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Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 1 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent refugees are still coming into the British zone of Germany; and how many camps are established there which can provide suitable facilities for caring for families accompanied by children.

German refugees are still arriving in the British zone from the East at the rate of about 30,000 per month. The German authorities who are responsible for the reception and welfare of the refugees estimate that 40 of the camps established in the British zone are suitable for resident children.

Is not my hon. Friend aware that the position in Schleswig-Holstein in particular is reaching unmanageable proportions and, in view of that, will he get into touch with the French authorities, who have no refugees in their zone, to see whether they can take some so as to relieve the position for us?

My hon. Friend will be aware that we have, in fact, taken that action and that discussions have taken place. Some redistribution of refugees has taken place to the advantage of Schleswig-Holstein.

Can my hon. Friend give any estimate of the comparable number of refugees crossing from the Western zones into the Eastern zone of Germany?



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, with the object of reducing unemployment in Western Germany and helping to re-establish family life, he will investigate the possibility of negotiating foreign credits for a large-scale housing programme.

The Military Governors have had occasion recently to emphasise to the Germans the need for utilising their available resources to the full where housing is concerned. Much can, in fact, be done in this direction before the question of foreign credits need arise.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is widespread unemployment in the building industry in Western Germany and could not some of these men be directed to collecting materials from the war-shattered areas, so as to use them for re-building purposes?

This is a matter for the German authorities. As I have stated, the military governors have drawn their attention to this question already.

Will the hon. Member refrain from creating unemployment by dismantling plants engaged in productive industries?

Does not my hon. Friend consider that the cause of this unemployment, as well as the lack of housing, is due to the removal of controls by the laissez-faire German administration at Frankfurt?

Traffic, Berlin


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many goods trains have reached the Western sectors of Berlin from Western Germany since the ending of the blockade; and what steps are being taken to increase the flow of rail traffic.

As regards traffic for which the Western Allies are responsible, 140 trains had reached Berlin from the Western Zones between the lifting of the blockade on 12th May and 31st May. Of those only 20 arrived since the Berlin railway strike began on the night of 20th May. Negotiations are in progress with the Soviet authorities in Berlin to increase the rate of flow, which, even before the strike began, was subject to restrictions to which I referred in my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) on 25th May. Discussions are still proceeding on a quadripartite basis, particularly with a view to making other routes available in addition to the Helmstedt-Magdeburg-Berlin line.

Is it not the fact that the Soviet Union agreed, before these conversations about Germany started, that they would put an end to the blockade, and is it not quite obvious from my hon. Friend's answer that the Soviet Union have broken their word again as usual?

On a point of Order. After the protests we have just had, is it in Order for an hon. Member to refer to a friendly Government——

I understand that there is a Treaty of friendship between this country and the Soviet Union. Is it in Order to refer to a friendly Government as having "broken their word as usual"? That is a deliberate imputation. If we are to have imputations on one side, hon. Members will get them on the other.

Is it not a fact that on many occasions the Soviet Government have broken their word?

Further to the point of Order. I ask for my own guidance. I should like to know what is in Order and what is not. What I should like you to say, Mr. Speaker, is whether it can ever be in Order with regard to a friendly Government, to say they have "as usual broken their word."

Would it be in Order to say that the Soviet Government had attached the usual importance to their pledges?

Would it not be in the interests of Members that what is and what is not in Order should not be too clearly defined?

Can the Under-Secretary of State tell us whether since the railway strike began, the airborne and waterborne traffic through Western Germany to Eastern Germany has continued quite unrestricted?

Can my hon. Friend tell us what is the number of trains that normally would run through compared with the number of trains now allowed through?

I have tried to make an estimate of the percentage that has been stopped. I think it is true to say that, if there had been no strike, then the lifting of the blockade as carried out by the Soviet authorities would have led to a volume of traffic of 70 per cent. compared with that of a year ago. The strike, however, has cut that 70 per cent. to 20 per cent.

In view of the fact that the Soviet Government have undoubtedly broken their word, on this occasion particularly about the lifting of the blockade, is it not time for us to stop trading with the Soviet Government until they allow trains through?

There are quadripartite discussions in Berlin on this whole subject. There is nothing I can usefully add to what I have said already.