HL Deb 02 June 1943 vol 127 cc771-96

VISCOUNT MAUGHAM had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government, in view of the evident intention of the Axis Powers, in anticipation of their own defeat, to destroy the means of industrial competition in the countries which they have occupied, whether they intend, in co-operation with their Allies, to use all possible means to prevent this result; and to move for Papers.

The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, on the 7th April last I had a Motion before the House relating to the question of restitution and replacement of looted property. I am afraid I occupied your Lordships some little time in considering that matter, and I would not have ventured to put down another Motion on part of the same subject unless I thought that there was something quite new that I had to say to your Lordships. I also believe that on the last occasion I failed to some extent to make good the case which I was presenting before you. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, who replied for the Government, told us that there had been a Declaration on the 5th January this year, under which questions of what I call restitution were being considered, and as regards which the Government were taking steps to ensure that articles which could be identified would certainly be returned as a result of the war. But I think I failed—at any rate as far as we can tell I failed—to impress upon the noble and learned Viscount, or perhaps on this House, the enormous importance of the doctrine of replacement by equivalent articles, in the widest sense, of those things which the Germans have taken.

The inadequacy of restitution in specie will be perfectly plain to anyone who considers the cunning of the Teutonic mind. As soon as it is said that a vast number of all sorts of things have to be returned, in the first place it will be very difficult to find them—Germany is a very large country and there are lots of good hiding places; and, in the second place, the marks of identity will be destroyed. But, beyond that—which is only by the way—the question of replacement is of enormously greater magnitude and importance than the question of restitution in specie. I shall, before I sit down, be able to give your Lordships some first-rate evidence to show the enormous value of the articles which have been taken away by the Germans, especially the articles which are being taken away from adjoining countries with the deliberate intention of making it impossible for those countries to compete with the Germans after the war.

Before I say anything more I should like to observe this, that I have the disadvantage in addressing this House in that I am known, I am afraid, as a lawyer. No doubt a number of your Lordships may consider there is something technical in what I have to say, and that you cannot be expected to follow it closely or to understand more than a small portion of it. I wish to say at the outset that, except for perhaps two sentences, there is nothing technical in what I am going to say. I am not really speaking on the whole as a lawyer at all. I am forgetting everything I have learnt as a lawyer, except the enormous importance of justice. There are two circumstances which make it absolutely necessary, as a matter of elementary justice, that replacement should be effected after we have the Germans thoroughly beaten. The first is the scale on which the plundering has proceeded in no fewer than ten countries, and the second is the fact, as I conceive it, that no other method of giving these devastated countries a reasonable hope of restoring their economic and industrial welfare for years is possible except the method of replacement of the things which have been taken.

The position I was in on April 7 was that had obtained information with regard to the loot from all, or nearly all, the Embassies and Legations in London, and had therefore been able to ascertain a good deal about what had been looted in those countries. Since then the United States, through a body which has been at work in that country, have been able to obtain a much greater and more recent amount of information even than the Embassies themselves. That is occasioned by the circumstance that, as your Lordships will remember, the United States were not at war with Germany until December, 1941. Until that time they were in the position of having Embassies in the countries which are now occupied by the Germans, and were able to obtain the most ample information from those countries as to what had been going on.

The United States, through a body called the United States Board of Economic Warfare, have recently published some fairly detailed accounts of the position in those various countries. In particular they have summarized the whole position in statements which have been published here, though the full documents have not yet reached this country—at any rate not up to yesterday, when I had the pleasure of visiting the Embassy of the United States in London. They have produced the facts up to the end of 1941, which is eighteen months ago. Some of the most important of the statements were published in a résumé in The Times a week ago. I obtained these documents from the Embassy, and though I cannot put my hand on them at the moment, I am able to tell your Lordships the substance of them. The most singular and striking fact is that the loot from those countries amounted at the end of ro4r to no less a sum, according to the view of this Board, than £9,000,000,000. In order that your Lordships may get some idea of what this astronomical figure indicates, I would remind you that after the last war our experts, including a very eminent member of this House, came to the conclusion that Germany could not possibly pay in cash, currencies, and goods an amount exceeding £2,000,000,000. In other words, the Germans at the end of Top had managed to get, according to the view expressed by this Board, more than four times as much as the whole sum which the experts said the Germans could possibly pay at the end of the last war.

I do not want to repeat what I said on the last occasion, but the German system of looting has enabled them to take practically everything they wanted from all these countries. They have driven away cattle, they have taken away works of art—I am not concerned to go into that to-day—they have taken away the equipment of scientific bodies, they have taken books from the libraries, the whole equipment of numerous factories, all such things as machinery for textile production, machinery, in fact, for every possible industry which could compete with the Germans after the war. All these things have been placed on trolleys, wagons and so on, which have rumbled along the roads to Germany, or it has taken hundreds and hundreds of railway wagons to take them to that country. I wish I had the papers here to read, as I had intended to read, a list of some of the things which these people have taken from the devastated countries. It is inconceivable. But at any rate I can say that, according to the evidence before me coming from the statements of the United States Board and from the reports which I have obtained from the various Embassies and Legations here, they have taken every imaginable thing of any industrial use, and unless something is done the adjoining countries will not be able for years to be put upon the footing of industrial and economic power which will enable them to manage their lives in the way in which they managed them before the aggression by Hitler and his myrmidons.

