HL Deb 20 May 1968 vol 292 cc445-6

My Lords, in the absence of Lord Henderson, who is ill, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in his name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they view the obligations undertaken by the Federal German Government in the Bonn Settlement Convention regarding the deconcentration of the Krupp coal and steel interests, in the light of the situation that has arisen after the death of Alfred Krupp.]


My Lords, may I first say how sorry we are to hear that Lord Henderson is unable to be here to-day. I am indebted to my noble friend for his Question which is a very pertinent one, in view of the death of Alfred Krupp. Under his will the Krupp concerns have been radically reorganised. The profits of the enterprise, which will now be a joint stock company, are to be paid to a charitable foundation of which the trustees are leading German citizens. All control and ownership has passed out of the hands of the Krupp family. In the changed circumstances of to-day, these new arrangements finally render the deconcentration Order irrelevant. Her Majesty's Government have accordingly felt it right to enter into discussions with the other Governments concerned with a view to terminating the deconcentration Order.


My Lords, while not dissenting from the statement which my noble friend has just made, may I ask him has it not always been considered most important to prevent the development of a German war potential? Could he tell the House why the 1953 Order has never been acted upon?


My Lords I agree with what my noble friend has said, and that was indeed the aim of the deconcentration Order. As he will recall, an independent mixed committee of experts was appointed under the Bonn Settlement Convention with a mandate to examine year by year the position under the Order which was made in 1953, and every year they have concluded that the terms of the Order were incapable of fulfilment. This was to do with an analysis which they made in depth of technical and financial conditions prevailing in Germany. They concluded that it would be impossible to carry out the terms of the 1953 Order.

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