asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the five German Control Commission officials charged before the Control Commission High Court at Minden on 13th June for the illegal acquisition of cutlery and silver and for the illegal export of goods, including sapphires and brilliants, are still in the employ of the Control Commission.
In all, seven British officers were charged before the Control Commission High Court at Minden on nth June with varying offences, only one being charged with illegal export of goods. All seven officers were suspended from duty before the trial. Two were acquitted on all charges and have been re-instated. Two were found guilty and fined 10s. They also have been reinstated. I understand that one of these officers has appealed against the fine. The remaining three officers are still before the court on other charges and continue under suspension.
Even though some of these men were found not guilty under the law in Germany, does not my hon. Friend believe that the conduct in respect of which these men were charged is precisely the kind of conduct which has brought discredit upon the Control Commission in Germany, and will he, there- fore, not look again into the question of their continued employment?
No, Sir. The character of these officers was vindicated at the trial, and I do not think that that is called for.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that one of the officers, who was himself acquitted, was the head of the section in which the other people who were found guilty were operating, and will he say whether he associates himself with the statement of the court concerned that the illegal acquisition of cutlery and silver in Germany is no more serious than exceeding the speed limit?
On the second part, there is a further Question on the Order Paper, and I have nothing to say on that. On the first part, I am being invited to comment on the work of the court, and, obviously, I shall not do that.
Does the hon. Gentleman think that officials who have been found guilty, although fined only 10s., should still be members of this Commission?
I have already answered that point when I said that the fine of 10s. indicates that these offences were not sufficient, in view of the vindication of the character of these officials by the judge, to call for that action.
In view of the remark which the judge made at that trial, does my hon. Friend really think—
The hon. Member must not anticipate a Question which he himself has put down on the Order Paper.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the remark of the judge of the Control Commission, High Court, in fining the Deputy Controller of the Light Metal Production branch 10s. for the illegal acquisition of silver, to the effect that the offence was no worse than breaking the speed limit; and what action he proposes to take.
I presume that my hon. Friend is referring to the fine imposed on the Director of the Non-Ferrous Section. This case is going to Appeal, and it would be undesirable to comment on any aspect of the case which is still sub judice.
Does my hon. Friend really consider that a remark of this kind is calculated to encourage those members of the Commission who are trying to do a job of work conscientiously? Does he not think it is absolutely fantastic that a person guilty of the behaviour—even though not illegal behaviour—outlined in the report should be permitted to remain in the employment of the Control Commission?
I do not think I can go beyond what I have said, that I prefer not to comment on this matter while it is sub judice.
As the matter is sub judicewe ought not to pursue it.