I now want to say something on the point of the inadequacy of Reparations as we know the word and as we used it after the last war. And I propose to give, with your Lordships' indulgence, a very brief history of what happened to the Reparation clauses in the Treaty of Versailles. We had an elaborate clause in that great Treaty under which Germany, after having admitted her guilt, proceeded to promise or to become bound by the Treaty to make Reparations. In the first instance the amount of Reparations was left vague and uncertain, but in the month of May, 1921, just about the time when Germany started making Reparations, the amount to be paid was fixed by the Allies at the sum of £6,600,000,000. Now the cost of the war to the Allied countries was certainly not less than £48,000,000,000, so that the amount was fixed, as the result of sympathy with Germany, at a fraction of the cost of the war, and payment of that sum of £6,600,000,000 was going to be spread over a large number of years. I may add, as the sort of figure which may be compared with it, that the restoration of Northern France alone cost £830,000,000 sterling.

Germany organized sympathy all over the world, especially in the United States, and as against that figure of £6,600,000,000 some of your Lordships will be interested to be reminded of what Germany ultimately paid in cash and foreign exchange and what she ultimately paid in the total of deliveries of goods plus that cash and foreign exchange. She paid in cash and exchange sums amounting altogether to £253,000,000. That was the total amount she paid in cash and the total amount she paid including deliveries of goods was about £1,038,000,000. Those are the figures according to the reports of the Reparations Commission which, as your Lordships will remember, included a number of people from various countries. Germany as against that got £100,000,000 in loans under the Dawes and Young plans, and if you take what they got in cash from the £250,000,000 there is left £153,000,000. About the same time as the Dawes plan she managed to obtain loans from bankers and others in the United States and Great Britain amounting, roughly, to £1,000,000,000. She has never repaid that and the net result is that in effect Germany, if the figures of our Reparations Commission can be trusted, escaped any large Reparation payments at all, taking into account the loans she obtained from Great Britain, the United States and other countries. By the Lausanne Agreement of July, 1932, this country gave up all claims to further repayments on a final payment then of £150,000,000 which I have reckoned in the figures that I have already given to your Lordships.

I tell that story because it is material to bear in mind that Germany, when she is beaten to her knees, will no doubt be just as clever as she was before, if she is able to, and will try to find as many dupes as she found in this country and America about 1932 and thereabouts. What was the result? When this present war was declared, Hitler in 1939 stated in the Reichstag that from the years 1933 to 1939 he had spent 95,000,000,000 gold marks on rearmament which, translated into sterling, is £8,000,000,000. That is many times as much as Germany had ever handed over to the Allied countries in Reparations. By 1928 the German national income was 75 per cent. higher than it had been in the year 1913. She had not suffered by the war except in men and loss of prestige and things of that sort. She was the richest country in Europe and she had managed in one way or another to prevent any economic suffering notwithstanding one of the biggest defeats in history.

If your Lordships have any doubt about this being the effect of the way in which the Versailles Treaty was operated, and the way in which we were deceived, you can find it if you like in a little book costing eighteenpence called The Greatest Swindle in the World, produced under the auspices of the Czechoslovak Government during the last month or so and written by Mr. Borsky, with a preface by my noble friend Lord Vansittart which does not err on the side of being wanting in vigour and character and determination. It is well worth the money, and I hope your Lordships will take the opportunity of buying it. You can see it on the book-stalls; it has a nice striking cover. But you will find these facts everywhere if you care to look at any recent work. You will find the beginning of them in substance in Mr. Lloyd George's most interesting book The Truth about the Peace Conference. I venture to say that the facts I have stated are not controverted except with regard to one figure, the figure which I gave you of £1,038,000,000 which Germany paid us by way of Reparations. That figure was disputed in the United States. It all depends on what we include in Reparations. My case, if I may so express it here to-day, is so good that I do not mind if you say it is £1,000,000,000 they paid us or £2,000,000,000. The result is just the same. In the end they gave us a sum, and we were duped into accepting a sum, so small that Germany was able to spend at once vast sums upon armaments and to begin this war with incomparably better equipment of all kinds than we had at that period.

I told your Lordships I would embark on law in about two sentences and I am going to do that now. There are people who think that the question I am raising to-day is a question of International Law; that it depends on definitions. I say that is complete nonsense. We are fighting a country which has paid not the smallest regard to any doctrines of International Law. It began on the first day by an act of piracy on the high seas and has continued ever since with acts which can only be explained as acts of brigands and swindlers and murderers. For anybody to suggest that we have a difficulty in getting back these articles which Germany has stolen because of International Law, is to my mind absolute and complete humbug. This practice of Germany in waging war of this kind, involving widespread robbery, is a new technique of warfare which requires a new answer. Of course you will not find anything about it in the works of Grotius or any of the eminent people who have written down to the time of Oppenheim and Lawrence and the rest, because the system which Hitler has adopted has not before been adopted in any European or, as far as I know, any civilized war whatsoever. The result is that a lack of precedents ought not to deter us in the least.

