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Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

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Timber Control (Equipment)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the work of the North German Timber Control in obtaining timber for building in this country has been allowed to be held up owing to poor equipment and the delay in obtaining spare parts.

Supplies of equipment to the North German Timber Control have been limited by a world shortage of the equipment required and the competing claims of other users, including the United Kingdom.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make further inquiries? Will he see that the equipment already completely worn out, through working in Scotland during the war, is replaced with modern equipment, and that equipment is not kept out of action through lack of spare parts?

Much equipment is out of use because of lack of spare parts, and for some equipment no spare parts are available. Some cannibalising processes have been put into operation, and we are trying to build up a decent supply of units which can be easily maintained.

Control Staff (Uniform)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why members of the Control Commission for Germany and displaced persons in the British zone are both, on occasions, expected to wear blue battledress, so that the two classes are frequently indistinguishable.

Members of the Control Commission for Germany, with the exception of car drivers and British civil police, are not required to wear uniform, although they are permitted to wear blue battledress if they so desire. Those who wear uniforms when on duty wear distinctive flashes to make them easily distinguishable from those Germans and displaced persons who have been authorised to wear blue battledress.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think the dress regulations are absolutely ridiculous? If members of the Control Commission are expected, or allowed, to wear uniform it should at least be different from that of their D.P. drivers.

I am sure that if there was nothing else at stake that is an excellent conclusion, but if displaced persons or officials have to be clothed at the expense of the British community I would think that that conclusion was wrong. We must use what material is available.

Is this arrangement supposed to be an aid to democratisation?

Food Transport


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who will pay for the transport of food into Germany, having regard to the fact that merchant shipbuilding in Germany is forbidden under the Potsdam Declaration; and whether, in this matter, he will consider revising it.

The cost of transport of food for the joint zone of Germany is added to the cost of the food itself and under the fusion agreement is shared equally by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom. These costs are recoverable from the proceeds of future German exports. My right hon. Friend does not consider that a departure from the agreed inter-Allied policy forbidding merchant shipbuilding in Germany would be justified.

Will my right hon. Friend think again? Is it not absurd to prevent a population of 60 odd million persons who are dependent for at least 50 per cent. of their food supplies from outside from having a merchant navy; and is it not a fact that they are now precluded from getting the food they used to get from the Eastern zone, and does not this give my right hon. Friend justification for reconsidering the whole position?

It is not His Majesty's Government policy to depart from the Potsdam Agreement. My hon. Friend may be assured that my right hon. Friend is constantly concerned with this matter.

Control Commission (Fines)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the anomalies in the British zone of Germany as a result of which fines imposed on Control Commission for Germany officials and their families by Control Commission courts are being paid by British taxpayers; and if he will make a statement.

I am not aware of any such anomalies. Fines imposed by Control Commission courts on members of the Control Commission staff or their families are payable by the defendant in British Armed Forces Special Vouchers in Germany or by a sterling cheque or draft on a personal bank account in the United Kingdom and are credited to the Department's Vote.

Compensation Payments


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why compensation is to be paid out of German funds in cases where Control Commission panels determine that responsibility for damage to the person or property of Germans attaches to a member or employee of the occupying authorities.

These compensation payments are part of the internal cost of occupation and are, therefore, properly to be borne by the Germans.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that where a member of the Control Commission has, through neglect or wrong-doing, committed some act, it can hardly be called a part of the normal cost of occupation? Does it not appear an odd conception of justice that such exceptional costs should have to be charged against the people who have suffered from those acts?

The question of negligence seems to me to be a separate one, and it is being examined by my office, but it is a most complex legal question. I repeat that the presence of an occupying force there is, however, unpalatable, a consequence that the Germans must accept, and these items will therefore find their proper place in the accounts eventually presented to them.