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Local Defence Units

Volume 462: debated on Monday 7 March 1949

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14 and 15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what military training it is proposed shall be undertaken by Control Commission civilian personnel recruited into the armed local defence units about to be set up in the British zone of Germany;

(2) why there is being set up in Germany a force of armed local defence units composed of Control Commission civilian personnel; whether he is aware of the widespread feeling that the force is in fact intended to be a strike-breaking organisation in the event of political or industrial unrest in the British zone; and whether he will give orders for the scheme to be abandoned forthwith.

Proposals are under consideration to organise British civilian members of the Control Commission for the temporary protection of British lives and premises in the event of civil disturbance until the Armed Forces of Occupation can take over. My right hon. Friend is not prepared to order the abandonment of this commonsense security precaution. The duties involved would be of a static nature, small arms only would be carried and training would be confined to the use of such weapons. There is no question of the volunteers being used for strike breaking and my right hon. Friend wishes to take this opportunity of dispelling ill-founded beliefs and maliciously circulated rumours which may exist to this effect.

As what was suggested to be a rumour has been stated most openly as being the fear of the Staff Side of the Whitley Council for the C.C.G., would my right hon. Friend like to reconsider his description of it; and as this whole policy contemplates the breakdown of sensible relationships between the German people and the Western zone and the occupying Forces, would it not be better to give up this business of trying to divide Germany, which is bound to lead to breakdown?

This does not contemplate the breakdown of these relationships, and if it is left to the British Occupation Forces and the German people, such a breakdown will not occur. This is an ordinary security precaution which ought to be taken against a contingency which none of us believe will arise.

Is it not the case that these voluntary units have been in operation for at least two years and that there has never been any question of their being used for strike breaking?