If a doctrine of International Law were required the only one we could call in aid, if necessary, would be the doctrine of reprisals. When another country does something contrary to the doctrines of International Law while engaged in belligerent warfare, obviously there is a system of reprisals, a justifiable measure in answering the illegality of the other side. When all is said and done, International Law is based upon reciprocity; it is based upon the fact that the enemy is going to comply with certain rules if you comply with them. What are we to do? I say it is not a question of International Law at all unless you call it a reprisal. De-looting Germany seems to me an absolute necessity in the interests of justice. It is the only thing which we can possibly do to prevent Germany—however much she is defeated and whatever losses of men she suffers during, it may be, the next year or longer—from making a profit by keeping these goods, this equipment and the multitudinous things she has taken from adjoining countries.

Unless we restore them the other countries will remain in a state of misery for years. Germany, for instance, has taken all the machines for the making of tools. What is going to happen to Belgium and Holland, to take only two examples? How are they to get other machinery? It is true America may be able to help to some extent, but we cannot help, and. America cannot provide machine tools for the whole world except over a lapse of time during which Germany will be prosperous because she has these things while other countries will be absolutely in a state of semi-starvation. If we can take articles, and equipment and plant, and all the other things I have referred to, similar to the things which have been looted from other countries and send them back without delay—and time is of the utmost importance in the case—then, I think, Germany will suffer by this war and will at last have got the idea that neither looting nor aggressive war pays.

I may mention in passing that there is not the smallest doubt in my mind that the Soviet Republics, as they advance, will certainly do what I am suggesting should be done by our people. I am also certain that the Russians will repay the German system of sending people to do forced labour in Germany by making Germans work in Russia. Whether we can do that or whether we care to do it is a thing I pass by to-day. But at any rate I am perfectly certain that, having regard to the enormous amount of things looted from Germany, there is no hope for these other countries, at any rate no hope in a life-time, unless we make up our minds that the equivalent of things looted shall be taken, as our troops advance from the respective zones of occupation, by the British and Russian troops and those of the other Allies, and returned without delay to the countries which have been despoiled. Cattle, locomotives and rolling stock, ships which were largely designed for the invasion of Britain, fishing boats, barges for the same purpose, wireless apparatus which in these days is a necessity for a country suffering from the kind of misery which is suffered under the Germans in order to preserve order and tell people what they are to do during the period of reconstruction: all these things must he returned as far as possible.

I must add this. After the last war the principle adopted was to obtain money and goods for Reparations, and the experts said that we could not get more than £2,000,000,000 worth of Reparations because the total amount must not be so great as to interfere with the economic and industrial life of Germany. I ask the question: Are we to keep to that condition? I am perfectly sure that we cannot keep to it consistently with justice to our Allies. It will not be justice if the economic and industrial life of Germany is to remain and to be preserved at the cost of the industrial and economic life of Belgium, Holland, Poland and the other seven countries who have suffered in the way I have mentioned. So we must make up our minds, I think, instead of giving way to any feeling of compassion, a feeling which a Briton will always have for the under dog, to insist on replacement, and restitutions being effected whatever the results may be in Germany. We must be prepared for a cry, as I know a number of your Lordships heard it in the last war, from people holding up their palms and shouting "Kamerad". We must be prepared for the whines of Germans all over the world, and the plea that this principle of restitution and replacement is going to cause them misery and despair. I do not believe that it is. They will suffer no doubt, but they deserve to suffer if ever a nation did.

The story of the ruthless looting on a large scale of all these countries to which I have referred must be read and considered against a sombre and a sanguinary background of the most horrible treatment of these European countries—with the exception of one or two who are treated a little bit better in the German interest. It must be considered, remembering the losses which have been inflicted; losses of irreplaceable lives which cannot be the subject of the sort of remedies I am suggesting, irreplaceable lives of men, women and children, lives which have been destroyed by the methods of the concentration camp, by slow starvation, by transferring people in icy weather huddled together in masses of 70 or 80 in a single open truck so that at the end of their journey most of them were dead, and by absolutely deliberate, inexcusable murder. That was the system of horror deliberately adopted by Hitler and his gang in waging aggressive war. And, if we cannot, by some such steps as I have mentioned, restore to these unhappy countries the goods of which they have been deprived so that they can start in the shortest possible space of time to restore their economic lives, we shall see, in quite a few years, a brutal, arrogant and triumphant Germany in the midst of a number of miserable nations on the verge of starvation. If we are such fools as to allow that to happen our children, or our grandchildren, will see successors of Hitler, regardless of the history of the last 75 years, preparing again in secret for a third world war, by which, indeed, the civilization of this country may be completely destroyed for at least a century. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I hope your Lordships will permit me to add a few comments to the very valuable speech which we have just heard from my noble and learned friend Lord Maugham. If he will allow me to say so, I think that he has performed a great service in drawing attention to this problem and its immense difficulties and complexities. My noble and learned friend is proud of his legal position in this country, and justly proud of it. He was exercising his high functions as a Judge when I and the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack and others of your Lordships, including my noble friend and Leader, were going through the hurly-burly of politics, fighting elections, and debating these matters in the Houses of Parliament. I can assure my noble and learned friend, the mover of this Motion, that we really were not deliberately fooled by Germany at that time. We did our best to solve this very difficult problem, but one of the great troubles was that no preparations had been made beforehand to deal with it. We were faced with a state of emergency in 1919.

