of examining these documents in view of present conditions in Germany, since the consequence of their return to Germany may merely be that they are conveniently pulped?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's insinuation about the effect of their return to Germany, or what he indicated about conditions in Germany at present. What is happening is that the work of sorting out these documents is going on. About 15,000 cubic feet of documents still remain to be dealt with, about 9,000 cubic feet having been dealt with and returned. Microfilms are made of all the documents before they are returned. The precise purpose of this is to ensure that the material contained in them shall be available for suitable use.

37. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements Her Majesty's Government have made with the United States Government for the original captured German documents to be available for responsible research to those wishing to examine them.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

There are various collections of these documents. The collections in this country and in Washington are under joint British and United States control; and there is also the Berlin Documents Centre, which is under United States control. In so far as a general answer can be given about facilities for research, applications by qualified research workers are considered on their merits, in cases where access for this purpose is not already unrestricted.

Mr. Janner

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman use his good offices, if he possibly can, to see to it that the Berlin Documents Centre, which contains official documents from Nazi official files, should be open to responsible people who want to examine the documents, in the interests of removing Nazi influence and ensuring that those who were responsible for Nazi crimes shall be properly brought to justice?

Mr. Lloyd

The Documents Centre is under United States control, and the United States authorities, as I told the House on 10th February, have stated that they will not provide information from the documents except in answer to requests made through official channels. It is for Her Majesty's Government to decide what applications they will sponsor from British subjects for access to such documents. That is where we stand in the matter.

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