HL Deb 03 December 1946 vol 144 cc552-4

4.30 p.m.


My Lords, perhaps I might intervene for a moment to make a statement to your Lordships. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Byrnes, the American Secretary of State, have signed an Agreement which will be available a, a White Paper in the Printed Paper Office this afternoon. This Agreement provides for the economic fusion of the British and American zones as from January 1, 1947, with the aim of making the combined area self-supporting by the end of 1949. There will be a joint Anglo-American Agency, which will deal with the imports and exports of the combined area, in which shall be established a common standard of living, including food rations. The imports will include necessary raw materials to enable the area to recover and to produce an export income.

In so far as exports from the combined area fall short of imports, the deficit will be met, subject to some minor adjustments relating to past transactions, by his Majesty's Government and the United States Government in equal shares. The costs incurred by the two Governments for their separate zones up to January 1, 1947, and for the combined zone thereafter, shall be recovered from future German exports in the shortest practicable time consistent with the rebuilding of the German economy on healthy, but non-aggressive, lines. Barriers in the way of German export trade will be removed as rapidly as world conditions permit. The joint Anglo-American Agency will be responsible for determining German import requirements. They will be procured from the most economical sources of supply, subject to so selecting these sources as to economize the dollar cost to the United Kingdom. The food ration of 1,550 calories for the normal German consumer must be accepted for the present, but will be raised to 1,800 calories as soon as conditions of world supply permit. The two Governments intend that this arrangement shall operate pending an agreement for the treatment of Germany as an economic unit or until amended by mutual agreement, but it shall be subject to review at yearly intervals.


My Lords, I should like to thank the Leader of the House for the very important statement he has made to us today. I think that we must in all parts of the House recognize the very great efforts which the Government have made to find a solution of this extremely thorny question. The statement, as I listened to it, is certainly full of meat and it will require very careful consideration. I am sure that neither the Leader of the House nor other noble Lords will expect me to make any detailed comment on it now. I should, however, like to ask the Leader of the House one question, and it is this. What precautions have His Majesty's Government taken to safeguard our position if our dollar resources run low?


My Lords, on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches I should like to congratulate the Government on having succeeded in arriving at this agreement with the United States which is obviously the first essential preliminary to the rehabilitation of Germany and, consequent upon that, let us hope, further economies in the interests of the British taxpayer.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lords for what they have said. Of course, I recognize that time will be required for a careful study of the document. With regard to the question asked by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, may I say that the agreement provides for its amendment by mutual consent? It also provides for revision annually. If our dollar resources made it impossible for us to find the dollars required under the agreement we should need that to be taken into account when reviewing the matter so that steps should be taken to meet the new situation. The United States Government have been informed in this sense.