HC Deb 01 March 1965 vol 707 cc911-2
27. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state what payments have been made by the German Government since 1945 as reparations to this country for housing and industrial damage caused in this country by air raids.

Mr. George Thomson

The United Kingdom has received its share of confiscated German assets in kind as laid down in the 1946 Paris Agreement on reparation from Germany. The value of this share, calculated at 1938 rates, was nearly $106 million.

Mr. Allaun

Does not the smallness of that sum and my hon. Friend's Answer emphasise the absurdity of our spending £85 million a year of scarce currency in the defence of Germany, which largely explains the strength of the German currency in relation to sterling? What steps does my hon. Friend propose to reduce this burden?

Mr. Thomson

We maintain our forces in Europe not for the separate defence of Germany but as part of the defence of the Western Alliance, and, indeed, as part of the defence of peace as a whole. Money spent by us in Germany is spent in part on our own security just as much as it is on wider security. I do not think that there is any significant connection between our expenditure on these forces and the economic strength of Germany.

Sir F. Bennett

What share of that figure has come by way of reparations from the East German Government who, presumably, have their share in responsibility for the last war?

Mr. Thomson

The figure I gave is the result of an arrangement between ourselves and the Federal German Republic.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Against what immediate threat are our forces in Germany currently defending us?

Mr. Thomson

Our forces in Germany, as elsewhere, are preserving the general balance of power in the world, on which our security depends.