HC Deb 16 March 1960 vol 619 cc1295-8
46. Mr. Warbey

asked the Minister of Defence what arrangements he has made, or is contemplating, to make British bases available to the German Army and Air Force.

47. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement about the latest negotiations over German air, missile and Army bases in Great Britain.

42. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Defence to what extent he proposes to provide bases for the German Army in Great Britain.

Mr. Ward

I have been asked to reply.

When the Federal German Minister of Defence visited this country in the spring of last year he gave informal notice of a possible German interest, within the context of N.A.T.O., in establishing storage depôts at ports in this country for the support of the German elements in the N.A.T.O. forces. We were prepared to examine any specific proposals, but none has been put to us.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Secretary of State aware that he has not answered that part of my Question relating to training facilities for the Luftwaffe? As there have been reports of this, will he answer that part of the Question, and recognise that a deep feeling of repugnance exists in this country at the idea of Luftwaffe units once more flying over the territory of Britain? Will he give an assurance that the Government will now take action, through N.A.T.O., to ensure that a halt is called to further German rearmament, and that steps are taken to prevent the spread of German forces over Western Europe, by means of disengagement and disarmament?

Mr. Ward

The question of facilities for the training of German personnel in this country is a separate one, which is the subject of Question No. 48. The question of supply depôts at ports, for the support of the German Army, arises from the general problem of maintaining supply sources across the Atlantic in war time. Nothing specific has so far been put forward.

Mr. Gower

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there seams to be a good deal of misunderstanding about this subject? Is he aware that there is evidence that some people who ought to know better think that independent German forces are to be used? To that extent cannot the utmost publicity be given to the fact that this is not a resuscitation of independent German forces?

Mr. Ward

I have tried to make it clear that there is nothing remotely resembling a German military base in this country.

Mr. Wade

Earlier the Minister used the word "interdependence". Would he qualify this? Do we understand he is suggesting that one member of N.A.T.O. might make arrangements on its own with another member of N.A.T.O. for bases, supply depôts and so on? Or is it to be co-ordinated by N.A.T.O. and only through N.A.T.O.?

Mr. Ward

Naturally, the original proposal will be discussed by N.A.T.O. and afterwards, presumably, it will be put forward as a specific proposal to us.

Mr. Manuel

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman recognises the need to be completely open and above-board about the question of German bases or troops coming to Scotland or elsewhere in Britain. Is he aware that there will be complete repugnance to bases of the character or soldiers of the units he describes coming to Scotland? Already we are getting far too many letters from our constituents on the subject, and I am sure that many of my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in Scotland will agree with me.

Mr. Allaun

Is it not obvious that facilities for Germany in Britain would further encourage the German militarists, who are fast becoming the strongest military Power in Europe and hankering for the seizure of their lost provinces, which would precipitate a third world war?

Mr. Ward

The point is—

Dame Irene Ward

Hit him hard.

Mr. Ward

—that the German Army is using certain equipment of British origin and therefore it is not unreasonable that we should train a small number of German personnel to understand, operate and maintain that equipment.

Mr. S. Silverman

Will not the right hon. Gentleman make an effort to realise that, quite apart from differences between the political parties, and what the politicians and generals may have to say about it, there is among members of the public in this country—sometimes among those with not very strong political interests—a very strong feeling that to train German troops in this country would be to make a mockery of all this country stood for in two world wars?

Mr. Ward

I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, for whom I am answering, is by no means insensible to the feelings which the hon. Gentleman has expressed. On the other hand, we must remember that Federal Germany is a member of N.A.T.O. and the policy of Her Majesty's Government has been expressed as interdependence between partners in the N.A.T.O. alliance.