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Germany (Factories Dismantling)

Volume 465: debated on Monday 23 May 1949

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44.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will take steps to cause the dismantling of the six Fischer-Tropsch synthetic oil plants in Western Germany to be discontinued.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the dismantling of factories like this, which do not directly produce arms, has been condemned by all sides of the House and has never found a single supporter in any quarter of the House? Does he not think it time that it came to an end?

Before my hon. Friend replies to that question, will he give an assurance that he will not approve of this constant attempt to nibble away necessary security measures in Germany?

I will only say that we have at last reached final agreement on an inter-governmental basis five weeks ago. We want to clear up the whole situation on that basis and not to re-open all these questions.

Is not the security interest served by a more or less permanent occupation of Germany and, if that is so, surely it is to all our interests to see that normal German industry is put on its feet at the earliest possible moment?

We have always had this problem of security on the one hand and normal industrial development on the other. We have reached finality and it is too late to re-open all this big question.

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is intended, despite the recommendations of the Humphrey Committee, to dismantle the wire plant of the Klõckner Werke A. G. Dusseldorf; and whether he can give an assurance that full consideration has been given to the social and economic consequences this would entail.

This plant is to be dismantled in accordance with the recent agreement with the United States and French Governments. The answer to the second part of the Question is, "Yes, Sir."

Is not my hon. Friend aware that the plant that has already been dismantled in this particular works is apparently not of interest to any particular claimant country, and is likely to be entirely wasted; and how does this assist in the reconstruction of Europe?

Is this action being taken on grounds of demilitarisation or reparations, and will the hon. Gentleman agree that further demilitarisation is unnecessary and that further exaction of reparations is inexpedient?

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any bid has been made by any Inter-Allied Reparations Agency country for the plant of Klöckner Werke A. G. Dusseldorf already dismantled; and if he will prevent the dismantling of the remaining portion pending some assurance that this plant will be usefully employed elsewhere in the interests of the European economy.

No bids for this plant have yet been made because the date for submission of bids has not yet been reached. There is, however, no reason to believe that bids will not be made in due course. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative, since to delay dismantling further would not be in the interests of the European economy.

Is not the Under-Secretary aware that, like many other plants which have been dismantled over the past five years, this plant is lying about unclaimed, is not likely to be claimed and will therefore be completely wasted? How can he say that that is a contribution to the European economy?

I am aware that plants have been dismantled without bids being made for them. That is, as the answer to a later Question will show, because allocation was held up while a review was being made of plants to be retained in Germany.

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that large quantities of non-warlike plant dismantled in Germany for reparations purposes remains unclaimed by any of the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency Powers; and whether he will prevent further dismantling of such plants until it is clear that they will be utilised productively elsewhere in the interests of the European economy.

Substantial quantities of reparations equipment have not yet been bid for; the allocation of reparations was long delayed while a review was conducted to ensure the deletion from the reparations lists of all plants which might better serve the purposes of European recovery if left in Germany than if removed and re-erected elsewhere. This has now been completed and allocations are proceeding in accordance with the recent agreement with the United States and French Governments. It would not be in the interests of the European economy to delay until the process of allocation is complete the dismantling of those plants which remain on the list. My right hon. Friend could therefore not agree to hold up dismantling even if he were free to do so.

As some four years have gone by since the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency was established in Brussels, is it not clear that if no bids have yet been made for these plants which are still undismantled there is unlikely to be any bid? Is there any purpose whatever in dismantling them unless it is a method of demilitarisation?

I do not agree. I think that the absence of bids does not mean that bids will not be forthcoming now that, as I have shown, allocations have begun again.