In the 1918 Election one of the great slogans used throughout the country—it was first used, I believe, by the late Mr. Horatio Bottomley—was to the effect that the Germans were to pay for the whole cost of the war and the Kaiser was to be hanged. Now in fighting, as a Liberal, an absolutely safe Liberal seat—a seat which had been Liberal for a hundred years—in Yorkshire, I raised some question as to the practical difficulty of making Germany pay the whole cost of the war, and because of that I lost that perfectly safe seat. In the following March I contested another Yorkshire seat which had never been Liberal at all. I again pleaded for the adoption of practical measures, for a certain amount of sanity, and spoke against exaggerated hopes. The result was that I won that seat—which had been Conservative for a hundred years—for the Liberals. I mention this because the mood of the country at the time of the 1918 Election was exactly as described by the noble Lord. (In a few months' time the mood was more sober.) It was a mood of great indignation, of great and justifiable anger and of complete oblivion as to means to be adopted for making the Germans pay the whole cost of the war. That did not enter into the matter. They were to pay. They were a rich country. Lord Cunliffe, then Governor of the Bank of England, and his colleagues, produced astronomical figures of the capacity of Germany to pay. Everybody was happy about it. Everybody indeed thought that the Germans were going to pay, and that all that remained was to make sure that they did so.

I pass hurriedly over what happened at Versailles, and come to another eminent lawyer, M. Poincaré, the Premier of France, a very patriotic Frenchman, whose views were on all fours with those of the noble and learned Viscount who has just addressed us. When everything else had failed to get more out of Germany—and I do assure my noble and learned friend that it was not out of tenderness for Germany that we did not get more; the late Viscount Snowden, in particular, was as hard as any Chancellor of the Exchequer could have been on the matter—M. Poincaré marched an Army into the Ruhr and said: "We will take the goods," exactly as the noble and learned Viscount has suggested should be done in this case. His Army was accompanied by Italian Engineers. The Government of the day in this country—I have forgotten what the complexion of that Government was, and whether the present Lord Chancellor was an ornament of it, and it does not matter—with the connivance of the British people, refused to have anything to do with the Poincaré adventure, which failed.

I mention these things not because I do not support what the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, has said as to the justice and desirability, from every point of view, of getting full restitution from Germany, but because I want to emphasize that we have to think in advance of the exact way in which we are going to do it; otherwise we shall have another failure and muddle. That is why I am so grateful, as I am sure all your Lordships are, to the noble and learned Viscount for directing our attention once more to this matter. It is one of those problems the solution of which has to be worked out beforehand, and I presume that those members of the Government who can be spared from the active prosecution of the war, as well as those civil servants and others who can be spared for the work, are making certain preparations.

I want to draw attention to two practical difficulties, which are not insuperable, but which have to be faced. I see in his place my noble friend Lord Hutchison of Montrose, and he will not deny what I am now going to say. One of the clauses in the Treaty of Versailles provided that Germany was to restore the cattle, including the milch cows, stolen from France. War has been a Germany industry for 150 years, as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, has rightly said, and so far the Germans have succeeded in making war pay. We have to find means to make it a losing proposi- tion for them. When it came to delivering these milch cows, there was a great shortage of milk in Germany, and great hunger and suffering among the children, and our own officers and soldiers of the Army of Occupation on the Rhine protested. They protested against the milch cows being taken away. They were giving their rations to these starving children. I do not care whether a child is German or Japanese, no British soldier will allow a child to starve if he has food in his haversack.

I should like to remind your Lordships of the fact that the conduct of the Germans in the First World War, the war of 1914–18, was just as bad as in this war. That was certainly the case at sea. The crimes of piracy mentioned by Lord Maugham were committed in that war with the same brutality as in this war, and in some ways the Germans behaved even worse at that time. Yet when it came to the point it was not possible, as a matter of practical politics, to starve the children in Western Germany by driving away the herds of milch cows; it could not be done when it came to the point. What we had to do was to send milk to Vienna and to the devastated parts of France from our own stores. That is one practical difficulty. When the Germans are beaten, there will be great devastation and distress in large areas of Europe. There will be great areas of hunger, and the first necessity will be to relieve that hunger. If you start driving back great herds of cattle, you will merely add to the confusion.

Now I come to the other practical difficulty, and this is a difficulty which is going to confront us again unless we think out a plan in advance. Before I bring my brief remarks to a close I shall make a very humble suggestion for dealing with it. The other practical difficulty is the effect on the economic system of Reparations in kind. The Germans have plenty of coal, but, the moment that large shipments of coal began to be made from Germany last time, mines were closed down in France, in Belgium, in South Wales, in Northumberland and elsewhere. That is no reason why coal should not be delivered by Germany to the countries which need it after the surrender of Germany, but we have to consider the effects on the coal-mining industries of the other countries. It is the same with ships. The German shipyards were intact last time, and of great capacity, and as soon as the Germans began to build Reparation ships, if I may so describe them, there was a slump in shipbuilding in all the other countries. Our own shipbuilding industry never properly recovered from the effects of the payment of Reparations in the form of ships and the building of ships in German shipyards. Some of the great corporations in this country deliberately placed orders in German shipyards, because they had frozen marks in Germany and could not get them out in any other way, although it was a disgraceful thing to do at a time when our own shipyard workers were out of employment. I need not enlarge upon that; the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, knows all about it and will agree with my condemnation.

