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Volume 464: debated on Monday 2 May 1949

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Western Frontier Adjustments


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Germans have been transferred to the Low Countries under the new frontier arrangements; and what number of these has applied to move into German territory.

The population of the areas provisionally transferred to Belgium and the Netherlands is approximately 9,000. It is not yet possible to give figures for those who have applied to move into German territory, since the returns from a large number of the localities concerned are still awaited.

Is my hon. Friend aware that among these 9,000 people he has mentioned, there is a considerable number now unemployed, and as they are suffering some considerable hardship, will he, if at all possible, give priority to those of them who apply to come back into Germany with the object of being re-employed there?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent the local inhabitants were consulted before the German frontier adjustment with the Low Countries was approved and applied; and if he will refuse to sanction any further changes until a peace treaty has been signed with Germany.

The local inhabitants were not consulted before the frontier adjustments were put into effect. In doubtful cases they may, however, present their views on the definitive line of the frontier, as far as technical considerations are concerned, to the Demarcation Commissioners who will finally determine the provisional frontier. The present adjustments are provisional only, and subject to confirmation or modification at the peace settlement. His Majesty's Government will not consider any further changes prior to the peace settlement.

While I am glad to have the assurance contained in the last sentence of my hon. Friend's reply, does he realise that what has already happened represents in the minds of many Germans a bit of backstairs diplomacy, and, because that is so, does he not recognise that real democracy is brought into disrepute as a result of these new arrangements, which seem to have been achieved as the result of pressure on the part of people outside Germany?

No, Sir, I cannot agree that this is a backstairs arrangement. These changes, are, as I say, small and provisional.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what degree of unemployment there is in Western Germany; and which trades and industries are most affected.

The provisional estimate of unemployment in the Bizone for mid-April is 1,176,446. This represents about 8.5 per cent. of the wage and salary earning force. The principal trades and industries affected are building and related industries, commercial and administrative classes, metal and related industries, unskilled workers, and agricultural workers.

In view of the serious situation which those figures disclose, will my hon. Friend use his influence to secure that those Germans who want to come to this country—where British workers will not be adversely affected as a result—will be allowed to do so for employment here? May I have an answer to that Question?