HC Deb 04 February 1964 vol 688 cc959-60
15. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his recent talks with the Federal German Minister of Finance on the cost of stationing British troops in West Germany.

Mr. Maudling

My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury visited Bonn on 3rd December, 1963, for discussions with the Federal German Minister of Finance, Dr. Dahlgrün, about the implementation of the Agreed Minute of 6th June, 1962, on this subject. At the same time he stressed the need for new arrangements regarding the foreign exchange costs of British forces in Germany, when the period covered by the Agreed Minute ends on 31st March, 1964. Both sides hoped that it would be possible to find solutions to all outstanding problems.

I have arranged for a copy of the communiqué issued after these talks to be placed in the Library. German and British officials will meet in London in the near future for further discussions on the implementation of the Agreed Minute, and Dr. Dahlgrün has been invited to visit London in March to continue his discussions with the Chief Secretary.

Mr. Fernyhough

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it time that we tried to come to a firm and permanent understanding about these costs? Does not he think it rather humiliating that representatives of Her Majesty's Government should constantly have to go cap in hand and beg the Germans to observe their part of the agreement? If we cannot afford to keep these troops in Germany and the Germans refuse to make the contribution which they have promised, will the right hon. Gentleman think in terms of reducing the numbers of troops?

Mr. Maudling

This procedure is working out well. I do not accept the suggestion that we are constantly going cap in hand to Germany. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has been to Germany and Dr. Dahlgrün has been invited to visit London. This is the way that these things should be worked out between Governments.

Sir C. Osborne

How much is it costing us to keep our troops in Germany? Since this cost must obviously put an added strain on our balance of payments position, under what condition may we expect, one day, the troops to be brought home?

Mr. Maudling

As I said in my Answer, the German Government have given us to understand that the agreed minute will be carried out by 31st March, 1964. During his recent visit Dr. Erhard undertook that his Government would give the subject of what happens after that their urgent and sympathetic consideration.