It was the same thing with foodstuffs. The rich agricultural districts of Germany can provide great quantities of foodstuffs, and can be made to do so in order to relieve immediate distress; but, if there is going to be a continued process of receiving tree shipments of foodstuffs from Germany in large quantities into various countries, those countries will begin to consider the effect on their own agricultural economies. I can image the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, and others coming to your Lordships' House, ten years after the armistice which ends this war, to protest against the continued shipments of German wheat, and to complain of their effect on our farmers. These difficulties met us last time, because the problems had not been thought out in advance and prepared for, but I hope that this time they will be foreseen, so that we can deal with them properly.

I am wholly in favour of the "de-looting" of Germany, as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, put it, and I hope that the Germans will be made to disgorge everything that they have stolen, from works of art down to the cotton-spinning machinery to which the noble and learned Viscount referred. I hope also that they will be made to hand over everything else useful which they can give to the countries which they have robbed and impoverished. But it must be done in such a way as not to make the immediate post-war position of Europe worse than it is when the guns cease fire. And I would remind my noble and learned friend Lord Maugham that a great deal of the machinery which the Germans have stolen from Belgium, Holland and elsewhere has been and will be destroyed by our own aeroplanes. That will be another difficulty. The Germans will not be able to restore in all cases the actual machines which they have taken, but we can make German industry produce new machines for these people as long as it is done in such a way as not to dislocate the trading economy of Europe.

Moreover—and this is a point to be borne in mind—it is no use merely skating over these difficulties, and saying that the Germans are a wicked people and must be punished. We shall have on our hands in Germany 80,000,000 people whom we have to get working again, so that they may help to produce wealth and make good the damage which they have done, and we shall have to give them the means of working. We have to prevent chaos in Germany and in the other countries of Europe. That does not mean that the Germans must be let off lightly and mollycoddled, but it does mean that account has to be taken of the realities of the situation.

I come now to the suggestion which I venture very humbly to make to the noble Viscount opposite, who, I understand, is replying for the Government. Looking back, our mistake after the last war was in trying to continue or return to an economic system of scarcity, instead of adopting the economics of abundance. In time of war we have always to adopt the economics of abundance. I am very interested indeed to see that a large and influential section of the Republican Party in the United States has now pronounced itself in favour of an economy of abundance after the war. That is most encouraging. If we can continue after the war the economy of abundance, which we always have to adopt in time of war, instead of the economy of artificial scarcity, we can take everything that Germany can give; a country which is devastated can receive anything which German industry and wealth and natural resources can provide. We need to have the same sort of economy of abundance which is necessary in order to wage war. If you try to go back to the old-fashioned economy of scarcity, and if you try to go back—saving the presence of certain noble Lords—to a rigid gold standard and deflation and old-fashioned financial methods, then you cannot take Reparations in kind from Germany or from Japan without doing injury to that economic system

If that fact is grasped, and if it is agreed—I do not know whether it is agreed—but if it is agreed and we work on that basis, I do not think the great difficulties we experienced in the years after the last war need be repeated. I make that suggestion very humbly because it is a most complicated and difficult problem that we have to face, and the more study that is given to it in advance and the more agreement between the belligerent Powers of the United Nations that can be reached, the greater the chance of avoiding the mistakes of the last war. I therefore repeat that I think we should be most grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for once more drawing our attention to this vitally important subject.


My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord who has just sat down that we are greatly indebted to the noble and learned Viscount for drawing attention to this very vital issue again. But it seems to me that Lord Strabolgi has gone a little bit outside the Motion on the Paper, although personally I do not take any exception to that, because there are many matters ancillary to it. This Motion deals specifically with the destruction and removal of the means of industrial competition in the countries concerned, and not with the question of foodstuffs directly, as was mentioned by the noble Lord.

I should like to deal specially with the Motion as it stands on the Paper. The noble and learned Viscount in his original Motion dealt with loot—as I understand it, art treasures and things of that sort—and the return of all those articles, or compensation therefor. This particularly deals with plant and machinery. But, as the noble and learned Viscount has stated, Germany set out deliberately in this war to create a New Order in Europe. That was Hitler's idea, and under that New Order Germany was to be the industrial centre; she would create all the machinery and make the manufactured goods, and the rest of Europe—at present the occupied countries—was to be the granary of Germany. Up to the present she has been very successful. She has achieved her particular object to the extent of having removed and destroyed all the machinery necessary for that purpose after the war, if she were to win it. But we all know she is not going to win it, and that is why it is so important to-day for us to make plans and see what we can do to arrange for the restoration of that plant and machinery, or for compensation to be paid for it.

But I think that the last war showed us that it was not possible to impose any conditions upon Germany which she would fulfil, because there was no force behind us. We are told that at one stage troops were marched into the Ruhr and held the Ruhr. But they did not go far enough. The Ruhr is only the fringe of Germany, and the first absolutely essential step—which has been, I am glad to say, adopted as the policy of this Government by our Prime Minister as well as by President Roosevelt and Mr. Stalin—is the unconditional surrender of Germany. The second step, which is equally important, is the occupation of Berlin and other important centres in Germany, until such time as the steps which have been suggested this afternoon can be carried into effect. On the question of Reparations, I was not clear from the noble and learned Viscount's speech whether he really believed that a sum for Reparations should be stated.


