HL Deb 26 June 1975 vol 361 cc1565-7

3.24 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the present position with regard to the payment by the German Democratic Republic of compensation to the victims of Nazi persecution for personal injuries and loss of property sustained by those victims.


My Lords, the Foreign Compensation Commission is conducting a registration of British claims to property in the German Democratic Republic. We have made it plain that we consider that the GDR have also a moral obligation to make good, as far as it can be done, the wrongs suffered as a result of Nazi persecution.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply and for the energetic way in which this matter has been pursued up till now by him and his colleagues. Does he not consider that there should be further immediate action in respect of compensation for the injuries sustained because of the horrible, terrible deeds committed on victims by the Nazi régime before they all die out, or even before their successors die? Is it within my noble friend's knowledge that the USA have, or are about to have, some arrangement made in respect of this matter, in so far as personal injuries to the victims are concerned? Would he be good enough to consult with the USA and other nations concerned, with a view to this very serious matter being dealt with without delay?


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are aware of the need for due speed in attending to this matter. It must be done very carefully, and for that reason the Commission is inviting cases for registration which we hope will be completed in the course of the next few months. Thereafter, as soon as possible, substantive negotiations based on that information will be arranged with the Government of the GDR. There is no delay in this matter, however impatient many of us are about the constant need to assemble the right information. On my noble friend's second point, we are in continuous and close consultation with other countries, including the USA, who have a similar interest and concern to ours.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether he will agree that, although the substance of the question may be the concern of the German Democratic Republic, it is not the concern of Her Majesty's Government?


My Lords, I am not quite sure that I have got the gist of the noble Lord's question. May I say that I shall examine it in depth in Hansard tomorrow?


My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for the reply he has just given, may I ask whether it is not a terrible thing for anyone to suggest that compensation in respect of this matter should not be paid to those who were attacked by the Nazis in such a bestial way, and should not the world take the matter up and see to it that they are properly compensated?


My Lords, my noble friend and the House are aware that Her Majesty's Government take the other view. We have made it clear to the Government of the German Democratic Republic that we wish them to consider their moral obligation in regard to victims of persecution. The other element in the question—namely, compensation for sequestration of property—will be discussed, and it has been agreed by the GDR that it shall be discussed. On that score, my noble friend may rest assured. We will continue to endeavour to persuade the GDR to be as humane and generous towards the victims of persecution as the Federal Republic of Germany has already been in this matter.