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Germany

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1949

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Control Commission

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many of the Control Commission staff now employed have already proved redundant, and whether it is his policy to terminate the contracts of those who are redundant and pay the necessary compensation.

Reduction of the Control Commission because of redundancy is now a continuous process, and there are about 670 existing members of the staff under notice of termination. The answer to the second part of the Question is, "Yes," compensation being payable only to those entitled to it by their terms of service.

While my right hon. Friend may be perfectly right in saying that this is a continuous process, will he say if this continuous process is prompt enough?

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what incentives are offered to members of the Control Commission for Germany to learn German; when official examinations were instituted; and how many members have, respectively, sat for and passed these examinations.

A knowledge of German is a pre-requisite for employment in certain posts in Germany, and is more and more regarded as desirable for the whole staff of the Commission. Every encouragement is accordingly given to learn German and to obtain formal qualifications by examination. Official examinations have now been introduced for Kreis Resident Officers and analogous posts. The first of these examinations was held in December, 1948; there were 204 candidates, of whom 79 were declared successful.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman think that the best encouragement that could be given to members of the Control Commission to learn German—which is, surely, very necessary—would be to give some financial bonus to those who pass with high marks? Does he not think it disappointing that at the present time the only way by which one can get anything in the way of a financial bonus is to change from an official character and become a professional interpreter?

A good many of us have had to learn things in this life without having any bonus. I should have thought that these facilities offered to them would have been a great encouragement to them to learn German, with the great opportunity it gives them in Europe.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider making it compulsory for Control Commission officers to learn German when they have been out there more than a year or so, and to pass an elementary examination?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it desirable that there should be more personal contacts between the members of the Commission and individual Germans, and would not the acquisition of the German language facilitate those contacts?

I do not know. I think the Control Commission has had a very difficult job, and I should not like to give answers to these questions without careful consideration whether we have been wise or unwise in the steps we have taken.

Is there any reason why the payment of the ordinary allowance for knowledge of a foreign language, which is current in the Foreign Service, should not be extended to the Control Commission?

Max Reimann (Sentence)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on what grounds Max Reimann, leader of the Communist Party in Western Germany, was recently sentenced to prison; and on what grounds he has been released.

Max Reimann was convicted for a breach of Military Government Ordinance No. 8, which provides, among other things, that nothing may be said or written which encourages discrimination against persons who give or may give aid to the Allied Authorities. He was sentenced to three months' imprisonment, which was suspended by the Military Governor in order that he may continue his work on the Parliamentary Council at Bonn.

What is to happen now that the deliberations on the basic law for the German Parliament are complete?

War Crime Trials

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress in Germany of the series of trials known as "operation Old Lace."

The trials of members of the organisations declared criminal by the International Military Tribunal, which were begun in June, 1947, are now nearing completion. By the end of last year over 20,000 persons had been tried, of whom, 75 per cent. were convicted. At 6th April, which is the latest date for which figures were available, 168 cases had still to be tried, and 203 cases were under investigation prior to being brought to trial.

Does the reply of the right hon. Gentleman mean that there are now only 168 persons still in custody awaiting trial?

Foreign Assets (Seizure)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the German authorities in the Western zones have yet enacted legislation to provide compensation in German currency for losses arising from the seizure of foreign assets for reparations; and why certain German ex-prisoners of war still find themselves unable to obtain compensation for Italian lire impounded from them on their capture in Italy.

The task of equalising burdens arising from the war and other causes has proved so complex that the German Authorities in Western Germany have, so far, been unable to do more than draw up a measure designed to relieve the most urgent cases of distress. The provision of compensation for losses arising from the seizure of foreign assets, including foreign currency, must await more comprehensive legislation on the subject which is unlikely to be ready for some time.

In view of my right hon. Friend's statement, will he say to whom people who consider that they have urgent cases should make their representations?