HC Deb 23 March 1964 vol 692 cc9-11
11. Mr. Neave

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that many years have now elapsed since his Department were informed of the claim of Mrs. G. M. Lindell for compensation for her suffering in concentration camps during the war; and whether he will make a statement on the progress of negotiations with the Federal German Government on behalf of all British sub- jects illegaily detained and illtreated by the Nazi Government.

14. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the negotiations were opened with the Federal German Government on compensation for British victims of Nazi persecution; and how many persons due for compensation are in the category of the late Wong Commander Yeo Thomas.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. A. Butler)

Negotiations with the Federal German Government were resumed in October 1963. They are proceeding as expeditiously as possible and with goodwill on both sides.

Mr. Neave

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the very serious concern on both sides of the House that 19 years after the war no settlement has been reached about members of the British public who were in concentration camps? Will he see that in future this matter is dealt with at the highest level with the Federal Government?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I took the opportunity of the visit of the German Minister of Finance, Dr. Dahlgrün, to raise this question last week. It will be resumed when my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary visits Bonn next month.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am absolutely devastated that after all this time the Foreign Office has allowed these people connected with the work of resistance to go uncompensated? Does not my right hon. Friend think that, as Wing Commander Yeo Thomas has died, it reflects most unfavourably on both the Government and the Federal Government of Germany that no action has been taker up to date? May I have an assurance hat my right hon. Friend will personally ask my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) and myself to put down a Question at a very early date in order that he may state that adequate compensation has been paid to these people? How many people are involved in this?

Mr. Butler

I could not give an exact figure. While not accepting all my hon. Friend's language, I certainly agree that this is a very serious question, which we are trying to push ahead. Owing to the fact that these negotiations will be going on next month, I cannot give a date for a Question, but I will certainly keep the House informed.

Mr. Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is quite possible to obtain a full list of all the British victims of Nazi persecution because, through the International Tracing Service in Western Germany, a complete record is preserved of everyone who has ever been in a concentration camp. It should therefore be possible without much difficulty to obtain a complete list of all the British victims who have suffered in this way, and for them to get compensation in the same way as the citizens of many other countries have already obtained compensation.

Mr. Butler

I think that we can obtain a great many facts and I shall be obliged for any information which the hon. Member sends me, but I do not think that at the present moment it would be useful to give any particular names or lists to the House.

Sir T. Moore

May I ask one question? Why have all the victims of Nazi persecution in other European countries been compensated and not the British?

Mr. Butler

I have drawn this to the attention of the Federal German Government.