As the noble Viscount asks me, I see no objection at all to getting the greatest sum for Reparations which you can out of Germany, as well as taking the steps I have mentioned. But I know very well that the economic experts will tell you the limits of the amount you can get from the State, because they reckon on the basis of the income of the country and give you so much per cent. of it as representing what the State can possibly pay.


I am glad to have had that explanation because, personally, I am absolutely opposed to any particular sum of Reparations being laid down. What happened after the last war was that a certain sum was fixed for Reparations. As the noble and learned Viscount has said, it was too large and it was gradually reduced.


No, in the first instance there was none; we had just the vague phrase which I think my noble friend wants.


Well, sums were stated.


Not in the first instance.


During the Versailles Conference I think that the sum of £6,000,000,000 was stated, and the present Lord Keynes got into hot water in this country because he suggested that Germany could not stand the figure of more than £2,000,000,000.


£6,600,000,000—that was the Treaty figure.


No, there was no Treaty figure in the first instance. I have got the book here and I could read it to you. A figure of £6,600,000,000 was fixed in 1922, and Professor Keynes, as he then was, had always said it was too much, and he thought £1,000,000,000 was enough, but he said the maximum was £2,000,000,000. His articles were collected in a little book and you will find it all there. It is called Essays in Persuasion and it is well worth reading.


I venture to suggest that it is better to fix no figure at all, because what happened was that as soon as a figure was fixed financiers from this country and from the United States came forward, a loan was arranged, the amount was sent to Germany, and that amount, instead of being paid back in the form of Reparations, was used for the purpose of rearmament in Germany. Therefore I feel that in the first instance after the occupation of Berlin and other centres in Germany, we should have an Inter-Allied Council of Control that would go into all these questions and decide how far Germany can restore this machinery or, if it has been destroyed, what compensation she should pay for it. But the idea that advancing troops going through Germany can take control of machinery and send it back to the occupied countries is, I believe, quite impracticable.

First of all, it takes quite a long time to unfix machinery and to send it wherever you want it to go and have it set up again. The question which is of great importance is to which country that machinery belongs. You cannot tell that merely by going into a factory, because machinery comes from this country or that country. But I do agree that plans should be made for restoring such machinery, or, if it is not there to be restored, compensation should be paid. I would emphasize that it will be necessary to set up a proper organization in the centre of Europe, backed by Allied troops in occupation, in order to force the Germans to hand over these things or to compensate for the robberies they have committed. I am extremely grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for having raised this issue. I hope when the noble Viscount replies for the Government he will be able to tell us they have got this matter under consideration, and that they do not intend that Germany this time shall get away, as she did last time, with her ill-gotten goods and so be in a position once more to set up fresh armament factories to wage another world war.


My Lords, I cannot refrain from a very brief intervention. In the first place I wish to associate myself emphatically with the reasoning of the noble and learned Viscount who has moved this Motion. I also wish to express my admiration of the courageous way in which my noble friend Lord Elibank continuously recommends the administering of the severest punishment to Germany. In his remarks he complained that in occupying the Ruhr we made the mistake of not going far enough in that we did not occupy Berlin and convince the Germans that they were defeated. That brings me to the reason for my intervention. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, pointed out that the contractionist policy which was pursued in the early 'twenties was the cause of our inability to impose the recommendations the noble Viscount has made. I was among those who at the 1918 Election were returned on the cries, "Hang the Kaiser" and "Make Germany pay for the war." The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, shakes his head, but those of us who were elected on that cry sincerely believed in it. When the French marched into the Ruhr that produced an economic position throughout the world which resulted in a catastrophic rise in the price of coal, to the advantage of some but to the misfortune of most. The economic machinery of the world was thrown out of gear. I remember well that those who made speeches in their constituencies protesting against what was then taking place were branded as pro-Germans. They were neither pro-German nor anti-French, but pro their constituents because the event produced a great deal of unemployment and dislocation throughout the world.

The object of my intervention is to express the hope that my noble friend the Leader of the House, when he comes to reply, will bear in mind that this requires preparation in advance. The House would willingly support the noble Viscount, the mover of the Motion, but the achievement of his purpose will require preparation. That supports what was recently debated in this House—namely, the conviction that an overriding monetary mechanism under which the world can function is essential, and should be produced during the war, so that it can be dovetailed into the recommendations my noble friend has made and with which I am in entire agreement.


My Lords, the extremely interesting and important speech by my noble and learned friend this afternoon may be regarded, if he will forgive the sporting metaphor, as a second barrel to his speech in your Lordships' House on April 7. His Motion asks His Majesty's Government, in view of the evident intention of the Axis powers, in anticipation of their own defeat, to destroy the means of industrial competition in the countries which they have occupied, whether they intend, in co-operation with their Allies, to use all possible means to prevent this result. The answer to that question is "Yes," purely and simply. Of course, the United Nations intend to take all possible measures to prevent the Axis Powers from destroying the means of industrial competition in occupied countries. The real question which is raised in this Motion is not whether the United Nations want to do this, but what exact steps they intend to take, now and later, to achieve that purpose. It was accordingly not to the means but to the practical measures that the noble and learned Viscount himself devoted the larger part of his speech. There are, of course—though he did not stress this particular aspect—obvious limitations to any immediate action we can take until we control Axis territory. Until the Axis forces are driven out of the countries which they have occupied, it is hardly possible to devise any very direct remedy against the malicious actions which the noble Viscount had in mind in framing his Motion.

