HC Deb 15 July 1964 vol 698 cc1175-6
5. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will continue to keep British troops in West Germany in view of her Government's decision not to make any financial or other contribution towards their upkeep.

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

The Federal German Government have made no decision of the sort to which the hon. Member refers.

Mr. Rankin

Is not it generally understood that Western Germany has now decided not to pay for the upkeep of British forces in its territory? Is not it also the case that Western Germany is not purchasing any compensatory arms, which it promised to do, but is getting them from America instead? In view of that attitude, is it possible to defend spending £55 million of the British taxpayers' money on keeping an army in a country where it is not wanted?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Normally I am pressed by the Opposition to put more there. The answer, broadly, is "No, Sir; no such decision has been reached".

35. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about his recent talks with the West German Minister for Defence, Herr Uwe von Hassell, in connection with the costs of the British forces in Germany.

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir; the talks were confidential.

Mr. Fernyhough

Can the right hon. Gentleman at least assure us that they were a little more successful, even though confidential, than the previous talks which his predecessors, or representatives from the Treasury, had with their opposite numbers in Germany? Can he give the assurance that for this year at least we will get more than two-thirds of the cost, which is all we got from the Germans last year?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The talks were not even exclusively about costs. They covered the whole range of our defence and were in concert with the normal exchange of staff talks which go on with all our allies.

Mr. Rankin

As the demand for doubling the British forces in Germany has come from behind the right hon. Gentleman today, can he say what the costs of doubling the Army of the Rhine would be?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I was not aware of any demand to double the size of our forces in Germany. It would be a very substantial capital cost of about £300 million with running costs of about £100 million, and it would involve conscription.