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Volume 462: debated on Monday 14 March 1949

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British Relations Board


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he contemplates the association of the British Council with the British Relations Board in the development of cultural relations between Great Britain and Germany in the British zone.

Arrangements are being made for the British Council to operate in Germany, and the intention is that they shall be closely associated with the British Relations Board in the development of cultural relations.

May I ask the Minister whether, in view of the great success attending the work of the British Council in various parts of the world, the fullest use of it will be made in co-operation with the British authorities in the Western zone of Germany?

I should like to assure the hon. Member that his pertinacity on this subject will not be lost.

Coal Industry


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that there is considerable discontent among the miners of the Ruhr at the number of former Nazi officials in the management of the German coal industry, that the men's leaders have expressed the view that the remedy for this is the nationalisation of the mining industry; and what steps he is taking to secure the co-operation of the miners by giving them a voice in the running of the industry.

With regard to the first part of the Question, I have no knowledge of discontent among the German miners on these grounds. On the contrary, the de-nazification of the coal industry has been carried out very effectively. If my hon. Friend refers to fears lest Nazis should regain their position in the industry under cover of the reorganisation now taking place, I can assure him that all possible steps will be taken to prevent this. Moreover, the miners' leaders are being consulted at every stage of the reorganisation, and their trades unions are among the bodies which have been invited to put forward names of persons suitable for appointment as trustees of the new companies which are to be formed. These measures of reorganisation do not prejudice in any way the question of nationalisation, which, as in the case of the iron and steel industries, will be left for determination by a representative, freely-elected German government.

Will not the Minister agree that there will be far greater output in the German coal mines under nationalisation? Does he not think it better to expedite that in every way?

I think it is the duty of the Government to see that the German people have facilities for expressing themselves on this subject, and the Government have discharged that obligation.

Will my right hon. Friend tell us whether the reference to a freely-elected German government covers the Western German administration which it is proposed to set up?

The Government hope that it will be a German government. If that is not permitted, we shall see to it, with our American and French allies, that those Germans who come within our orbit will have a freely-elected and representative government.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many dollars were involved in sending recently 5,892,000 cigars to Germany; and what was the cost to the British taxpayer.

I can answer only for the cigars flown in by British aircraft. They did not involve expenditure for the British taxpayer, nor did they cost any dollars.

Is it really to be supposed that America will continue to give Marshall Aid when that Marshall Aid is not concentrated on essentials?

The hon. Gentleman must really attempt to apply his mind to this subject. Marshall Aid consists of dollars; no dollars were spent on these cigars, which were of German leaf manufactured into what we know as German cigars.

Us Embassy (Brig-General Carter)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the proposed functions in the United Kingdom of Brigadier-General Marshall S. Carter, special representative in London of the American State Department.

I have seen an informal announcement that this officer is to be given a senior appointment on the staff of the United States Ambassador in London. My right hon. Friend is not aware of any considerations that would justify his taking the unusual course of asking the Ambassador what precise duties are to be entrusted by him to this new member of his staff.

As it is reported from Washington, in "The Times," that this man is to have the rank of Minister to run our re-armament programme under the Atlantic Pact, will my right hon. Friend report to him that the British people will never be a party to an aggressive anti-Soviet war and will he tell him to report back to his masters in Washington?

Plainly, my masters are here, in this House. There is a normal procedure relating to Embassy staffs which we propose to employ in this and all appropriate cases. Also I am delighted to know that the hon. Member is taking his information from "The Times"; I wish he would continue this habit on other subjects.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman come into very great prominence on one occasion by moving a resolution, "I will not fight"; and does he still stand by that?

May I ask the Minister if he will also inquire as to the reason why there has been the Vyshinsky-Molotov shuffle in Moscow?

Council Of Europe (Consultative Assembly)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will propose to the Governmental Conference on the Constitution of a Council of Europe that the proposed Consultative Assembly shall be competent to discuss economic questions.

My right hon. Friend would certainly not wish to exclude economic questions from the discussions of the proposed Consultative Assembly. It will, however, be necessary to ensure that the new organisation does not duplicate the work of existing organisations, such as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.

Does that reply mean that it is proposed that the Consultative Assembly shall not discuss such economic questions as are within the purview of O.E.E.C., because if it does it would turn the Consultative Assembly into a sheer farce?

The reply means no more or no less than is indicated; with the reservation—or perhaps qualification—which I have made, the remainder will lie inside the purview of the Assembly.

My right hon. Friend says the remainder will lie within the purview of the Consultative Assembly. What is left for the Consultative Assembly to discuss, since it will be primarily concerned with economic matters affecting Western Europe?

My hon. Friend, I know, is not attempting to pretend that O.E.E.C. covers all European economic subjects, nor the European economic subjects which will develop as O.E.E.C. develops or, perhaps, as the Marshall programme comes to an end.