Until the war reaches that point when the Axis is driven out, it is extremely difficult for us to ascertain with any accuracy the exact scope of the problem with which we shall be faced. It may be greater than we expect, it may be less, but it is likely to be very large, as is shown by the figure of £9,000,000,000 quoted by the noble Viscount. It is likely to be a colossal problem, in any case. This I fully recognize, as does, I know, my noble friend Lord Maugham, who has made a deep study of this subject. One immediate step which he suggested—he suggested it the other day and repeated it to-day—is that the Allies should make a declaration immediately, in flat and uncompromising terms, that for everything the enemy take or destroy in occupied territories they should be compelled to make immediate restoration or replacement in kind. If, for instance, they remove or destroy the equipment of a factory, they are to replace it with equivalent machinery; if they remove a locomotive, they are to replace it with an equivalent locomotive; if they remove a cow, they are to replace it with an equivalent cow. That is the proposition. I think we shall all fully sympathize with the broad objective—inherent in his proposal—that it is our enemies who should suffer as a result of the war and not the unhappy peoples they have martyrized. There is no difference of opinion about that. But I could not help thinking, as I listened to my noble and learned friend, that he did a little bit, if he will forgive my saying so, over-simplify the problem.

We shall all agree with him that the Germans do not deserve any protection from International Law. They have violated it as it has never been violated before and they cannot claim the protection of that law. We should also agree that they deserve no sympathy even from the tender-hearted people in this country. The things they have done in this war have been too terrible. But full and immediate replacement in kind may be physically impossible. There may not be sufficient locomotives in the Axis countries for them to be able to replace those they have taken. There may not be sufficient cattle; the cattle may have been eaten. The means of replacement in kind in fact may not exist. Apart from every- thing else, there may be such chaos on the continent of Europe at the end of this war, both as to methods of transportation, rolling stock, and so on, that it may be impossible immediately to carry out so vast and intricate a scheme, in addition to feeding the peoples of Europe, which must be our first care. I do not say that will be the position; I say it maybe the position.

Indeed, the Allied Governments, including the Governments of the occupied countries themselves, clearly recognize this difficulty. For in the Declaration of January 5 this year, to which the noble Viscount has referred to-day in his speech, while they issued a formal warning to all concerned (and in particular to persons in neutral countries) that they intended to do their utmost to defeat the methods of dispossession practised by the Governments with which they are at war against the countries and peoples who have been so wantonly assaulted and despoiled, they added at the same time—and this I think is the essence of the whole matter— It is obviously impossible for a general declaration of this nature to define exactly the action which will require to be taken when victory has been won and the occupation or control of foreign territory by the enemy has been brought to an end. Dispossession has taken many forms and all will require consideration in the light of circumstances which may well vary from country to country. That, of course, is profoundly true. Certainly, I think we should not rule out the possibility of replacement where it is possible and where it is appropriate, but to try and tie ourselves here and now to a hard-and-fast scheme which may turn out to be entirely inapplicable in circumstances which at present are entirely unknown would surely be a futile waste of time and labour.

What we can do, and what we should do, is to complete the necessary preparatory work, so that we may be able to ascertain, as far as we can, the nature and scope of the problem. That, as my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack said in the last debate, is already being done. The Expert Committee set up under the Inter-Allied Declaration of January 5 to which I have just referred is actually in process of collecting information as to the methods used by Germany and her accomplices for the acquisition of all kinds of property. This preparatory work will undoubtedly be immensely valuable in establishing those acts done by the Axis during this war which are calculated to hamper the competitive power of our Allies in the postwar years. And the compilation of this information will no doubt go on from now until the end of the war, so that it may be as complete as possible. His Majesty's Government, for their part, have accumulated a considerable knowledge of conditions in enemy occupied countries and of the administrative actions and policy of the Axis Powers, and this, of course, will be thrown into the common pool when the time comes for taking decisions as to the positive remedies which must be applied.

From what I have said, I hope the noble Viscount himself and the House will rest assured that this problem, to which he has very rightly drawn attention, is not being neglected. His Majesty's Government are fully alive to its importance. So are the Allied Governments—and, after all, these Governments are, many of them, more directly concerned than anyone else in finding a satisfactory solution. The ground is being prepared in every practicable way, so that when the time comes action can be taken. But—and this is one word I would like to say in conclusion—though clearly we must do all we can to ensure that the Axis countries do not benefit by their misdeeds, it is not on such measures alone that we must rely to repair ravaged Europe. That is the lesson which we must learn from the sad tale of Reparations after the last war, of which the noble and learned Viscount spoke himself this afternoon. If the occupied countries are to be restored not merely to their former prosperity but to a higher standard still, and that is what we all want, that can only be done—I would add this especially in view of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi—by the adoption by the United Nations of a wise and expanding economic policy, as envisaged in the Atlantic Charter. It is to that wider aspect of this problem that the Allied Powers, as noble Lords know, are now bending their minds, in order that, when the present troubles are over, the occupied countries, which have suffered so grievously may be able to rebuild their shattered economies and play their full part in a new era of prosperity based on peace and security.


