HC Deb 08 February 1961 vol 634 cc370-3
3. Mr. Greenwood

asked the Minister of Defence what stage has been reached in the negotiations for the provision of facilities for German forces on British soil.

5. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Defence what proposals have been made recently by West Germany for military bases and training facilities in Great Britain; what help he has offered; and if he will make a statement on his discussions with General Heusinger.

7. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence what form of agreement was signed on German bases in Great Britain on the occasion of General Heusinger's recent visit to this country.

13. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will make a statement regarding the arrangements that have been made for the training of West German armed forces in the Castlemartin area of Pembrokeshire.

17. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Defence how many Federal German Service men will be stationed in Great Britain under the recent arrangement.

19. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Defence what additional facilities he is providing for training German troops in Great Britain.

24. Sir B. Janner

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is aware that since the conversations between Her Majesty's Government and General Heusinger anxiety has increased about the admission of German forces into Great Britain for training or other purposes; and what steps he now proposes to take to prevent their admission from taking place.

Mr. Watkinson

As the House knows, the Federal German Government have recently concluded arrangements through N.A.T.O. for storage and training facilities in other N.A.T.O. countries which cannot be met within their own territory. Discussions will shortly be taking place between the Germans and ourselves under the auspices of N.A.T.O. to see whether similar facilities can be provided in this country. Until these discussions have taken place, we do not know whether we can meet the needs of the German forces. The visit of General Heusinger to this country was not connected with these discussions.

Mr. Greenwood

Is the Minister aware that most people in this country hate this proposal and will be shocked by his Answer? Is there no hope of the discussions breaking down, or is the right hon. Gentleman determined to go down in history as the man who succeeded where Hitler failed and put German troops on British soil?

Mr. Watkinson

The hon. Member, of course, knows, first, that that is a completely misleading supplementary question, and, secondly, that it does not represent the views of the enormous majority of the population of this country. At any rate, let me make the Government's decision quite plain. The Government welcome wholeheartedly the German desire to incorporate their armed forces with their N.A.T.O. allies.

Mr. Allaun

Will the Minister give the House two very reasonable undertakings? The first is that no high-ranking former Nazi officers will be allowed here. The second is that no training will be given in the use of missiles or nuclear weapons.

Mr. Watkinson

I am not prepared to give any undertaking. What I said some time ago, and perhaps I may remind the House of it, was, first, that certain limited training of German personnel has already taken place, and I said then that if this was to be largely increased I would certainly undertake to inform the House.

Mr. Swingler

It the Minister really not aware of the widespread opposition in Britain to the growing armed forces in Germany? Is he not aware that a large number of people in Britain believe that the Government should devote themselves wholeheartedly to limiting armed forces and armaments in Germany, both East and West? Will he not, therefore, devote himself to that task?

Mr. Watkinson

That is a quite different question which should be put down to the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Lipton

If the Germans have not enough room in their own country, would it not be much more sensible to bring back here the British forces at present in Germany and let the Germans do in their own country whatever training N.A.T.O. or their present Government want them to do? Would not that be a very much more sensible way of dealing with the problem, which will cause very grave disquiet, if not disgust, among many good British citizens?

Mr. Watkinson

I agree that this is an emotional subject for most of us; most of us have memories of one war, and some of us have memories of two wars. All I would say is that those who want to ensure that such a terrible tragedy cannot happen again should very strongly support the integration of Germany's forces with her allies.

Sir B. Janner

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the introduction of forces from Germany into this country will cause very serious anxiety to people who have suffered from the Nazis and are now in this country, particularly as there is a neo-Nazi party being recreated in Germany, as he probably knows? What steps will he take to ensure that the German forces which are brought into this country will be properly vetted so that they will not cause any damage, even if he will not stop them from coming altogether? Will he bear in mind that when in the past people of a similar nature have been allowed to come here they have on occasion indulged in the publishing of anti-semitic and other Nazi vicious propaganda here? Will he take that into consideration?

Mr. Watkinson

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has studied the extreme care with which the Federal German Republic acted when its forces took over certain training facilites in France. I am advised that, as a result, no trouble or difficulties arose, and there are certainly as deep feelings in France on this matter as in Great Britain.

Mr. Fernyhough

Will not the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge that this is really a Gilbertian situation? We are having to offer the Germans facilities to train their troops here because they have not enough room at home, while we have 50,000 or 60,000 troops stationed in Germany. Would it not be sensible to follow the advice given by my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton)? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that if he did so he would save more for the British taxpayer than the mean, miserable economies which the Minister of Health is now determined to impose on the babes, the maimed and the sick?

Mr. Watkinson

The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to pursue that subject later.

Mr. Costain

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have had a letter from the Mayor of Lydd, a town which has a military camp, saying that certain members of his community would welcome German troops going there for training?

Mr. Watkinson

There are, as my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) has fairly indicated, two sides to this question. I would ask hon. Members, who have a perfect right to feel deeply on this subject, just to reflect on the fact that none of us wants the tragedy of the last two world wars to happen again. Surely the best way to ensure that that does not happen is to try to tie the Germans tightly into our Western Alliance, and that is the wish of the Germans themselves.

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