HC Deb 05 November 1968 vol 772 cc694-5
Q5. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister what communication he sent to the German Chancellor in September about Anglo-German collaboration; what reply he has received; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

My letter was confidential, but I can tell the House that it dealt generally with the need and the opportunities for closer European cooperation and the part that our two countries could play in this. A reply has not yet been received.

Mr. Marten

Can the Prime Minister hazard a guess as to why a reply has not yet been received, and will he take the House a little more into his confidence on this important matter? Does he, for example, equate it in any way with the Debré proposals made yesterday at Brussels?

The Prime Minister

I think that the reason why no reply has been received is that things have moved on a good deal since the letter was sent. There is continuing contact between my right hon. Friend and the German Foreign Minister. These matters will be further discussed when I visit Germany in the New Year. There was no relation between this correspondence and the most recent proposals of M. Debré.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

How does the Prime Minister explain that West Germany, although she lost the war, is lending us money and is in a better financial situation than we are? Is it because Germany is spending less of her national income on armaments?

The Prime Minister

It is a fact that Germany has been spending a lower proportion of her national income on armaments than has this country, although with the defence proposals which have been endorsed by the House, our percentage will fall to an equivalent of that of similar countries in Western Europe. Other big factors have been not only that Germany has had a continual inflow of refugees from East Germany but also that after the war, because of the damage, the West Germans carried through an enormous programme of reinvestment, rebuilding and modernisation. Some 20 years later we are only beginning to catch up with the investment in and the modernisation of British industry.

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