My Lords, I confess I have been a little surprised by some of the observations I have heard to-day, but it may be my fault. I abstained completely from any attack on the people who were in charge of the Government of this country from the date of the Treaty of Versailles to modern times. I have not in the least sought to criticize them because nothing seems to me to be more useless than to attack politicians or statesmen for their past acts at such a moment as the present, if only for this reason that, speaking as a non-politician, it seems to me that they are all equally to blame if they have acted during the period of some twenty years or so with a great lack of foresight for the future. But that there were dupes during that period can be well established by anybody who chooses to read this book before me which happens to be called The Greatest Swindle in the World, or who chooses to read Chapter 10 of the work of my noble friend Lord. Vansittart, called Lessons of my Life. You will then, I think, be unable to say-that there was no dupery on the part of Germany and you will also be equally unable to say we do not suffer from it now.

The next thing I want to say is this As my noble friend Lord Elibank pointed out, I have not in this Motion really sought to deal with such things as the sending of foodstuffs and so on after the war to the countries who are our Allies. I have been concerned to-day simply and solely with that vastly important point, the prevention of Germany getting any success by taking away from Belgium, Holland, Poland, the Ukraine, some of the Baltic Provinces, Greece and so on, the means of industrial competition in order to prevent such competition taking place after the war. That being my idea I have confined myself to that aspect of the case. The noble Viscount who leads the House said that I over-simplified the problem. Like many lawyers I have a simple mind, and it may be that I have, I should have thought the fact that full replacement may be impossible is a circumstance which is comparatively obvious. If there are not enough locomotives to go round it is quite plain you cannot give all the nations from which locomotives have been stolen the locomotives to which they are entitled; but I thought it was not worth my while to mention that.

It may be that there would be chaos on the Continent which would cause delay. Well, we must do the best we can to be quick. Speed, as I have said, is of the essence of the matter. There may be, I agree, great delay, but I cannot see that the mere replacement of the sort of things I am speaking of is impossible. It may have the effect of interfering with the industrial life of Germany, and that is a point I have put before your Lordships as clearly as I can. If it be so, and if either Germany or, for instance, Holland must suffer from a particular factory having its machinery taken, then all I can say is that to my mind, as a simple creature, it is Germany that should suffer and not the country from which the machinery was taken a year or two years ago.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, mentioned something which certainly ought not to be forgotten in another aspect—namely, the fact that it is obviously impossible to make a general declaration defining exactly the things which will require to be taken when victory has been won. I hope the noble Viscount will pardon me for saying that he did not seem to appreciate that this is paragraph 4 of the Declaration, and that it does not relate either to restitution or replacement. It is concerned with a thing which the Germans have done to a vast extent, but which I have not mentioned to-day—namely, bogus transfers and dealings with property and rights by fraudulent systems such as compulsory sales, taking these things away and giving in compensation occupation marks which are valueless. It is in respect of these things, as the Declaration says, that the parties reserve all their rights—a blessed phrase—to declare invalid transfers of, or dealings with, property, rights, etc., which have taken place during the period of enemy occupation or control of the territories in question.

Then a little lower down we are told that dispossession has taken many forms and all will require consideration. I quite agree that that is a sound principle, but it was not laid down with reference to this. Suppose you discover in Germany a place where there are valuable scientific instruments, to give one example, or a stock of radium, to give another example, which, of course, has been stolen from the occupied countries, or microscopes, or factory equipment which happens to be capable of removal, there is nothing which says you should not do as quickly as possible—


If the noble Viscount will pardon me interrupting him, there was nothing in my speech which said you must not do that. I did not rule out the possibility of replacement where it is possible or proper. That seems to be exactly what the noble and learned Viscount is saying.


Then I will not pursue my comment, because we are agreed. That is all I have been asking to-day. It is the replacement of things of that kind which can be replaced that I have been urging upon your Lordships, and taking up, I am afraid, quite enough time, in this debate. It is because these things can be replaced and can be sent back to the countries from which they have been taken—not always, of course, the exact things but the equivalent of the exact things—that I do not think the problem is so complex as some noble Lords seem to think. To my mind it is comparatively simple. But I am quite at one with those who say that it does require planning, that it requires Committees to be formed, that it requires transport, and that a multiplicity of things are necessary before it can be done. The noble Viscount tells me he agrees. I hope your Lordships think it is possible. All I say is that if machinery is needed in order to get these things done as soon as possible after the occupation of Germany, then let us get on with these things and let us do what I think everybody agrees should be done and can be done. In the circumstances, of course, I am happy to ask leave to withdraw my Motion.


My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack whether it is not the rule or at any rate the custom in this House that when a noble Lord is replying on his own Motion he is not entitled to make a second speech?


My Lords, that, I think, is not a matter on which, from the Woolsack, I am called upon to make any reply. It is not the custom of the House that I should.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.