HL Deb 07 May 1958 vol 209 cc29-31

2.53 p.m.


My Lords, I bag to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government—(1) whether their attention has been drawn to a paragraph in The Times of April 29, 1958, which states that Herr Alfred Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach has come out openly against the Allied order to deconcentrate his concern and has said that the Federal Republic is a Sovereign State and should not carry out measures contrary to the basic rights of the Republic; (2) whether in May, 1957, full information was requested by Her Majesty's Government from the Federal Government of the extent to which it had fulfilled its obligations under the March, 1953, deconcentration agreement; (3) whether a reply was received to the foregoing request and, if so, on what date and what was its nature; and (4) whether the policy of Her Majesty's Government is directed to ensuring that Herr Krupp shall not be released from any of his undertakings under the agreement.]


My Lords, I have seen the Press report referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank. Full information on the deconcentration programme was requested from the Federal German Government. A reply was received in London on April 29 last. This reply is now being studied. Your Lordships will understand that the reply must now be discussed with the French and United States Governments, who are jointly responsible with Her Majesty's Government for these problems and to which the reply was also given. As I told the noble Viscount on December 11, and as my noble friend Lord Lansdowne repeated on April 16, policy in these matters concerns the three Governments. It would be better not to prejudice discussions with them by expressing unilateral views at this stage.


My Lords, I beg to thank the noble Earl for his reply. Will the noble Earl and the Government take note of the fact that Herr Krupp, the infamous employer of slave labour, both male and female, who was prematurely released from jail by the American High Commissioner, Mr. McCloy in 1951, would never have made these impudent remarks referred to in my Question unless he had been assured of support from important personages in West Germany? Will the noble Earl bear in mind, further, that part of the Krupp assets which are subject to deconcentration under the agreement of 1951 are now being employed in competition with British traders in markets in most parts of the world?


My Lords, the noble Earl said that this is a matter for consultation with the American and French Governments. We understand that, but the fourth part of the noble Viscount's Question asks whether Her Majesty's Government will see that the deconcentration agreement is not made a dead letter. Can we be assured that, in the negotiations or discussions with the American and French Governments, Her Majesty's Government will stand by the deconcentration agreement?


My Lords, I think I can assure the noble Lord on that point.


My Lords, without consulting the French, or anybody else, is it possible for the noble Earl to tell us whether he agrees with Herr Krupp's statement that the Federal Republic is a Sovereign State and should not carry out measures contrary to the basic rights of the Republic?


My Lords, certainly the Federal Government is a Sovereign State; but she also has treaty obligations to other countries.